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'There'll be war' if Bolivia cuts coca growing, farmers warn 13 Dec 2019, 8:26 pm

'There'll be war' if Bolivia cuts coca growing, farmers warnFor the coca farmers of western Bolivia's Las Yungas region, the loss of president Evo Morales -- himself a one-time coca grower, and a champion of indigenous rights -- is less worrying than the drop in price of their "holy leaf" crop. "Coquita," as it is known locally, is the only crop grown in Cruz Loma, a village near the town of Coroico, perched 1,700 meters (5,500 feet)above sea level in the Andes.

Package thief taunts St. Paul victim with thank you note 13 Dec 2019, 8:26 pm

Package thief taunts St. Paul victim with thank you noteA package thief who made off with a woman's delivery in St. Paul this week decided to leave something behind for the victim — a handwritten thank you note taunting her for the package. Homeowner Hilary Smith said she found the note on her porch after she got home from work, hours after she received a text saying that her package had been delivered. St. Paul police posted a picture of the note on Twitter on Friday, and reminded residents who are expecting deliveries to take precautions to avoid thefts.

Satellite evades ‘day of reckoning' to discover puzzling weather phenomenon on Jupiter 13 Dec 2019, 7:51 pm

Satellite evades ‘day of reckoning' to discover puzzling weather phenomenon on JupiterAt first glance, these newly released images by NASA may look like lava churning in the heart of a volcano, but they reveal otherworldly storm systems whirling in a way that surprised scientists.The swirls in the photos are cyclones around Jupiter's south pole, captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft on Nov. 3, 2019. Juno has been orbiting the solar system's largest planet since 2016 and has seen these polar cyclones before, but its latest flight over this region of the planet revealed a startling discovery - a new cyclone had formed unexpectedly. Six cyclones can be seen at Jupiter's south pole in this infrared image taken on Feb. 2, 2017, during the 3rd science pass of NASA's Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM) Prior to its early November pass, Juno had photographed five windstorms arranged in a uniform, pentagonal pattern around one storm sitting stationary over the south pole."It almost appeared like the polar cyclones were part of a private club that seemed to resist new members," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.It is unclear when exactly the new cyclone formed, but it changed the arrangement of the storms from a pentagon to a hexagon.Winds in these cyclones average around 225 mph, according to NASA, wind speeds higher than any tropical cyclone ever recorded on Earth. An outline of the continental United States superimposed over the central cyclone and an outline of Texas is superimposed over the newest cyclone at Jupiter's south pole give a sense of their immense scale. The hexagonal arrangement of the cyclones is large enough to dwarf the Earth. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM) The discovery of this evolving meteorological phenomenon almost didn't happen as Jupiter itself almost caused the mission to end abruptly.Juno is a solar-powered spacecraft that relies on constant light from the sun to keep the craft alive. Flying through Jupiter's enormous shadow would take about 12 hours to complete, which would cut off the power source, drain the spacecraft's battery and potentially spell the end of the mission."Our navigators and engineers told us a day of reckoning was coming, when we would go into Jupiter's shadow for about 12 hours," said Steve Levin, Juno project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.To avoid the potential mission-ending eclipse, Juno fired up its engine (which was not initially designed for such a maneuver) and adjusted its trajectory just enough to avoid the icy grip of Jupiter's shadow. Jupiter's moon Io casts its shadow on Jupiter whenever it passes in front of the Sun as seen from Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Tanya Oleksuik, (C) CC BY) "Thanks to our navigators and engineers, we still have a mission," said Bolton. "What they did is more than just make our cyclone discovery possible; they made possible the new insights and revelations about Jupiter that lie ahead of us."NASA scientists will continue to study these polar vortices in future flights over Jupiter's south pole to better understand the atmosphere over this part of the planet."These cyclones are new weather phenomena that have not been seen or predicted before," said Cheng Li, a Juno scientist from the University of California, Berkeley. "Nature is revealing new physics regarding fluid motions and how giant planet atmospheres work. Future Juno flybys will help us further refine our understanding by revealing how the cyclones evolve over time."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns Iran of 'decisive response' if harm in Iraq 13 Dec 2019, 6:52 pm

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns Iran of 'decisive response' if harm in IraqSecretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday warned Iran of a “decisive” response if U.S. interests are harmed in Iraq, after a series of rocket attacks on bases.

The Tiny, Simple Nuclear Reactor That Could Change Energy 13 Dec 2019, 6:31 pm

The Tiny, Simple Nuclear Reactor That Could Change EnergyThe next step in nuclear power is 1/100th the size of today's reactors.

An influencer and model said she isn't doing a gender reveal because 'that may not be who my child decides to be' 13 Dec 2019, 4:35 pm

An influencer and model said she isn't doing a gender reveal because 'that may not be who my child decides to be'Iskra Lawrence is among influencers making money for documenting their pregnancies, but she's not cashing in on her baby's sex.

29 photos show how climate change has ravaged the Arctic in the past decade 13 Dec 2019, 3:14 pm

29 photos show how climate change has ravaged the Arctic in the past decadeNOAA's Arctic Report Card warns that climate change is transforming the Arctic. These photos show its dire effects on the region so far this decade.

Would China Try to Claim Most of the Pacific Ocean? 13 Dec 2019, 3:11 pm

Would China Try to Claim Most of the Pacific Ocean?Nine-dash line? How about two hundred and fifty? Some fake news freaked an academic conference out several years ago.

An Invisible Menace to the Climate, Revealed in Infrared 13 Dec 2019, 3:07 pm

An Invisible Menace to the Climate, Revealed in InfraredTo the naked eye, there is nothing out of the ordinary at the DCP Pegasus gas processing plant in West Texas, one of the thousands of installations in the vast Permian Basin that have transformed America into the largest oil and gas producer in the world.But a highly specialized camera sees what the human eye cannot: a major release of methane, the main component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas that is helping to warm the planet at an alarming rate.Two New York Times journalists detected this from a tiny plane, crammed with scientific equipment, circling above the oil and gas sites that dot the Permian, an oil field bigger than Kansas. In just a few hours, the plane's instruments identified six sites with unusually high methane emissions.Methane is loosely regulated, difficult to detect and rising sharply. The Times' aerial and on-the-ground research, along with an examination of lobbying activities by the companies that own the sites, shows how the energy industry is seeking and winning looser federal regulations on methane, a major contributor to global warming.Operators of the sites identified by The Times are among the very companies that have lobbied the Trump administration, either directly or through trade organizations, to weaken regulations on methane, a review of regulatory filings, meeting minutes and attendance logs shows. These local companies, along with oil-industry lobby groups that represent the world's largest energy companies, are fighting rules that would force them to more aggressively fix emissions like these.Next year, the administration could move forward with a plan that would effectively eliminate requirements that oil companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from oil and gas facilities. By the Environmental Protection Agency's own calculations, the rollback would increase methane emissions by 370,000 tons through 2025, enough to power more than 1 million homes for a year.In the air, Times reporters surveyed an area in and around two counties in the heart of the Permian with the help of specialists in methane detection."This site's definitely leaking," said Paolo Wilczak, a scientist and the pilot of the two-seater aircraft, as a laptop monitor hooked up to the equipment registered a blip in methane levels. "And that one, too."The reporters drove to the sites armed with infrared video gear that revealed methane billowing from tanks, seeping from pipes and wafting from bright flares that are designed to burn off the gas but sometimes fail to do so completely. At one site, a worker walked directly into a methane plume unprotected.Tim Doty, a former senior official at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who is trained in infrared leak detection, examined and helped analyze the findings. "That's a crazy amount of emissions," he said. "It takes a little bit of investigative work, but with an infrared camera, you can see it."Oil and gas companies were committed to driving down emissions "while delivering affordable, reliable energy to American families," said Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, a major industry lobby group. Its members believed that regulations should be improved, however, to provide clarity for businesses, avoid duplicating state rules and drive industry innovation, he said.The regulatory rollback sought by the energy industry is the latest chapter in the administration's historic effort to weaken environmental and climate regulations while waging a broad-based attack on climate science.Scientists say that, in weakening the rules, the Trump administration underestimates methane's global climate effects. It also disregards research that suggests methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure are far larger than previously estimated.The findings address the mystery behind rising levels of methane in the atmosphere. Methane levels have soared since 2007 for reasons that still aren't fully understood. But fracking natural-gas production, which accelerated just as atmospheric methane levels jumped, is a prime suspect.Methane leaks from oil and gas production threaten to erode the advantage that natural gas has over coal in meeting the world's energy needs, scientists say. When burned for electricity, natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide that coal does. But if methane is not burned off when released, it can warm the planet more than 80 times as much as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.Methane also contributes to ground-level ozone, which, if inhaled, can cause asthma and other health problems."It's increasingly clear that fossil fuel production has dramatically increased global methane emissions," said Robert Howarth, an Earth system scientist at Cornell University and author of a study estimating that North American shale gas production may be responsible for about a third of the global increase in methane emissions over the past decade.A bright red-and-white plane pirouetted above the Texas scrub, banking so sharply it were as if the tiny aircraft was spinning on a wingtip. Wilczak, a pilot and flight scientist for Scientific Aviation, an aerial leak-detection company, executed tight circles above an oil installation.Tiny tubes affixed to the wings siphoned air to a sensitive spectrometer, jammed behind the seats, capable of detecting and measuring methane. Wilczak said it takes about seven seconds for the air to pass through and register a reading on a computer balanced on the lap of the only passenger.Detecting methane emissions is difficult work that often begins with flights like these. Oil and gas sites are not required to install round-the-clock emissions monitors, and flights are one of the ways to spot trouble.In the course of about four hours of flying, we found at least six sites with high methane-emissions readings, ranging from about 300 pounds to almost 1,100 pounds an hour, including at DCP Pegasus, which is part owned by energy giant Phillips 66.Those readings would very likely put those sites in the category of "super emitters," a term used by scientists to describe large-scale releases that are responsible for a disproportionately high share of methane emissions from oil and gas sites. In a 2017 study of the Barnett shale basin in Texas, methane releases of about 60 pounds or more an hour were classified as super emitters, making up just 1% of sites but accounting for nearly half of total emissions.On the ground, the Permian is a landscape of parched cotton fields, bobbing pump jacks and dirt roads that stretch for miles. We drove out to photograph the emissions we had detected from the air with a specialized infrared camera fitted with a lens made not of glass, but metal.At the DCP Pegasus plant, south of Midland, the camera transformed a tranquil scene into a furnace. Hot columns of gas shot into the air. Fumes engulfed structures.The camera sees several types of gases, including methane and ethane, both greenhouse gases, as well as pollutants called volatile organic compounds. Any emissions are likely to contain a mixture of the gases. Doty, who now runs a consultancy, said the emissions appeared to be from vapor combustors, compressors and storage tanks.According to Texas regulatory records, DCP has reported more than 250 unpermitted emissions events this year in the Permian Basin and is among the area's bigger emitters. State rules allow facilities to report irregular emissions without penalties.Sarah Sandberg, a spokeswoman for DCP, which operates several pipelines and almost 50 gas processing plants nationwide, said she had "many questions regarding the accuracy of your assessment and assumptions." She did not respond to repeated follow-ups.Phillips 66 declined to comment.At the EagleClaw Midstream gas processing plant just south of Pecos, we found emissions spewing from the top of a wastewater tank. The plant's manager, Justin Bishop, walked over to look at what we were filming. "We didn't know it was leaking," he said.A worker went to check on the tank, climbing some stairs and walking into the plume.He said the emissions were simply water vapor. "There's no problem," he said. "We aren't reporting it."But Doty, the former Texas emissions regulator, said water vapor would have been visible to the naked eye. "That isn't water," he said. "That's a whole lot of emissions."In a statement, EagleClaw said its workers had discovered that the tank's valve did require maintenance and that the problem had been fixed 30 minutes later."The amount of gas that leaked was determined, by our experts, to be well below any legal reportable limits," Todd Carpenter, the company's chief compliance officer, said in an email. He added that the safety and security of EagleClaw's employees, and of the public, "was of primary concern." The company has not filed an emissions event report this year.As early as March 2017 -- just months after the presidential inauguration -- fossil fuel companies made contact with the Trump administration to argue for a rollback of methane emissions rules.They held repeated meetings with federal officials, including an important one in November 2018, when lobbyists for DCP, EagleClaw and other oil processing companies met with officials from the EPA to discuss a critical topic: unintended or "fugitive" methane emissions.Representatives of the lobby group, GPA Midstream, argued that the EPA should relax monitoring requirements for fugitive emissions at gathering and compressor facilities, according to regulatory records reviewed by The Times. GPA Midstream met with Trump administration officials at least three times on the matter."More frequent monitoring would not be cost-effective," GPA lobbyists later said in comments filed with the agency, and stricter regulation was "costly and burdensome."The efforts were part of a broader industry push to reverse Obama-era rules that would have forced operators to more aggressively monitor and repair natural gas leaks while reducing flaring.Earlier, at a March 2018 meeting, lobbyists for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which represents thousands of oil and gas companies nationwide, circulated material that forcefully rebutted the scientific evidence of large fugitive emissions from drilling sites. The lobbyists said the data "create the illusion" that super emitters pose a problem, according to a handout from the meeting.The petroleum association vice president, Lee O. Fuller, said in an interview that for smaller operators, which often run low-producing wells, the costs of excessive regulations could be crippling. They "could put many out of business," he said.The companies found an administration willing to listen. Before his appointment to the post of assistant administrator at the EPA overseeing air pollution, William L. Wehrum lobbied on behalf of oil and gas producers, including gas processors and petroleum refineries.Wehrum resigned from the agency in June and is under investigation for his contacts with former clients. His former boss, Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, also lobbied for energy companies earlier in his career.By this August, the EPA had proposed a broad rollback, including rescinding direct regulations of methane emissions completely. Volatile organic compounds, a separate but related category of gases, would remain regulated, which would have a side effect of limiting some methane emissions.In a statement, an EPA spokesman, Michael Abboud, said methane was a valuable resource, so the industry already "has an incentive to minimize leaks." He added that EPA staff members work with ethics officials "to ensure they are in compliance with all ethics rules." Wehrum did not respond to a request for comment.Energy giants including BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell have, to varying degrees, publicly supported methane regulation. However, trade associations representing all three, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, have fought against direct regulation.A spokesman for BP said the company wanted to maintain the direct regulation of methane, and an official from Exxon said the company was making voluntary efforts to reduce methane, including infrastructure upgrades. A Chevron spokesman, Sean Comey, said the company "supports global efforts to reduce flaring and methane emissions." Shell said it supported the continued direct regulation of methane and more frequent leak inspections.Some companies are starting to use infrared cameras, drones and other technology to detect methane leaks. BP said recently it would use drones and surveillance cameras to monitor for fugitive emissions at new oil and gas projects. Shell is testing solar-powered technology to watch for leaks.As the boom-and-bust oil business goes through another one of its financial gyrations -- production in the Permian is expected to slow as a glut of gas and rock-bottom prices take their toll -- there are concerns that investments in methane detection won't be a priority, particularly for smaller operators.One site where we identified leakage with the infrared camera was an unmanned well pad with a battery of gray tanks. "There's a lot of volume coming out of there," Doty later said of the images. "If this is going 100% of the time, that's a lot of emissions."The site was owned by MDC Texas Operator, which we discovered had filed for bankruptcy that very day.Calls to the company went unanswered, and its bankruptcy lawyers didn't return requests for comment. It is unknown whether the tank is still spewing gas.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

California police officer involved in two fatal shootings in one year 13 Dec 2019, 3:05 pm

California police officer involved in two fatal shootings in one yearA new report has found that a California police officer was involved in two fatal shootings in just one year, highlighting the deadly results of American police policies that generally allow officers to use deadly force when they deem necessary.In both instances, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, Ceres police officer Ross Bays shot at individuals who had stumbled out of a car and began running away — and experts say that the timing of the shootings should be worrisome, even though both were ultimately ruled justified.

The 10 Best Tech Gadgets of 2019 13 Dec 2019, 2:58 pm

The 10 Best Tech Gadgets of 2019

Spokane Cop Accused of Sex Assault Finally Loses Pay After More Accusers Come Forward 13 Dec 2019, 1:32 pm

Spokane Cop Accused of Sex Assault Finally Loses Pay After More Accusers Come ForwardA Washington state police officer once told a coworker he would “say exactly what's on my mind, unless I'm on body camera.” This week, his boast came back to haunt him. The Spokane Police Department suspended Officer Nathan Nash without pay after a domestic violence victim accused him of assaulting her, and a police investigation found he had turned off his body camera during the event.The investigation began in October, when a domestic violence victim told the police department Nash had sexually assaulted her in a follow-up call to her house. The woman says she called Nash to ask about the location of her evidence photos, according to court documents obtained by KXLY. Nash allegedly asked her to meet in a private place to “go over the bruises on her body” and then pressed her to let him come over before her mother returned. On his way to the woman’s apartment, Nash allegedly turned off both his body camera and tracking equipment, resulting in a 36-minute location gap that a police analyst later described as “peculiar.” Once inside, the woman says, Nash followed her into her bedroom and directed her to take off her pants and underwear. She told investigators she was confused by the request, but complied because he was a police officer. The woman says Nash then penetrated her with his fingers for 30 seconds to a minute. She says she panicked, but thought it might be what he was supposed to do. Eventually, she says she told Nash "OK, that's enough." She later told investigators the alleged assault was the worst thing that has ever happened" to her.Before leaving, the woman says, he gave her his personal cellphone number. He did not photograph or otherwise document her bruises.When questioned by investigators, Nash blamed the incident on the domestic violence victim, suggesting that she had come on to him and become “embarrassed, mad, or upset,” when he ended the sexual contact, according to court documents. He added that the police department's body camera manual was more than 100 pages and “there's no way I'm gonna know all that content." In a statement after Nash's arrest, his personal attorney Rocco Treppiedi said Nash “categorically denies the allegation of sexual assault and any criminal activity.” “Ofc. Nash considered the additional evidence she provided, and immediately followed up on the information she provided,” Treppiedi said. Nash’s attorneys did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.In the weeks after the initial report, two more women came forward with concerns about Nash. One was a second domestic violence victim, who told investigators that Nash had come on to her while he was investigating her complaint in May. During a visit to her home, the woman said, Nash made a point of turning off his bodycam, then gave her his personal cellphone number and said he would respond faster than 911. Over the following weeks, she says he friended her on Facebook and started liking photos of her in lingerie, and sending her “creepy” and “needy” messages. According to court documents, she told investigators she felt he “had a hidden agenda of starting a relationship with her.”A police department volunteer also complained about Nash, claiming he had given her his personal number and sent her inappropriate texts, including a Jeopardy-themed message reading, “Things I would like to do to you for $600,” and “Answer: what is a naked back rub?”“I’m too old to play games, no need in beating around the bush,” Nash allegedly wrote in another message. “I just say exactly what’s on my mind, unless I’m on body camera."Nash was arrested on Nov. 22 and pleaded not guilty to second- and third-degree rape and official misconduct. His trial is set to begin in February.Nash was originally placed on administrative leave while the investigation progressed. This week, the police department put him on “unpaid lay-off status,” meaning he will not work or be paid until the outcome of his case is determined.  If he is found not guilty, he will be reinstated while the department investigates whether he violated any department policy, City spokesperson Marlene Feist told local news station KREM.“The alleged conduct is completely unacceptable and in absolute conflict with the high standards of the Spokane Police Department,” Chief Craig Meidl said in a press release. “Our men and women took an oath to protect and serve the community in which we live. We will not shy away from that oath and it will be upheld.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.

Meghan McCain Confronts Tom Steyer: ‘You Bought Your Way’ Onto Debate Stage 13 Dec 2019, 12:30 pm

Meghan McCain Confronts Tom Steyer: ‘You Bought Your Way’ Onto Debate Stage2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer got a warm welcome from every co-host of The View except one on Friday morning. “Mr. Steyer, between you and Mayor Bloomberg, you have now spent $200 million on political ads,” Meghan McCain told their guest. “It hasn't really helped you very much in the polls, but you did make it to the next debate stage. I think you bought your way there, and I don't think it's fair that you’re there and Cory Booker isn't. Change my mind.” After letting out an uncomfortable chuckle, Steyer skirted the question by touting his message about a “broken” government “bought by corporations.” When the candidate pointed out that he has been spending time in the early primary states—unlike that other billionaire—McCain shot back, “Cory Booker has too, who doesn't have $200 million.” “I’m talking about breaking a corporate stranglehold on our government that is preventing it from acting on anything,” Steyer said. “And no one can say that I have been purchased, but I also have 10 years of putting together coalitions like the people in this audience to stand up for our rights and to take on unchecked corporate power that has bought our government.” “But it’s good you have $100 million to buy Facebook ads to get you on a debate stage,” McCain said, interrupting him. “I’m completely unconvinced by this, but we can move on.” Later in the segment, after Steyer vowed to help elect whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being and reminded the hosts that he started “one of the biggest grassroots organizations in the United States,” McCain came back with, “That doesn’t make you a good politician, with all due respect.” “Mayor Bloomberg was mayor for three terms, and so if you’re going to go the billionaire route,” she continued, with a dramatic eye roll, “he's a lot more compelling than you are.” Meghan McCain: Greta Thunberg Didn’t ‘Earn’ Person of the YearRead 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.

Spain pledges funds for asylum seekers as Latin American arrivals spike 13 Dec 2019, 11:55 am

Spain pledges funds for asylum seekers as Latin American arrivals spikeThe Spanish government on Friday authorized nearly 150 million euros ($165 million) in subsidies to ease the strain on its migrant-processing system after a recent spike in arrivals from Latin America overwhelmed its social services. Government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa, who announced the measure at a weekly briefing, said the subsidies will be complemented by 25 million euros from European funds. Provoked by national crises in Spanish-speaking countries like Venezuela and Colombia, the number of people seeking asylum in Spain has skyrocketed.

Wisconsin students find recording devices in Minnesota hotel 13 Dec 2019, 11:14 am

Wisconsin students find recording devices in Minnesota hotelA Wisconsin school district has put a staff member on leave after some high school students from found recording devices in their hotel rooms during a field trip to Minneapolis. The response was a cautionary measure that is standard during a police investigation, Madison School District spokesman Timothy LeMonds told the Wisconsin State Journal for a story published Friday. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder declined Friday to confirm a report by the police chief in the Madison suburb of Cottage Grove that the recording devices were hidden cameras.

The US and NATO are preparing for Russia to go after troops in the field and at home 13 Dec 2019, 10:43 am

The US and NATO are preparing for Russia to go after troops in the field and at homeNATO is designed for air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace operations, but on the fringes of those, hybrid activity poses a new kind of challenge.

Russia said it was alarmed after the U.S. tested a ground-launched ballistic missile 13 Dec 2019, 10:16 am

Russia said it was alarmed after the U.S. tested a ground-launched ballistic missileRussia said on Friday it was alarmed after the United States tested a ground-launched ballistic missile that would have been banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the RIA news agency reported.

Israel hails Johnson win as defeat for anti-Semitism 13 Dec 2019, 9:39 am

Israel hails Johnson win as defeat for anti-SemitismIsrael Friday hailed the election defeat of Britain's Labour Party as a "milestone in the fight against hatred" after its leadership was accused of inaction against anti-Semitism in its ranks. "The spectre of anti-Semitism loomed large over this campaign, and the British public overwhelmingly voted against it," Katz said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added his plaudits.

‘Move to Canada’ searches spike after Tories win general election 13 Dec 2019, 9:08 am

‘Move to Canada’ searches spike after Tories win general electionOnline searches for 'move to Canada' surged 49-fold in the wake of the Conservative's general election victory, according to data from Google.People seemingly unhappy with the prospect of another five years of Tory rule began searching for alternative countries as soon as the exit poll results were published on Thursday evening.

Death toll in aircraft carrier fire in Russia rises to 2 13 Dec 2019, 8:35 am

Death toll in aircraft carrier fire in Russia rises to 2A crew member who went missing during a fire on Russia's only aircraft carrier was found dead Friday, raising the death toll from the blaze to two, the nation's military officials said Friday. The fire on the Admiral Kuznetsov broke out during welding work at a shipyard in the Arctic port of Murmansk on Thursday and spread quickly through the carrier's internal compartments. The military reported two crew members dead, and authorities in Murmansk said 11 other people were injured.

Stomach flu outbreak terrorizes school in Washington state, sickening over 100 students, staff 13 Dec 2019, 7:31 am

Stomach flu outbreak terrorizes school in Washington state, sickening over 100 students, staffA number of schools from Seattle Public Schools and Vancouver Public Schools were forced to close to disinfect and clean because of the outbreak.

Turkey adds former Palestinian politician Dahlan to most wanted list 13 Dec 2019, 7:26 am

Turkey adds former Palestinian politician Dahlan to most wanted listTurkey has added exiled Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan to its "red list" of most-wanted terrorism suspects, offering a reward of up to 10 million lira ($1.75 million) for information leading to his capture, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. Arrest warrants have been issued for Dahlan on accusations of playing a role in the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, seeking to change the constitutional order by force, and various spying-related charges, the ministry said in a statement. Dahlan has also recently been an outspoken critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Man dresses as mother to take driving test after she failed three times 13 Dec 2019, 6:23 am

Man dresses as mother to take driving test after she failed three timesA man has been arrested for attempting to take a driving test on his mother’s behalf – by dressing like her in a bold attempt to fool examiners.Heitor Márcio Schiave, 43, wore a stuffed bra, floral top, long skirt, earrings, and a handbag to impersonate his mother at the State Department of Traffic in Novo Mutum Parana, in the Brazilian Amazon.

The 7 candidates who qualified for the December debate 13 Dec 2019, 5:40 am

The 7 candidates who qualified for the December debateThe next 2020 debate takes place December 19 and with a smaller group.

Jamal Khashoggi: US spy chief given deadline to name Saudi writer's killers 13 Dec 2019, 2:30 am

Jamal Khashoggi: US spy chief given deadline to name Saudi writer's killers* Trump ally Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused * Congress gives intelligence chief 30 days to assign responsibilityUS intelligence agencies will be given a month to make a formal declaration on whether the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for the murder of the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.The annual military spending bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was passed by a large majority in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and is expected to be approved by the Senate next week before being signed into law by Donald Trump.In negotiations before the NDAA’s passage, sections stipulating that Khashoggi’s murderers be subject to punitive measures were stripped from the bill, on the insistence of the White House – as were clauses that would have cut US support for the Saudi war in Yemen.According to the New York Times, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, took a leading role in negotiations on behalf of the White House, and was insistent that the punitive clauses on Saudi Arabia should be removed.But the final version of the bill retained language requiring the director of national intelligence (DNI) to present a formal determination within 30 days on who was responsible for the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year.In April, the US barred entry to 16 Saudis for their role in the murder plot, including one of the crown prince’s closest aides, Saud al-Qahtani. This week, the state department added the former Saudi consul general in Istanbul, Mohammed al-Otaibi.In a closed-door briefing in December 2018, the CIA director, Gina Haspel, told senators that the agency was convinced the murder had been ordered by the crown prince (colloquially known by his initials MBS).“We know that the intelligence community has assessed with high confidence that MBS bears at least some responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder and the cover-up that has followed,” Tom Malinowski, the Democratic congressman from New Jersey who drafted the Saudi human rights accountability legislation, told the Guardian. “So if they answer the question, honestly, MBS will be on the list.”The congressional demand for a formal declaration, will be a test of the independence of the office of the DNI, since the ousting of Dan Coats from the post in the summer. His former deputy, Joseph Maguire, has been acting in the position since August.“I wouldn’t be surprised if the White House put some pressure on the director of national intelligence to come to a different conclusion,” Malinowski said. “So we’ll be watching this with great interest. We do have the advantage of knowing in advance what the intelligence community thinks because they’ve already told us in a classified setting. So it will be quite striking if they tell us something that is different in response to this.”Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA officer and Saudi expert, said that Haspel is likely to have given the agency’s assessment of Prince Mohammed’s role in the Khashoggi murder in verbal form to the Senate, leaving the intelligence community enough wiggle room to hand over a list of the names of suspects the US has already named, excluding the crown prince.“I’m doubtful [the CIA assessment] was conveyed in a written product. More likely it was in answer to questions,” Riedel said. He added that obscuring the crown prince’s involvement “is going to be a tight line to run, but no doubt this administration will run it”.He said that the White House would have found it more “problematic” to convince Coats to issue a determination to Trump’s liking.“The acting DNI is a fine person, but he’s not going to fall on his sword, nor is the director of central intelligence,” Riedel said.

'Let me explain it to you: wars, people die': Republican lawmaker fires back at Democrat after being accused of downplaying Ukrainian deaths 13 Dec 2019, 1:31 am

'Let me explain it to you: wars, people die': Republican lawmaker fires back at Democrat after being accused of downplaying Ukrainian deaths"That's the most ridiculous comment, and there's been a lot of them here," Collins said. A nearby Republican lawmaker replied: "You got that right."

Death toll from New Zealand eruption rises to 14 after authorities conduct harrowing mission to retrieve bodies from the island 12 Dec 2019, 11:14 pm

Death toll from New Zealand eruption rises to 14 after authorities conduct harrowing mission to retrieve bodies from the islandNew Zealand police said that two people remain missing and are presumed dead after one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes erupted on Monday.

The dream is dead: Johnson election triumph breaks UK 'remainer' hearts 12 Dec 2019, 10:53 pm

The dream is dead: Johnson election triumph breaks UK 'remainer' heartsAfter all the arguments and all the mass marches, opponents of Brexit faced a stark truth on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's election landslide: there will be no second referendum and divorce from Europe is inevitable. With the Conservatives set to win their largest parliamentary majority since 1987, Johnson will be able to push his divorce deal through parliament, allowing Britain to leave the EU next month. It will be Britain's most significant geopolitical move since World War Two.

In 2030, What Countries Will Have the Most Power Airforces? 12 Dec 2019, 9:30 pm

In 2030, What Countries Will Have the Most Power Airforces?We can tell you.

Washington state seeks to ban sale of 'assault weapons,' high capacity magazines 12 Dec 2019, 7:46 pm

Washington state seeks to ban sale of 'assault weapons,' high capacity magazinesIf successful, Washington would become the seventh U.S. state to ban assault weapons, which it defines as semi-automatic rifles with at least one military feature, and the ninth to limit the capacity of ammunition magazines. "We should be making it harder for those who want to inflict mass violence and destruction upon innocent people," Governor Jay Inslee said in announcing the gun-control push.

Jersey City shooter was Army veteran with a lengthy criminal history 12 Dec 2019, 6:36 pm

Jersey City shooter was Army veteran with a lengthy criminal historyDavid Anderson, was arrested at least five times since 2003, the year he was discharged from the Army, records show.

Republican congressman publicly identifies purported whistleblower 12 Dec 2019, 5:52 pm

Republican congressman publicly identifies purported whistleblowerOn Wednesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert publicly named a person some Republicans and allies of President Trump claim is the alleged whistleblower who first brought the Trump-Ukraine scandal to light.

McDonald’s Wins High-Stakes Labor Battle With Help From White House 12 Dec 2019, 5:19 pm

McDonald’s Wins High-Stakes Labor Battle With Help From White House(Bloomberg) -- In a television commercial that’s become part of the lore surrounding Donald Trump’s affinity for McDonald’s Corp., he embraced a purple, lumpy denizen of the fast-food chain’s “McDonaldland” and said, “Together, Grimace, we could own this town.”He was talking about New York, not Washington. Yet on Thursday, some 17 years after he appeared in that spot for the “Big ’N’ Tasty” sandwich, President Trump’s appointees delivered a high-stakes political victory for McDonald’s in one of the most important labor disputes in decades.The national board that referees union-organizing drives effectively absolved the company of liability for alleged labor-law violations in some of its franchisees’ restaurants, easing a major threat to the fast-food giant’s business structure. Trump’s appointees overrode an agency judge and rebuffed ethical concerns raised by labor advocates to approve a group of settlements in the matter on a 2-1 decision. The deal resolves allegations of wrongdoing without holding the corporation legally liable as “joint employer” with its franchisees.The victory, which eluded McDonald’s during Obama’s presidency, could help the fast-food giant close a bruising chapter in its history that imperiled its valuable brand as well as the franchise structure it’s built on.  In an emailed statement, McDonald's Corp. said it was “pleased” that the case had been concluded, and that the decision “allows our franchisees and their employees to move forward, and resolves all matters without any admission of wrongdoing.”Separately, top administration officials, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, are pushing to enact new, more lenient rules that would help insulate McDonald’s and similar chains from liability for the conduct of their franchisees. “President Trump has made deregulation a priority across the administration, which has helped unleash unprecedented economic and job growth,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.There’s no sign that Trump has personally intervened in the NLRB’s McDonald’s case. Regardless, the case stands apart—both in terms of its history and its potential repercussions.During a messy, multi-year saga, the company became a focal point in the “Fight for $15” movement to increase pay and unionize fast-food workers, among others. As protests engulfed McDonald’s restaurants, a corporate team responded by organizing a central effort to help franchisees push back against the union, according to evidence submitted in the case. Workers eventually complained to the NLRB, alleging that the tactics franchisees used amounted to illegal retaliation for engaging in federally protected union activities. In 2014, the board’s general counsel found enough merit in the workers’ claims to issue formal complaints against a group of franchisees, complaints that also accused McDonald’s of acting as a “joint employer” with them. McDonald’s and the franchisees have denied any illegal retaliation or other unfair practices. McDonald’s has called the allegations baseless and argued that it can’t be legally held responsible for decisions of its franchisees, who run more than 90% of McDonald’s restaurants and set their own wages and hiring practices. Franchisees denied the allegations as well.  In the board’s ruling Thursday, two Trump appointees approved proposed settlements that provide back pay to McDonald's workers but do not hold McDonald's Corp. liable as a "joint employer." In their decision, the members wrote that the deal would "remedy every violation alleged" in the government’s complaints against McDonald's."Moreover, we conclude that further litigation would impose a substantial burden on the parties, without a significant probability of prevailing on the complaint’s joint-employer allegation," board members Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel said in the ruling.Union advocates had lodged a formal petition with the board arguing that Emanuel needed to recuse from the case because he worked at a law firm that McDonald’s hired to counter the Fight for $15 organizing and protest efforts.Emanuel "has considered the motion and has determined, in consultation with the Board’s Designated Agency Ethics Official, not to recuse himself," according to the ruling, which noted that his firm had not been representing McDonald’s or franchisees in the NLRB case itself. Last month, Board Chairman John Ring — who also came from a law firm that has worked for McDonald’s — revamped ethics policies that might have made it harder for him or Emanuel to participate in the case. As it turned out, Ring was not part of the three-member panel that ruled on the McDonald’s decision.In a dissent, the NLRB's sole Democrat, Lauren McFerran, said the settlements were "unreasonable," and that with McDonald's joint-employer status unaddressed, "it is likely that similar issues will arise in the future."The decision represents a setback for the Service Employees International Union, which since 2012 has backed the “Fight for $15” protests. The SEIU’s president, Mary Kay Henry, pledged to appeal any adverse decision.“It’s going to take a lot more than a politically motivated decision on behalf of a Trump administration doing McDonald’s bidding to stop the workers of the Fight for $15,” Henry said in a statement.The board's vote also means that the corporation’s moves to help resist the protests and unionization effort have received, more or less, tacit acceptance from federal regulators. Those tactics, which were discussed by and, at times, coordinated by regional executives of the company, included gathering intelligence from a cashier who attended a union meeting as a mole, circulating names of suspected pro-union workers and coaching a franchisee on how to avoid hiring union sympathizers, according to excerpts from thousands of previously unreported documents and internal emails. The documents, which were provided to the NLRB by McDonald’s and several franchisees under a federal judge’s subpoena, reveal an inside look at how McDonald’s corporate staff members worked with franchisees on strategies to fight the union.McDonald’s didn’t respond to specific questions about several allegations, but said in a statement to Bloomberg News that the case is “incredibly complex” and that the “evidence is vast and complicated, and requires significant context to accurately and responsibly consider.” The company took issue with Bloomberg’s summary of that evidence, saying, “What you have highlighted are selective allegations and asserted them as facts, when there has been no judicial decision or review.” Last year, as she rejected a proposed settlement in the case, an administrative judge for the NLRB found that the case contained “copious evidence pertinent to McDonald's activities in order to provide resources and support for its franchisees throughout the country in response to the Fight for $15 campaign.” Specifically, Judge Lauren Esposito wrote that the case included “evidence that McDonald’s response to the Fight for $15 campaign was formulated and implemented from its corporate headquarters.” On Thursday, the board ordered her to accept the settlement.The joint-employer question at the heart of the NLRB case carries profound implications. In 2015, in a different case that didn’t involve McDonald’s, the NLRB issued a ruling that would make it easier to hold companies accountable for franchisees’ mistreatment of workers. By 2017, that issue was seen as so dire—not just for McDonald’s, but for franchise operations generally—that the then-chair of the International Franchise Association compared it to the 9/11 terror attacks. While fighting McDonald’s at the NLRB, the union has opened other fronts too, arguing the company should share any liability for a range of alleged transgressions inside franchised stores. Recently, dozens of workers have alleged sexual harassment in the chain’s restaurants in lawsuits or complaints filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In August, McDonald’s announced an “operator-led, company-supported” training initiative for 850,000 workers across the country to help ensure “safe and respectful” workplaces.Last month, amid that latest rash of allegations, the company fired Chief Executive Stephen Easterbrook for engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee, a violation of company policy. During his almost five-year tenure atop McDonald’s, Easterbrook presided over a sharp rise in the company’s share price—despite a decline in annual revenue to about $21 billion from $25 billion. The revenue changes stem from a “refranchising” strategy to sell corporate-owned stores to independent owners that began in 2015, according to McDonald’s. Over the same period, annual profit margins surged to about 28% from 17%, a jump driven partly by new innovations such as all-day breakfast, touch-screen ordering kiosks and home delivery.But in time, overseeing the company’s reversal of fortune in Washington—and preserving the liability buffer between the corporate headquarters and the franchisees—may be viewed as Easterbrook’s most lasting impact. After being targeted by the Fight for $15 campaign for years, this March McDonald’s announced that it would no longer fund lobbying efforts to prevent minimum wage increases. The company said in a letter that it would continue talking to lawmakers about how any increases should work, including that “all industries should be treated the same way.” In its statement, the company said it has “made significant investments in our people practices to provide employees at both McDonald’s corporate-owned and franchise locations with opportunities for competitive wages, education and safe and respectful workplaces.”Average starting pay at its corporate-owned restaurants is $10 an hour, the company said—well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour but well below the fought-for $15. The average starting wage equates to $20,800 over a year’s worth of 40-hour weeks. “While franchisees control wages in their restaurants, we believe they are similar and competitive,” the company said.Most people remember Ray Kroc, who took McDonald’s from a small, California-based chain to a global fast-food empire, for innovations in franchising, but he also pioneered the low-wage fast-food job. As he oversaw the chain’s proliferation nationwide, the new restaurants staffed up with low-wage workers, many of them teenagers. Today, teens are a declining share of the food-service workforce; 18% of restaurant workers are aged 16 to 19, down from 20% in 2008, according to the National Restaurant Association, which projects additional declines by 2026. About 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are franchises, a structure that keeps the company relatively asset-light and low-risk. The Trump administration is working on new rules that would reduce legal exposure for corporate franchisers. The proposals would make it harder, for example, to hold McDonald’s Corp. liable, along with franchisees, if kitchen managers are accused of sexual harassment or workers claim they weren’t paid overtime. The structure also makes it nearly impossible for workers at franchised restaurants to win the right to bargain collectively with McDonald’s executives—unless the NLRB determines that the corporation is indeed the workers’ “joint employer.” Without that, or a negotiated deal between the company and the union, any organizing effort would have to take place in pieces, franchise by franchise. The risk that the corporation could simply drop any unionized franchise would make that even harder to accomplish.Over the years, the company has weathered its share of public relations challenges. French anti-globalization radicals bombed its restaurants. Animal-rights extremists distributed “Unhappy Meals” with a plastic chicken covered in fake blood. The 2001 book Fast Food Nation tied McDonald’s to the obesity epidemic. But the Fight for $15 movement took place on a scale the company hadn’t seen before.Beginning in 2012, in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, a union-backed drive immersed McDonald’s restaurants in street protests that eventually spread globally. Protesters jammed drive-thrus, chanted in restaurants, banged on windows and stood atop tables. Corporate executives monitored developments as managers helped orchestrate a years-long anti-union response across the U.S., according to an analysis of thousands of pages of documents filed in the national labor board’s case. In 2014, the NLRB’s Obama-era general counsel alleged that the company’s subsidiary, McDonald’s USA LLC, was liable as a joint employer for a nationwide pattern of anti-union activity that included franchisees making threats, conducting surveillance, cutting work hours and firing workers who sought better pay and working conditions.Signs of unionizing efforts began emerging in October 2012, as reflected in a memo about organizing activity that circulated via McDonald’s internal email. “Seems to be affiliation with Occupy Wall Street movement,” said the document, which was in an email from a senior director of human resources. Soon, notes about the union showed up on an internal McDonald’s “activity log.” Said one entry: “White male talking to employees about affordable housing and asking questions about pay. Repeatedly in restaurant.”After word of an upcoming union meeting surfaced, a cashier at one New York City McDonald’s acted as a mole for the company, records show. She attended the meeting in Harlem, and by the next day, she shared her findings: About a dozen workers signed up to be union leaders, a report on the incident said.“They said McD makes $Billions + only pay minimum wage,” the worker reported. “… Focus seems to be on young, attractive female cashiers that speak English well ….”On Nov. 29, 2012, the Fight for $15 campaign made its first public splash with protests at fast-food restaurants across New York City as workers at McDonald’s and other chains went on strike for the day. From there, protests spread nationwide, fueled by old-school organizing and social-media messaging. At the time, McDonald’s had only a sparse social-media team and had yet to match the union in that capacity, according to two people familiar with the company’s operations.The company created fast, effective communications channels with franchisees to discuss the union’s activities. In emails and text messages, its managers made plans to combat “the opposition” and emphasized that some messages needed to be secret.“There is a sense of urgency regarding the gathering of this intel so that we can plan and prep the operators …,” said one email from a human resources director. “As a tip, you can text your operators regarding this message, however you have to instruct them to ERASE the message and response back to you, and you will need to do the same.” McDonald’s didn’t respond to questions about why recipients were advised to erase messages.In addition to a cadre of labor lawyers and several public relations firms, McDonald’s worked with “union avoidance” strategists, records show. In one case, a regional executive shared with a franchisee strategies on how to identify and avoid “salts,” or people who try to get hired in order to help organize a workplace. Federal law restricts the organized avoidance of such hires.Corporate employees circulated names of workers thought to be supporting the union. Once, in 2013, the company dispatched a “mobile security detail” to several Manhattan franchisees’ restaurants after receiving what an internal email described as “intel” about a possible Fight for $15 rally. The company told Bloomberg News that at times “security may be necessary on-site at restaurants for the safety of our property, customers and/or employees.”More than once, a regional McDonald’s executive organized gatherings in downtown Chicago for franchisees to discuss the situation, internal emails show. Their choice of venue? A Ronald McDonald House, part of the nonprofit foundation whose stated mission is to “improve the health and well-being of children and their families.”Since the unionization drive began, dozens of workers have filed complaints with the NLRB alleging elements of an anti-union culture in McDonald’s restaurants. Emmanuel Flores, 28, told Bloomberg he saw just such a culture firsthand at a company-owned restaurant in Monterey Park, California.Flores said he endured months of lewd comments, sexual overtures and groping from supervisors and co-workers. Early this year, on the advice of a union organizer, he told his store manager about it.The next day, Flores said, his shift hours were cut. Days later, during an informal staff meeting with him and other workers, the manager compared union activists to “leeches” and said “that even if we got paid $15 an hour, it wouldn’t matter because she would cut our hours,” Flores said. Flores filed complaints with California officials and the EEOC, and he was named as a witness in a retaliation complaint that the union filed with the NLRB. Trump’s fondness for McDonald’s is no secret. During his 2016 campaign, it was part of his standard fare; one order consisted of “two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted,’’ wrote his former campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie in their 2017 book, Let Trump Be Trump.McDonald’s soon met with senior members of the new administration. In July 2017, Trump’s first labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, sat down for dinner at The Smith, a popular restaurant near Capitol Hill, with Easterbrook and Sam Tatevosyan, the company’s top lobbyist, according to the official Department of Labor calendar. The next day, Acosta and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke at a McDonald’s lobbying summit, records show. Acosta declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mnuchin.McDonald’s said it hosts both Democrats and Republicans for such Washington meetings. “The company traditionally invites officials from the current administration to discuss topics relevant to the business—and did the same during the Obama administration,” the company said.  Once Trump’s appointees began taking office, McDonald’s sought to end its long struggle at the NLRB. In December 2017, a lawyer for the company emailed a letter to the board’s new general counsel, Peter Robb. Robb prosecuted a landmark case against the American air traffic controllers’ union during President Ronald Reagan’s administration. The union was found to have engaged in an illegal strike, and Reagan fired more than 11,000 workers, a lasting blow to the American labor movement.“Our request is straightforward,” said the McDonald’s letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Bloomberg News. “We ask that you use your prosecutorial discretion to end this waste of taxpayer resources and consider what your predecessor would not consider—a global resolution of the underlying unfair labor practice allegations.” The lawyer asked for a resolution that would not designate McDonald’s a “joint employer.”Within a few months, the company got what it asked for: Robb’s office offered to settle the case with no joint-employer finding. The proposed settlement would have provided back pay to about 20 workers, in amounts ranging from about $30 to $50,000, and it required no admission of any wrongdoing. But the administrative judge overseeing the case, Esposito, rejected the settlement, calling it too lenient on the company.The White House in effect aided McDonald’s in other ways. According to people who’ve worked in the administration, Acosta drew Mulvaney’s ire for dragging his feet on Labor Department rule changes, including making the agency’s “joint employer” standard more lenient. Colleagues thought Acosta was too concerned about provoking congressional Democrats, according to two people familiar with the situation. Trump’s aides repeatedly pressed Acosta’s staff during White House meetings about the status of the rules—and Mulvaney largely replaced Acosta in the process, taking final say over the new rules’ content and timing, the people said. Mulvaney tends to get more involved in policy than previous chiefs of staff because of his dual role as White House budget director, according to a White House official who spoke on background. When his Office of Management and Budget pushes back on an agency’s work, it’s for good reasons, the official said.At the NLRB, Trump appointees have attempted to defang the joint-employer threat, despite encountering ethical snags. The Board tried in 2017 to overturn an Obama-era precedent on the issue, but then had to quickly invalidate that change after the agency’s ethics officer found that one of Trump’s appointees, Emanuel, had wrongly failed to recuse himself. The board is now trying to change the standard using its rulemaking authority instead.Meanwhile, Robb has asked board members to overturn the judge’s rejection of his proposed McDonald’s settlement. Union advocates lodged a formal petition with the board, arguing that two of Trump’s appointees must recuse themselves from the case because they worked at law firms that McDonald’s hired to counter the Fight for $15 organizing and protest efforts.On Nov. 19, the board’s Trump-appointed chairman, John Ring, released what he called a “first of its kind” internal ethics review, which clears a path for the board to set aside such objections. Ring is one of the two board members who’ve been urged to recuse; while he came to the board from a law firm that worked for McDonald’s, there’s no evidence that he personally worked for the company.Ring’s unusual “ethics recusal report” last month concluded that each NLRB member can “insist on participating” in cases even if federal ethics officials say otherwise. While the ethics officials’ decisions may be binding, they’re not “self-enforcing,” the report found. So NLRB board members can overrule them simply by disagreeing with their legal conclusions, Ring wrote. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.The McDonald’s case has generated 21,000 pages of trial transcript, with testimony from more than 100 witnesses. Judge Esposito called it “the largest case ever adjudicated by this agency.” The union’s pledge to appeal Thursday’s decision suggests that it could go on for years to come.For now, at least, the company has friends in the White House. In April, Mulvaney spoke at McDonald’s latest lobbying event, where the joint-employer issue was a key topic. He wore a tie the color of the golden arches.—With assistance from Leslie Patton and Ben Penn.  (Updates throughout with labor board’s decision. An earlier version of this story was  updated with additional comment from McDonald’s on refranchising strategy)To contact the authors of this story: Lauren Etter in Los Angeles at letter1@bloomberg.netJosh Eidelson in Palo Alto at jeidelson@bloomberg.netHassan Kanu in Arlington at hkanu2@bloomberg.netMichael Smith in Miami at mssmith@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: John Voskuhl at, Flynn McRobertsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

George P. Bush says GOP can't let 'racist' episodes slide 12 Dec 2019, 4:28 pm

George P. Bush says GOP can't let 'racist' episodes slideRepublican George P. Bush, the only member of the Bush dynasty still in public office, condemned Thursday recurring episodes of what he described as racist or hateful rhetoric within the Texas GOP, and ripped what he called false accusations fanned by his Hispanic heritage. Bush, Texas' land commissioner, first denounced a white GOP state legislator who suggested “Asian" challengers on the ballot in 2020 were motivated by race.

Rashida Tlaib deletes tweet falsely blaming Jersey City shooting on 'white supremacy' 12 Dec 2019, 3:43 pm

Rashida Tlaib deletes tweet falsely blaming Jersey City shooting on 'white supremacy'Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) deleted a tweet Thursday morning in which she falsely credited Tuesday's deadly shooting at a kosher deli in Jersey City, New Jersey to "white supremacy" when in fact, the suspected shooters were reportedly Black Hebrew Israelites.Tlaib deleted the post just minutes after it went up, but not before close observers were able to nab a screenshot. It didn't take long for the tweet to spread among influential political commentators, especially conservatives, like Dinesh D'Souza, who retweeted a post calling out the congresswoman's blunder.The shooting in the Jewish community in Jersey City left six people dead, including a police officer. Investigators say one of the suspects posted anti-Semitic and anti-police sentiment online, noted The Associated Press. Two of the civilian victims, Mindy Ferencz and Moshe Deutsch, were reportedly members of the Orthodox Jewish community in the neighborhood. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced on Wednesday that the massacre was a "hate crime" against Jews. Fulop stated there is reason to believe that the deli was a premeditated target, though investigators have not confirmed details about the suspects' motives.Tlaib has yet to comment in response to the called-out deleted tweet.More stories from Trump's pathological obsession with being laughed at The most important day of the impeachment inquiry Jerry Falwell Jr.'s false gospel of memes

Catholic dioceses spar over Archbishop Sheen sainthood 12 Dec 2019, 3:34 pm

Catholic dioceses spar over Archbishop Sheen sainthoodIn an unusual public spat, the Roman Catholic diocese of Peoria, Illinois, is accusing the Rochester, New York, diocese of trying to “sabotage” the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Sheen, who before his death in 1979 was famous for his radio and TV preaching, had been scheduled to be beatified — the last step before sainthood — in a ceremony in Peoria on Dec. 21.

For Gaetz to raise Hunter Biden's substance abuse is 'the pot calling the kettle black,' Johnson says 12 Dec 2019, 1:54 pm

For Gaetz to raise Hunter Biden's substance abuse is 'the pot calling the kettle black,' Johnson saysThe House Judiciary Committee debate over articles of impeachment against President Trump took an ugly turn Thursday when Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., brought up Hunter Biden’s past drug use.

Cory Booker Announces He Will Not Qualify for Next Democratic Debate 12 Dec 2019, 1:52 pm

Cory Booker Announces He Will Not Qualify for Next Democratic DebateSenator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said Thursday that he does not expect to qualify for the sixth Democratic primary debate next week but assured his supporters that he still has a path to victory."While I may not be on the debate stage next Thursday, thanks to the outpouring of support over the past few weeks, we know there’s a path to victory, and we no longer need the debate stage to get there," the New Jersey Democrat wrote on Twitter.Democratic 2020 candidates must meet the Democratic National Committee's newly tightened qualifying criteria before midnight on Thursday. Booker has met one of the criteria, garnering 200,000 separate donors. However, the senator is far from achieving the DNC's polling requirement of 4 percent support in four national or early primary and caucus state polls approved by the DNC, or 6 percent in two approved polls in early states. The polls must be published between October 16 and December 12.Booker currently polls at less than 2 percent nationally, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. The next primary debate would be the first time he has failed to make it onto the stage.Booker has vowed to fight on despite the setback. His campaign was showered with donations after Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) dropped out somewhat abruptly earlier this month."We're still here," said Addisu Demissie, Booker's campaign manager. "We're definitely fighting an uphill battle, but we're fighting."The next Democratic debate will be hosted on December 19 in Los Angeles by PBS NewsHour and Politico. So far the candidates expected to qualify are former vice president Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, tech businessman Andrew Yang, and billionaire Tom Steyer.

Eagle v octopus: Canadians rescue bird locked in battle with giant mollusc 12 Dec 2019, 12:17 pm

Eagle v octopus: Canadians rescue bird locked in battle with giant molluscEmployees at a fish farm in Vancouver intervened when an eagle tried to eat a large octopus, resulting in a battleA bald eagle on Canada’s west coast has learned that its eyes may be bigger than its stomach after it was nearly drowned by an octopus it tried to eat.After hearing shrieks coming from the water on the north-western tip of Vancouver Island, employees at a fish farm investigating the noises happened upon a bird and cephalopod locked in battle.The octopus, which had turned a deep crimson, had wound its tentacles tightly around the eagle, which was floating helplessly at the surface.“At first we just watched and we didn’t know if we should interfere because, you know, it’s Mother Nature,” said John Ilett, an employee at Mowi West Canada, told CTV News.But realizing the eagle was likely to drown, the crew ultimately decided to intervene.Ilett maneuvered a pike pole in the water to pull the octopus over to the boat. The crew managed to haul both aboard, disentangling the bird from the strong tentacles, before tossing the octopus back into the water.“That was amazing. Look at the size of this [expletive],” said one worker as the octopus hovered briefly at the surface.“Holy [expletive],” another worker adds as the crew laughs in disbelief.Workers said the octopus was the largest theyhad ever encountered, and probably measured more than four and a half feet across.But much larger individuals lurk in the deeps: octopuses in the region – including the giant Pacific octopus – can grow to more than 25ft in diameter.After the eagle was pried from its grasp, the octopus dove back into the depths, its colours subtly shifting from reddish to brown.The shaken eagle perched warily on a nearby log before flying off.“It was a very cool situation,” said Ilett. “I’ve been out here 20 years and that’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.”

'I still consider myself a role model for millions of people': Tekashi 6ix9ine asked a judge for a short prison sentence after 'snitching' on his gang 12 Dec 2019, 11:12 am

'I still consider myself a role model for millions of people': Tekashi 6ix9ine asked a judge for a short prison sentence after 'snitching' on his gangTekashi, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, faces life in prison after he was arrested over his connections to the Nine Trey Gangsta Blood Gang.

Did Democrats just help Trump win reelection? 12 Dec 2019, 11:05 am

Did Democrats just help Trump win reelection?House Democrats have officially agreed to back a revised version of Trump’s new trade pact ­— an announcement made just one hour after House Democratic leaders unveiled articles of impeachment against him.

Ocasio-Cortez condemns 'white supremacist sympathizer' Tucker Carlson 12 Dec 2019, 11:04 am

Ocasio-Cortez condemns 'white supremacist sympathizer' Tucker CarlsonTop Democrat says host’s Fox News show an ‘hour-long production of unmitigated racism’ after racist and xenophobic debateDemocratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has condemned Fox News and Tucker Carlson, calling the TV host a “white supremacist sympathizer” and saying his show represents an “hour-long production of unmitigated racism”.The comments came following a segment on Carlson’s show in which he and his guest, City Journal editor Seth Barron, commented on footage of an unremarkable amount of trash on the streets of Ocasio-Cortez’s New York City district and blamed it on immigrants, whom Barron said had “occupied” the district and made it “one of the least American districts in the country”.Carlson asked: “How can we take seriously anything she says about the environment when this is her congressional district? She should be ashamed of this.”Using racist and xenophobic tropes, Barron responded that “her district is actually one of the least American districts in the country, and by that, I don’t mean that it’s not part of America, but it’s occupied by relatively few American citizens.”He went on: “The way they inhabit housing there is such that they live in a lot of illegal spaces like basements, and many people live there, so they wind up producing a lot of garbage that the landlords don’t want thrown out normally. Hence, you wind up with a lot of garbage on the streets. You have illegal food vendors pouring their pig grease in the gutters.”It was unclear where he was getting this information from.Carlson and his guests, much like the president, frequently imply that immigrants are making the country “poorer and dirtier”.Carlson has called the idea of white supremacy in America a hoax.On Wednesday night on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez shared video of the segment and wrote: “I go back and forth on whether to go on Fox News.”She said: “The main reason I haven’t is squaring the fact that the ad revenue from it bankrolls a white supremacist sympathizer to broadcast an hour-long production of unmitigated racism, without any accountability whatsoever.”She added: “‘Immigrants are dirty’ is a lazy, tired, racist trope.”Barron later apologized on Twitter, saying he had not done “justice to a complicated issue” of crowded housing conditions.

Chile: Plane that vanished en route to Antarctica found 12 Dec 2019, 10:37 am

Chile: Plane that vanished en route to Antarctica foundSearchers combing Antarctic seas have recovered parts of a military transport plane and human remains belonging to some of the 38 people aboard who vanished en route to the frozen continent, Chilean officials said Thursday. Air Force Gen. Arturo Merino said at a news conference that based on the condition of the remains, he believed it would be “practically impossible” that any survivors would be pulled from the water alive. An international team of searchers continued the hunt, while officials on shore said they would use DNA analysis to identify the crash victims.

Federal Prosecutors Seek to Jail Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas after Discovering $1 Million Payment from Russia 12 Dec 2019, 9:02 am

Federal Prosecutors Seek to Jail Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas after Discovering $1 Million Payment from RussiaFederal prosecutors are attempting to reverse the bail of a Rudy Giuliani associate, deeming him a flight risk after discovering that he received a $1 million payment from Russia just a month before he was arrested for violating campaign-finance laws.Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, received a $1 million payment from Russia in September.“The majority of that money appears to have been used on personal expenses and to purchase a home,” prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan wrote Wednesday in a court filing.The purpose of the payment is still unclear, but it was sent to Parnas's wife, Svetlana Parnas, in an apparent “attempt to ensure that any assets were held in Svetlana’s, rather than Lev’s, name,” according to prosecutors.“Parnas poses an extreme risk of flight, and that risk of flight is only compounded by his continued and troubling misrepresentations to the Pretrial Services office and the Government,” prosecutors wrote.A month later in October, Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, were charged with illegally funneling foreign donations to Republican candidates “for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials.”The same day, the two men from the former Soviet Union were also subpoenaed by the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry against Trump for documents and information they may have relevant to the impeachment inquiry. Giuliani previously said he had worked with Parnas and Fruman in his push for Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The two originally refused to cooperate with the probe but were arrested as they attempted to leave the country. Parnas has since indicated his willingness to cooperate.Parnas is currently under detention at his home in Florida.

The 25 Best Adventure Games 12 Dec 2019, 9:00 am

The 25 Best Adventure Games

Elizabeth Smart's dad describes kids' reaction to him coming out as gay 12 Dec 2019, 6:42 am

Elizabeth Smart's dad describes kids' reaction to him coming out as gayIn our exclusive interview, Ed Smart reveals how difficult it was to come out as gay to his family and friends

U.S. warns North Korea against 'ill-advised behavior' as deadline looms 12 Dec 2019, 5:40 am

U.S. warns North Korea against 'ill-advised behavior' as deadline loomsWASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States warned North Korea on Thursday against any resumption of "unfortunate ill-advised behavior" after Pyongyang raised international concerns by setting an end-of-year deadline for Washington to reconsider its diplomatic approach. Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell said that "we have heard threats before," when asked whether Washington was concerned about a return to long-range missile tests by North Korea, which has vowed to take an unspecified "new path" if the United States is not more flexible in stalled nuclear talks. North Korea said earlier on Thursday the United States had nothing to offer it in possible renewed talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs, a day after Washington said it was ready to take "concrete steps" toward securing a deal.

Stealth Drones: Iran Has More Than The U.S. Navy To Worry About 12 Dec 2019, 1:00 am

Stealth Drones: Iran Has More Than The U.S. Navy To Worry AboutTehran is in a tough spot.

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