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Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart: "There is no cure" for being gaySeventeen years after his daughter's kidnapping and miraculous rescue, Ed Smart says there's something he has to talk about


 

Hong Kong police defuse bombs designed 'to kill and to maim'Hong Kong police said they defused two large homemade bombs packed with nails and designed “to kill and to maim people" in the latest reported seizure of weaponry during six months of anti-government protests that have shaken the city.


 

Rejecting Michael Bloomberg just because he's worth billions of dollars makes no senseBloomberg worked his way through college parking cars, and the three-term ex-NY mayor has more governing experience than most candidates: Our view


 

Don't Count Me Out: The Navy's Littoral Combat Ship Now Has The Naval Strike MissileBeing able to hit another ship with a high-tech missile is a step in the right direction.


 

Comey Claims IG Report Shows Trump ‘Smeared’ FBIFormer FBI director James Comey attacked President Trump and Attorney General William Barr on Monday after the publication of the Department of Justice inspector general's report on the FBI's investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.Comey was fired by President Trump in 2017, but Trump and his administration gave conflicting reasons for the firing. Comey has been accused by conservatives of mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton's controversial use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state."The Russia investigation was complicated — not surprisingly, the inspector general found mistakes, 17 of them, things the FBI should have done differently, or better," Comey wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post. "That’s always unfortunate, but human beings make mistakes."IG Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI made "significant errors" in its application for a FISA warrant to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page, and other errors in its investigation into campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former national-security adviser Michael Flynn.The FBI investigation into the Trump campaign began after Papadopoulos allegedly bragged to Australian intelligence that the campaign had obtained dirt on rival Hillary Clinton from Russian operatives. Trump and allies have denounced the investigation as a partisan "witch hunt.""Those who smeared the FBI are due for an accounting," Comey wrote. "In particular, Attorney General William P. Barr owes . . . the American people, an acknowledgment of the truth."Barr slammed the FBI after the publication of the IG report.“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," Barr said in a statement.U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is leading a wider investigation into the FBI's Trump-campaign probe, said in a statement that his office did not concur with IG Horowitz's conclusions."Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened," Durham wrote.


 

Baltimore County Police Officer Charged With Sexually Assaulting Three WomenA Baltimore County cop has been charged with sexually assaulting at least three women, including one he allegedly tricked into going to his house after claiming he was ordering her a car to her friend’s home, court documents state. Baltimore County Police Officer Michael Westerman, 25, was charged Sunday with two counts of second-degree rape and three counts of second-degree assault. He is currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center after he was denied bail on Monday.According to charging documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Westerman is accused of sexually assaulted three women using a series of predatory tactics to isolate them. One woman said she was scared to report the alleged serial rapist because he was a police officer. Dallas Police Up Charges Against White Bartender Who Brutally Beat Black Woman“The allegations made in this case are reprehensible and are not representative of the values and ethics of the Baltimore County Police Department," Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said in a Sunday statement, adding Westerman “has been suspended without pay.”Authorities said an investigation into Westerman, who joined the force in 2013, began on Oct. 16 after the special victims unit received “information concerning the allegations.” One 22-year-old woman, according to the charging documents, said she met Westerman on Oct. 4, 2017, outside a bar called White Marsh, according to the charging documents.The woman, who was not identified, said she left the bar to pass out in her car after Westerman bought shots for a crowd. She told police that she planned to stay in her car until she was sober enough to drive home. Instead, the woman said she woke up to the police officer and one of her female friends knocking on her car window.Westerman allegedly stated he was going to order her an Uber to take her to her friend’s house, the women said.“You are going to Uber us back to my house, right?” the woman asked Westerman, who allegedly responded, “Yes.”  Illinois Police Chief Shared Photos From Secret Recordings of Sexual Encounters: ProsecutorsInstead, Westerman drove the trio back to his house, where he allegedly raped one of the women, the charging documents state. The woman stated she tried to stop Westerman when he got on top of her, but he “told her that he liked it when she pushed at him and when she told him to stop.”After the assault, the 22-year-old said she woke up to find “her pants were on the floor,” according to the document. She then told her friend what had happened and the two left immediately, according to police. Another 20-year-old woman told authorities she was drinking at the officer’s home on June 8, 2019 when she fell asleep in his guest bedroom. She alleged the cop woke her up and forced her to have sex with him—but she didn’t initially report the incident because “she knew Defendent Westerman was a Baltimore County Police Officer.”Two weeks later, authorities allege Westerman sexually assaulted another 22-year-old woman at a birthday party. That woman, who described herself as the officer’s friend, said he took her to a “secluded area” in Middle River, where “he wanted to show or tell her something.” Instead, the cop allegedly grabbed and tried to kiss her twice before she left with a relative, charging documents state.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


 

Virginia gun rights activists vow to fight new restrictionsMore than 200 gun rights activists wearing “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers rallied Monday in Virginia, vowing to fight any attempt by the new Democratic majority in the state legislature to pass new restrictions on gun ownership. "Hands off our guns, hands off our rights, and hands off our guns," said Bob Good, a member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors.


 

Diplomats: US backs out of North Korea human rights meetingThe United States changed its mind and is now refusing to sign a letter that would have authorized the U.N. Security Council to hold a meeting on the human rights situation in North Korea, diplomats said Monday. Without support from the United States, European and other countries that wanted the U.N.'s most powerful body to discuss human rights in North Korea can’t go ahead Tuesday because they are now one vote short of the minimum nine “yes” votes required, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were private.


 

'Old man' Trump is 'bluffing,' says North Korea: KCNA news agencyNorth Korea on Monday accused President Trump of “bluffing” and called him “an old man bereft of patience” as Pyongyang ramps up pressure on Washington over stalled nuclear talks.


 

Michigan man died of overdose from prison drug ring run by guards, lawsuit saysThe operation was allegedly orchestrated by a corrections officer and a prisoner with whom she had a romantic relationship with, the lawsuit says.


 

Walmart apologizes for selling a Christmas sweater that showed Santa at a table with lines of white powder and the words 'let it snow'Walmart Canada also pulled a sweater showing Santa, naked from the waist, by a fireplace with the words "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire."


 

Russia and Ukraine leaders meet in Paris push to end their conflictRussian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday met his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, for the first time ever at a Paris summit aimed at agreeing on measures to help end five years of conflict in the east of Ukraine.


 

Iran Can't Win a War, but Its Mines Will Harm the NavyHere's what could happen.


 

Twin 4-year-olds freed themselves from a car crash that killed their father and climbed to safety, police sayPolice said that on Friday, Corey Simmons of Langley, Washington, was driving with his twin daughters when their car careened down an embankment.


 

Isil 'matchmaker' who lured British teen bride to Syria is deported to FranceTurkey has deported to France the “Islamic State matchmaker” who lured a British teen bride to Syria as part of a drive to send foreign fighters back to their countries of origin. Tooba Gondal, 25, is among 11 French nationals that Turkey repatriated early on Monday, according to France's Centre for Analysis of Terrorism, CAT, citing official sources. A French judicial source confirmed that four women and their seven children had arrived in France. Two of the women returned were already targeted by arrest warrants and will soon face a judge, while the other two were sought by police and have been placed in custody, the French source said.  The children have been taken into care. Ms Gondal, from Walthamstow, east London, has been "detained for questioning" and faces terror charges, said CAT. She will then likely be detained while awaiting trial. She was born in France but moved to UK capital as a child and had British residency. A source close to the family told The Telegraph they were upset by the UK's decision to refuse her return. "Her kids most certainly will go into foster care away from her and any of her family in Britain,” said the source. Tooba Gondal, known as the 'Islamic State matchmaker' pictured before leaving for Syria in 2015 Ms Gondal has been accused of acting as an online recruiter and “matchmaker” for the terrorist group by luring women to Syria to marry Isil fighters. Among them was reportedly Bethnal Green schoolgirl Shamima Begum. She used social media to post images of herself wearing a burqa and holding an assault rifle. In October, Ms Gondal told the Telegraph how she managed to escape from Ain Issa camp with her two infant children, along with hundreds of other foreign suspected Isil women in a mass prison break after Turkey launched its offensive. She expressed a desire to be sent to the UK or Turkey. “I want to go home, see my family,” the former Goldsmiths, University of London, student said via WhatsApp messages. “But if I am not able, I want to seek refuge in Turkey." Married and widowed three times while living in Isil’s “caliphate”, she was banned from re-entering the UK last November by a Home Office exclusion order, but her three-year-old son is entitled to citizenship because of his British father. However, her 18-month-old daughter's late father was Russian. Last month, Turkey stepped up the return of suspected foreign Isil members - either held in Turkish prisons or in Syria - back to their countries of origin, saying Turkey was "not a hotel" for foreign fighters. The Turkish interior ministry on Monday confirmed it had sent 11 French relatives of suspected "terrorist fighters" back home. According to CAT, one of the deported women was Amandine Le Coz, who had been married to a Moroccan militant killed in Syria. She joined Isil with her husband in 2014. The French foreign ministry and interior ministry declined to comment. The mother-of-two, seen here with a Kalashnikov, was denied return to the United Kingdom with her children Credit: Telegraph Turkey stepped up its deportation of foreign fighters after criticism from Western countries, in particular, France, over its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria. The move has created a conundrum for European governments over how to manage the return of radicalised militants, some of them battle-hardened. Britain, which has taken one of the strongest stances against the return of its nationals, has deprived many of them of their citizenship. Under a 2014 accord between France and Turkey, Paris agreed to take back jihadists trying to return home from Syria via Turkey and incarcerate them at home. Some 300 French nationals have been thus returned in the past five years. However, France is keen on foreign suspects being sent for trial near to their place of arrest - notably Iraq, where several of its nationals have recently been handed death sentences. America last month clashed with Europe over the issue, with Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, insisting they needed to “hold them to account”. "Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated," he said in a meeting of the international coalition against Isil in Washington DC. Ankara says it has around 1,200 foreign Isil members in custody. There are understood to be around 10 British men, 20 women and 30 children, currently detained in Kurdish-run camps and prisons around north-east Syria.


 

A formerly vegan influencer followed the meat-only carnivore diet for 30 days and her fans are not happyAlyse Parker grew her 728,000-strong following by posting about veganism under the name "Raw Alignment." She's now performed a complete U-turn.


 

Climate change threatens food suppliesA team from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) based in Austria said climate change not only resulted in higher temperatures but is also producing more severe climatic events such as drought, heatwaves and floods. "Climatic shocks to agricultural production contribute to food price spikes and famine, with the potential to trigger other systemic risks, including political unrest and migration," IIASA lead author Franziska Gaupp said.


 

Man wearing reindeer slippers tips woman out of wheelchair on train as he tries to steal itA man has been arrested after a would-be thief tipped a woman out of her wheelchair on a train and attempted to steal it.CCTV footage of the incident shows a man dressed in a red jacket and reindeer slippers, who lept out of his seat and grabbed the handles of the wheelchair as the train approached a station.


 

U.S. Supreme Court rejects inmate's bid for sex reassignment surgeryThe U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by a convicted murderer who filed a civil rights lawsuit because Texas prison officials denied her request to be considered for gender reassignment surgery. The justices let stand a lower court's decision to reject the claim by inmate Vanessa Lynn Gibson that denying the surgery request violated the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Gibson, 41, who is transgender and also goes by the name Scott in court papers, was assigned male at birth and has lived as a female since age 15.


 

Iraqis rally against government as Baghdad summons Western envoysIraqis turned out Monday to mourn a prominent activist gunned down the previous evening, the latest violent episode in anti-government demonstrations in which more than 450 people have died. Iraq's capital and its Shiite-majority south have been gripped by more than two months of rallies against corruption, poor public services and a lack of jobs. Prominent civil society activist Fahem al-Tai was killed in a drive-by shooting in Iraq's shrine city of Karbala late Sunday while returning home from protests.


 

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Arizona opioid case against Purdue, Sackler familyThe U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a novel case by Arizona seeking to recover billions of dollars that the state has said that members of the Sackler family - owners of Purdue Pharma LP - funneled out of the OxyContin maker before the company filed for bankruptcy in September. The justices declined to take the rare step of allowing Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to pursue a case directly with the Supreme Court on the role the drugmaker played in the U.S. opioid epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans annually in recent years. The lawsuit accused eight Sackler family members of funneling $4 billion out of Purdue from 2008 to 2016 despite being aware that the company faced massive potential liabilities over its marketing of opioid medications.


 

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Berkeley cell phone lawThe U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a free speech challenge brought by a trade group against a regulation issued by the California city of Berkeley that requires cell phone retailers to tell customers of certain radiation risks. The justices left in place a July 2019 decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that refused to block the 2015 regulation that industry group CTIA appealed. CTIA said the regulation violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech rights, because the government, without the necessary justification that supports other types of regulations, is forcing retailers to spread a message they disagree with.


 

Tesla on Autopilot crashes into parked police carYet another Tesla on Autopilot was involved in a crash, this time with a parked police car that was assisting a driver with a disabled vehicle.


 

U.S. military to shift focus to competing with China and Russia: EsperDefense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday he still plans to shift the military’s focus to competing with China and Russia, even as security threats pile up in the Middle East. Esper outlined his strategic goals and priorities in a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual gathering of government, defense industry and military officials.


 

A protester from the conspiracy site InfoWars interrupted the latest impeachment hearing as soon as it began, shouting 'Trump is innocent!'"We know who committed the crimes and it wasn't Trump. Trump is innocent!" the pro-Trump InfoWars protester yelled as he was escorted out of the room.


 

Wisconsin Guard leader resigns in wake of sex assault reviewThe commander of the Wisconsin National Guard agreed to resign at Gov. Tony Evers' request Monday, following the release of a scathing federal report that found the Guard defied federal law, regulations and policies for years over the handling of soldiers' sexual assault and harassment complaints. The report from the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., found the Guard allowed internal investigations in defiance of federal law as well as Department of Defense and bureau policy; investigators falsely presented themselves as working for the federal bureau; case records were mismanaged; and Guard sexual assault response policies were not in compliance with federal regulations for more than five years.


 

Biden Says Son Hunter Will Not Engage in Foreign Business if He Wins in 2020Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden said his son Hunter will not be engaged in any foreign business if the former vice president is elected in 2020.“They will not be engaged in any foreign business because of what's happened in this administration,” Biden told "Axios on HBO."Hunter Biden raised eyebrows when it came to light that he held a lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was fighting corruption in Ukraine as vice president. The set-up prompted Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens while temporarily withholding U.S. military aid, an alleged quid pro quo that became the basis for the impeachment inquiry against Trump.“I don't know what he was doing. I know he was on the board. I found out he was on the board after he was on the board and that was it,” Biden said.A photo from the summer of 2014 shows Biden, then vice president, and his son Hunter with Devon Archer, who, like the younger Biden, served on the board of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company."No. Because I trust my son," Biden responded when asked whether he wanted to get to the bottom of his son's business dealings.The former vice president added that he is not worried since there is "not one single bit of evidence" and "nothing on its face that was wrong."Biden cited the business conflicts of interest of members of President Trump's family for his decision to have his family eschew foreign business opportunities, saying, "if you want to talk about problems, let's talk about Trump's family."Trump has been criticized for allegedly encouraging government spending at his luxury resorts, including floating his Miami golf resort as an ideal spot to host the 2020 G-7 summit.


 

Full coverage: Trump impeachment hearings — Day 7The Intelligence Committee formally presented its findings to the Judiciary Committee on Monday, bringing the House one step closer to a formal vote to impeach President Trump.


 

Boeing is promising 3 fixes to the faulty system behind the 737 Max crashes to let pilots stop it from forcing the plane into an unstoppable nosediveMCAS, which was designed to automatically push the plane's nose down to stabilize it, was identified as a key factor in both 737 Max crashes.


 

Sweden to prosecute ex-China envoy over Gui meetingsSweden's former envoy to Beijing is to go on trial for overstepping her duties by trying to negotiate the release of a Chinese-Swedish dissident held in China, prosecutors in Stockholm said Monday. Anna Lindstedt is accused of brokering an unauthorised meeting during her time as ambassador to get publisher Gui Minhai freed, a statement from the prosecutor's office said. Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders out of a Hong Kong book shop, disappeared while vacationing in Thailand in 2015 before resurfacing in mainland China.


 

Remember When Russian Diesel Submarines Chased Down A British Nuclear Sub?Depends if it actually happened.


 

Central Bank Limits, U.S. Immigration, U.K. Skills: Eco Day(Bloomberg) - Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Good morning Americas. Here’s the latest news and analysis from Bloomberg Economics to help get your day started:After years of crisis fighting, central bankers in key economies are entering a new decade with few good options to fight the next downturnThe closing of American borders to mass migration from Europe in the 1920s didn’t raise wages for U.S.-born workers, according to researchers, who say their findings carry important lessons for todayAt least 15 central banks are holding their final monetary policy meetings of the year this week, with the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank taking center stageRate-setters in Washington and Frankfurt are expected to maintain policy, though their colleagues in Brazil, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine are all forecast to cut rates.China hopes trade talks with the U.S. can produce satisfactory results as soon as possible, according to a Ministry of Commerce officialU.S. businesses are plagued by trade confusion as the Dec. 15 deadline for new tariffs loomDisparities over skills and opportunity are being amplified in Britain’s election campaign, especially in Hastings, a marginal seat where a fifth of the working-age population has no qualifications and employers struggle to recruitWhile the Saudi Arabian government is tightening its purse strings, the proceeds from Aramco’s record initial public offering could be used to soften the blow. The government is set to approve its 2020 budget todayTo contact the reporter on this story: Jill Ward in London at jward98@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Zoe SchneeweissFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


 

Boston's trauma to be dissected as marathon bomber appeals death sentenceThis city's deepest wound - the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured hundreds more - will be re-examined Thursday when lawyers for bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev seek to have his death sentence lifted because the jury pool was too traumatized to render a fair verdict. The then-19-year old Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan sparked five days of panic in Boston that began April 15, 2013, when they detonated a pair of homemade pressure cooker bombs at the race's packed finish line. The pair eluded capture for days, punctuated by a gunbattle with police in Watertown that killed Tamerlan and led to a daylong lockdown of Boston and most of its suburbs while heavily armed officers and troops conducted a house-to-house search for Dzhokhar.


 

Pete Buttigieg asked if taking big money out of politics includes not taking money from billionaires, he responds: 'No'Pete Buttigieg implied that he would take money off billionaires and closed-door fundraisers during a terse exchange with a student activist, amid growing criticism of the Democratic candidate’s fundraising strategy.The 2020 presidential candidate has come under scrutiny for his decision to take money from wealthy donors after a number of Democrats have pledged to take “big money” out of politics.


 

China claims all Uighur Muslims have happily 'graduated' from its oppressive prison camp system, despite widespread reports that at least 1 million are detainedXinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir claimed that everyone had "graduated" from "vocational training camps," found employment, and are leading happy lives.


 

‘No More Survivors Expected’ Among Dozens of Tourists Caught in New Zealand VolcanoAt least five people have died and more than 20 are still unaccounted for after the White Island/Whakaari volcano off the coast of New Zealand erupted without warning Monday as tourists hiked around the rim and walked inside the crater. Authorities say an estimated 30 to 38 of those on the island when the volcano erupted were on an adventure excursion from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was docked on North Island about 30 miles away. In a statement just after midnight local time, police officials said they feared the worst for those still on the island.“The Police Eagle helicopter, rescue helicopter, and NZDF aircraft have undertaken a number of aerial reconnaissance flights over the island since the eruption,” according to a statement at 12:12 a.m.“No signs of life have been seen at any point. Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation,” it reads.“Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island.”Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise Association and Royal Caribbean cruise lines, confirmed that tourists from the Ovation of the Seas ship were involved. He said the names and nationalities of those who were on the volcano for the cruise line’s “epic adventure excursion” have been handed to New Zealand police. Authorities said they believe it may be some time before the toxic ash is cool enough to set foot on the volcano for what is likely to be a recovery mission.About 10 minutes before the volcano erupted at 2:11 p.m. local time, a crater-rim webcam owned by the New Zealand Geological Hazards Agency GeoNet captured an image of a group of tourists approaching the crater. The next image shows only crumpled hardware after the camera was damaged in the blast.John Tims, New Zealand National Operation Commander, told a news conference Monday that toxic gases, burning ash, and lava have made conditions unsafe for rescue crews to search for survivors on the island. The dead were among 23 people immediately evacuated after the eruption. All those rescued had burn injuries. Officials said the five who died were among those evacuated.Officials in Canberra told the Agence-France Press news agency they believed a “considerable number” of those involved in the disaster are Australian.Authorities say around 50 people were on the tiny 1.2 mile-square-mile island at the time it erupted without warning. Several tourists posted photos of the eruption on social media as they watched in horror as the volcano erupted, sending a plume of hot ash some two miles into the sky. Michael Schade, an engineering manager from San Francisco, posted footage of the eruption from an excursion vessel he and several others were on as it sped away. “This is so hard to believe,” Schade wrote. “Our whole tour group were literally standing at the edge of the main crater not 30 minutes before.” The active volcano encompasses all of the tiny privately owned island about 30 miles from New Zealand’s North Island. It has been in a constant state of volcanic activity for more than 150,000 years. The last major eruption was in 2001, though the volcano has spewed spouts of dangerous steam from its vents in recent years. Despite the dangerous volcanic state, more than 10,000 adventure tourists visit the island each year, paying landing license to the island’s owners. The island also hosts a mobile research station but no residential accommodation, and tourists are warned of the potential for eruption and made to sign waivers regarding the potential danger they face on the live volcano, according to several websites offering volcano tours. “White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years,” Professor Emeritus Ray Cas, from Monash University’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment in Melbourne, Australia, told The Wall Street Journal. “Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter.”New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was heading to Whakatāne in the Bay of Plenty, which is the closest safe area to the disaster zone. She told reporters the situation was still “significant and evolving.” “We know that there were a number of tourists on or around the island at the time, both New Zealanders and visitors from overseas,” she said. “I know there will be a huge amount of concern and anxiety for those who had loved ones on or around the island at the time. I can assure them that police are doing everything they can.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


 

Amid flurry of Saudi reforms, mocktails on order in execution squareFor decades, criminals in Saudi Arabia were lined up after Friday prayers at a central Riyadh plaza and beheaded by sword in a gruesome public spectacle overseen by the religious police. Such jarring contrasts are accompanying the rapid social changes under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, like lifting bans on women driving, gender mixing and public entertainment. Many Saudis embrace the new openness, but even supporters worry it might be coming too quickly and risks provoking a conservative backlash.


 

'It was beautiful': Acupuncturists help migrants stranded at Mexico border deal with stressMigrants are embracing acupuncture treatments while living in dangerous Mexican border towns as they await their immigration court date in the U.S.


 

‘Toxic’ Mueller Impeachment Article Threatens to Split DemsWhen Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that House Democrats would proceed with articles of impeachment, she did so in the language of duty, history, and the Constitution. “This has nothing to do with politics,” she said. “It’s about the Constitution of the United States.”In almost the same breath, Pelosi revealed that it does, in fact, have at least something to do with politics. Asked what her “a-ha” moment was—the thing that got the long-reluctant speaker on board with impeachment—she said the Ukraine allegations against President Trump “changed everything.”“The polls,” said Pelosi, “went from 59 percent opposed to impeachment, to 34 in favor, to now even.”That conspicuous juxtaposition of lofty principle and hard political reality highlights the tension at the heart of the impeachment process as it heads into a decisive stretch. This week, Democrats’ sense of obligation and their sense of politics will be on a collision course as lawmakers debate, draft, and introduce their articles of impeachment against Trump, which are set to be revealed within days.That’s because the decision of what, exactly, to impeach Trump over will challenge the near-unanimity that’s existed within this big, fractious group of Democrats. Their overwhelming consensus so far has been that the president’s desire to pressure Ukraine into doing him personal political favors merited the use of the House’s most powerful check against a president for just the fourth time in the country’s history. No such consensus existed for other elements of Trump’s conduct in office, particularly the allegations of obstruction of justice outlined in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The majority of the public, as Pelosi noted, did not feel those charges justified impeachment—and neither did she. Even though over half of the Democratic caucus was publicly supportive of impeachment before the Ukraine story emerged, the moderate and purple-district lawmakers who won them the majority dismissed a Mueller-based impeachment drive as political suicide. Now, Democratic leadership and lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee—the panel that led House Democrats’ charge on all things Mueller—are weighing whether to weave that thread into articles of impeachment. Few on Capitol Hill predict this will be a fight that tears the party apart, but strong views on the subject abide, and lawmakers on both ends of the debate are anxiously bracing for a decision that amounts to something like a final judgment from House Democrats on the president’s conduct. “From the very beginning, we were clear that the process should be clear, strategic, and efficient,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a freshman Democrat from a Trump-won district in Michigan. In a September op-ed written with several like-minded colleagues, Slotkin called for an impeachment inquiry based squarely on the anonymous whistleblower’s complaint. The move went down as the speaker’s come-to-Jesus moment on impeachment; she launched the inquiry the next day. “Clear, meaning we have to make the case to the American people. We got that strategic focus on specific articles, hone in on those—don't take a kitchen-sink approach, really think strategically. And then efficient. This doesn't need to be an 18-month process,” Slotkin told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “I have made myself clear that it should be a very tight group of articles, very limited, very focused.”This view is not exactly shared by many of Slotkin’s colleagues. “You might say I’m in the kitchen sink caucus,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, a northern California Democrat who has long backed impeachment. “This office has been abused and damaged in profound ways,” Huffman said on Friday. “I personally would be for holding him accountable for every bit of it. Not for every grievance we have—I wouldn't include his bad behavior or his offensive rhetoric—but some specific actions that I believe that have abused authority and rise to the level of impeachable offense, in my view, would go well beyond the current Ukraine scandal.”But many Democrats in this boat admit the moment is simply too important for the party to suffer any real show of discord. Huffman says he would “accept a more strategically focused set of articles if that's the decision,” but said he expected some kind of compromise to emerge. Over the weekend, the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) held closed-door discussions about the possible scope of articles of impeachment and prepared members of the panel for the significant week to come. On Monday, the committee will convene for a hearing where lawmakers will hear prepared evidence for impeachment. According to a source familiar with the committee’s plans, Democrats spent the weekend huddling with Harvard constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe and holding mock hearings—during which Democrats played the roles of GOP members like top Judiciary Republican Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who has made parliamentary and process based interruptions central to the party’s hearing strategy. The format of the hearing is a sign that Mueller’s Russia investigation could get another high-profile public airing. On Monday, attorneys for both Judiciary and the House Intelligence Committees will present evidence that Trump committed impeachable offenses. Intelligence submitted a lengthy report on the Ukraine matter, but Judiciary has spent all year focused on Mueller. On Sunday, Nadler appeared on CNN and said that he is seriously considering an article of impeachment based on the Mueller findings in order to establish a “pattern” of wrongdoing by Trump that goes beyond Ukraine and encompasses his entire presidency.  Democrats both on Nadler’s panel and around the caucus see the logic to that move. “If there is an obstruction article, how do you ignore documented evidence of obstruction by the special counsel, for which he essentially said, ‘I’m not charging because of the Justice Department policy regarding the charging of a president,’ the Congress has remedies available,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) on Friday. “To me, that's just like, a great big blinking light that says, yeah, you really need to look at that.”An idea percolating within the caucus is that the Mueller-related charges could be put to the floor precisely so that moderates could vote against them, while the Ukraine-focused articles would stand a far stronger chance of passing. “Including one or two counts of obstruction for the Mueller report is totally appropriate,” said Huffman. “And if our more politically fragile members feel like they've got to vote against that, let them do it.”But among those who represent competitive districts, taking such a vote may not be such an appealing prospect. One aide associated with the moderate wing of the party said any vote on Mueller-focused impeachment grounds puts these lawmakers in a “terrible position.”“Largely, there’s no support of idea of bringing up articles about Mueller,” said the aide, calling the investigation’s entire subject matter politically “toxic” in the districts these lawmakers represent. This wing of the party is anxiously watching to see how Nadler—likely with a heavy hand from the speaker—draws up the articles. “Thirty-one Democratic members of Congress in Trump districts are going to be living with the decisions he makes for the next year,” said the aide.There’s some hope, however, that this could result in some kind of compromise to be brokered this week that reconciles the tension baked into Democrats’ impeachment enterprise. “I mean, we're not gonna send everybody home happy,” said Huffman. “That's just inherent in the situation that has been forced upon us.”Among some of the lawmakers who decided to support impeachment knowing it could be a liability back home, there’s a sense that the most important Rubicon has already been crossed.“For many of us, if this was purely a political issue, we would not have come out in support of an inquiry,” said Slotkin, who is just one of several Democrats already seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of impeachment-based attack ads against them in their districts. “So you have this threshold where you say, doesn't matter what a poll says, it doesn't matter what my consultants are telling me to do, what matters is right and wrong.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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Elizabeth Warren Built the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It Became a Revolving Door.When Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began staffing up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010 and 2011, she did something that appeared, at first blush, to be highly counterintuitive. Instead of limiting staff to those with extensive background in consumer activism and regulatory policy, she chose people with places like Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, and Capital One on their CVs.Those financial institutions were the very entities that the CFPB was supposed to haunt. The agency had been included in financial regulatory reform as a wishlist item for Wall Street-skeptical progressives. And yet, here was Warren—the intellectual godmother of the CFPB—handing out key roster assignments to officials from those very institutions. Before long, the supply chain was working the other way. As the CFPB carried out its mission during the Obama years, undertaking reforms to practices from aggressive debt collection to payday lending to mortgage finance rules, some of its senior staffers would leave the agency to work in the financial sector, many of them helping major banking and securities firms understand and navigate the rules they’d just helped write. As the agency pursued billions in civil penalties against financial firms, some of its senior officials found themselves on the payrolls of the sort of companies the CFPB was created to scrutinize and hold accountable.It’s the sort of “revolving door” between government industry that Warren has decried as a progressive stalwart in the Senate and a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. And it could complicate her efforts to make the CFPB a cornerstone of her White House bid by drawing cries of hypocrisy from campaign rivals. But beyond the talking points, the hirings also offer an unexpected window into Warren’s approach to governance, suggesting that she’s a shrewder, more pragmatic policymaker than her persona as a populist firebrand indicates.In the Warren vs. Dimon Feud, It’s Warren, Not Even CloseThe CFPB was created in response to the 2008 financial crisis, which resulted in mass mortgage defaults and hammered American debtors. Warren, then a Harvard professor, had dreamt up the idea and became the Obama administration's point person in devising a new agency to serve as a consumer finance watchdog and ensure that borrowers were not being fleeced by the financial institutions on which their livelihoods depended. Warren never actually led the agency, which was created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. There were internal White House fears that her presence atop the CFPB would spark immense backlash among Senate Republicans, so she was made a “senior adviser” with heavy sway over its inception and—most critically—early staffing decisions. “She was monstrously productive from a recruiting point of view,” recalled Raj Date, who served as CFPB’s associate director of research, markets, and regulation. “I grew up around successful recruiting engines—at McKinsey, at Capital One—and I have never seen a human being better at recruiting than her.”Warren’s central role was evident in a report that the CFPB released in 2011 recapping its creation and launch and the early progress it had made as the nation’s first federal consumer finance watchdog. She wrote a letter of introduction for the report, hailing the “strong foundation” for the agency and pledging, “in the years ahead, the CFPB will work hard for consumers across the country.”The report identified 21 people in senior CFPB leadership positions that had been instrumental in getting the new agency off the ground. They included some notable names from the financial sector. Date had been a managing director at Deutsche Bank in addition to his prior roles at McKinsey and Capital One. Elizabeth Vale, who oversaw community banks and credit unions at the agency, had been a managing director at Morgan Stanley. CFPB’s chief operating officer, Catherine West, had led Capital One’s credit card division.Take a Bow, Elizabeth WarrenWhile Warren plucked talent from the financial services industries, the relationship became even more intertwined over the subsequent years. Nearly half of the senior officials—nine out of the 21—mentioned in that report would go on to work in financial services, or for law or consulting firms with expertise and clientele in the sector, after their tenure at the CFPB.Roberto Gonzalez, for instance, served as the agency's deputy general counsel before becoming a partner at the law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP. He “represents financial institutions and other companies in high-stakes litigation, investigations and advisory matters,” according to the law firm’s website, which boasts that he helped “a major U.S. bank in connection with a favorable settlement with the CFPB.”“Roberto is an extraordinary lawyer with deep knowledge of the broad range of complex issues facing financial institutions, including, specifically, in the areas of financial regulation, DoddFrank, economic sanctions, anti-money laundering and cybersecurity,” the firm’s chairman told Law360 in 2016. “Needless to say, Roberto’s expertise is in high demand today.”It’s precisely that sort of demand that fuels Washington’s revolving door, and has created a cottage industry of former regulators who cash out to the industries they once regulated. Such moves can create perverse incentives for government employment: Those who go into public service in the hope of landing a lucrative private sector career afterward may be just as willing to side with industry in the hope of future pay as former industry lobbyists and executives who move into government positions.“In many ways, I find revolving out into industry more problematic than coming from industry,” said Jeff Hauser, the executive director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think tank, in an interview. “That influences your incentives in office, if you think you’re going to go work in this industry... There’s a willingness to rock the boat that I think is diminished if you want to enter the field that you’d be shaking up.”Hauser noted, though, that Warren has proposed policies that would have blocked at least some of the career moves that CFPB staffers took into private industries if they had been in effect at the time. That’s something the Warren campaign stressed as well.“Elizabeth is the leader—Republican or Democrat—in proposing a set of serious anti-corruption reforms and it will be her top priority to make them law,” campaign spokeswoman Saloni Sharma said in an emailed statement. “Her legislation will expand the definition of lobbyists to include anyone paid to influence lawmakers and ban giant companies, banks, and monopolies from hiring former senior government officials for at least four years.” Warren has also committed to imposing those standards on her administration if she’s elected president, even barring any action on the proposed legislation by Congress.Warren’s campaign did not address more specific questions about the revolving door between the early CFPB and the companies it regulated. Those questions go to the heart of the dilemma facing policymakers as they look to effectively wield the nation’s regulatory agencies while preventing and rooting out corruption: namely, how to staff the federal administrative apparatus with people who know the issues in their portfolio but are driven by public, not private, interests.As a presidential candidate, Warren has come down firmly on the anti-corruption side of that dilemma—blocking or at least slowing the revolving door. But that approach can come at the expense of expertise that former industry insiders can offer. It can also preclude the private sector companies from hiring the very regulators who can help them make sense of often complex regulatory regimes and even imbue their industry with a sense of mission. It’s the latter approach that Warren appears to have embraced in the early days of the CFPB. She often stressed that the agency was drawing talent and expertise from a host of backgrounds, including industry, in an effort to craft a more effective regulatory apparatus.It’s an approach that Date described as a break from traditional progressive thinking on financial watchdog efforts, which often elevate consumer advocates and lawyers. “If you want to build and operate these agencies well, it cannot just be a bunch of lawyers,” he said. “This notion that a critical qualification to make policy for an industry is to have never been in it—the idea that you are more capable the less you know—I find that notion, on its face, absurd.”The other side of the CFPB revolving door had its benefits, too, Date said. The dispersal of people from the agency, who were instrumental in its creation and committed to its mission, into the financial services industry had an evangelizing effect, he said."There are lots of reasons where I thought the most important thing longer-term was to take people, a nontrivial number of people, who live what it’s like to be the enforcers and articulators of what the right principles should be, it would be good if you take people who internalized what these principled-based views should be and take that into industry,” Date said. “That’s good. We have suffered from that in consumer finance."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.


 

'An outright lie': Ohio lawmaker shown to be linked to group pushing rightwing Christian billsTimothy Ginter, who said he had ‘no knowledge’ of Project Blitz, was listed as co-chair of state branch of group behind the campaignAn Ohio legislator who said he had “no knowledge” of a rightwing Christian bill mill called Project Blitz is, in fact, the co-chair of the state branch of an organization behind the campaign.The Ohio state representative Timothy Ginter sponsored a bill called the Student Religious Liberties Act. Opponents argued the bill would provide students with a religious exemption to facts, and would frighten teachers and school administrators into including religion in school functions.The Guardian revealed the bill was nearly identical to one promoted by Project Blitz, a state legislative project guided by three Christian right organizations, including the Congressional Prayer Caucus (CPC), WallBuilders and the ProFamily Legislators Conference. Project Blitz aims to promote and help pass conservative legislation across the US to fulfil its rightwing Christian agenda.When initially approached, Ginter told the Guardian in an email from a legislative aide that he had “no knowledge of ‘Project Blitz’ and has not been working with WallBuilders or the Congressional Prayer Caucus”.However, a screenshot shows Ginter was listed as the co-chair of the Ohio Prayer Caucus, the state chapter of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, as recently as January 2019. Ginter’s former chief of staff, Chris Albanese, is currently listed as the state director of the state chapter of CPC, Ohio Prayer Caucus.“I would call it an outright lie,” said Frederick Clarkson, a senior research analyst with Political Research Associates, and an expert on the Christian right. “The Prayer Caucus in the states are the action arm of Project Blitz – it is Project Blitz,” he said. “When he told you, ‘I’ve never heard of Project Blitz,’ that was a lie,” said Clarkson.The Guardian repeatedly called and emailed both Ginter and the the Republican Ohio house speaker, Larry Householder. Neither responded to these phone or email requests.In a statement at the time, Ginter argued the bill was necessary because, “well-funded groups” were intimidating school officials with “the thread of litigation”. His bill, he argued, would clarify their responsibilities.Ginter also argued the Student Religious Liberties Bill was not a Christian bill, because it does not explicitly mention Christianity. However, the Ohio Prayer Caucus he co-chaired explicitly lays out that it support legislators “who are standing for faith, morality and Judeo-Christian principles”.The Congressional Prayer Caucus also circulated an Ohio Prayer Proclamation. Among its signers are Ginter; the former representative Bill Hayes, who originally sponsored the bill; and the former House speaker Cliff Rosenberger. Rosenberger resigned in 2018 after a search warrant and subpoena revealed the FBI was investigating Rosenberger for corruption involving three payday lending representatives, according to the Dayton Daily News.Prominent defenders of religious liberties, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Anti-Defamation League, oppose the legislation. Republicans in the Ohio House passed the legislation with a party-line vote in November. It has not yet been taken up by the Ohio senate.


 

Barr 'warns Trump that Giuliani has become a liability'Donald Trump’s attorney general has repeatedly briefed the president that Rudy Giuliani has become a liability to his administration, it has been reported, as opposition to the former New York mayor continues to swell within the White House.Mr Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has become increasingly embroiled in the impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump – and is accused of running a shadow foreign policy operation out of the White House despite not having been appointed to serve in a government position.


 

The Russian Navy Has Some ProblemsYes, they received 23 new ships this year. That's where the good news ends.


 

It Looks Like a B-2 Bomber: Here Comes Russia's Okhotnik Stealth DroneTake a look.


 

GOP lawmaker says 'out-of-the-box strategy' could give Trump an 'advantage' in impeachment hearings Rep. Matt Gaetz said it would play to the “president’s advantage” to have his top administration officials testify in the upcoming impeachment hearings. 


 

Katie Hill: It's Not Over After AllI OVERCAME THE DESPERATION I FELT AFTER STEPPING DOWN FROM CONGRESS, AND I'M STILL IN THE FIGHT.On Nov. 6, 2018, I was elected to Congress; at 31, I was one of the youngest women ever elected to the House of Representatives. One year later, I was sitting on a train to New York to meet with my lawyers about suing The Daily Mail for cyber exploitation - and I was no longer a member of Congress.A few days earlier, on Oct. 31, 2019, I stepped up to the microphone to deliver my final speech on the house floor. It was the first time I had spoken publicly since my relationship with a campaign staffer was exposed, since naked photos of me - taken without my knowledge and distributed without my consent - had been posted online, since wild accusations from my estranged husband about a supposed affair with a congressional staffer (which I have repeatedly denied), since I had resigned my hard-fought seat in Congress. I had barely gotten used to giving such speeches. Over the past year I had awkwardly learned, with many fumbles, how to perform the ritual that so many had done before me: formally ask the speaker of the House for recognition, walk to the lectern and smoothly position it to the correct height, adjust the microphone so it isn't blocking your face and look at the clock so the C-Span cameras can see you. Talk slowly and fluidly. Breathe; the pauses you take feel much longer than they are.That day, oddly, I didn't get nervous the way I normally did. I got every part of the routine right. I felt calm and strong as I began to speak, because I had to be. I needed to say something to the countless people who had put their faith in me. I needed to say something to the girls and young women who looked up to me, and also to those who didn't even know my name. I needed to make sure that my horrific experience did not frighten and discourage other women who will dare to take risks, dare to step into this light, dare to be powerful.Many people have nightmares in which they're naked in public, trapped and trying to escape. In the days leading up to my resignation, my life was just like everyone's worst nightmare. Millions of people had seen pictures of me naked. Hundreds of journalists, commentators, politicians and public figures had written or spoken about my "downfall," the "choices" I made, the lessons young people should take from what happened to me, the impact it would have on politics moving forward, the responsibility I bore for all of it.I read those articles with the acute sense that writers and readers alike must think I am already dead. I'm not, though sometimes I've wished to be. More than half of the victims of cyber exploitation (also known as revenge porn) contemplate suicide in the aftermath. Many have attempted, and some tragically have succeeded.After the images came out, as I lay curled up in my bed with my mind in the darkest places it's ever been, countless texts and voice mails came from donors, friends, volunteers and voters sending love. But they couldn't drown out the horrible messages and calls from people who found my phone number on the internet.Though staff members at my (now former) offices got tremendous support, they were also inundated with lewd and threatening messages. When a letter filled with suspicious powder arrived at one of my offices, staffers had to be evacuated. My hometown was filled with people who were worried about me, cared about me and wanted to see me, and yet my mom was followed by people in dark trucks with cameras, my sister's business was trolled and my dad drove around our hometown pulling down huge posters of his baby girl in a Nazi uniform with the text "WifenSwappenSS."Sitting on that train to New York a few days after my resignation had taken effect, reflecting on what my life had become, I realized that it was almost one year to the minute from when I received a voice mail from my predecessor, Steve Knight, to concede - when I found out I was going to be a congresswoman.I was in the campaign headquarters the morning he called. The team had been working around the clock for months or longer - some people had been with the campaign for over a year - as we clawed our way to victory in a race that no one thought we could win. When I announced my candidacy, I was 29 years old, working at a homeless services nonprofit organization and had been driven to run for office because of the results of the 2016 presidential election. I was a complete unknown, a young bisexual woman with no political background or experience, no wealth, no Ivy League degree, trying to flip a district that had been held by Republicans for over two decades.When I finished listening to the voice mail from my opponent, I turned around and told my team. Countless people across the country have witnessed that moment - Vice captured it as part of a documentary series called "She's Running." Most people on my team cried, but I didn't. I couldn't really tell you how I felt then. Shock isn't quite right - I had felt like we'd win for a long time - though it certainly felt surreal.I was aware that my life was about to change substantially, but it had already changed so much that I felt like I was just shifting gears. I was excited. I felt ready for it. I knew I was a leader, that I represented my community, that I reflected the change that the country wanted and needed. I knew that I could be a voice for young people and women and people who had been left out for far too long. That I had to be.Once I got to Washington, I was one of two people elected to represent the freshman class at the leadership table, and once I started sitting in meetings multiple times each week with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the other most powerful Democrats in the House, I knew I belonged there, too. I didn't feel awkward or unsure. I was completely confident. I felt like my district loved me (and the polling showed it) and I knew I was making a difference to so many people even just by showing them they could have a voice at the highest levels of power.The job was hard - I made some missteps, there were plenty of things I could have done better, and I had so much to learn. But I was figuring it out fast. I was good at this. My future in Congress was limitless, and that mattered not only to me but to the people who believed in me.My home life was another story. That day on the train to New York was also five months to the day from when I moved out of my house and told my husband, who I had been with since I was 16 years old, that I wanted a divorce. It wasn't the first time I had tried to leave; the last time was less than a month before the election, and when I tried, he made it clear to me that if I left, he would ruin me. I knew he could, so I went back to him and finished the campaign. But, after five months on the job and with the toxicity of our relationship growing worse, I knew I had to finally leave once and for all.In June, my dad came with me to my house. I got my things, moved in with my mom, and didn't look back. The fear that my husband would ruin me hung over me every day. I knew the risk when I left, but I thought I didn't have a choice, and despite the threat, I felt better than I had in years.The day that my communications director ran into my office and showed me the nudes and private text messages that had been published on a right-wing website called Red State, everything came crashing down. I believe my husband is the source of the images. (He has reportedly denied this; his father said in an interview that his son believed he had been hacked. My husband and his lawyer did not respond to requests from the Times for comment.) At first, I was in denial. I couldn't accept that the future I had imagined as a leader in Congress - the job I loved and knew I was making a difference by being in - was over.I was thinking about all of this as I went to see my lawyers. Suddenly, the train stopped. We sat there for a long time, wondering what had happened. Then someone announced that a person had jumped in front of the train, and died. My thoughts shifted to the person on the tracks while we waited for the police to investigate and for the coroner to arrive. I knew the despair that can lead someone to that place all too well. I had been there just a week before.People have speculated that Speaker Pelosi or the party leadership asked me to resign because of the photos and the allegations about me. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, one of the most difficult moments during my resignation process was my phone call to the Speaker, a woman I admire more than anyone and who I had come to love. She told me I didn't have to do this, that the country needed me and that she wished I hadn't made this decision, but she respected me and what I felt I needed to do. I told her what I told everyone else when I announced my resignation: that it was the right thing to do.I knew it was the best decision for me, my family, my staff, my colleagues, my community. But that didn't make it any easier, and in the days that followed, I was overwhelmed by everything - by how many people had seen my naked body, by the comments, the articles, the millions of opinions, the texts, the calls. I would start shaking, crying, throwing up. It was hard to talk to my family because I knew they were going through so much, too. I didn't want to talk to my friends because I was humiliated and didn't want to hear more pity and didn't know what to say. Many of my staff members had been with me for years, and we were, for better or worse, very close; now I feared that they all hated me.I didn't leave my apartment. I felt so alone and didn't know what to do.It was two days after I announced my resignation. I don't even know how I spent the day. I was probably reading articles about myself that I shouldn't have been reading, ignoring more text messages and calls, falling in and out of restless sleep. But when it got dark I drew a bath, lit candles and brought over a bottle of wine.I laid there and thought about what I'd lost. The people on my team and in my life who had been hurt and had done nothing wrong. Everyone I'd let down, everyone who worked for me, who campaigned for me, who believed in me. The future I thought was in store for me that was instantly and irrevocably gone. My own mistakes had led me there, but there were other things at play. And those pictures - no one should have ever seen them.How could I ever face anyone again knowing what they'd seen? Knowing what they knew?The bath water had gone cold. The wine bottle was empty. Suddenly and with total clarity, I just wanted it all to be over. I got up and looked for the box cutter. I couldn't find it. A part of my brain was saying: "Stop it, this is stupid. You're not going to do it. Go drain the bathtub and get yourself together." But I felt like I was out of my body, like it was moving without me, and I got the paring knife and got back into the cold bath.I stared at the veins in my wrists. They were so thin. They were green in the candlelight. I started tracing them with the edge of the knife, lightly at first, then pushing harder and harder. The knife was duller than I thought. It surprised me how hard I had to push simply to scratch the surface. Fine red lines started to appear, and I knew that if I pushed just a tiny bit harder I would start to bleed. I thought about the people I had already let down so much. What would this do to my parents? To my brother and sister?And then I thought about my supporters. I thought about the high school students who had told me how I inspired them. I thought about the Girl Scouts whose troops I'd visited who told me they wanted to grow up to be like me, and how their parents would explain this to them, and what it would do to them. And I realized I couldn't do it. I ran the campaign knowing it was bigger than me and what I wanted, and it still is. I don't get to quit. I have to keep going forward, and be part of the fight to create the change that those young girls are counting on.The next day, I wrote my final speech. My roommate, Lauren Underwood, the youngest black woman ever elected to Congress and my best friend in Washington, gave me a goodbye party with my freshman colleagues. I spent the evening with history-makers, change-makers, majority-makers, role models and heroes to millions. Some great men, but mostly women. Women who will be remembered forever. But that night, they were just my friends.At the end of the evening, I sat uncomfortably on a bar stool and cried as my friends went around the room and said the nicest things - things I needed to hear. Each and every one of them told me that I wasn't done. Alex - "A.O.C.," as people like to call her - said I was a warrior and always would be.So the next day I put on my battle uniform: a red dress suit that my mom had bought me. I put on my war paint: bright red lipstick. I stepped up to that lectern and told the world that although my time in Congress was over, I wasn't done - I was just moving to another battlefield. I closed my speech, saying: "We will not stand down. We will not be broken. We will not be silenced. We will rise, and we will make tomorrow better than today. … I yield the balance of my time for now, but not forever." I meant that not just for myself, but for all of us.I don't know exactly what's ahead for me, and I know there's a lot more pain ahead. But I'm in the fight, and I'm glad it's not all over after all.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


 

'I Got Tired of Hunting Black and Hispanic People'NEW YORK - At a police station tucked into an end-of-the-line subway terminal in South Brooklyn, the new commander instructed officers to think of white and Asian people as "soft targets" and urged them to instead go after blacks and Latinos for minor offenses like jumping the turnstile, a half-dozen officers said in sworn statements."You are stopping too many Russian and Chinese," one of the officers, Daniel Perez, recalled the commander telling him earlier this decade.Another officer, Aaron Diaz, recalled the same commander saying in 2012, "You should write more black and Hispanic people."The sworn statements, gathered in the last few months as part of a discrimination lawsuit, deal with a period between 2011-15. But they are now emerging publicly at a time when policing in the subway has become a contentious issue, sparking protests over a crackdown on fare evasion and other low-level offenses.The commander, Constantin Tsachas, was in charge of more than 100 officers who patrolled a swath of the subway system in Brooklyn, his first major command. Since then, he has been promoted to the second-in-command of policing the subway system throughout Brooklyn. Along the way, more than half a dozen subordinates claim, he gave them explicit directives about whom to arrest based on race.Those subordinates recently came forward, many for the first time, providing signed affidavits to support a discrimination lawsuit brought by four black and Hispanic police officers.The officers claim they faced retaliation from the New York Police Department because they objected to what they said was a long-standing quota system for arrests and tickets, which they argued mainly affected black and Hispanic New Yorkers.The authorities have deployed hundreds of additional officers to the subways, provoking a debate about overpolicing and the criminalization of poverty. Videos of arrests of young black men and of a woman selling churros in the subway system have gone viral in recent weeks. Demonstrators have taken to the subway system and jumped turnstiles in protest.Six officers said in their affidavits that Tsachas, now a deputy inspector, pressured them to enforce low-level violations against black and Hispanic people, while discouraging them from doing the same to white or Asian people.Tsachas declined to comment when reached by telephone this week, but his union representative said the inspector denied the allegations of misconduct. The Police Department also declined to address the allegations.The department has said in the past that its enforcement of fare evasion is not aimed at black and Hispanic people.More than three years ago, when Tsachas was promoted to his current rank, the police commissioner at the time, William J. Bratton, said that allegations Tsachas pushed quotas were false."I have full faith and support in him," Bratton said. He added that Tsachas had "the requisite skills and comes highly recommended."Most of the people arrested on charges of fare evasion in New York are black or Hispanic, according to data the Police Department has been required to report under local law since 2017.Between October 2017 and June 2019, black and Hispanic people, who account for slightly more than half the population in New York City, made up nearly 73% of those who got a ticket for fare evasion and whose race was recorded. They also made up more than 90% of those who were arrested, rather than given a ticket.Some elected officials have complained about the apparent racial disparity in arrests, saying it may indicate bias on the part of officers or an unofficial policy of racial profiling by the police."The focus of black and brown people, even if other people were doing the same crime, points to what many of us have been saying for a while," the city's public advocate, Jumaane Williams, said. "The same actions lead to different results, unfortunately, depending on where you live and an overlay of what you look like."Enforcement has surged nearly 50% in 2019, as city police officers issued 22,000 more tickets for fare evasion this year compared to 2018, according to Police Department data from Nov. 10.While the affidavits focus on a time period that ended nearly five years ago, they suggest at least one police commander openly pushed racial profiling when making arrests in the subway."I got tired of hunting Black and Hispanic people because of arrest quotas," one former officer, Christopher LaForce, said in his affidavit, explaining his decision to retire in 2015.In the affidavits, the officers said that different enforcement standards applied to different stations across Transit District 34, which spanned stations across South Brooklyn: Brooklyn's Chinatown in Sunset Park; neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish communities; a corner of Flatbush that is home to many Caribbean immigrants; and the Russian enclave around Brighton Beach."Tsachas would get angry if you tried to patrol subway stations in predominantly white or Asian neighborhoods" LaForce said in his affidavit. He added that the commander would redirect officers to stations in neighborhoods with larger black and Hispanic populations.Diaz, who retired from the Police Department last year, described in his affidavit how on one occasion Tsachas seemed irritated at him for having stopped several Asian people for fare evasion and told him he should be issuing tickets to "more black and Hispanic people."At the time, Diaz said, he was assigned to the N Line, which passes through neighborhoods with large numbers of Chinese Americans. He had arrested multiple residents of that neighborhoods for doubling up as they went through the turnstiles, according to his affidavit.Other officers described similar experiences. Some of the officers claimed in affidavits that Tsachas urged his officers to come up with reasons to stop black men, especially those with tattoos, and check them for warrants.Of the six officers, all but one is retired. They are all black or Hispanic. The affidavits were given to The New York Times by one of the four officers who has sued the Police Department, Lt. Edwin Raymond.The allegations in the affidavits were bolstered by a police union official, Corey Grable, who gave a deposition in June in the same lawsuit that recounted his interactions with Tsachas. He recalled Tsachas had once complained about a subordinate who Tsachas said seemed to go for "soft targets."Unsure what that meant, Grable asked if the officer was ticketing old ladies for minor offenses? Tsachas responded: "No, Asian."Grable, who is black, asked, "Would you have been more comfortable if these guys were black or Hispanic?""Yes," Tsachas replied, according to Grable's recollection.Tsachas joined the Police Department in 2001 and patrolled public housing developments in Harlem for five years. He later analyzed crime patterns in Queens and across the city before being transferred to the Transit Bureau. He was a captain in 2011 when he was appointed to command Brooklyn's District 34, a position he held for at least four years.In 2015, he took command of neighboring Transit District 32, where Raymond, who is currently suing him, worked. At the time Raymond held the rank of police officer.Raymond has charged in the lawsuit that Tsachas blocked his promotion by giving him a low evaluation as punishment for not making enough arrests.Raymond, who is now a patrol supervisor in Brooklyn, recorded a conversation in October 2015 in which Tsachas encouraged him to arrest more people and gave an example of the sort of arrest he did not want: a 42-year-old Asian woman with no identification arrested on a charge of fare beating."That's not going to fly," he said, according to the recording, first described in a New York Times Magazine article.Raymond, who still had the rank of police officer at the time, responded that it was unconstitutional to consider race when deciding whom to arrest. Tsachas, a captain at the time, then apologized, saying the comment "didn't come out the way it's supposed to."Raymond said he believed Tsachas should not have been promoted. "It's a spit in the face of communities of color that this man is given more power after being exposed as a bigot," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


 

American soldiers banned from Italian main street after vicious brawlAround 2,000 US Army soldiers have been banned from one of the main streets in the Italian city of Vicenza after a  brawl between soldiers and locals.  The temporary ban, which affects members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade stationed in the city, involves the quaint via  Contra' Pescherie Vecchie, where two young Vicenza men say they were surrounded and beaten by several soldiers after a verbal exchange just outside a popular watering hole for off duty combat paratroopers.  “This is not my face. I was not like this before,” Riccardo Passaro, 21, told La Repubblica from the hospital where he is recovering from reconstructive facial surgery after his jaw was shattered.  City authorities are studying CCTV images to identify the culprits of the latest violent episode, which prompted Mayor Francesco Rucco to request special restrictive measures from the base commander.  Col. Kenneth Burgess issued a memo warning that personnel caught entering the restricted zone during the 45-day ban faced disciplinary sanctions. “It is a decree without precedent in Vicenza and for this we thank the American authorities," Mayor Rucco said. The US military presence in Vicenza has been expanding for the last decade, with construction of the large Del Din annex north of the historic Ederle garrison to help lodge US Africa Command and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, which conducts contingency response and NATO ally training in Europe.  Vicenza's 113,000 inhabitants now intermingle, mostly peacefully, with more than 12,000 Americans, including military family members and employees of the two bases bookending the city.  But an uptick in problems related to heavy drinking, violence and public disorder since the expansion has exasperated locals.   In 2014,  several rape investigations and a car crash in the city centre involving three pedestrians made headlines. In 2016 and 2017 there were bloody brawls involving injuries and property damage. And in 2018, police intervened 550 times in violent incidents involving Americans, prompting new joint night patrols this year by U.S. military police and Italian Carabinieri.


 

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One of the world's largest basic-income trials, a 2-year program in Finland, was a major flop. But experts say the test was flawed.Two years after Finland launched a basic-income trial for unemployed residents, many of the recipients remained jobless.


 

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