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Grace Millane killer 'eroticised' backpacker's death, say prosecutors in trial's closing statements

1 hour 47 min ago

Grace Millane killer 'eroticised' backpacker's death, say prosecutors in trial's closing statementsThe trial of Grace Millane’s accused killer heard the closing statements of the Crown and the defence on Thursday, with Justice Simon Moore expected to sum up the case Friday morning before sending the jury out for deliberation.  In closing, the prosecution said the accused, a 27-year-old New Zealand man who cannot be named, had "eroticised" Ms Millane's death, taking photos of her body and watching a pornographic film after killing her. Prosecutor Brian Dickey said “this case is about being strangled to death. You can’t consent to your own murder”. He said the forensic pathologist who conducted an autopsy on the 21-year-old British woman testified it would have taken up to 10 minutes for her to die.  He added it would have taken “sustained effort and strength”, with her showing signs of distress, then falling unconscious and going limp before dying. “There is powerful evidence in this case that Grace was murdered… (the accused) must have known that they were hurting her, causing her harm, that might well cause her death,” he said. He reminded that jury that Dr Clare Healy, an expert in sexual assaults, told the court that it would take "quite some effort and some time to kill a person by (mechanical asphyxiation)". The defence argued the accused was panic-stricken and had done the wrong thing after Ms Millane died, but that her death was accidental. While the defence conceded the accused searched “hottest fire” online after Ms Millane’s death, they suggested it could have meant anything. Despite the results of a police search finding otherwise, the accused has not admitted to Google searches for rigor mortis and flesh-eating birds in New Zealand, watching pornography or taking photos of Ms Millane’s body after she died. He chose not to testify in the trial. Defence counsel Ian Brookie said the accused was in a "high stress situation" after Ms Millane died and feared “he wouldn’t be believed” that she had died in a consensual sexual activity gone wrong. Mr Dickey said the CCTV footage the next day did not show the actions of a man in a state of panic, that the accused was "calm and collected" in his actions in planning the disposal of her body, and showed no regard for her dignity as he forced her body into a suitcase and went on another date that same day. “It speaks to someone who was entirely without regret,” Mr Dickey told the court.

Delisting Chinese Firms From U.S. Is a ‘Terrible Idea,’ Hank Paulson Says

4 hours 34 min ago

Delisting Chinese Firms From U.S. Is a ‘Terrible Idea,’ Hank Paulson Says(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said calls to oust Chinese companies from American stock indexes was contrary to the foundations of capitalism, as he warned against the dangers of decoupling the world’s two largest economies.Paulson, who’s now chairman of the Paulson Institute, told Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum in Beijing that moves to reduce ties between the U.S. and China would weaken American leadership and New York’s leading role in finance. He said less cooperation between Washington and Beijing would also make it more difficult to tackle another financial crisis like the one he was forced to manage as treasury secretary in 2008.“When the next crisis comes -- and a crisis will come, because financial crises are inevitable -- we will regret it if we lack mechanisms for the world’s first and second-largest economies to coordinate,” Paulson told the forum on Thursday, according to a prepared version of his remarks.Paulson’s speech followed on from his warning at the same forum last year that an “economic iron curtain” was descending between the U.S. and Chinese economies. Since then, the relations between the two sides have grown even more strained by trade disputes, security spats and disagreement over human rights.The Trump administration has been pressuring allies to stop using Chinese technology. U.S. officials are also discussing ways to limit American investors’ portfolio flows into China, Bloomberg News reported in September, citing people familiar with the internal deliberations.The U.S. Treasury said that there was no plan “at this time” to block Chinese companies from listing on U.S. stock exchanges.“Decoupling China from U.S. markets by delisting Chinese firms from US exchanges is a terrible idea,” Paulson said. “So is forcing Chinese equities out of the MSCI indexes. It is simply contrary to the foundations of successful capitalism for politicians and bureaucrats to instruct private American players how to deploy private capital for private ends.”The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.\--With assistance from Karen Leigh.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Peter Martin in Beijing at pmartin138@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at, James MaygerFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Russia opens investigation into space center fraud after Putin rebuke

5 hours 6 min ago

Russia opens investigation into space center fraud after Putin rebukeRussian investigators said on Thursday they had opened two criminal cases into the management of a company involved in building the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space center in the country's Far East. The announcement came less than two weeks after President Vladimir Putin complained to government officials about corruption at the facility and called for further investigations. Construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome began in January 2011, part of a plan for Russia to reduce its dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which Russia leases from the former Soviet Republic for space operations.

Charges dropped against immune new Sri Lanka president

6 hours 22 min ago

Charges dropped against immune new Sri Lanka presidentCorruption charges against Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa were dropped Thursday by a court, which handed his passport back as he acquired immunity from prosecution after being elected last weekend. Under Sri Lanka's constitution, no court proceedings can be maintained against a serving president. The High Court had indicted Rajapaksa in September last year on charges of siphoning off 33 million rupees (around $185,000) in state funds to build a memorial for his parents.

Nearly ¾ of transgender people slain since 2017 killed with guns

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 23:19

Nearly ¾ of transgender people slain since 2017 killed with guns"Transgender violence is a gun violence issue," says Everytown for Gun Safety researcher

Pete Buttigieg slams Tulsi Gabbard for meeting with 'murderous dictator' Bashar al-Assad

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 21:38

Pete Buttigieg slams Tulsi Gabbard for meeting with 'murderous dictator' Bashar al-AssadAfter Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) accused South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of being woefully inexperienced when it comes to national security and foreign policy, Buttigieg fired back by saying he would never have met a "murderous dictator" like she did.In 2017, six years after the start of the Syrian Civil War, Gabbard traveled to the country to meet with its leader, Bashar al-Assad. The United States considers him a war criminal who killed his own citizens, and facing criticism for her trip back home, Gabbard refused to denounce Assad or apologize for the meeting.Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) brought this up earlier in the debate, mentioning Gabbard's reluctance to call Assad a war criminal.> Kamala Harris hit Tulsi Gabbard hard on tonight's Democratic debate stage. Watch: > > (Live analysis:> > -- POLITICO (@politico) November 21, 2019After Gabbard accused Buttigieg of having no experience and making a "careless statement" saying he would "be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels," Buttigieg picked up where Harris left off. He first accused Gabbard of taking the remarks out of context, telling her it was preposterous to think he proposed invading Mexico."If your question is about experience, let's also talk about judgment," Buttigieg said. "One of the foreign leaders you mentioned meeting was Bashar al-Assad. I have in my experience, such as it is whether you think it counts or not since it wasn't accumulated in Washington, enough judgment that I would not have sat down with a murderous dictator like that." Gabbard told Buttigieg this was proof he "would lack the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends," and brought up Franklin Roosevelt meeting with Josef Stalin and John F. Kennedy convening with Nikita Khrushchev. Buttigieg interrupted to bring up another dynamic duo: "Like Donald Trump met with Kim [Jong Un]," he said.More stories from India is entering a new dark age Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Late night hosts soak in the fallout from Gordon Sondland's impeachment bombshells

President Andrew Yang's first words to Russia's Vladimir Putin: 'I'm sorry I beat your guy'

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 21:32

 'I'm sorry I beat your guy'Andrew Yang didn't get much speaking time at Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, but he made memorable use of the time he got. Near the end of the debate, Yang was asked what he would say, if elected, in his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Well, first I'd say I'm sorry I beat your guy," he said. "Or not sorry," he added, after a pause for applause. "And second, I'd say the days of meddling in American elections are over, and we will take any undermining of our democratic processes as an act of hostility and aggression."Yang continued with a substantive answer, though he got a little in the weeds of mixed metaphors with his proposal for a "new World Data Organization, like a WTO for data, because right now, unfortunately, we're living in a world where data is the new oil and we don't have our arms around it."More stories from India is entering a new dark age Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Late night hosts soak in the fallout from Gordon Sondland's impeachment bombshells

Protesters stay holed up on Hong Kong campus, surrounded by riot police

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 21:24

Protesters stay holed up on Hong Kong campus, surrounded by riot policeFewer than 100 protesters remained holed up in a Hong Kong university on Thursday as riot police encircled the campus, with some activists still desperately searching for ways to escape while others hid. Some protesters told Reuters they where holding out not for a showdown with police, but because they were innocent and looking for an escape route. Many protesters have abandoned their belongings, including gas masks and umbrellas.

Cory Booker goes after Biden on marijuana — and lands Biden in a string of gaffes

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 21:20

Cory Booker goes after Biden on marijuana — and lands Biden in a string of gaffesSen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has a wake- and bake-up call for former Vice President Joe Biden.A few days ago, Biden set himself apart from the rest of the top 2020 Democrats by calling marijuana a "gateway drug" and saying "legalization is a mistake." Booker brought that comment up in Wednesday's Democratic primary debate, saying while he has "a lot of respect" for Biden, when he heard that remark, he "thought you might have been high when you said it."> "I have a lot of respect for the vice president...this week I hear him literally say that 'I don't think we should legalize marijuana.' I thought you might have been high when you said it," Sen. Cory Booker said to Joe Biden. DemDebate> > -- CNBC (@CNBC) November 21, 2019After his well-timed zing, Booker explained why he had a problem with Biden's remark. "Marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people," he said, pointing out how black and brown people are disproportionately hurt by current drug policies.Biden immediately got heated -- and slipped into a string of slips of the tongue. He clarified that he does support decriminalizing marijuana as part of his presidential platform, and that no one should be in jail for pot possession. And then he pivoted to how that ties to his support from black voters, saying he "come[s] out of the black community" before quickly adding "in terms of my support." And then he declared he had the endorsement of the "the only African American woman that had ever been elected to the United States Senate" -- with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) standing just a few feet away.More stories from Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' India is entering a new dark age Rep. Devin Nunes got help from indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas for 2018 Europe trip

The Latest: Pope commits Church to work with Thai Buddhists

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 20:31

 Pope commits Church to work with Thai BuddhistsPope Francis is committing the Catholic Church to working more with Thailand’s majority Buddhists to launch projects to care for the poor and the environment. Francis made the pledge during a meeting Thursday with the supreme Buddhist patriarch at the Wat Ratchabophit temple. It was the second time a pope has called on the spiritual leader of Thailand’s Buddhists, after St. John Paul II visited the temple in 1984.

2020 debate: Tulsi Gabbard prompts a brawl with Kamala Harris over dig at Democratic Party

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 20:25

 Tulsi Gabbard prompts a brawl with Kamala Harris over dig at Democratic PartyWhen asked about controversial comments by Hillary Clinton, Tulsi Gabbard took a stab at the Democratic Party, prompting response from Kamala Harris.

Singapore ‘Repatriates’ Hongkonger Who Held Political Meeting

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 20:14

Singapore ‘Repatriates’ Hongkonger Who Held Political Meeting(Bloomberg) -- A Hong Kong resident living in Singapore has been “repatriated” home after organizing an illegal gathering of mostly ethnic Chinese last month to talk about the ongoing protests, according to local media reports.Restaurant owner Alex Yeung, along with a 55-year-old former Hong Kong resident, were issued a “stern warning” over what was said to be a gathering of about 10 people sharing their views of the escalating protests, which is an offense under the Public Order Act. Yeung, who has a Youtube channel of largely pro-Beijing content was further instructed he would not be allowed to enter Singapore again without permission from the authorities.“Singapore has always been clear that foreigners should not advocate their political causes in Singapore, through public assemblies, and other prohibited means,” the Singapore Police Force told Channel News Asia late on Wednesday.Speaking from Singapore’s Changi Airport on Thursday morning ahead of his flight, Yeung said he was now free to go where he pleased and thanked Singapore for upholding the rule of law.Illegal Gatherings“The Singapore Police Force has made no indictment against me. I am warned to refrain from any criminal conduct in the future under their discretion,” he said in a video posted to YouTube. “Singapore is a very civilized country with very good security.”In 2017, Singapore revoked the permanent residency of prominent academic and China expert Huang Jing after he allegedly used his position to covertly advance the agenda of an unnamed foreign country at Singapore’s expense.Hong Kong has been gripped for days by the standoff at the city’s Polytechnic University, where hard-core protesters remain surrounded by police. The unrest began in June with largely peaceful marches against legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China and have since mushroomed into a broader push for demands including an independent probe into police violence and the ability to nominate and elect city leaders.Speaking to reporters on Monday, Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing warned a similar situation could “easily happen” in his country if the government is complacent. Under restrictive laws, cause-related gatherings are illegal without a police permit and participants are subject to fines without it.\--With assistance from Chester Yung.To contact the reporter on this story: Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at pheijmans1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Andrew Yang gave Tom Steyer an unexpected compliment on the Democratic debate stage

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 20:05

Andrew Yang gave Tom Steyer an unexpected compliment on the Democratic debate stageThe Democratic debate just got... nice?Things were pretty tame as the fifth Democratic primary debate kicked off on Wednesday night, with candidates only jabbing each other slightly on wealth taxes and other platform differences. But when entrepreneur Andrew Yang got his first question of the night, he used it to give the contender standing next to him some genuine praise.As the furthest left candidates tout plans to get big-money donors out of politics, the only billionaire on the stage, Tom Steyer, discussed how he'd long used his money to support his political ideals. In his view, his donations were used to "push power down to the American people" and to "take power away from the corporations who bought our government," he said.While some candidates would likely go after Steyer for how his anti-corporate words seem at odds with his big-money spending, Yang, the next candidate to respond, took another approach. "I want to stick up for Tom," Yang said. "We have a broken campaign finance system, but Tom has been spending his own money fighting climate change, and you can't knock somebody for having money and spending it in the right way." Steyer then thanked Yang for the compliment, and Yang said "no problem," earning a big laugh from the crowd. Watch the surprisingly kind moment below. > In perhaps the most cordial exchange in a DemDebate, Andrew Yang gives Tom Steyer props for using his own personal money to fight climate change> > -- MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS) November 21, 2019More stories from Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Women are the majority on the debate stage — for the 1st time in history Democrat Deval Patrick had to cancel one of his first campaign events — because no one showed up

Biden Tells Dems: Cut Out the ‘Lock Trump Up’ Chants

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 20:02

 Cut Out the ‘Lock Trump Up’ ChantsBrendan McDermid/ReutersFormer vice president Joe Biden denounced the chants of “lock him up” that have followed President Donald Trump at various public events and peppered several Democratic rallies in recent weeks, saying that the party shouldn’t mimic Trump’s own crowds. “I don’t think it’s a good idea that we model ourselves after Trump and say ‘lock him up,’” said Biden. “Look, we have to bring this country together. Let’s start talking civilly to people.”The comments from Biden came during the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday night and were another case of the former VP making a call for restored civility in a primary season that has witnessed more than a bit of blood thirst from the base. Chants of “lock him up” first made news when Trump attended a World Series game in Washington, D.C., and, subsequently, at a Bernie Sanders campaign rally. Biden was asked, initially, if he would support a criminal investigation of Trump should he become president and the current White House occupant be out of office. He demurred, saying that such calls should be at the discretion of an independent Department of Justice.“It is the attorney general of the United States, not the president’s private attorney,” he said, underscoring the prosecutorial independence of the post. 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.

China Committed to Peace Despite Challenges, Vice President Says

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 18:56

China Committed to Peace Despite Challenges, Vice President Says(Bloomberg) -- A top deputy to Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed China’s commitment to market-based economic reforms, while warning that the international order “was under attack.”Vice President Wang Qishan, who’s one of China’s best known economic reformers, told Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum on Thursday that the country would follow through on policy changes despite facing serious challenges at home and aboard. He said the country would continue to let the market play a “decisive role” in the allocation for resources and stick to the path of peaceful development.“Between war and peace, the Chinese people firmly choose peace. Humanity cherishes peace,” Wang said in his keynote address in Beijing. “We should abandon the zero-sum thinking and cold war mentality.”The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. Other guests include Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.Wang’s speech comes as the U.S. and China work to assemble a partial trade agreement, even as broader tensions mount in the U.S.-China relationship from human rights concerns over Hong Kong and the western region of Xinjiang to strategic competition in the South China Sea. The sides are making progress in key areas, according to people close to the talks, even as concerns grow that efforts to nail down the first phase of a broader deal are stalling.U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign legislation passed by Congress supporting the Hong Kong protesters, a person familiar said, after the bill was approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday and passed the House 417-1 on Wednesday.Trump -- facing an impeachment inquiry at home -- may seek a political win by reaching a trade deal with China. Policy makers in Beijing face their own troubles with a slowing economy at home, as well as factory-price deflation, a fragile financial system and spiraling food costs in the wake of a catastrophic disease epidemic among the nation’s pig herd.“Development must be balanced and inclusive,” Wang said Thursday. “We need to work together to make economic globalization work for all people across the world.”Wang struck a less confrontational tone than when he addressed the same forum last year in Singapore as trade tensions were at a crescendo. In his remarks last year, he both reaffirmed China’s desire to move forward with trade talks and warned that his country wouldn’t again be “bullied and oppressed” by foreign powers.\--With assistance from Dandan Li and Tian Ying.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Peter Martin in Beijing at;Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at, Sharon ChenFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

House Democrats ponder expanding impeachment probe after Sondland 'game changer' testimony

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 18:54

House Democrats ponder expanding impeachment probe after Sondland 'game changer' testimonyGordon Sondland’s explosive testimony Wednesday that “everyone was in the loop” on President Trump’s efforts to secure an investigation of a political rival prompted rank-and-file Democrats to discuss whether it was time to expand their probe.

GOP claim that Trump cares about corruption takes a hit at impeachment hearing

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 18:26

GOP claim that Trump cares about corruption takes a hit at impeachment hearingRep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., took issue with a defense of President Trump floated by Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas.

UPDATE 1-Strong earthquake strikes near Thai-Laos border

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 18:22

UPDATE 1-Strong earthquake strikes near Thai-Laos borderA strong earthquake struck near the border of Thailand and Laos on Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage. The United States Geological Survey said the 6.1 magnitude quake hit at a depth of 10 km (6 miles) about 92 km (57 miles) northeast of Muang Nan at around 6.50 a.m. (2350 GMT) local time. The quake was felt across northern Thailand and by people in tall buildings as far away as Bangkok, over 600 km (400 miles) to the south.

Lawsuit: US border officers questioned journalists at length

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 17:49

 US border officers questioned journalists at lengthFive American journalists sued the U.S. government Wednesday, alleging border authorities violated their First Amendment rights by inspecting their cameras and notebooks and questioning them extensively about their coverage of last year’s migrant caravan. The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union recounts the experiences of the freelance photographers and seeks to test the limits of U.S. officials’ broad authority to question anyone, including journalists, entering the country. While KNSD, the NBC affiliate in San Diego, reported on the existence of the dossier in March, the journalists have never shared such detailed accounts of how they were treated by U.S. and Mexican officials.