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Updated: 54 min 29 sec ago

Pablo Escobar: Money hidden in wall found in drug lord's house

2 hours 10 min ago

 Money hidden in wall found in drug lord's houseA plastic bag with money worth $18m (£14m) is found in a wall by one of the drug lord's nephews.

'I gave two legs for this country': New Biden ad features wounded Army sergeant

3 hours 59 min ago

 New Biden ad features wounded Army sergeantJoe Biden’s presidential campaign launched a new TV and digital ad Thursday that chastises President Trump for allegedly disparaging members of the U.S. military.

South Florida ICE detainees required to go attend court regardless of whether they have COVID

4 hours 9 sec ago

South Florida ICE detainees required to go attend court regardless of whether they have COVIDImmigration detainees in South Florida are being required to attend court hearings with other migrants even if they have COVID-19, two sources with the Department of Justice confirmed Wednesday.

China’s Statist System Is No Match for Free Markets

4 hours 29 min ago

China’s Statist System Is No Match for Free MarketsEditor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the book Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World by H. R. McMaster. Copyright © 2020 by H. R. McMaster. The book was published on September 22, 2020, by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission. Part I of the excerpt is here.The CCP views its centralized, statist economic system as bestowing advantages, especially the ability to successfully coordinate efforts across government, business, academia, and the military. And it views America’s and other nations’ decentralized, free-market economic systems as rendering them unable to compete with China’s centrally-directed strategies, such as Made in China 2025, OBOR, and Military-Civilian Fusion. That is why the United States and other free-market economies need to demonstrate the competitive advantages of decentralization and unconstrained entrepreneurialism while defending themselves from Chinese predation. Here, the private sector plays a vital role. Companies and academic institutions at the forefront of developing and applying new technologies must recognize that China is breaking the rules to take advantage of our open societies and free-market economies. A first step toward preserving competitive advantage is to crack down on Chinese theft of our technologies. Although there have been significant reforms in national-security reviews of foreign investments, another effective defense would be to enforce requirements that U.S. companies report investment by China-related entities, technology transfer requests, and participation in the CCP’s core technology development or PLA modernization programs.There is much room for improvement in the effort to prevent China from using the open nature of the U.S. economy to promote not only its state capitalist model, but also to perfect its surveillance police state. Many universities, research labs, and companies in countries that value the rule of law and individual rights are witting or unwitting accomplices in the CCP’s use of technology to repress its people and improve PLA capabilities. For dual-use technologies, the private sector should seek new partnerships with those who share commitments to free-market economies, representative government, and the rule of law. Many companies are engaged in joint ventures or partnerships that help the CCP develop technologies suited for internal security, such as surveillance, artificial intelligence, and biogenetics. Others accede to Chinese investments that give the CCP access to such technology. In one of many examples, a Massachusetts-based company provided DNA sampling equipment that helped the CCP track Uighurs in the Xinjiang region. Google has been hacked by China, used by the CCP to shut off the Chinese people’s access to information, and refused to work with the U.S. Department of Defense on artificial intelligence. Companies that knowingly collaborate with CCP efforts to repress the Chinese people or to build military capabilities that might one day be used against those companies’ fellow citizens should be penalized.Tougher screening for U.S., European, and Japanese capital markets would also help restrict firms’ complicity in helping the CCP’s authoritarian agenda. Many Chinese companies directly or indirectly involved in domestic human-rights abuses and violation of international treaties are listed on American stock exchanges. Those companies benefit from U.S. and other Western investors. There are more than 700 Chinese companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, about 62 on the NASDAQ Composite index, and more than 500 in the poorly regulated over-the-counter market. One company that is a candidate for delisting is Hikvision, a company responsible for facial-recognition technology that identifies and monitors the movement of ethnic Uighurs. Hikvision produces surveillance cameras that line the walls of Chinese concentration camps in Xinjiang. Together with its parent company, the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group, Hikvision is on the U.S. Commerce Department Entity List (what many call “the Blacklist”). Free-market economies like ours have far more leverage than they are using because they control the vast majority of the world’s capital.Defensive measures, however, are inadequate. Free and open societies need to become more competitive through reform and investments. China here has a clear advantage in the adoption of new technologies. Its centralized decision-making system, government subsidies, underwriting of risk, the relative lack of the kinds of regulations and bureaucratic hurdles typical in the United States and other democratic nations, and the lack of ethical impediments (e.g., in the areas of biogenetics and autonomous weapons) all foster fast application of technologies in the civil sector and the PLA. Although the United States and other nations should not compromise their ethics, many of the weaknesses relative to China are self-imposed. For example, the U.S. national-security institutions suffer from chronic bureaucratic inertia. The slow, inflexible nature of defense budgeting and procurement in the United States has long been studied, with little effective change. But the stakes are now too high to tolerate the lack of predictable multi-year procurement budgets, convoluted procurement systems, and deferred defense modernization. The sheer difficulty of doing business with the Department of Defense discourages the most innovative small companies from contributing to defense capabilities and makes it difficult to innovate within the life cycle of emerging technologies. The old model of multi-year research and development to design and test a capability is no longer valid. The U.S. Department of Defense and military services risk exquisite irrelevance as the PLA develops new capabilities and countermeasures that vitiate longstanding American military advantages. Reducing barriers to collaboration between the private sector and national-security and defense-related industries could release the potential of free-market innovation in this critical area.But even streamlining bureaucracy will prove insufficient to compete with the vast investments China is making in emerging dual-use technologies that will advantage its data economy and its military capabilities. That is why government and private-sector investment in technologies in the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and materials science will prove crucial for the United States to maintaining differential advantages over an increasingly capable and aggressive PLA. Defense cooperation across the Indo-Pacific region should extend to multinational development of future defense capabilities, with the ultimate goal of convincing the CCP that it cannot accomplish objectives through the use of force. Multinational cooperation in the development of space and cyberspace capabilities could also deter Chinese aggression in these contested domains. And Taiwan’s defense capabilities must be sufficient to ward off China’s designs for what would be a costly war with the potential of expanding across large portions of East Asia.

Saudi Arabia is pressing ahead to realize MBS's pet projects — like a $500 billion futuristic megacity — bypassing budget cuts and shrugging off the pandemic

4 hours 39 min ago

Saudi Arabia is pressing ahead to realize MBS's pet projects — like a $500 billion futuristic megacity — bypassing budget cuts and shrugging off the pandemicCrown Prince Mohammed's projects include the Neom megacity, an entertainment-themed city, and two luxury coastal resorts.

2 officers shot in Kentucky amid Breonna Taylor protests nationwide

4 hours 50 min ago

2 officers shot in Kentucky amid Breonna Taylor protests nationwideIt's unclear if the shooting was linked to the protests.

U.S.-Trained Forces Are Raping Women in Cameroon—and Rebels Are Beheading Them

4 hours 58 min ago

U.S.-Trained Forces Are Raping Women in Cameroon—and Rebels Are Beheading ThemIKOM, Nigeria—Lucy was contemplating closing early for the day when soldiers—believed to be from the Cameroon government’s notorious Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR)—stormed her shop in the northwestern Cameroon town of Bamenda at the end of August, dragged her outside, asked her to take off the shirt she was wearing, and forced her to sit on the bare ground for hours.“When I asked them what I had done wrong, one of them gave me a terrible slap and began to kick me all over my body,” Lucy, who sells foodstuffs close to a market in Bamenda, told The Daily Beast via telephone. “I thought the soldiers were going to kill me.”On the same day Lucy was brutalized by government forces in Bamenda, about 80 other women—mostly traders at the local food market—were detained at a police station for three days, many of them beaten and wounded by soldiers who were searching for English-speaking separatists following the killing of a police officer days before.“The soldiers entered the food market unannounced and began to forcefully remove everybody to the mobile police station,” said Lucy, who wanted to be identified by just her first name. “They looted and destroyed shops and ordered every woman to sit on the ground. The weather was so hot and some women collapsed as a result of the heat.”Slaughtered Because They Spoke EnglishScores of women have been assaulted and abused by both Cameroonian government forces and English-speaking separatists in the northwest and southwest Anglophone parts of Cameroon since violence erupted in the two regions, along the long Nigerian border, more than three years ago.Reports of sexual violence against women have grown in recent months, mostly perpetrated by BIR soldiers who’ve received lots of financial support from the United States in recent years. Last year, Human Rights Watch documented how two BIR soldiers raped a 22-year-old mother in the northwest and how a 23-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl in the same home were raped in front of two children by three BIR soldiers who accused them of hiding separatists. Women have also been assaulted while fleeing from their communities.“Soldiers stopped us as we were heading to the [Nigerian] border and forced us to take off our clothes,” a 17-year-girl, who fled the Cameroonian town of Akwaya with her 25-year-old sister to the Ogoja refugee settlement in Nigeria, told The Daily Beast. “They began to touch our private parts and were about to rape us when they heard gunshots, which made them leave us and run away.”In recent years, the Cameroonian military—including the BIR—has relied heavily on the U.S. for funding. Since 2014, America has given more than $220 million to Cameroon in security assistance—including $700,000 spent so far this year on assisting the country’s military and police.Created in 2001 by the Cameroonian government to tackle armed bandits on its northern border with Chad and Nigeria and its eastern border with the Central African Republic, the BIR soon began to stray from its original mission—allegedly committing a number of human-rights atrocities including extrajudicial killing of civilians suspected to work for Boko Haram militants in northern Cameroon.The elite army unit, which is better trained and equipped than the regular Cameroonian army, is overseen by retired Israeli officers who report directly to President Paul Biya. These officers were recently accused of living extravagantly. One of them was reported to have bought properties worth about $32 million in New York and Los Angeles, and spent his holidays in luxury resorts in the Bahamas, costing $20,000 per night.But the rapid reaction force isn’t the only group that has targeted women and girls in western Cameroon. Armed separatists have assaulted and murdered women amid intensifying violence and growing calls for secession of the northwest and southwest regions.In an astonishing video widely shared on social media last month, three suspected separatist fighters in the southwestern town of Muyuka were seen beating and dragging a woman whom the government later identified as Confort Tumassang, a 35-year-old mother of four. Her hands were tied behind her back and Tumassang, who was accused of collaborating with the military, could be heard in the clip begging for mercy. She was then beheaded and her body abandoned in the street. The incident, which occurred on Aug. 11, came during the same period that reports of sexual assault perpetrated by separatists on women in Anglophone communities began to grow.“My 17-year-old cousin was raped by two rebels on her way to the market." Helen, a 25-year-old hairdresser in Muyuka, told The Daily Beast via telephone. “They beat her up and threatened to kill her before eventually raping her.”The U.S.-Backed Military Slaughters Women and Children in CameroonRape has become one of the most common forms of violence against women in the conflict in the western Cameroon. A study last year by the Rural Women Center for Education and Development, a Cameroonian non-profit group, revealed that at least 300 school-age girls from the northwest region became pregnant after being raped by suspected separatist fighters or government soldiers, and that many victims terminated their pregnancies with unsafe or crude abortions. Following the revelation, Cameroon government officials noted that the actual number could be much higher, as many girls involved in the practice do so in hiding.“It is obviously clear that rape has become a weapon of war in the conflict in western Cameroon,” Eno Edet, a human rights lawyer and advocate in Cross River State—which is hosting the vast majority of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria—told The Daily Beast. “There are dozens of Cameroonian girls in refugee settlements here in Cross River with stories of sexual assault perpetrated by separatists or government forces back in their country.”Cameroon’s western regions descended into conflict in 2016 when the government repressed peaceful protests by English speakers against perceived marginalization. It turned into a full war when separatists declared western Cameroon an independent nation in October 2017. Over 3,000 civilian deaths have been recorded, along with dozens of soldiers killed by separatists. More than 700,000 Anglophone Cameroonians have been displaced during the crisis, and at least 52,000 people are currently taking refuge in Nigeria.As The Daily Beast previously reported, Anglophones make up about 20 percent of Cameroon’s population of 26 million. In February 1961, the United Nations organized a referendum in which English-speaking Cameroonians, then under British rule, voted to rejoin Francophone Cameroon. Both merged on Oct. 1, 1961, and inherited a constitution which recognized the country as a federation of two states with “the same status.” But not long after the reunification, things began to change. Then-President Ahmadou Ahidjo, a Francophone, replaced the two federal states with six regions. He appointed federal inspectors of each region and gave them more power than locally elected politicians. Ahidjo followed up by discarding the currency used by the Anglophones. He refused to recognize Cameroon’s membership of the Commonwealth, and he abolished federalism altogether through a national referendum.Incumbent President Paul Biya, also a Francophone, succeeded Ahidjo in November 1982 and began to introduce policies similar to that of his predecessor. In 1983, he split the Anglophone region into the Northwest and Southwest provinces. A year later he changed the country’s official name to the Republic of Cameroon, as it was known as when it was a Francophone territory, and removed the second star from the flag that had stood as a representation of the Anglophone region.Many prominent figures in Cameroon’s western region from time to time condemned the policies of the Biya administration as they affect the western region, but when the government went ahead to appoint French-speaking magistrates in Anglophone courts, many believed he had gone too far.Unfortunately, the conflict that followed has crippled social amenities and left much of the Anglophone region in ruins. But it is the frequent targeting of women and girls by major players in the war that leaves many in English-speaking communities worried.“We are living in fear because women are becoming victims of rape every day,” said Helen, the hairdresser in Muyuka. “The other day, it was my cousin [who was raped]. Tomorrow, it could be another innocent woman. No woman is safe here.”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.

Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of coronavirus

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 23:59

 Latest on the worldwide spread of coronavirus* U.S. President Donald Trump said he may or may not approve any new, more stringent FDA standards for an emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine. * Mexico's death toll rose to 74,949 on Wednesday, according to health ministry data, while Brazil recorded 33,281 additional confirmed cases in the past 24 hours. * Canada "is at a crossroads" as a second wave emerges in four large provinces, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, adding that, "we're on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring."

China running 380 detention centres in Xinjiang: researchers

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 22:45

 researchersChina's network of detention centres in the northwest Xinjiang region is much bigger than previously thought and has been expanded in recent years, according to research presented by an Australian think tank Thursday.

Man who drove into California protesters used vineyard as 'tactical training camp,' officials say

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 22:16

Man who drove into California protesters used vineyard as 'tactical training camp,' officials sayBenjamin Hung, 28, is accused of possessing a machete, a Glock and other weapons in his truck and driving into a crowd of racial justice protesters in Pasadena.

Asia Today: China to let in more foreigners as virus recedes

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 22:01

 China to let in more foreigners as virus recedesForeigners holding certain types of visas and residence permits will be permitted to return to China starting next week as the threat of coronavirus continues to recede. The new regulation lifts a months-long blanket suspension covering most foreigners apart from diplomats and those in special circumstances. Beginning Monday, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese visas and residence permits for work, personal matters and family reunions will be permitted to enter China without needing to apply for new visas, according to the regulation.

Trump may block stricter FDA guidelines for vaccine

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 20:30

Trump may block stricter FDA guidelines for vaccine

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday the FDA would issue the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as health experts have become increasingly concerned the Trump administration might be interfering in the approval process.

"That has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it," Trump told a White House news conference.

"That sounds like a political move."

Westpac bank to pay record Australian fine over laundering breaches

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 19:14

Westpac bank to pay record Australian fine over laundering breachesWestpac failed to adequately report 19 million transactions, some allegedly linked to child exploitation.

Californians on 2035 new gas engine car sales ban

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 19:06

Californians on 2035 new gas engine car sales banThere was reaction Wednesday to an announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom that California will halt sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035. Gov. Newsom says the move will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in the state. (Sept. 23)

Fact check: McDonald's US flags have not been removed for BLM and antifa

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 18:13

 McDonald's US flags have not been removed for BLM and antifaA Facebook post states incorrectly that McDonald's has removed its U.S. flags nationwide to support antifa and Black Lives Matter.

Tensions rise in Ecuador and Peru as Chinese fishing fleet moves south from Galapagos

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 18:01

Tensions rise in Ecuador and Peru as Chinese fishing fleet moves south from GalapagosA Chinese fishing fleet of roughly 300 vessels has been scooping up sea life near the Galapagos Islands and is now moving south into Peruvian waters.

Australian bank agrees to $919M fine for money laundering

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 17:40

Australian bank agrees to $919M fine for money launderingWestpac, Australia’s second-largest bank, agreed to pay a 1.3 billion Australian dollar ($919 million) fine for breaches of anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws, the largest ever civil penalty in Australia, a financial crime regulator said on Thursday. The regulator, AUSTRAC, said it had agreed with Westpac to the penalty after the bank admitted failing to report 19.5 million international money transfers worth more than $7 billion between November 2013 and September 2018.