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Fact check: Before Obama there was no Black Lives Matter, but there was ISIS and antifa

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 08:19

 Before Obama there was no Black Lives Matter, but there was ISIS and antifaA claim that before President Barack Obama there was no "war on cops," antifa, ISIS or Black Lives Matter is partly false.

'If it's close – watch out': Biden says he has 600 lawyers ready to fight election 'chicanery' by Trump

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 08:13

 Biden says he has 600 lawyers ready to fight election 'chicanery' by Trump"Be careful — he’s coming," Biden said, predicting a "vote suppression" effort by Trump as states expand absentee voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Russia denies supplying weapons to Afghanistan's Taliban

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 08:01

Russia denies supplying weapons to Afghanistan's TalibanRussia's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Moscow has never delivered weapons to the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, countering U.S. allegations. Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova rejected the claim by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Wednesday that he had repeatedly raised the issue during his talks with the Russians. “Russia has only supplied weapons to the legitimate government of Afghanistan, which is well known,” Zakharova said at a briefing.

U.S. Supreme Court takes up Trump bid to withhold parts of Russia report

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 07:57

U.S. Supreme Court takes up Trump bid to withhold parts of Russia reportDemocratic U.S. lawmakers are highly unlikely to gain access before the Nov. 3 election to material withheld from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian political meddling after the Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear President Donald Trump's administration's bid to keep it secret. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee last year subpoenaed grand jury materials related to the Mueller report, which documented Moscow's interference in the 2016 presidential election to boost Trump's candidacy. The Justice Department withheld the materials when the report was released.

Airbnb is banning some users under 25 from renting certain listings to help crack down on party houses

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 07:51

Airbnb is banning some users under 25 from renting certain listings to help crack down on party housesThe changes to Airbnb's platform come after a mass shooting at an Airbnb house party last Halloween left five people dead.

'We're not going anywhere': Seattle's Chop zone dismantled but cause lives on

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 07:33

 Seattle's Chop zone dismantled but cause lives onThe special police-free zone set up by protesters has now been cleared, but activists say they won’t stop the fight for justiceThe occupied protest zone near downtown Seattle known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or “Chop”, effectively came to a swift end early on Wednesday morning when officers largely cleared the area of people and encampments, despite some protests lingering overnight into Thursday.Now activists say the relationships built and lessons learned over the last three weeks in the self-proclaimed police-free zone have already had a lasting impact that will live on past the physical presence of Chop.“We won, we’re winning, we made history,” said Rick Hearns, who had become head of security at Chop. “Look what we did here. The world saw it.”But the protest area also became the location of a series of night-time shootings, which left a 16-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man dead and several others seriously injured.In a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, Seattle’s mayor, Jenny Durkan, highlighted the violence in the zone, saying “the recent public safety threats have been well documented” and “this violence demanded action”.She said: “Our conversations over the weekend made it clear that many individuals would not leave, and that we couldn’t address these critical public safety concerns until they did.”The autonomous zone emerged organically following a series of dangerous clashes between protesters and law enforcement during marches against police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd, and African American, by a white police officer, in Minneapolis in May.Officers in Seattle abandoned their east precinct building as demonstrations closed in, after which protesters camped out around it, with the intention of protecting the building from possible destruction that might be blamed on them.In the days that followed, hundreds more joined, and suddenly several blocks of the city’s streets were teeming with people of different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, focused on calling for the defunding the city’s police department – echoing such protest cries emerging coast to coast, which can mean diverting money budgeted for police departments to social and education services, or even dismantling an entire department and restructuring the law enforcement system.And they wanted an end to police brutality against black people, explained Tarika Powell, an organizer with Seattle Black Collective Voice.> We’re going to organize sit-ins, we’re going to spam the city officials, we’re going to show up> > Jessie Livingston“It was a space where people came to learn. We screened documentaries, we put on people’s assemblies every day where people had the opportunity to speak and share their feelings and ideas … we put on educational events every single day,” she told the Guardian.“We had a space called the conversation cafe where people could come to learn about racism and to talk about it in ways they don’t get to do in their daily lives.”It spurred not only important conversations and learning, but also lasting bonds, which have since resulted in the organizing of anti-racist protests and the creation of social justice groups.The Seattle Black Collective Voice, for example, was formed after a group of organizers and protesters met in the Chop, explained Powell.Today, there are about 40 people involved with the collective, and they hold weekly educational events, and organize neighborhood cleanups and mental health outreach for people in the African American community.“We would have not been able to come together and engage in the work that we’re doing if it had not been for Chop,” she said.Pay the Fee Tiny Library was launched in a tent at the Chop, and now organizers have set up the library, which includes black, indigenous and people of color and LGBTQ literature, around the city and held events. And a garden started in the Cal Anderson Park is now expected to become a permanent addition to the neighborhood.Protesters have repeatedly stressed that the shootings and violence was not directly connected with Chop, and may have happened anyway . But it resulted in a dramatic decline in occupiers, it concerned local businesses and residents, and amplified officials calling on occupants to disperse.By the time police cleared Chop on Wednesday, following Mayor Durkan’s emergency executive order, the area had largely been reduced to a small number of activists and many homeless people, explained Powell.The truth is they “went in and did a violent sweep on homeless people, throwing away their tents and belongings”, she said.“Those homeless people had come into Chop to be safe from the sweeps. That is the vast majority of people that were in that space since the shooting started.”Officers reported on Twitter that they arrested 31 people during the sweep.Some activists have argued that the police precinct was needed as a bargaining chip in order to get their three main demands met, which involve defunding the police, using that money to invest in community health and services, and dropping criminal charges against protesters. Others say another occupation in the city could be a future possibility.Jessie Livingston, 36, a protester who has been camped at Chop almost every day since it was founded, said she didn’t know exactly the form the movement might take, but said: “We’re going to organize sit-ins, we’re going to spam the city officials, we’re going to show up to city council meetings, we’re going to do everything we know how to do.”She added: “We’re not going anywhere.”

Universities Sowing the Seeds of Their Own Obsolescence

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 07:21

Universities Sowing the Seeds of Their Own ObsolescenceWhen mobs tore down a statue of Ulysses S. Grant and defaced a monument to African-American veterans of the Civil War, many people wondered whether the protesters had ever learned anything in high school or college.Did any of these iconoclasts know the difference between Grant and Robert E. Lee? Could they recognize the name “Gettysburg”? Could they even identify the decade in which the Civil War was fought?Universities are certainly teaching our youth to be confident, loud, and self-righteous. But the media blitz during these last several weeks of protests, riots, and looting also revealed a generation that is poorly educated and yet petulant and self-assured without justification.Many of the young people on the televised front lines of the protests are in their 20s. But most appear juvenile, at least in comparison to their grandparents — survivors of the Great Depression and World War II.How can so many so sheltered and prolonged adolescents claim to be all-knowing?Ask questions like these, and the answers ultimately lead back to the university.Millions of those who graduate from college or drop out do so in arrears. There is some $1.5 trillion in aggregate student debt in the U.S. Such burdens sometimes delay marriage. They discourage child-rearing. They make home ownership hard — along with all the other experiences we associate with the transition to adulthood.The universities, some with multibillion-dollar endowments, will accept no moral responsibility. They are not overly worried that many of their indebted graduates discover their majors don’t translate into well-paid jobs or guarantee employers that grads can write, speak, or think cogently.One unintended consequence of the chaotic response to the COVID-19 epidemic and the violence that followed the police killing of George Floyd is a growing re-examination of the circumstances that birthed the mass protests.There would be far less college debt if higher education, rather than the federal government, guaranteed its own students’ loans. If universities backed loans with their endowments and infrastructure, college presidents could be slashing costs. They would ensure that graduates were more likely to get good-paying jobs thanks to rigorous coursework and faculty accountability.Taxpayers who are hectored about their supposed racism, homophobia, and sexism don’t enjoy such finger-wagging from loud, sheltered, 20-something moralists. Perhaps taxpayers will no longer have to subsidize the abuse if higher education is deemed to be a politicized institution and thus its endowment income ruled to be fully taxable.If socialism has become a campus creed, maybe Ivy League schools can be hit with an annual “wealth tax” on their massive endowments in order to redistribute revenue to poorer colleges.It is hard to square the circle of angry graduates having no jobs with their unaccountable professors who so poorly trained students while enjoying lifelong tenure. Why does academia guarantee lifetime employment to those who cannot guarantee that a graduate gets a decent job?The epidemic and lockdown required distance learning, but at full price. The idea that universities can still charge regular rates when students are forced to stay home is not just an unsustainable practice, but veritable suicide. If one can supposedly learn well enough from downloads, Zoom talks, and Skype lectures, then why pay $50,000 or more for that service from your basement?Universities are renaming buildings and encouraging statue removal and cancel culture. But they assume they will always have a red line to the frenzied trajectory of the mob they helped birth. If the slaveholder and the robber baron from the distant past deserve no statue, no eponymous hallway or plaza, then why should the names Yale and Stanford be exempt from the frenzied name-changing and iconoclasm? Are they seen as billion-dollar brands, akin to Windex or Coke, that stamp their investor students as elite “winners”?The current chaos has posed existential questions of fairness and transparency that the university cannot answer because to do so would reveal utter hypocrisy.Instead, the university’s defense has been to virtue-signal left-wing social activism to hide or protect its traditional self-interested mode of profitable business for everyone — staff, faculty, administration, contractors — except the students who borrow to pay for a lot of it.How strange that higher education’s monotonous embrace of virtue signaling, political proselytizing, and loud social-justice activism is now sowing the seeds of its own obsolescence and replacement.If being “woke” means that the broke and unemployed are graduating to ignorantly smashing statues, denying free speech to others, and institutionalizing cancel culture, then the public would rather pass on what spawned all of that in the first place.Taxpayers do not yet know what to replace the university with — wholly online courses and lectures, apolitical new campuses, or broad-based vocational education — only that a once hallowed institution is becoming McCarthyite, malignant, and, in the end, just a bad deal.© 2020 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Trump ally Herman Cain who attended Tulsa rally hospitalised with coronavirus

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 06:56

Trump ally Herman Cain who attended Tulsa rally hospitalised with coronavirusHerman Cain, a Republican politician and 2011 primary candidate for the party's presidential nominee, has been hospitalised after testing positive for Covid-19.Mr Cain, a conservative columnist and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, is currently being treated in an Atlanta-area hospital.

Harvard Grad Says She Was Fired from Deloitte Job for Threatening ‘All Lives Matter’ Supporters

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 06:54

Harvard Grad Says She Was Fired from Deloitte Job for Threatening ‘All Lives Matter’ SupportersA recent Harvard graduate who threatened to “stab” anyone who told her “all lives matter” has been fired from her job, she announced in a tearful video.Claira Janover, who said in a viral but since-deleted TikTok post that she would “stab” those with “the nerve” to say “all lives matter,” posted several tearful videos explaining that her new employer, Deloitte, had fired her.“I know this is what Trump supporters wanted because standing up for Black Lives Matter put me in a place online to be seen by millions of people,” Janover explained. “The job that I worked really hard to get and meant a lot to me just called me and fired me because of everything.”In a second video, Janover claimed that “Trump supporters took my job away from me.”“I have gotten death threats, rape threats, violent threats and it's okay — but now it's just like my future is entirely compromised because Trump supporters have decided to come for my life,” she stated. “I'm too strong for you. I am too strong for any of you, ‘all lives matter’ racist Trump supporters. It sucks but it doesn't suck as much as systemic racism.”Janover also criticized Deloitte, calling out the company for “cowardice.” The firm has not publicly commented on the situation.In the video that led to her firing, Janover warned “all lives matter” supporter that she would stab them. “While you’re struggling and bleeding out, I’ma show you my paper cut and say, ‘My cut matters too,'” she stated. After the video was picked up and circulated on Twitter, Janover posted a message on the video stating that “For legal reasons this is a joke.” She also explained in subsequent videos that her threat was “clearly” an “analogous joke.”“Apparently I’m threatening the lives of people — unlike cops, obviously,” she added.“Anyway, so If I get an email from the Department of Homeland Security or I get kicked out of Harvard or I get arrested or whatever — or I get murdered, according to the many death threats that I’m receiving right now — know that I appreciate you guys standing up for me,” she said.

Richmond Mayor Uses Emergency Powers to Take Down Stonewall Jackson Statue after City Council Delay

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 06:37

Richmond Mayor Uses Emergency Powers to Take Down Stonewall Jackson Statue after City Council DelayThe mayor of Richmond, Va., ordered the removal of a statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday, and city authorities said additional confederate monuments will be removed in the near future.Richmond mayor Levar Stoney's initiative comes amid massive nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd, an African-American man killed during arrest by Minneapolis police officers. Protesters have toppled various statues of historical figures including Christopher Columbus, however monuments to the Confederacy have come under particular scrutiny because of the history of slavery in southern states that chose to secede from the Union."The Berlin Wall fell, but also the system fell with it," Stoney, a Democrat, told a crowd assembled to watch city workers remove the Jackson statue. "Now for us, as elected leaders, alongside our community, it’s our job to rip out the systemic racism that is found in everything we do — from government, to health care, to the criminal justice system."Stoney used emergency powers to order the statue's removal after the City Council delayed a vote on removing four Confederate monuments in Richmond.Lamont Bagby, a Democrat representing Richmond in the Virginia General Assembly, applauded Stoney's decision."The tearing down of statues by activists puts their health and safety at great risk, and I support his decision to mitigate those risks," Bagby, who is chairman of the state's General Black Caucus, said in a statement. Virginia Republican Party chairman Jack Wilson countered that "Richmond is no longer run by the rule of law — it has devolved into anarchy," and accused city authorities of "caving to the mob."In addition to monuments, momentum from the George Floyd demonstrations has caused a reckoning over Confederate symbols, including its flag. The Mississippi state government has approved the removal of the emblem of the Confederacy from its state flag, while NASCAR has banned spectators from waving the Confederate flag at races.The debate is playing out in the federal government as well, with a push to rename military bases, including Fort Bragg, that are named after Confederate figures. Senators Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) have introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would create a commission to weigh renaming those bases.

Why 'I was just being sarcastic' can be such a convenient excuse

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 06:27

Why 'I was just being sarcastic' can be such a convenient excuseAfter President Donald Trump said during his June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that increased testing was responsible for the surging number of infections, the condemnation of the inaccurate claim was swift. Six days later, during a Fox News town hall, Sean Hannity asked Trump about those remarks on increased testing. “Sometimes I jokingly say, or sarcastically say, if we didn’t do tests we would look great,” he replied. This seems to be a pattern. Two months earlier, the president had mused about the beneficial effects of injecting disinfectants into the body to combat COVID-19. After many health officials expressed their dismay, Trump repeatedly claimed that he was just being sarcastic.That same month, after he misspelled “Nobel Prize” in a tweet – writing it out as “Noble Prize” – he deleted the tweet before falling back on on a familiar excuse: sarcasm.What is it about sarcasm that makes it such a convenient excuse for people who are trying to distance themselves from what they’ve said?As I describe in my recent book on irony and sarcasm, most cognitive scientists and other language researchers think of sarcasm as a form of verbal irony. Both ways of speaking involve saying the opposite of what you mean. But the goals of irony and sarcasm are actually different.For example, if someone slowly intones “What beautiful weather!” on a cold and rainy day, it’s clear they’re speaking ironically about a disappointing state of affairs. In general, irony is used to provide commentary on unexpected and negative outcomes. Sarcasm, on the other hand, is most frequently used to disparage the actions of other people. If someone tells you that you’re a real genius after you forgot to meet them for an important appointment, they clearly don’t mean that you’re mentally gifted. Simply put, irony is commentary, but sarcasm is criticism.That seems straightforward enough. But in actual practice, the line between irony and sarcasm is blurry and confusing. Many people assert they are being sarcastic when they are in fact being ironic, as in commenting about the weather.The enlargement of the domain of sarcasm – at irony’s expense – is a linguistic shift that has been going on for some time. In fact, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg called attention to this phenomenon 20 years ago. So it’s hard to fault the president for conflating the two.Another element that makes sarcasm tricky to grasp has to do with saying the opposite of what is meant. The recipient of such a statement isn’t supposed to take it literally.For this reason, when we use verbal irony or sarcasm, we might employ cues to signal our nonliteral intent. We may, for example, speak in a tone of voice that’s slower, lower and louder than how we speak normally. Our pitch may swoop up or down. Ironic statements are also frequently accompanied by facial displays, such as a smirk or the rolling of the eyes.And that’s why, when being sarcastic over text or email, we’ll use emojis to relay nonliteral intent. Of course, even then, there’s no guarantee that the recipient will interpret the message correctly.President Trump does, at times, clearly make use of sarcasm. For example, at a December 2019 rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, he said, referring to the House’s imminent decision to initiate impeachment proceedings, that the Democrats “also understand poll numbers, but I’m sure that had nothing to do with it.” He signals sarcasm by using absolute words like “sure” and “nothing” and by gesturing broadly with both hands. He also pauses to give his audience a moment to interpret his remark as the opposite of what he has said – that, in fact, “my high poll numbers have everything to do with impeachment.” The remark is sarcastic because there’s a clear target: the Democrats in Congress.But at both the Tulsa rally and his April press conference, the president’s controversial remarks didn’t have such accompanying verbal and nonverbal cues. He wasn’t being critical of anyone; he was simply asserting that testing leads to more infections, or asking what appeared to be sincere questions about the use of disinfectants to combat the virus. Chances are he literally meant what he said. As the president has repeatedly demonstrated, a claim of intended sarcasm can be used to walk back a remark that has been criticized or otherwise fallen flat. Thanks to our slippery understanding of the term, along with the way sarcasm can be easily missed, it can function like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card: The speaker can take a conversational mulligan and try to make things right.We’ve all said things that we later regretted and appealed to “just kidding” or “I was being sarcastic.” However, if we habitually reach for such excuses to absolve ourselves of linguistic sins, it becomes, like the little boy who cried wolf, less and less effective.Roger J. Kreuz is the author of:Irony and Sarcasm MIT Press provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * What makes something ironic? * The rhetorical brilliance of Trump the demagogueRoger J. Kreuz does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Afghan Contractor Handed Out Russian Cash to Kill Americans, Officials Say

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 06:11

Afghan Contractor Handed Out Russian Cash to Kill Americans, Officials SayKABUL, Afghanistan -- He was a lowly drug smuggler, neighbors and relatives say, then ventured into contracting, seeking a slice of the billions of dollars the U.S.-led coalition was funneling into construction projects in Afghanistan.But he really began to show off his wealth in recent years, after establishing a base in Russia, though how he earned those riches remained mysterious. On his regular trips home to northern Afghanistan, he drove the latest model cars, protected by bodyguards, and his house was recently upgraded to a four-story villa.Now Rahmatullah Azizi stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington, named in U.S. intelligence reports and confirmed by Afghan officials as a key middleman who for years handed out money from a Russian military intelligence unit to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to American and Afghan officials.As security agencies connected the dots of the bounty scheme and narrowed in on him, they carried out sweeping raids to arrest dozens of his relatives and associates about six months ago but discovered that Azizi had sneaked out of Afghanistan and was likely back in Russia. What they did find in one of his homes, in Kabul, was about half a million dollars in cash.American and Afghan officials for years have maintained that Russia was running clandestine operations to undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and aid the Taliban.But U.S. officials only recently concluded that a Russian spy agency was paying bounties for killing coalition troops, including Americans, which the Kremlin and the Taliban have denied.According to officials briefed on the matter, U.S. intelligence officials believe the program is run by Unit 29155, an arm of the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU that has carried out assassinations and other operations overseas.That a conduit for the payments would be someone like Azizi -- tied to the U.S. reconstruction effort, enmeshed in the regional netherworld but not prominent enough to attract outside attention -- speaks to the depth of Russia's reach into the increasingly complicated Afghan battlefield, exploiting a nexus of crime and terror to strike blows with years of deniability.The public revelation last week of that conclusion has touched off a political firestorm in Washington. White House officials said at first that President Donald Trump was never briefed on the matter, but it emerged that the intelligence assessment was included in a written briefing to the president in late February, if not earlier.As Democratic and Republican officials have expressed alarm at the news, and the administration's lack of action in response, the White House has insisted that the information was uncertain.Details of Azizi's role in the bounty scheme were confirmed through a dozen interviews that included U.S. and Afghan officials aware of the intelligence and the raids that led to it; his neighbors and friends; and business associates of the middle men arrested on suspicion of involvement. All spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.U.S. intelligence reports named Azizi as a key middleman between the GRU and militants linked to the Taliban who carried out the attacks. He was among those who collected the cash in Russia, which intelligence files described as multiple payments of "hundreds of thousands of dollars." Those files were among the materials provided to Congress this week.Through a layered and complex Hawala system -- an informal way to transfer money -- he delivered it to Afghanistan for the missions, the files say. The transfers were often sliced into smaller amounts that routed through several regional countries before arriving in Afghanistan, associates of the arrested businessmen said.Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets.Just how the money was dispersed to militants carrying out attacks for the Taliban, and at what level the coordination occurred, remains unclear. But officials say the network had grown increasingly ambitious and was in communication with more senior levels in Taliban military ranks to discuss potential targets.About six months ago, Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, raided the offices of several Hawala businessmen both in Kabul, the capital, and in Kunduz, in the north, who were believed to be associated with the bounty scheme, making more than a dozen arrests."The target of the operation was Rahmat, who was going back-and-forth to Russia for a long time and said he worked there, but no one knew what he did," said Safiullah Amiry, deputy head of Kunduz provincial council, referring to Azizi. But by the time the raid took place, "Rahmat had fled.""From what I heard from security officials, the money had come from Russia through Rahmat," he added.Russia was initially seen as cooperating with U.S. efforts after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, as its interests in defeating al-Qaida, an international Islamic terror group, aligned with those of the United States.But in recent years, as the two powers clashed elsewhere, the Kremlin grew wary of the prolonged U.S. presence and moved closer to the Taliban, hedging its bets on who would take power in a post-American Afghanistan.The Russians also saw an opportunity for long-awaited payback for the Soviet humiliation in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when the Red Army withdrew after being unable to defeat a U.S.-backed insurgency.Russia has walked a fine balance in recent years, eager to bloody the American nose but wary of Afghanistan collapsing into a chaos that could spill over its borders. Publicly, Russia has admitted only to information-sharing with the Taliban in fighting the Islamic State in Afghanistan, a common foe.The U.S. conclusion in 2019 that the Russians were sending bounty money to the Taliban came at a delicate time in the conflict, just as the United States was deep into negotiations with the insurgents over a deal to withdraw the remaining American troops from the country.Some of the attacks believed to be part of the bounty scheme were carried out around the time the Trump administration was actively reaching out to Russia for cooperation on those peace talks. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy leading the talks, repeatedly met with Russian officials to build consensus around the U.S. endgame.The Afghan battlefield is saturated with smaller terrorist groups in addition to the Taliban, who are still responsible for the majority of the violence. Criminal networks, profiteers and terror training experts also freelance their services -- often to several groups at the same time.Azizi, who neighbors and relatives said is in his 40s, thrived in that convoluted, murky environment.A friend who has known him since his early days in Kunduz, as well as later in Russia, said he had started off with smuggling small shipments of drugs into Iran in his 20s, but that venture was not very successful. He had returned to northern Afghanistan, and somehow won contracts from the U.S.-led coalition forces to build stretches of a couple roads in Kunduz, before making his way to Russia.None of those interviewed who know Azizi were surprised when his associates were raided about six months ago and one of his brothers taken into custody with the half-million dollars in cash. As one of his friends put it, he had gone from "not even having a blanket" to having multiple houses, fancy cars, and security escorts.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

Britain recognises Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela after dispute over gold

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 06:08

Britain recognises Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela after dispute over goldBritain has recognised Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's president, the English High Court has ruled, in a case over whether Mr Guaido or Nicolas Maduro should control $1 billion of its gold stored in London. The case was brought by the Banco Central de Venezuela to release $1 billion of gold reserves to help fund the cash-strapped country's response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Bank of England said it was unable to act on instructions because it was "caught in the middle" of competing claims for the presidency after disputed elections in 2018. A BCV board appointed by the government of Nicolas Maduro wants the gold released while a rival ad hoc board appointed by Mr Guaido asked for the release to be denied. Commercial Court judge Nigel Teare, sitting at the High Court of England and Wales, was asked to rule on who was authorised to make the demand - Mr Guaido or Mr Maduro. In his judgement, he said: "Her Majesty's Government does recognise Mr Guaido in the capacity of constitutional interim president of Venezuela and, it must follow, does not recognise Mr Maduro as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela."

Sen. Scott on COVID-19 surge in Florida: We can beat this without the government taking away our rights

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 06:00

 We can beat this without the government taking away our rightsFlorida Republican Sen. Rick Scott says citizens can responsibly combat the virus by being given more information from the government instead of just being told what to do.

Nasa Mars rover: Perseverance launch pushed back again

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 05:58

 Perseverance launch pushed back againThe launch of Nasa's Mars rover Perseverance is delayed again to 30 July at the earliest.

Finland's air force drops swastika emblem after century in use

Yahoo News - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 05:57

Finland's air force drops swastika emblem after century in useFinland’s air force has quietly removed the last swastikas from unit emblems after over a century in use. Until recently the country’s Air Force Command emblem depicted a pair of wings around a swastika, a symbol which pre-dates its associations with Nazism. The change was first observed by Teivo Teivainen, a politics professor at the University of Helsinki, who argued its negative associations made the swastika's ongoing use politically fraught. Professor Teivainen, who has written widely on the issue, said using the swastika could cause difficulties for the Nato country, particularly if worn on the uniforms of deployed personnel. “I have not found many reasonable arguments to support its military usefulness,” Mr Teivainen wrote on Twitter on Thursday. The symbol’s association with Finland’s air force dates to its founding in 1918, when Swedish count Eric von Rosen donated a plane painted with swastikas to the newly independent country. The German Nazi Party adopted the swastika as its logo in 1920. Finland removed the swastika from its aircraft following a postwar armistice with the Soviet Union, but until recently the symbol remained on Air Force Command emblems and some flags and decorations. A spokesman for Finland’s air force told the BBC, "as unit emblems are worn on uniform, it was considered impractical and unnecessary to continue using the old unit emblem, which had caused misunderstandings from time to time."


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