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CBS News Battleground Tracker: Biden has edge in Super Tuesday states 15 Dec 2019, 8:44 pm
Hong Kong protests flare ahead of Xi meeting with city leader 15 Dec 2019, 8:22 pm
Hong Kong police fired tear gas in late night street clashes with anti-government protesters, ahead of a potentially pivotal meeting between Hong Kong's leader and China's president in Beijing on Monday. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in the Chinese capital for a regular duty visit, is set to meet Xi Jinping amid speculation the visit could yield fresh directives on the city's political crisis, including a possible cabinet reshuffle. Hong Kong has been embroiled in its worst political crisis in decades since June with anti-government protests posing a populist challenge to China's Xi.
US trade negotiator hails 'remarkable' deal with China 15 Dec 2019, 7:41 pm
China committed to a minimum of $200 billion in increased purchases over the next two years from US manufacturers, farmers, energy producers and providers of services over the next two years, according to Lighthizer. US exports to China will double in the next year, and nearly triple the year after if the agreement is in place. In 2017, before the US-China trade war was unleashed, the United States exported some $120 billion in goods to the Asian giant.
Mexico: 50 bodies among remains at farm outside Guadalajara 15 Dec 2019, 5:31 pm
Human remains discovered last month at a farm outside the city of Guadalajara have been confirmed as belonging to at least 50 people, authorities in Mexico's west-central state of Jalisco reported. Jalisco state prosecutors said recovery work at the farm in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, which began Nov. 22 after the initial discovery, concluded Friday as experts determined there was no more evidence to be gathered from the scene. The state is home to Jalisco New Generation, one of Mexico's bloodiest and most ruthless drug cartels.
Italian city evacuated as World War Two-era British bomb is defused 15 Dec 2019, 2:09 pm
Italian authorities ordered the biggest peacetime evacuation in the country since World War Two on Sunday to defuse a massive unexploded British bomb that was partially damaged when discovered in the southern city of Brindisi. The historic evacuation displaced some 53,000 residents —more than half — of the coastal city on the Adriatic, due to the high risk that the 440-pound ordnance containing 40 kilograms of dynamite could explode. The chances of detonation were increased after the munition was damaged on November 2 by a bulldozer excavating for a remodel of a cinema.. The bomb is believed to have been dropped on the city in a 1941 air raid, during the period of World War Two when Italy was still allied with Germany and Royal Air Force bombers based in Malta were targeting Naples, Brindisi and Bari in order to disrupt Axis shipping lanes. According to the Italian defence department, it is just one of thousands of unexploded ordnances that still lie dormant and undiscovered throughout Italy. Earlier this month more than 10,000 Turin residents were evacuated for the deactivation of a similar British bomb, as were 4000 residents of the northern city of Bolzano in October. In the month and a half since the unexploded bomb was discovered in Brindisi, city officials put into place a strict evacuation plan with a 1,617 metre “red zone” around the damaged bomb, which was reinforced with an external structure last week. The city's airport, train station, hospitals and prison were shut down as part of the operation on Sunday. By mid-morning the bomb had been successfully defused by a team of more than a dozen Italian army explosives experts, who used a special metal key that was carefully turned with remote-controlled technology, as the mayor and other security officials watched drone footage of the operation from a nearby situation room. The bomb is expected to be set off tomorrow in a remote location outside the city.
Decades on, Soviet bombs still killing people in Afghanistan 15 Dec 2019, 1:54 pm
Gholam Mahaiuddin sighs softly as he thinks of his 14-year-old son, who was killed in the spring by a bomb dropped last century in the hills of Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan. "We knew the mountain was dangerous," said Mahaiuddin, who found his son's remains after he didn't come home one day. Forty years after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan -- and three decades since the conflict ended -- the war's legacy continues to claim lives across the country.
Fox News poll on impeachment contradicts President Trump 15 Dec 2019, 1:20 pm
Zambia Says Ambassador Should Leave After Defending Gay Couple 15 Dec 2019, 1:16 pm
(Bloomberg) -- Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu said he wanted the U.S. Ambassador to leave the country after the diplomat criticized the African nation for sentencing a gay couple to 15 years of imprisonment for having a consensual relationship.“We have complained officially to the American government, and we are waiting for their response because we don’t want such people in our midst,” Lungu said Sunday in comments broadcast on state-owned ZNBC TV. “We want him gone.”U.S. Ambassador Daniel Foote said last month that he was “personally horrified” after the high court sentenced the two men and called on the government to reconsider laws that punish minority groups.Read More: From Nov. 30, U.S. Rebukes Zambia for Jailing Two Men for HomosexualityTo contact the reporter on this story: Taonga Clifford Mitimingi in Lusaka at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sebastian Tong at firstname.lastname@example.org, Nathan CrooksFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
'He was right, I was wrong': Former FBI director James Comey admits he was wrong to defend FBI's use of the FISA surveillance process 15 Dec 2019, 12:18 pm
Switzerland Plans to Send Its Old Fighter Jets Back to the U.S. 15 Dec 2019, 11:34 am
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is expected to buy 22 aging fighter jets from Switzerland, a country that’s struggling to modernize its own air force.U.S. Navy representatives and the Swiss defense procurement agency, known as Armasuisse, discussed the deal in July, an agency spokesman said by email on Sunday. The contract is expected to be signed once U.S. lawmakers approve the fiscal 2020 defense budget, he said.President Donald Trump is seeking $718 billion in Pentagon funding for 2020, including $39.7 million for the F-5s, an aircraft first delivered to Switzerland in 1978. Nowadays, the U.S. uses the F-5 to simulate enemy planes in aerial combat training.Switzerland has been trying to buy new warplanes for years. Voters in 2014 rejected a 3.1 billion-franc ($3.2 billion) order for Saab AB Gripen fighter jets. Switzerland now plans to spend about 6 billion francs on new fighter jets, according to SonntagsZeitung newspaper and previous Swiss media reports.“If the Americans want to take over the scrap iron, they should do it,” Beat Flach, a Green Liberal lawmaker, told SonntagsZeitung, which reported on the planned sale on Sunday. “It’s better than having the Tigers rot in a parking lot.”To contact the reporter on this story: Albertina Torsoli in Geneva at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Mellor at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tony Czuczka, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Guatemalan man sought in massacre faces immigration charge 15 Dec 2019, 11:02 am
A Guatemalan man wanted for his role in a massacre of indigenous Guatemalans in the 1980s is being sentenced for illegal reentry into the U.S. Francisco Cuxum Alvarado is slated to be sentenced Friday in Boston federal court after pleading guilty to the charge in September. Cuxum Alvarado, 64, was found in Waltham, Massachusetts, in April after he previously entered the country illegally in 2004 and was ordered to leave.
‘Short, simple and damning’: New York Times backs Trump impeachment in scathing editorial 15 Dec 2019, 11:00 am
The editorial board of The New York Times has officially backed the impeachment of Donald Trump.The House Judiciary Committee last week drafted two articles of impeachment against the president, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress before sending them through to the House of Representatives for a vote that is fully expected to pass, setting up a Senate trial in the new year.
Talks between Saudi Arabia and Qatar good for the region: Iran foreign minister 15 Dec 2019, 10:23 am
Talks between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to heal their two-year rift are a good development for the whole Gulf region, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday in Doha. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of backing terrorism and aligning itself with Iran.
NATO Nightmare: A Russian Invasion of Iceland? 15 Dec 2019, 9:22 am
Zimbabwe vice president's wife arrested for suspected fraud, money laundering 15 Dec 2019, 8:29 am
Zimbabwean authorities arrested the wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga on charges of money laundering, fraud and violating exchange control regulations, the country's anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) said on Sunday. Marry Mubaiwa was arrested on Saturday evening and will likely appear in court on Monday, ZACC spokesman John Makamure said. Appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa this year, ZACC is under pressure to show that it can tackle high-level graft, which watchdog Transparency International estimates is costing the country $1 billion annually.
A 29-year-old mayor is giving his city's poorest residents $500 per month. He thinks his policy could work on a national scale. 15 Dec 2019, 8:19 am
Malema re-elected as head of SAfrican radical left 15 Dec 2019, 4:55 am
The controversial head of South Africa's far left Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, was re-elected unopposed as at a party congress in Johannesburg. "For the position of president, it is Mister Julius Malema, may he please come forward," vote organiser Terry Tselane of the Institute of Election Management Services in Africa announced to some 3,000 delegates late on Saturday.
Five Italians sentenced to jail for gang rape of British tourist in popular holiday resort 15 Dec 2019, 4:30 am
Five Italians have been jailed for the gang rape of a British woman in the popular resort of Meta di Sorrento, south of Naples. The men, who were all employees of a hotel where the woman was staying, set up a WhatsApp group after the rape which they called “Bad Habits”. They were accused of slipping the 50-year-old Kent woman a date rape drug and then subjecting her to multiple rapes in the Hotel Alimuri on the night of October 6 2016. They filmed and took photos of the assault and some were identified by tattoos on their bodies. The woman was on holiday with her 25-year-old daughter, who went to bed early on the night the attack happened and was not targeted by the Italians. They were sentenced on Friday to prison terms of between four and nine years by a court in the nearby town of Torre Annunziata. The rapists were named as Gennaro Davide Gargiulo, who was given the heaviest sentence of nine years; Antonino Miniero and Fabio De Virgilio, who were sentenced to eight years; Francesco D’Antonio, who will go to jail for seven years; and Raffaele Regio, who was given a four-year sentence. Sorrento is popular with British tourists Credit: Look The British victim was not in court but had been in “a state of anxiety all day” while awaiting the verdict from a panel of three judges, said Lucilla Longone, her Italian lawyer. She was “delighted” with the tough sentences handed down, her lawyer said. When the sentences were read out there was uproar in court, with the defendants’ families shouting and yelling abuse at the judges. Police officers escorted the judges out of the courthouse through a side entrance as around 30 relatives hurled threats at them. The woman was allegedly given a date-rape drug in a drink that she accepted from two of the Italians on the last night of her holiday. The two barmen then took her to a nearby swimming pool and raped her. They then passed her onto the other men, who raped her in a part of the hotel used as staff accommodation. The men photographed her and later shared the photos on a WhatsApp group that they called “Bad Habits”. The judges will deliver their “motivazione” or explanation of the guilty verdicts within 90 days, as is customary under Italian law. Meta di Sorrento is close to Sorrento, a picturesque town which commands views of the Bay of Naples and is a favoured base for exploring the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and the island of Capri. When the men were arrested, Costanzo Iaccarino, the head of the local hoteliers' association, said he was appalled by what had happened. "We treat our guests with great care and the British, for us, have always been our preferred visitors. We participate in travel fairs in London every year." Sorrento is so popular with tourists from Britain that one guidebook nicknames it “Eastbourne-on-the-Med”.
Military probes possible "white power" hand signs at Army-Navy game 15 Dec 2019, 3:15 am
US military officials said they are investigating an incident where army and navy students used hand signs that can signal white power during a television broadcast. The symbol was shown by two West Point cadets and a Naval Academy midshipman during festivities televised live by ESPN Saturday before a football game in Philadelphia between the army and navy. Military officials told the Wall Street Journal the motive behind the hand gestures is being investigated.
9 Dem candidates demand DNC toss out current debate rules 15 Dec 2019, 3:07 am
Is Congress Set to Open U.S. Banks to Drug Cartels? 15 Dec 2019, 3:04 am
Strong quake kills 1, collapses building in Philippines 15 Dec 2019, 2:48 am
A strong earthquake jolted the southern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least one person and causing a three-story building to collapse, setting off a search for people feared to have been trapped inside, officials said. The magnitude 6.9 quake struck an area about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) northwest of Padada town in Davao del Sur province at a depth of 30 kilometers (18 miles), according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. A child was killed in a village in Davao del Sur’s Matanao town when a wall of her house tumbled down as the ground shook and hit her in the head, officials said.
Pelosi announces U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal 15 Dec 2019, 2:30 am
Sackler-owned opioid maker pushes overdose treatment abroad 15 Dec 2019, 12:34 am
Some conference attendees were stunned when they saw the company logo: Mundipharma, the international affiliate of Purdue Pharma — the maker of the blockbuster opioid, OxyContin, widely blamed for unleashing the American overdose epidemic. “You’re in the business of selling medicine that causes addiction and overdoses, and now you’re in the business of selling medicine that treats addiction and overdoses?” asked Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an outspoken critic of Purdue who has testified against the company in court. As Purdue Pharma buckles under a mountain of litigation and public protest in the United States, its foreign affiliate, Mundipharma, has expanded abroad, using some of the same tactics to sell the addictive opioids that made its owners, the Sackler family, among the richest in the world.
Could This Be The End Of Iran? 15 Dec 2019, 12:05 am
Trump set to announce he's withdrawing 4,000 troops from Afghanistan amid troubled peace talks with Taliban 14 Dec 2019, 11:32 pm
Israel eyes Dubai expo as 'portal' to Arab world 14 Dec 2019, 10:43 pm
With the world's largest trade fair opening in an Arab country for the first time next year, Israel is stepping up preparations, hoping to boost nascent ties with regional neighbours. The Dubai Expo 2020 trade fair will gather nearly 200 countries vying for the attention of a projected 25 million visitors over nearly six months from October. Like most Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Bolivia's interim leader says arrest warrant to be issued against Morales 14 Dec 2019, 10:07 pm
Bolivia will issue an arrest warrant in the coming days against former leftist President Evo Morales, accusing him of sedition, interim Bolivian President Jeanine Anez said on Saturday. Morales is in Argentina, granted refugee status this week just days after the inauguration of new President Alberto Fernandez. Peronist Fernandez succeeded outgoing conservative Argentine leader Mauricio Macri, who lost his bid for re-election in October.
Operation Plunder: How 1 Hellish Battle Slowed The Allies' Capture Of Nazi Germany 14 Dec 2019, 9:30 pm
Mortal Enemy? How Does the People's Liberation Army View the United States? 14 Dec 2019, 7:30 pm
A Barnard Student's Stabbing Death Has Rattled NYC and a 13-Year-Old Is in Custody. Here's What to Know 14 Dec 2019, 5:37 pm
Wisconsin judge's ruling could purge 200,000 from voter rolls 14 Dec 2019, 2:53 pm
* Voters must confirm address within 30 days or lose franchise * Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016A Wisconsin judge’s order to boot more than 200,000 people from voter rolls in the battleground state spurred condemnation from Democrats, amid claims of voter suppression.If the decision stands, it could have an impact on the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes. Subsequent contests have also returned tight margins.“I won the race for governor by less than 30,000 votes,” tweeted Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat who beat the former Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker last year.“This move pushed by Republicans to remove 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is just another attempt at overriding the will of the people and stifling the democratic process.“Voting is a fundamental right, and we should be making it easier for folks to vote, not harder. It’s time for Republicans to move on from the election we had more than a year ago and start working on the pressing issues facing our state.”In October, the Wisconsin Elections Commission mailed a letter to 234,000 voters who it thought might have moved, requesting that they update registration information.As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (Will), a conservative group, then filed suit.The lawsuit said the voters contacted should have 30 days to confirm their addresses. If they did not do so, Will said, their registration status should be changed from “eligible” to “ineligible”.Will asked county circuit judge Paul Malloy to grant an injunction that would require election authorities to purge the rolls. In his ruling on Friday, Malloy identified a legal obligation to strip the rolls in 30 days.“I don’t want to see someone deactivated but I don’t write the law,” said Malloy, who was appointed in 2002 by the then Republican governor, Scott McCallum, and has since been re-elected. “There’s no basis for saying 12 to 24 months is a good time frame. It’s not that difficult to do it sooner … If you don’t like [it], you have to go back to the legislature.”In a statement, the elections commission said it would analyze “the judge’s oral decision and [consult] with the six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission on next steps”.Will’s president, Rick Esenberg, said: “This case is about whether a state agency can ignore clearly written state law. Today’s court order requires the Wisconsin Elections Commission to follow state law, and we look forward to making the case that they must continue to follow state law.”Voting authorities and the League of Women Voters indicated they would fight the decision, which Malloy refused to stay pending appeals.According to the Journal Sentinel, the cities of Milwaukee and Madison – Democratic strongholds – are home to 14% of the state’s registered voters but received 23% of letters sent out. Fifty-five percent of the mailings, meanwhile, went to areas where Hillary Clinton beat Trump.Eric Holder, US attorney general under Barack Obama, commented on Twitter.“Here they go,” he said. “Voter purge in Wisconsin that disproportionately targets Democrats, people of color and those who voted for Hillary in 2016. The expected unfairness. Fight this Wisconsin! Fight for a fair election.”Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democratic congressman, wrote: “At a time when voter suppression [and] purging eligible voters from rolls is rampant nationwide, we should do everything in our power to ensure no one wrongfully loses their voice at the ballot box in Wisconsin or anywhere.”Ben Wikler, chair of the state Democratic party, criticized the decision and called for action, writing: “A rightwing lawsuit triggered a 200,000-voter purge in Wisconsin yesterday. But we still have same-day registration in this state. So now our job is to organize harder than they can suppress.”
Justin Trudeau moves forward with ban on LGBT+ conversion therapy across Canada 14 Dec 2019, 1:18 pm
LGBT+ conversion therapy could soon be banned across Canada after Justin Trudeau made this one of the priorities for his new government.In a letter to the country’s justice secretary on Friday, the prime minister stated that banning the controversial practice of attempting to forcibly change people’s gender or sexuality must be a “top priority”.
Why Trump's Senate GOP allies are pushing accusations of Ukraine election meddling 14 Dec 2019, 1:00 pm
UN climate talks face failure 14 Dec 2019, 12:25 pm
Jeremy Corbyn's humiliating defeat a 'canary in the coal mine' for Democrats warns Mike Bloomberg 14 Dec 2019, 12:19 pm
Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg has described Jeremy Corbyn’s crushing defeat as a “canary in the coal mine” for the Democrats as the party gears up for 2020 election. With the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary only a couple of months away, Democrat centrists have seized upon the UK election results as evidence of the danger the party faces if it drifts too far to the left. In recent weeks divisions between the centrist and radical wings have been laid bare, particularly over health care. Leading left-winger Elizabeth Warren, who had been polling strongly, has come under attack for her blueprint which would eventually see America’s private health insurance system replaced by a state-run Medicare system. Moderates have warned that her radical policies would make her unelectable. Speaking in Alexandria, Virginia, Mr Bloomberg, a former New York mayor and late entrant to the Democrat race, said the party should learn the lessons of Mr Corbyn’s disastrous campaign. Democrat candidates "I think it's sort of a catastrophic warning to the Democratic Party to have somebody that can beat Donald Trump and that is not going to be easy. Americans want to change, but I think they don't want revolutionary change — they want evolutionary change." Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is now leading in Iowa and New Hampshire, has emerged as the main hope of the centrists as Joe Biden’s campaign shows signs of faltering. He also suggested there were lessons to be learned from the UK. “It means that you’ve got to be ready to build a coalition and gather that majority,” Mr Buttigieg said. Another moderate Democratic candidate, John Delaney, urged the party to take on board what had happened in the UK election. “Despite the turmoil caused by Brexit, Boris Johnson just won a massive victory with the British electorate, which should be a wake-up call to Democrats," he said. "Johnson proved that mainstream voters will not embrace an extreme economic plan that will cause upheaval, just because they are not fans of the conservative leader." Meanwhile, Mr Biden, whose main pitch to has been his ability to beat Donald Trump, will rely on a bastion of states in the US South to see him to the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination - and potentially the White House. Although the former vice president is faltering in New Hampshire and Iowa, the latest polls show him building seemingly impregnable leads in the South. Mr Biden leads easily in South Carolina, which will the fourth state to vote. He is also comfortably ahead in Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee - in some cases by over 20 points. Mr Biden's base in the southern states relies on his support from black voters. In South Carolina two-thirds of the Democrat primary electorate is black. A Quinnipiac poll this week showed Mr Biden with 51 per cent support from black voters in the state, with his nearest rival Mr Sanders on 13 per cent.
Joe Biden warns Democrats that UK election shows what happens when candidates 'move so far to the left' 14 Dec 2019, 11:26 am
Joe Biden and other centrist US Democrats have warned against their party moving too far to the left ahead of 2020, following the historic defeat of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the UK general election.The former vice president suggested Mr Corbyn’s liberal platform and having taken the Labour party “so far to the left” ultimately contributed to Boris Johnson’s landslide victory this week.
A California Starbucks reportedly denied police officers service, in the latest of several alleged anti-cop acts at the coffee chain this year 14 Dec 2019, 10:57 am
California governor declines $13.5 billion PG&E settlement 14 Dec 2019, 10:41 am
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has rejected a $13.5 billion settlement that Pacific Gas & Electric came to last week with thousands of people who lost homes, businesses and family members in a series of fires that drove the nation's largest utility into bankruptcy.
A Mobster's Murder, and the Jockeying to Move Up the Hierarchy 14 Dec 2019, 10:20 am
NEW YORK -- On a quiet night in March, a mob leader was executed in New York City for the first time since 1985. The body of Francesco Cali, a reputed boss of the Gambino crime family, lay crumpled outside his Staten Island home, pierced by at least six bullets.Hours later, two soldiers in the Gambino family talked on the phone. One of them, Vincent Fiore, said he had just read a "short article" about the "news," according to prosecutors.No tears were shed for their fallen leader. The murder was "a good thing," Fiore, 57, said on the call. The vacuum at the top meant that Andrew Campos, described by authorities as the Gambino captain who ran Fiore's crew, was poised to gain more power.Cali's death was just the beginning of surprises to come for the Gambino family.Last week, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged Fiore and 11 others in a sprawling racketeering scheme linked to the Gambinos, once the country's preeminent organized crime dynasty. The charges stemmed from a yearslong investigation involving wiretapped calls, physical surveillance and even listening devices installed inside an office where mob associates worked.As part of the case, the government released a court filing that offered an extremely rare glimpse at the reactions inside a Mafia family to the murder of their boss -- a curious mix of mourning and jockeying for power. The case showed that life in the mob can be just as petty as life in a corporate cubicle."Mob guys are the biggest gossips in the world," said James J. Hunt, the former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's office in New York. "You think they're tough guys, but they're all looking out for themselves. The only way they get promoted is by a guy dying or going to jail."While Fiore initially plotted how Cali's death would help him and his faction, he adopted a different tone when calling his own ex-wife a few days later, prosecutors said. He warmly referred to Cali as "Frankie" and seemed to mourn the boss as a man who "was loved." He speculated about the killer's motive, saying he had watched the surveillance tape from Cali's home that captured the murder.Vincent Fiore appeared ambitious, court documents showed, eager to reveal his connections to other gangs and organized crime families. About two weeks after Cali's death, Fiore bragged in another wiretapped conversation about how he could take revenge on students who had hit his son at school, a government filing said.Fiore talked first about sending his daughter to beat the students up.But he also had other options, he said on the call. His ex-wife's father was a Latin King, her nephews were Bloods, and her cousin was a member of the Ching-a-Lings, the South Bronx motorcycle gang.Vincent Fiore and the other defendants have each pleaded not guilty to the charges. A lawyer for Fiore did not respond to a request for comment.Despite decades of declining influence in New York City, the Gambino family, led by the notoriously flashy John J. Gotti in the 1980s, is still raking in millions of dollars, according to the government. Prosecutors said they had evidence that the family had maintained its long-standing coziness with the construction industry, infiltrating high-end Manhattan properties.The indictments accused Gambino associates of bribing a real estate executive to skim hundreds of thousands of dollars from New York City construction projects, including the XI, a luxury building with two twisting towers being built along the High Line park in West Chelsea.At the height of their power in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Gambinos and other organized crime families had a stranglehold on New York City construction, through their control of construction unions and the concrete business.Some of the defendants charged last week operated a carpentry company called CWC Contracting Corp., which prosecutors said paid kickbacks to real estate developers in exchange for contracts.Despite the scramble after Cali's death in March, the Gambino crime family continued to thrive through fraud, bribery and extortion, investigators said.The wiretaps quoted in court papers hinted at the crime family's capacity for violence. One of the defendants was recorded in April claiming that he had a fight in a diner and "stabbed the kid, I don't know, 1,000 times with a fork." Inside another defendant's home and vehicle, agents found brass knuckles and a large knife that appeared to have blood on it.Among the notable names in last week's takedown were two longtime Gambino members, Andrew Campos and Richard Martino, who were once considered by Gotti to be rising stars in the Mafia, according to former officials."John was enamored by these guys," said Philip Scala, a retired FBI agent who supervised the squad investigating the Gambino family. "He couldn't believe what they were doing. These kids were making millions of dollars as entrepreneurs."In particular, Martino has long been viewed by mob investigators as somewhat of a white-collar crime genius, former officials said. Prosecutors have previously accused him of orchestrating the largest consumer fraud of the 1990s, which netted close to $1 billion. One part of that scheme involved a fake pornography website that lured users with the promise of a free tour and then charged their credit cards without their knowledge.Campos, 50, and Martino, 60, each pleaded guilty in 2005 to their role in the fraud and served time in federal prison.But as soon as they were released, the government said, they returned to the family business.Martino is now accused of hiding his wealth from the government to avoid paying the full $9.1 million forfeiture from his earlier case.After Martino's release from prison in 2014, he still controlled companies that conducted millions of dollars in transactions, using intermediaries to obscure his involvement, the government alleged. This included investments in pizzerias on Long Island and in Westchester County, according to a person familiar with the matter.Martino's lawyer, Maurice Sercarz, said his client fully paid the required forfeiture before reporting to prison. He added, "The suggestion that Mr. Martino concealed his ownership of businesses and bank accounts to avoid this obligation ignores or misrepresents his financial circumstances."Campos, meanwhile, climbed the ranks to become a captain inside the Gambino family, according to prosecutors.Henry E. Mazurek, a lawyer for Campos, said the government's photos and surveillance footage of his client were not evidence of a crime. "The government presents a trumped-up case that substitutes old lore for actual evidence," Mazurek said.After searching Campos' home in Scarsdale, New York, a wealthy suburb north of New York City, investigators found traces of a storied mob legacy. In his closet there were photos taken during his visits with Martino to see Frank Locascio, Gotti's former consigliere, or counselor, in prison.Locascio is serving a life sentence. He was convicted in 1992 alongside Gotti by the same U.S. attorney's office that brought last week's indictment. Gotti, who died in prison in 2002, was found guilty of, among other things, ordering the killing of Paul Castellano in 1985, the last time a Gambino boss was gunned down in the street.On March 14, the day after Cali's death, Campos drove into Manhattan around 5:50 p.m. to discuss the circumstances of the murder with Gambino family members, seemingly unaware that law enforcement was tracking his every move.He parked near a pizzeria on the Upper East Side, according to a person familiar with the matter. As the night progressed, he met with Gambino family captains on the Upper East Side and near a church in Brooklyn. They stood in the street, chatting openly, but law enforcement officials could not hear the conversations.Several days later, Campos and Fiore drove to Staten Island for a secret meeting. A group of about eight high-level Gambino lieutenants gathered to discuss Cali's murder, a court filing said. In a wiretapped call the next day, Fiore complained that he had stayed out past midnight.Fiore said on the call that a woman had been at Cali's home the night of his death, pointing to her as a possible connection. Court papers do not reveal the woman's identity.Nobody within the mob family seemed to suspect the person who was charged: a 25-year-old who appeared to have no clear motive.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company
Louisiana sues California over alligator ban 14 Dec 2019, 9:28 am
Louisiana is suing the state of California over its decision to ban the import and sale of alligator products, saying the ban will hurt an important Louisiana industry and ultimately could hurt the state's wetlands. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Louisiana said the economy surrounding alligators has played a key role in bringing back the American alligator population and is an important factor in protecting wetlands and other species besides alligators that depend on the wetlands. “California has nevertheless attempted to destroy the market for American alligator products notwithstanding the fact that no such alligators live in California," the lawsuit says.
The 25 Best Survival Games 14 Dec 2019, 9:00 am
Kentucky governor pardons killer whose family donated to his campaign days before leaving office 14 Dec 2019, 8:27 am
The outgoing Republican governor of Kentucky has sparked outrage after he pardoned a convicted killer whose family had hosted a fundraiser for the politician and given him money.Matt Bevin, who was defeated in his bid for re-election in November, has issued over 400 pardons in his final days in office.
How to Get a Green Deal Done: Europe’s Lessons for U.S. Democrats 14 Dec 2019, 6:00 am
(Bloomberg) -- When it comes to Green Deals, Europe has a lesson or two for liberal politicians in the U.S. trying to engineer far-reaching policies to address climate change.An American lawmaker, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, may have done more than anyone else to popularize the concept of a sweeping “green deal” to shift away from fossil fuels. But now the European Union is much closer to translating the goal into concrete policies that have a decent chance of actually being implemented.Both the U.S. Green New Deal resolution and the European Green Deal, which was unveiled this week by the EU’s executive arm, share the same targets: limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, in line with the landmark Paris climate accord. To meet this objective, backers of the plans in the EU and the U.S. aim to eliminate emissions by 2050 at the latest. Both plans trace their lineage explicitly to the New Deal of the 1930s, a series of social programs, public work projects and financial reforms championed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way to counteract the Great Depression. The Green Deals may have identical goals and nearly matching branding, but the policies are oceans apart when it comes to the means of delivery.The European version is strictly focused on climate, and those policy areas which can affect it, such an industry, energy and public procurement. The U.S. Green New Deal — as it is laid out in the Ocasio-Cortez-sponsored resolution and the policy programs of Democratic presidential hopefuls such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — is tied to a series of contentious issues unrelated to climate, from health care coverage to employment.Europe’s narrow focus helped the plan gain the backing of conservative, centrist and center-left governments across the 28 nation-bloc, while the sweeping U.S. manifestos have little chance of garnering across-the-aisle support from legislators. Even ultra-conservative European governments, such as Poland’s, which resisted committing themselves to Green Deal goals, didn’t object to the bloc striving to meet the objective. Across the Atlantic, even modest efforts to curb climate change have been met with hostility by conservatives in the U.S. Congress, so reaction to the resolution was bound to split along political fault lines from the start. However, the Green New Deal’s very broad ambition has made it a favorite target of Republicans, who have tried to cast it as an illustration of how their liberal opponents are both dangerous and laughably unrealistic.Larry Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic advisor, stated that it would “literally destroy the economy.” Republican Senator John Barrasso suggested that the Green New Deal would result in the banning of cows, who burp methane, a greenhouse gas, and therefore the end of ice cream. The House Republican Conference and U.S. Chamber of Commerce dismissed it as a “Trojan horse for socialism.”The European Green Deal is also more concrete. The EU Commission unveiled on Wednesday a roadmap of specific legislative proposals divided by sector, measurable policy goals with due to be agreed interim benchmarks, and fixed dates. On the other hand, there are few numbers and details to be seen in any version of the Green New Deal advocated by U.S. Democratic hopefuls, other than public spending pledges.Europe’s step-by-step and sector by sector approach has already delivered real wins. The world’s biggest multilateral financial institution, owned by EU governments, has announced it will end funding for fossil fuel energy projects and its intention to mobilize a trillion euros ($1.1 trillion) over the next decade to finance the bloc’s transition to a low-carbon economy.To minimize risks for a pushback from skeptics, the EU’s Green Deal is also more flexible. While its U.S. counterpart aims 100% electricity production from renewables by 2030 — a target criticized by many as unrealistic — the EU lets its member states choose their energy mix, including zero-emitting nuclear power.The benefits of flexibility may end up outweighing any costs in terms of ambition and speed. Through a series of incentives and deterrents, such as the world’s biggest cap-and-trade program for polluters and progressively stricter limits on emissions from transport, the EU is effectively pushing its industries and companies toward ever cleaner technologies.Another way the European climate push differs is by successfully engaging the private sector. The continent’s biggest business leaders threw their weight behind a plan to make the bloc climate neutral, on the condition that appropriate safeguards “to avoid carbon and investment leakage and guarantee a global level playing field for competition,” are adopted. The EU is already considering such measures, including adjusting restrictions on state aid for companies, changing public procurement rules and penalizing imports from countries with looser emissions controls.In a sign of such private-sector support, earlier this month Spain’s Repsol SA became the first oil major to align itself with the Paris climate goals, saying it will eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations and its customers by 2050. Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal — the world’s largest steel-maker — announced on Friday that it set a target to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030 to contribute to the Green Deal.To be sure, the European Green Deal is facing its own headwinds. Leading airlines attacked plans to impose a region-wide kerosene tax as part of a sweeping new environmental strategy, saying investment in sustainable fuels and electric planes would be more effective in reducing carbon emissions. More is still to come. While the European Commission will draft all the rules to bring the bloc’s Green Deal to life, they will require the support of EU governments and the bloc’s assembly. Expect every word and comma to be analyzed by national governments, parliamentarians, companies, industry lobbies and environmental activists. But rallying more than two dozen governments behind a shared goal to eliminate emissions and initiating the process of legislative proposals is something to start with. That’s the way the EU does things — one small, tedious, win at a time. \--With assistance from Jonathan Stearns and Ewa Krukowska.To contact the authors of this story: Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at email@example.comLeslie Kaufman in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Aaron Rutkoff at email@example.com, Ben SillsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Iran Demands $6 Billion Oil Payment From South Korea: Chosun 14 Dec 2019, 3:47 am
(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s Foreign Ministry called in the South Korean ambassador last month to demand payment of 7 trillion won ($6 billion) for oil it sold to the Asian country, Chosun Ilbo reported, citing officials it didn’t identify.Iran expressed “strong regret” over Seoul’s failure to complete the payment, which has been deposited at two South Korean banks without being transferred to Iran’s central bank for years due to U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern country, the newspaper said. It added that other Iranian authorities including the central bank also complained.South Korea sent a delegation to the Middle East late last month and explained that the country will cooperate with the U.S. to successfully complete transfer of the payment, it added.To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at email@example.com, Sara Marley, Siraj DatooFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Buttigieg’s Bundlers Include Blackstone Vice Chair, Tech Chiefs 13 Dec 2019, 11:05 pm
(Bloomberg) -- Pete Buttigieg’s campaign on Friday released the names of nearly 150 people who raised at least $25,000 for his presidential bid, including Blackstone Group Vice Chairman Tony James and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Swati Mylavarapu.The disclosure of the names of the so-called bundlers -- supporters who collect campaign contributions from multiple donors -- comes in response to rival Elizabeth Warren, who has criticized Buttigieg for what she says is a lack of transparency.Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has brought in $51.5 million so far, putting him in third place among Democratic presidential candidates in fundraising behind Bernie Sanders and Warren, both of whom have sworn off holding big-dollar fundraisers behind closed doors.Buttigieg has been climbing in the polls and leads in many Iowa surveys. He has held several high-dollar fundraisers with Wall Street and Silicon Valley donors, and said Monday that he would open those events to the press. Former Vice President Joe Biden allows reporters into his fundraisers but has yet to release the names of his bundlers.Some of the names on the list, including James’, are likely to spark criticism. The Sanders campaign attacked Blackstone in a September email to supporters that said the firm “fuels a housing crisis.” James, a billionaire and a longtime Democratic donor, wasn’t mentioned in the release, but Chairman Stephen Schwarzman, a Trump donor, was.Other financial industry bundlers include Deven Parekh of Insight Partners, Matthew Granade of Point72 Asset Management LP, and William Susman of Threadstone Advisors.Several top fundraisers who aided former President Barack Obama’s campaigns appear on the list, including David Jacobson, who served as ambassador to Canada, and Tod Sedgwick, a former ambassador to the Slovak Republic. Warren pledged that she would not appoint big donors to head embassies.Mylavarapu, a former partner at the private equity firm Kleiner Perkins who co-founded the Arena accelerator program, serves as Buttigieg’s finance chair. Jacob Helberg, who leads news policy for Google products also raised money for Buttigieg.The list of bundlers also includes some longtime Democratic fundraisers, including Representative Don Beyer of Virginia, Esprit co-founder Susie Tompkins Buell, who has raised money for the Democratic National Committee and several presidential candidates, and Agnes Gund, a New York philanthropist. Justin Rockefeller, a son of former West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller and a descendant of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, also appeared on the list.Beyer, who was raising money for Democratic candidates before his election in 2014, was the first member of Congress to endorse Buttigieg.New York, L.A. and San FranciscoThe list released by the campaign gives the name and city and state of each of the fundraising hosts. New York is home to 30 of his bundlers, while 12 are in Los Angeles and nine in San Francisco.Alone among the major candidates, Buttigieg released a list of campaign bundlers in the first quarter, listing 32 people. The names included hedge-fund manager Orin Kramer, who raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, and Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist who represents Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Facebook Inc.Buttigieg discontinued the practice after the initial release just as his fundraising took off: He raised $24.9 million in the second quarter, the most of any Democratic contender.In April, Buttigieg’s campaign announced it would no longer accept money from registered lobbyists or allow them to raise money for him. It also said it would not accept money from corporate political action committees. His campaign refunded $30,250 it had received from lobbyists up to that point, including $2,800 given by Elmendorf.Warren launched a thinly veiled attack on Buttigieg in a speech on Thursday, describing a candidate who “calls the people who raise a quarter-million dollars for him his ‘National Investors Circle’ and he offers them regular phone calls and special access. When a candidate brags about how beholden he feels to a group of wealthy investors, our democracy is in serious trouble.”Warren had also criticized Buttigieg for withholding the names of the clients he worked for as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. from 2007 to 2010, before he entered politics. have been trading jabs over their experience working in the private sector. Earlier this week, Buttigieg made public his client list after McKinsey released him for a nondisclosure agreement.Buttigieg has assailed Warren for failing to release her tax returns covering the years she did work as a bankruptcy lawyer.On Sunday, Warren disclosed that she had made $1.9 million from that work. She had previously released the names of the clients and cases she took on during her tenure as a professor at Harvard and other law schools, as well as 11 years of tax returns, back to 2008. The documents released Sunday cover her compensation between 1985 and 2009, but don’t include tax returns.(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Allison in Washington DC at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at email@example.com, Max Berley, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.