News & LinksSat, 21 Oct 2017, Rachel Maddow Defends Niger Theory After Experts Call It 'Conspiracymongering'
Rachel Maddow on Friday doubled down on her controversial reporting on the deadly Niger ambush on U.S. troops, in which she linked President Donald Trump’s travel ban with the deaths of four soldiers.
Chinese president Xi Jinping declared an era of national rejuvenation in a speech that garnered 1.5 billion virtual claps on a virtual applause app released in conjunction with the Communist Party congress.
Fox News extended host Bill O’Reilly’s contract for $100 million over four years shortly after he reached a $32 million agreement to settle claims of sexual harassment from a former network employee, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Monday to work with the US, China and Russia to contain North Korea's nuclear threat with "strong, resolute diplomacy", as he "humbly" accepted his landslide victory in a snap election. Fresh from clinching a two-thirds "super-majority" that enables the nationalist premier to realise his dream of revising Japan's pacifist constitution, Abe vowed to forge a "national consensus" on the divisive issue. Addressing reporters on his election win, Abe said he would "confirm close co-operation" on North Korea with Donald Trump when the US president visits Japan next month and then discuss the issue with the Chinese and Russian leaders.
By Robert Muller PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic must seek partners beyond the central European Visegrad Group to find common ground on issues including migration and food quality, Czech parliamentary election winner Andrej Babis told Reuters. The billionaire businessman, who won 29.6 percent of the vote in this weekend's election, is against deeper EU integration and adoption of the euro, and has raised concerns he may join Poland or Hungary on a collision course with the EU. Double food quality, solution to migration, the fight against migration and other issues," Babis told Reuters in a brief interview at ANO headquarters after the election results were counted.
In a tradition that may go back centuries, older students at St Andrews spend a weekend showing new kids around, after which the younger students demonstrate their gratitude with a gift. It used to be raisins, but not now.
In the wake of the explosive revelations about alleged sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men, former United States Attorney General Eric Holder called on men to take responsibility for creating a culture that allowed such abuse to occur ― and act to change.
Iraqi Kurdistan's main opposition party called Sunday for the autonomous region's president to resign after Baghdad seized swathes of disputed territory from Kurdish forces in response to an independence vote. Shoresh Haji of the Goran movement, which holds 24 out of 111 seats in the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament, said Massud Barzani and his deputy Kosrat Rasul should step down.
By Kanupriya Kapoor JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia on Monday said it had made "urgent" requests for an explanation why the United States barred its military chief from traveling to the U.S., as anger simmered in the world's largest Muslim-majority country over the diplomatic incident. Armed forces commander General Gatot Nurmantyo was stopped on Saturday from boarding an Emirates flight to the U.S., despite having a visa and an official invitation to a conference from his counterpart, the chairman of the U.S joint chiefs of staff, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. Foreign minister Retno Marsudi said she had accepted an official apology from the deputy U.S. ambassador in Jakarta, but still awaited a detailed explanation.
A British man has been sentenced to three months in prison in Dubai for touching a man's hip in a bar, according to campaigners. Jamie Harron, from Stirling, was arrested in July over the incident in which he said he put his hand on a man's hip to avoid spilling a drink in a crowded bar. The 27-year-old electrician had been working in Afghanistan and was on a two-day stopover in the United Arab Emirates at the time. After his arrest for public indecency he lost his job and was told he could have faced up to three years in jail. Campaign group Detained in Dubai (DiD) said he was sentenced to three months imprisonment at court on Sunday but lawyers plan to appeal. The group said Mr Harron is "angry, disappointed, and dreads what may happen next". He is not currently in custody while the appeal is considered, DiD chief executive Radha Stirling said. Mr Harron has already been sentenced in absentia to 30 days in prison for failing to appear at a court hearing for making a rude gesture and drinking alcohol during the same July incident. Unusual laws that tourists should be wary of DiD said the 27-year-old was not told about the court date in advance and that sentence is also being appealed against. In relation to the alleged public indecency charge, Mr Harron is said to have been holding a drink, moving through a crowded bar and held a hand in front of him to avoid spilling it on himself or others. He then "touched a man on his hip to avoid impact". He was initially jailed for five days and then released on bail with his passport confiscated. Ms Stirling said: "Now Jamie has been sentenced to three months; there is no telling whether a judgement on appeal will be better or worse. "He has already suffered tremendously as a result of these allegations, and now faces the likelihood of incarceration. "His family was unable to visit him during this critical time because they faced a very real risk of imprisonment themselves under the UAE's cyber crime laws which forbid criticism of the government. "At this point, Jamie will definitely be pursuing civil action against his accusers when he does eventually return home, as it appears that he will not be able to find justice in the UAE." She added: "He feels betrayed and exploited by the system, which did not investigate the reports of key witnesses in his defence and led him to believe that the case would be dropped." A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We have been in contact with a British man following his arrest in Dubai in July. We are providing consular assistance."
Had the U.S. built the Montanas, they likely would have had similar post-war careers to those of the South Dakotas. Because of their speed, the Iowas were more useful at every job except fighting other battleships. Having built the ships in the late 1940s, the USN would have sold them for scrap in the early 1960s. In the early 1940s, the U.S. Navy still expected to need huge, first rate battleships to fight the best that Japan and Germany had to offer.
During a visit to Beijing next month, President Donald Trump will attempt to persuade China’s leader to do more to rein in North Korea, after having criticised the country for not taking more action on the issue. In a bilateral meeting, Mr Trump will also urge President Xi Jinping to fully implement sanctions by the United Nations Security Council against Pyongyang and to take steps that go beyond that, an official told reporters. Mr Trump will travel to Asia next month for a 12-day trip, during which he will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Sun, 22 Oct 2017, 'It was going to eat her' - Aussie teen survives shark scare
An Australian teenager has survived a terrifying encounter with a great white shark, with her harrowing screams alerting her father who was certain it was about to "eat her". Sarah Williams, 15, was fishing for squid from a kayak off the South Australian coast near Normanville on Sunday when the shark struck. "This shark has just rolled and all I saw was the dark side and the white belly and just huge fins and just white water everywhere," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
By Julien Toyer and Sam Edwards MADRID/BARCELONA (Reuters) - Catalonia's leaders said on Saturday they would not accept direct rule imposed on the region by the Spanish government, as a political crisis that has rattled the economy and raised fears of prolonged unrest showed no signs of easing. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced earlier on Saturday he would invoke special constitutional powers to fire the regional government and force a new election to counter the region's move towards independence. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who made a symbolic declaration of independence on Oct. 10 after a referendum to secede, called Rajoy's moves the "worst attacks against the people of Catalonia" since Spain's military dictatorship.
America needs a better strategy for containing and checking Iran, and that strategy is needed now. President Donald Trump would be making a serious mistake were he to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the 2015 nuclear deal between various world powers and Iran—in coming months. This action, which Trump has threatened if Congress does not act soon to toughen our overall Iran policy, would be a much more serious blow to American interests and to U.S. global leadership than Trump’s previous treaty-related decisions.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has invested $15 million in a local job training program as part of a deal to build Atlanta’s new football stadium in Westside Atlanta, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
A five-month battle against Islamic State supporters in the southern Philippines that claimed more than 1,100 lives has ended following a final battle inside a mosque, defence chiefs said on Monday. The conclusion of the conflict ended immediate fears that IS would establish a Southeast Asian base in the southern city of Marawi. "We now announce the termination of all combat operations in Marawi," Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Clark, a northern Philippine city.
By Linda Sieg TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese voters deliver their verdict on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's nearly five years in power in an election on Sunday that will determine if he has the clout to push ahead with his cherished goal of revising the post-war, pacifist constitution. Media forecasts show Abe's gamble on the snap poll is likely to pay off, with his conservative Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition closing in on the two-thirds "super majority" it had in parliament's lower house before dissolution. It would also reenergize Abe's push to revise the war-renouncing constitution by clarifying the status of the military, while maintaining his "Abenomics" growth strategy centered on the Bank of Japan's hyper-easy monetary policy.
Wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with swastikas, Randy Furniss, hands in his pockets, walked slowly through a crowd Thursday that had largely gathered to protest white nationalist Richard Spencer, who was delivering a speech at the University of Florida. Days before Florida Gov. Rick Scott, R, had warned in an executive order that a "threat of a potential emergency is imminent" in Alachua County, where the University of Florida is located, noting that prior speaking engagements involving Spencer have sparked protest and violence. The event was Spencer's first public speech on a college campus since he led hundreds of torch-bearing white supremacists, white nationalists and others through the University of Virginia in a far-right rally in August that preceded a weekend of violent protests in Charlottesville.
WASHINGTON ― Office of Management and Budget chief Mick Mulvaney suggested on Fox News Sunday that President Donald Trump could back a bipartisan deal on making certain reimbursement payments to insurers if he also got other, smaller changes to the health care system.
In 1930, the Glorious was converted into an aircraft carrier, just as the U.S. Navy did with the Lexington and Saratoga. Battlecruisers had proven fragile in World War I, but they could travel thirty knots and had large hulls suitable for planting a flight deck on. The Glorious was committed to the Norwegian campaign, perhaps the rock bottom of the Royal Navy’s performance in World War II. On April 9, 1940, the Germans launched an amphibious invasion of Norway.
HONG KONG (AP) — It wasn't just the dark-suited delegates in Beijing who were listening intently last week as Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined his grand ambitions to launch a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress.
Take a careful look at the image of two brains on this page. The picture is of the brains of two three-year-old children. It’s obvious that the brain on the left is much bigger than the one on the right. The image on the left also has fewer spots, and far fewer dark “fuzzy” areas. To neurologists who study the brain, and who have worked out how to interpret the images, the difference between these two brains is both remarkable and shocking. The brain on the right lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left. Those deficits make it impossible for that child to develop capacities that the child on the left will have: the child on the right will grow into an adult who is less intelligent, less able to empathise with others, more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crime than the child on the left. The child on the right is much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on welfare, and to develop mental and other serious health problems. What could possibly cause so radical a divergence in brain development? The obvious answer is that it must have been some illness or terrible accident. The obvious answer is wrong. he primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children is the way they were treated by their mothers. The child with the much more fully developed brain was cherished by its mother, who was constantly and fully responsive to her baby. The child with the shrivelled brain was neglected and abused. That difference in treatment explains why one child’s brain develops fully, and the other’s does not. Neurologists are beginning to understand exactly how a baby’s interaction with their mother determines how, and indeed whether, the brain grows in the way that it should. Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, who has surveyed the scientific literature and has made significant contributions to it, stresses that the growth of brain cells is a “consequence of an infant’s interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]”. The growth of the baby’s brain “literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it.” Prof Schore points out that if a baby is not treated properly in the first two years of life, the genes for various aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot operate, and may not even come into existence. Nature and nurture cannot be disentangled: the genes a baby has will be profoundly affected by the way it is treated. The details of how the chemical reactions that are essential to the formation of new brain cells and the connections between them are affected by the way a mother interacts with her baby are extremely technical. Suffice it to say that there is now a very substantial body of evidence that shows that the way a baby is treated in the first two years determines whether or not the resulting adult has a fully functioning brain. The damage caused by neglect and other forms of abuse comes by degrees: the more severe the neglect, the greater the damage. Eighty per cent of brain cells that a person will ever have are manufactured during the first two years after birth. If the process of building brain cells and connections between them goes wrong, the deficits are permanent. This discovery has enormous implications for social policy. It explains two very persistent features of our society. One is the way that chronic disadvantage reproduces itself across generations of the same families. There is a cycle of deprivation – lack of educational attainment, persistent unemployment, poverty, addiction, crime – which, once a family is in it, has proved almost impossible to break. The way that the development of a child’s brain is dependent on the way that the child is treated by its mother explains why this depressing cycle happens. Parents who, because their parents neglected them, do not have fully developed brains, neglect their own children in a similar way: their own children’s brains suffer from the same lack of development that blighted their own lives. They, too, are likely to fail at school, to be liable to get addicted to drugs, to be unable to hold down a job, and to have a propensity to violence. The second persistent feature is the dismal failure of rehabilitation programmes that aim to diminish the rate at which persistent young offenders commit crimes. Many different approaches have been tried, from intensive supervision to taking young offenders on safaris, but none has worked reliably or effectively. Recent research indicates that a large majority – perhaps more than three quarters – of persistent young offenders have brains that have not developed properly. They have, that is, suffered from neglect in the first two years of life, which prevented their brains from growing. As a consequence, they may be incapable of responding to the same incentives and punishments that will steer those with more fully developed brains away from crime. That result may lead you to conclude that nothing can be done about the social problems that result from childhood neglect. But that would be wrong. There is a way to break the cycle, and it is not terribly difficult to achieve. It consists in intervening early and showing mothers who neglect their children how to treat them in a way which will lead their babies’ brains to develop fully. “Early intervention”, as the policy is called, has been tried in parts of the US for more than 15 years. It consists in ensuring that mothers identified as “at risk” of neglecting their babies are given regular visits (at least once every week) by a nurse who instructs them on how to care for the newborn child. Data from the city of Elmira in New York State, where such programmes have been in place longest, show that children whose mothers had received those visits did much better than children from a comparable background whose mothers were not part of the programme: they had, for instance, 50 per cent fewer arrests, 80 per cent fewer convictions, and a significantly lower rate of drug abuse. Graham Allen, the Labour MP for Nottingham North, has been a fervent advocate of introducing early intervention programmes into the UK since at least 2008. That year, he collaborated with Iain Duncan Smith, now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens, a report for the Centre for Social Justice which set out evidence that the neglect of children in the first two years of life damages the development of their brains. The report also looked at the social problems that resulted, and examined the effects that early intervention could have in helping to solve those problems. Mr Allen’s own constituency is one of the most deprived in England: it has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe, and one of the lowest rates of participation in higher education. “There is no doubt that early intervention can make a tremendous contribution to improving our society,” Mr Allen says. “Not the least benefit is the financial one. The amount it saves taxpayers, by reducing benefits, by cutting care home places for kids who would otherwise have to be taken from their parents, by reducing prison places, and so on, is staggering.” Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, agrees. She is a passionate advocate of early intervention programmes. “I know they work because I have seen them in operation”, she says. “I helped to run an early intervention centre in Oxford, one of the first early intervention programmes in England. I have helped to institute such programmes in Northamptonshire. I can bear witness to the astonishing benefits. "The biggest problem at the moment is that the programmes are far too small. In Oxford, the centre sees perhaps 300 babies a year. But there are 17,000 babies born in Oxford every year, which means there are 34,000 babies in Oxford in the first two years of life who might benefit from the programme. "We need central Government to get behind early intervention so that it happens on a big enough scale everywhere.” Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead, is another passionate advocate of early intervention. He has also introduced small-scale schemes in his own constituency, and is working hard to find ways to get such schemes adopted more widely. There is a remarkable cross-party consensus that early intervention is a vitally important policy which needs to be supported nationally. Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband have endorsed early intervention, and insisted that it should be implemented. But nothing is happening to make sure that it is. “Quite the opposite,” notes Mr Allen. “The funding I thought was earmarked for it is being taken away. The plans that I have put forward are being hollowed out.” “It’s crazy,” adds Mrs Leadsom. “This is a policy that has the potential to transform our society, to mean that the next generation of babies will grow into more responsible, less crime-prone, and better educated adults. "We know what needs to be done to get those results: we need to ensure that mothers who are at risk of neglecting or abusing their babies in the first two years of life are instructed how to care for them and interact with them properly. But no one in central government is pushing it. In fact, they’re taking away the early intervention grant in order to pay for the pupil premium for two-year-olds.” Frank Field is just as depressed about the prospects of getting early intervention adopted by the Government. “The Prime Minister asked me to write a report on early intervention,” he says. “My hopes were up when I delivered it several weeks ago. But as far as I can tell, he hasn’t even read it.” What explains the failure to adopt early intervention programmes nationally? The greatest obstacle may simply be that the biggest benefits will not be obvious for 15 years. The babies who benefit from early intervention today will take more than a decade to grow into teenagers who do not commit the crimes they would have perpetrated had their mothers not been helped by an early intervention programme. Elections, however, are every five years. That means the benefits will not accrue to the politicians in power now, but to their successors – which could be why those in power now are reluctant to expend effort and money on early intervention programmes. “I hope that isn’t true,” says Graham Allen. “Because if it is, it would mean we are politically incapable of implementing the one policy that will certainly make our society immeasurably better. And what more profound condemnation of our political system could there be than that?”
Conjoined twins born in Gaza Sunday need to leave the blockaded Palestinian enclave for treatment crucial to their survival, their doctor and a family member said. "A woman gave birth this morning to Siamese twins joined at the stomach and pelvis," Allam Abu Hamda, head of the neonatal unit at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, told AFP. The twins, whose condition Abu Hamda said was stable, have one shared leg, but separate hearts and lungs.
By Leika Kihara and Linda Sieg TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc scored a big win in Sunday's election, bolstering his chance of becoming the nation's longest-serving premier and re-energizing his push to revise the pacifist constitution. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition won a combined 312 seats, keeping its two-thirds "super majority" in the 465-member lower house, local media said. A hefty win raises the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012, will secure a third three-year term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan's longest-serving premier.
Israeli police detained 15 suspected Jewish extremists following an undercover investigation into a group accused of tracking down and threatening Arab men dating Jewish women, authorities said Sunday. Among those arrested was Benzi Gopstein, a prominent leader of the Israeli extreme-right group Lehava. Arrests and searches for evidence were carried out simultaneously at addresses in Jerusalem, northern and southern Israel and in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, police said.
Sun, 22 Oct 2017, Donald Trump's 2012 Yankees Tweet Proves There Really Is A #TweetForEverything
Why all of America's enemies should take pause. In September 2017, the ship builder Electric Boat was awarded $5 billion to proceed with the design phase of the next-generation of U.S. nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, also known as SSBNs or “boomers.” A dozen Columbia-class submarines will start replacing the fourteen enormous but stealthy Ohio-class boats that constitute the scariest weapon system in the United States’ arsenal. If the United States were confronted by an existential threat—i.e., a nuclear attack—then just a few boomers could rain nuclear warheads on every major city or military base in a hostile nation.