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Brother of Afghan Taliban leader killed in Pakistan mosque blast

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:22

Brother of Afghan Taliban leader killed in Pakistan mosque blastQUETTA, Pakistan/KABUL (Reuters) - The brother of the leader of the Afghan Taliban was among at least four people killed in a bomb blast at a mosque in Pakistan on Friday, two Taliban sources told Reuters, an attack that could affect efforts to end the Afghan war. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast which took place as the Taliban and the United States are in the final stages of talks on an agreement that would see America withdraw its troops from neighboring Afghanistan. The imam of the mosque, 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the southwestern city of Quetta, was among those killed, police said.

Four killed in blast at Pakistan mosque

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:21

Four killed in blast at Pakistan mosqueA blast at a mosque in southwest Pakistan killed four people on Friday and wounded more than 20, police said, adding the death toll could rise. The imam of the mosque, located 25 km (15 miles) from the city of Quetta, was killed in the explosion, police said. "The blast was carried out through a timed device that was planted under the wooden chair of the prayer leader," said Quetta's chief of police Abdul Razzaq Chmeea.

Germany expects No Deal and will not renegotiate, says leaked briefing

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:17

Germany expects No Deal and will not renegotiate, says leaked briefingGermany expects a No Deal Brexit and is not prepared to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, according to leaked details of an internal briefing paper for Angela Merkel’s government. The leaked paper is the first evidence that Germany may be preparing to let Britain walk away with No Deal rather than back down to Boris Johnson’s demand to drop the Irish backstop. The paper was prepared by civil servants for the German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, ahead of face-to-face talks with the chancellor of the exchequer, Sajid Javid, in Berlin on Friday.  In public, Mr Scholz has said Germany will do everything it can to secure a deal with the UK. But according to details leaked to the usually reliable Handelsblatt newspaper, the briefing paper calls for the European Union to stick to its previous line of refusing to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement. It warns that there is now a “high probability” of a No Deal Brexit on October 31, but says  the EU must not "lose its nerve". Preparations  by Germany and the rest of the EU-27 to manage the impact of No Deal are “largely complete”, and the European Commission is not planning any further emergency measures, it says. Mr Javid is the first senior minister from the Johnson government to hold face-to-face talks with his German counterpart Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP The paper says it is “currently unforeseeable that Prime Minister Johnson will change his tough negotiating position” and predicts that he may use next weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz for a “big moment” to announce success or failure in negotiations. “Against this background, it is important from the EU perspective to stick to the previous line” of refusing to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, it  says, adding that even if the EU were to agree to drop the Irish backstop, it is not clear that Mr Johnson would be able to win approval for a revised withdrawal agreement in parliament. The UK has made repeated attempts to split the EU side, and “the EU-27’s unity  in adhering to the negotiated exit agreement” has been “decisive”, the paper says. Germany has already passed more than 50 laws and measures to deal with the impact of a No Deal Brexit, and the paper provides details of arrangements in the finance ministry’s area of tax and banking.  It cites a transitional agreement between the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and BaFin, the German financial regulator on cross-border financial services, and says German customes authorities are prepared for the increased workload expected under No Deal.

WRAPUP 3-Cathay CEO resigns amid Hong Kong protest blowback as more rallies planned

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:06

WRAPUP 3-Cathay CEO resigns amid Hong Kong protest blowback as more rallies plannedThe boss of Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways quit on Friday, the highest-profile corporate casualty of unrest roiling the former British colony, after Beijing targeted the airline over staff involvement in mass protests. Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the "one country, two systems" arrangement that has enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong since China took it back from Britain in 1997. Several thousand protesters gathered peacefully at a downtown park on Friday for the "Stand with Hong Kong, Power to the People" rally, which had received police permission.

Israel to allow barred US lawmaker for 'humanitarian' West Bank visit

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:01

Israel to allow barred US lawmaker for 'humanitarian' West Bank visitIsrael said Friday it will allow barred US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib who is of Palestinian origin to visit her elderly grandmother in the occupied West Bank, following a pledge she would respect its conditions. The decision taken by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri came a day after a controversial Israeli announcement that it would bar a planned weekend visit by Tlaib and fellow Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar over their support of a boycott of the Jewish state for its treatment of the Palestinians. The decision to allow a "humanitarian visit" followed a pledge in a letter from the lawmaker to "respect conditions imposed by Israel", the ministry said in a statement.

Cathay Pacific CEO resigns after Beijing pressure

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:00

Cathay Pacific CEO resigns after Beijing pressureThe CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways, one of Hong Kong's most prominent companies, resigned Friday following pressure by Beijing on the carrier over participation by some of its employees in anti-government protests. Rupert Hogg became the highest-profile corporate casualty of official Chinese pressure on foreign and Hong Kong companies to support the ruling Communist Party's position against the protesters.

O'Rourke calls for mandatory gun buyback, licensing

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:00

O'Rourke calls for mandatory gun buyback, licensingIf enacted, anyone who failed to forfeit a banned assault weapon would be fined, O'Rourke saide.

EXCLUSIVE-China-owned oil tanker changes name in apparent effort to evade U.S. sanctions

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 05:40

EXCLUSIVE-China-owned oil tanker changes name in apparent effort to evade U.S. sanctionsSINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 (Reuters) - While in the Indian Ocean heading toward the Strait of Malacca, the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Pacific Bravo went dark on June 5, shutting off the transponder that signals its position and direction to other ships, ship-tracking data showed. A U.S. government official had warned ports in Asia not to allow the ship to dock, saying it was carrying Iranian crude in violation of U.S. economic sanctions. A VLCC typically transports about 2 million barrels of oil, worth about $120 million at current prices.

Trump Must Not Break His Promises to Gun-Rights Supporters

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 05:30

Trump Must Not Break His Promises to Gun-Rights SupportersFollowing the model of George H. W. Bush, Donald Trump is taking a major step toward becoming a one-term president. Bush thought he could become more popular by betraying his promises to defend the Second Amendment. Trump now feels the same; according to the New York Times, he has ordered his staff to work with Senate Republicans to pass a major gun-control package that would set the stage for gun confiscation. Bush’s Good Talk and Hostile Action Let’s remember how gun control worked out for George H. W. Bush. Like Trump, Bush had a long record of supporting some gun control; that record was part of the reason he lost the Texas Senate race in 1970 and the presidential primaries in 1980. Also as with Trump, the campaign that won Bush the presidency was strongly pro–Second Amendment: Shortly before running for president in 1988, Bush joined the NRA. His acceptance speech at the Republican Convention touted his devotion to gun rights. In a September 1988 public letter to the NRA, he promised to oppose gun bans and other forms of gun control.Bush won the general election in a landslide against the inept Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis, who as governor of Massachusetts had declared that only the police and military should have guns. Bush’s victory margin was so large that the pro–Second Amendment vote was not essential. Gun voters did, however, amplify Bush’s win by carrying him to victory in states such as Pennsylvania, Montana, and Maryland.Bush’s campaign promises apparently meant little to him. A few weeks into the Bush presidency, the administration was set back on its heels by the Senate’s rejection of Secretary of Defense John Tower. Some conservative activists had raised concerns that Tower had a drinking problem, and that was the end of the nomination. So the White House cast about for what they thought would be a popular issue, and they chose gun control.In Stockton, Calif., a seriously mentally ill career criminal had murdered elementary-school children in a schoolyard. If California had had a functional criminal-justice system, the criminal would have been behind bars and receiving mental-health treatment.Bush denounced what he called "automated attack weapons” — that is, guns with a military appearance. Although the guns looked like machine guns, they functioned differently, with a much slower rate of fire — the same rate as common handguns. But Bush couldn’t be bothered to know the difference between reality and appearance, and neither could many other politicians and the media. The same is true today.Using administrative authority, Bush banned the import of so-called “assault weapons” — almost all of which actually had well-established use in hunting and target shooting. In the courts, the Bush administration’s lawyers insisted that individuals had no Second Amendment rights. Bush’s Department of Housing and Urban Development urged local public-housing authorities to prohibit tenants from owning firearms in their homes. Bush promoted an early version of what would later become the 1994 Clinton-Biden crime bill, including a ban on many ordinary firearms. The leading Republican supporter was South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond, the longtime segregationist and opponent of civil liberties.In 1991, Bush soared to 89 percent popularity after winning the First Gulf War against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. (At the time, few people realized that Bush’s decision to let the tyrant stay in power would set the stage for more terrorism and another war.) Yet Bush had few accomplishments on the domestic side. He had already violated his “read my lips: no new taxes” pledge — and was perhaps surprised to find that the people who hated him before he broke his promise hated him just as much afterwards.In search of a domestic accomplishment, Bush again proposed a grand bargain: He would sign a crime bill with gun control if the bill would also eliminate the exclusionary rule for firearms seized as evidence. That rule, created by Supreme Court decisions starting in 1914, prevents the courtroom use of evidence that is obtained through illegal police conduct. The Bush proposal would have allowed government agents to break into someone’s home with no warrant, no probable cause, and no exigent circumstances, ransack the home to look for a gun, and then use evidence of the seizure in court against the individual. Too bad for the Fourth Amendment.Perhaps Bush’s opposition to judicial controls on law-enforcement misconduct was not surprising. Under his administration, federal law-enforcement agencies — including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms -- had become notorious for legally unjustifiable and excessive violence, often with deadly consequences for the victims. Then as now, most federal agents were decent people, but the Bush administration from the top down encouraged the recklessly violent ones.In September 1992, the National Rifle Association declined to endorse Bush for reelection. Instead, the association concentrated its resources on candidates in other races who had kept their promises. Bush lost handily to Arkansas governor Bill Clinton, in part because Bush’s conservative base had realized that while Bush talked like a Texan, he governed like a northeastern aristocrat.The Clinton administration did everything it could to promote gun control, including winning enactment of a gun ban as part of its 1994 crime bill. (The one that most Democratic presidential candidates today accurately denounce as a disaster for civil rights.)Clinton’s overreach on guns played a major role in flipping control of the House and Senate in the 1994 elections, electing the most pro-gun Congress since the early 1920s. As this experience showed, it’s better to be under frontal attack from an overt enemy than to be stabbed in the back by a purported ally. Trump’s Good Talk and Planned Actions Trump’s embrace of the Bush model is reported to include support of the Toomey-Manchin bill from 2013. The bill would forbid individuals to sell firearms to each other if the sales took place at a gun show or were advertised publicly; instead, the sellers would have to use gun stores as middlemen. As federally licensed retailers, gun stores must keep records on firearms transactions, and they contact the FBI or its state counterpart for a background check on buyers. All this has nothing to do with reducing mass shootings. From the Aurora theater to Newtown to Las Vegas, the guns used by mass shooters are overwhelmingly acquired by persons who passed background checks, or who could have passed any proposed system of checks. In a few cases, such as the shooting at Sutherland Springs, Texas, the criminal should have been stopped by the existing background-check system but wasn’t, because the relevant conviction had not been reported to the FBI’s National Instant Check System. Since 2008, Congress has enacted a variety of laws to address the problem of incomplete data.Like Bush and Clinton, Trump is determined to “do something” — even if that something is useless when it comes to preventing mass shootings. A RAND Corporation study evaluated different gun-control laws. According to RAND, which can hardly be accused of being “pro-gun,” the social-science evidence does not provide even “limited” support for background checks, “assault weapon” bans, or other gun control having any effect on mass shootings.The Toomey-Manchin bill was promoted with the sweetener that it would toughen the existing ban on a federal gun registry and would improve the laws protecting the interstate transportation of firearms. In fact, close reading of the bill showed that it expressly authorized a vast amount of new gun registration and gutted the existing protections for interstate transport for persons who travel to the most restrictive states, such as New York, New Jersey, and Massaschusetts. It would have vastly increased data collection and retention on law-abiding gun owners.As the Obama administration’s Department of Justice admitted in a 2013 memo, “universal background check” laws are unenforceable without gun registration. Retail gun sales are already registered via record-keeping by the retailer. When a dealer retires, all of his registration records must be delivered to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, where they are digitized. (ATF is currently not supposed to make its database searchable by the purchaser’s name.) The purpose of the background-check laws being pushed in Congress and the states is to expand registration by requiring the use of gun stores as intermediaries for transfers between private individuals — even loaning your shotgun to your cousin for a week.Centralizing registration will be a future demand of the gun-prohibition lobby after Trump surrenders to the current demands. That is what has been enacted in California, where the government now has a comprehensive list of almost all gun owners and their particular firearms — thanks to records created for “universal background checks.”Once there is registration, the next step is confiscation. Since 1967, all firearms in New York City have been centrally registered. Starting with mayor David Dinkins in the 1980s and continuing ever since, including under the regime of Michael Bloomberg, the registration lists have been used for confiscation, as more and more once-legal guns have been outlawed by the city council or the legislature.The New York City Administrative Code explains the process in section 10-303.1. When the city council decides that something is an “assault weapon” (a definition that has repeatedly expanded), the police are supposed to mail a notice to the licensed owner of the registered gun. The owner has two choices: 1. “peaceably surrender his or her assault weapon” to the police commissioner, who may destroy it or keep it for police-department use; 2. “lawfully remove such assault weapon from the city of New York.”After the confiscation process for “assault weapons” was established, a slow-motion confiscation was introduced for more firearms. According to section 10-306, it is illegal in New York to acquire a rifle of shotgun with an ammunition capacity of more than five. Existing registered owners may keep theirs, but may not pass them on to heirs. The only dispositions allowed are surrender to the police, removal from the city, or sale to a licensed firearms dealer.Central registration lists have likewise been used for confiscation in Australia and the United Kingdom, both touted as models by American gun-control advocates. Laws to Reduce Mass Shootings Red-flag laws could stop mass shootings at least occasionally, which is why I testified in favor of such laws before the Senate Judiciary Committee last March. But unless the laws have very strong due-process protections (which the bills being pushed by the gun-control lobbies do not), these laws are easy to abuse. Trump himself demonstrated the problem by claiming that CNN host Christopher Cuomo should be prohibited from owning guns because Cuomo lost his temper and yelled at a lout who was harassing him and his family at a restaurant.Donald Trump did once propose something that would greatly reduce mass shootings. “I will get rid of gun-free zones,” he promised over and over when addressing the NRA annual meeting in 2016. During the campaign he also promised, “I will get rid of gun-free zones in schools, and — you have to — and on military bases. My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.”Actually, he did nothing on the first day, and very little since then — not even on federal property, where many of the gun-free zones could be ended by executive-branch regulatory changes.The Army Corps of Engineers owns millions of acres of recreational land, and the corps’ regulations ban Americans from possessing defensive arms while visiting or camping on that land. Just before the Ninth Circuit was slated to hear oral arguments in a constitutional challenge to that ban, the Trump administration told the court that the administration was considering changing the regulation. But the regulation was never changed. Instead, the Trump administration issued guidance to citizens to request written individual permission from a district commander to possess a defensive arm.The gap between Trump’s promises and actions is unfortunate, because the vast majority of mass shootings take place in so-called gun-free zones. As studies of active-shooter incidents show beyond doubt, killing sprees almost always end when the people starting shooting back at the criminal. If law enforcement or security guards are already there, that’s good. But the police cannot be everywhere at once, and the minutes that it takes for the police to arrive are the criminals’ window of time for murder.Unlike Trump, President Obama actually did get rid of some gun-free zones. In 2009, Obama signed legislation to allow persons to carry arms on the lands (though not buildings) of national parks, national monuments, and national wildlife refuges when in compliance with the host state’s laws for lawful carry. The carry reform was attached to a bill on credit-card reform that Obama favored. Additionally, Obama signed defense-appropriations bills that ended gun registration for military personnel in off-base housing and that allowed licensed handgun carry on-base by some personnel.Ever since 2015, Trump has always talked big about this support for gun rights. He has one major accomplishment: unsigning the U.N. gun-control treaty that Obama had signed in 2013. He also signed a bill in early 2017 that blocked proposed Obama gun-control regulations.Gun-rights activists might tolerate Trump's very high ratio of talk to action. But they won’t tolerate him switching sides. Arrogance and Ignorance Donald Trump has flirted with the Bush model before, endorsing gun control in a February 2018 meeting with Senators Feinstein and Schumer. But Trump quickly pulled back. Now he seems more determined, apparently believing that the NRA, which is embroiled in internal conflicts and lawsuits over management issues, is too weak to stop him. Like many New Yorkers, Trump does not realize that the NRA itself is a consequence of American gun culture. If the NRA disappeared tomorrow, American gun owners would spontaneously self-organize in defense of their rights. The same is true for the pro-life movement, the environmental movement, and many others. Strike down their national organizations, and thousands of grassroots organizations will arise to take their place.The same is not true for the anti-gun movement. There has always been a hard core of anti-gun extremists, exemplified by the 20 percent of persons in opinion polls who want to ban all handguns. But the anti-gun grassroots never did spontaneously self-organize to any significant degree. Today, that doesn’t matter, since anti-gunners are now organized by the best professional organizers that money can buy, thanks to Michael Bloomberg and other malefactors of great wealth. This creates the impression among some politicians that the anti-gun movement is larger than ever before, in terms of voting support. This is not true, but the anti-gunners are now much more visible.Trump imagines that he will win reelection because the other party’s nominee will be so extreme. He should ask Jimmy Carter about that one. In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s ideas were indeed far from the center of gravity of American politics. But the American people were tired of Carter’s weakness, indecisiveness, and incompetence, and by a landslide they decided to give the opposing candidate a chance.Trump’s personal flaws are different from Carter’s, but more visible. In childish and unpresidential public behavior he far exceeds the previous record-holder, Bill Clinton.For over three decades I have been in close contact with grassroots gun-rights activists. In 2016 there were a few such activists who genuinely liked Trump; the vast majority viewed him with disgust, based on his character. Yet these same activists worked relentlessly to get gun owners to the polls and thereby carried Trump to narrow victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. If Trump follows through on his plans to betray them, they won’t forgive and they won’t forget.

Modi’s Kashmir Move Faces UN Test After Top Court Skips Pleas

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 05:20

Modi’s Kashmir Move Faces UN Test After Top Court Skips Pleas(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to scrap autonomy for Kashmir after imposing an unprecedented lockdown across the region will be tested Friday at the United Nations Security Council after India’s top court deferred a case calling on the government to lift restrictions that have been in place for the past 12 days.A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi adjourned a petition challenging the information blackout. Another plea questioning the government’s move to scrap the constitutional provision, as it was taken without the consent of the state’s legislature, was also postponed on grounds of being badly drafted. Both will be taken up at a later date, the court said without giving any details.The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold a closed-door meeting after China backed Pakistan’s call to for the international body to discuss India’s decision on the disputed Muslim-majority state. The last time the full Security Council met to discuss the Himalayan region was in 1965.The developments are the first concrete steps questioning Modi’s decision to convert Jammu and Kashmir into two federally administered regions, separating Buddhist-majority Ladakh along its China border. The surprise move gives Modi’s administration control of the local police and allows Indians outside Kashmir to buy land. On its part, New Delhi said it would usher in prosperity for the region where as many as 42,000 people including civilians, army, police and militants have died in violence in the last three decades.Restrictions on movement of people and communications will be gradually eased in the next few days, B. V. R. Subrahmanyam, the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir, said at a press conference Friday in Srinigar. Telephone lines will start functioning in phases starting Friday night, Subrahmanyam said.Ceasefire ViolationModi’s Kashmir decision may have fulfilled a campaign promise made to his Hindu support base, which opposed special treatment for the region but has led to an escalation of tensions with rival and neighbor Pakistan. The state has been the main flashpoint between nuclear armed neighbors, who have fought three wars since the British left the subcontinent in 1947.Pakistan on Aug. 15 accused India of killing its soldiers in what it called “unprovoked ceasefire violations.” India denied Pakistan’s claim of killing of three soldiers. A spokesman of Indian Army said it’s “fictitious.”India has called the Kashmir decision an internal matter with no bearings on its international borders with Pakistan and China, however Beijing was quick to criticize the move. It issued a strongly-worded statement last week questioning the impact on the mainly Buddhist region of Ladakh -- an area of strategic importance nestled between Tibet and Pakistan.Still, with Beijing’s main focus on its relationship with the U.S. and the trade war, it’s not clear how much effort it will devote to pushing the Kashmir issue at the United Nations Security Council, said C. Uday Bhaskar, director at the Society for Policy Studies in New Delhi.“There is a low probability that China is going invest all its diplomatic energy to support Pakistan to India’s discomfiture,” Bhaskar said on Friday.The Indian government will reopen Jammu and Kashmir secretariat and other government offices from Friday while easing other restrictions would depend on developments after the Friday prayers, the Press Trust of India reported.(Updates with comment from chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir in fifth paragraph)\--With assistance from N. C. Bipindra and Khalid Qayum.To contact the reporters on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at;Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at;Upmanyu Trivedi in New Delhi at utrivedi2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at, Unni KrishnanFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Police break up fight between passengers on Delta flight after 6-hour delay at JFK Airport

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 05:16

Police break up fight between passengers on Delta flight after 6-hour delay at JFK AirportA fight broke out during that time, prompting one crew member to come over the intercom to announce the situation was not safe for passengers or the crew.

Greyhound riders are being asked for immigration papers at South Florida bus terminals

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 05:00

Greyhound riders are being asked for immigration papers at South Florida bus terminalsFederal immigration agents are beefing up their efforts to apprehend undocumented immigrants in South Florida as part of a nationwide effort to “keep communities safe.”

‘I’m worried’: Allies fear NRA has lost its power in Washington

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 04:04

 Allies fear NRA has lost its power in WashingtonThe NRA might not be able to fight the momentum for change after a pair of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Ai Weiwei fears 'Tiananmen' crackdown in Hong Kong

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 03:47

Ai Weiwei fears 'Tiananmen' crackdown in Hong KongWatching the Hong Kong protests from afar, Chinese dissident-artist Ai Weiwei fears the worst, warning of a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing. China "is a society which sacrifices anything to maintain its control," he warned. Ai's bleak warning comes after two months of protests that have turned increasingly violent, and as Beijing has massed security forces nearby on the mainland in a show of force.

ICE Confines Some Detainees With Mental Illness in Solitary for Months

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 03:44

ICE Confines Some Detainees With Mental Illness in Solitary for MonthsPhoto Illustration by The Daily Beast/photo by David Maung/GettyAs Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains more immigrants than ever before, detention centers have filed more reports of detainees being held in solitary confinement, according to federal records obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). In solitary, detainees are locked in a cell and isolated from other people for up to 23 hours a day.The records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, cover the last year of the Obama administration and the Trump administration through early May 2018. There are 6,559 records, each of which represents the confinement of a detainee in solitary (ICE has placed some detainees in solitary more than once). These records advance reporting on ICE’s use of solitary by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and partner news organizations published earlier this year. The records POGO obtained are the first to cover a significant portion of the current administration.About 40 percent of the records show detainees placed in solitary have mental illness. At some detention centers, the percentage is much higher.Many experts view solitary confinement as tantamount to torture under certain conditions, especially if it is prolonged. Prolonged solitary confinement has been defined as longer than 15 days.Slightly more than 4,000 of the 6,559 records show detainees in solitary for more than 15 days. One quarter of those roughly 4,000 records indicate the detainees in solitary had mental illness. The records show that some detainees were held in solitary for months, and in some cases, for more than a year. One detainee was held in solitary for more than two years.Viewed alongside official watchdog reports and insider accounts, these records depict an immigration detention system in urgent need of more oversight. Indeed, an ICE policy instituted six years ago mandated the creation of these records so the agency could assess how its 200-plus detention centers use and misuse solitary, officially known as “segregation.” But the records themselves have gaps and inaccuracies, hindering their potential to help overseers.The problem has garnered bipartisan Congressional scrutiny. “It is imperative that ICE swiftly resolve any lacking oversight or improper documentation pertaining to the use of segregation,” wrote Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in a letter last month to the acting head of ICE. This isn’t Grassley’s first time weighing in on ICE’s use of solitary. In 2015, he and then-Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wrote that information they obtained suggested “that ICE continues to place many detainees with mental health concerns in administrative or disciplinary segregation—also known as solitary confinement—contrary to agency directives.”The release of this data on solitary comes as the current administration has aggressively enforced immigration laws, including the mass prosecution of people for first-time illegal entry into the U.S., a misdemeanor, under a “zero tolerance” policy carried out along the entire U.S.-Mexico border beginning in April 2018 (the last full month covered by the data). The administration has also ramped up so-called “interior enforcement” where immigrants, and some U.S. citizens, have been arrested away from the border and ports of entry. The aggressive enforcement has sent the number of people in ICE detention to record highs in recent months, including a growing number of detainees with mental illness. ICE detention centers across the country use solitary confinement to house detainees with mental illness and other vulnerabilities apart from the general population. Solitary is also used to punish detainees who assault employees or other detainees, and for violating other rules. Some detainees allege they have been placed in solitary as retaliation for speaking out against forced labor, sexual assault, or other alleged abuses.ICE provided no comment in response to POGO's queries.Even when it’s meant to protect rather than punish, placing individuals with preexisting mental illness in solitary confinement can make the psychological issues they are grappling with worse and can increase the risk they will die by suicide.“There’s no debate that for people with a mental illness, it’s very clear that solitary exacerbates the mental illness,” psychiatrist Terry Kupers told POGO. Kupers has testified in lawsuits involving mental health care in prisons. Among those who were not previously experiencing mental illness, time in solitary can also lead to mental health problems and a rise in suicidal thoughts.During the first two years of the Trump administration, at least three ICE detainees who were documented as having schizophrenia and were placed in solitary took their own lives, according to two official detainee death reviews by ICE and an inquiry by a state law enforcement agency in Georgia. Placing those with mental illness in solitary confinement is akin to “putting an asthmatic in a place with little air to breathe,” according to one federal judge.According to a 2015 study by experts at New York University’s medical school, suicide was one of the top causes of death in ICE detention between 2003 and 2015. The study cites criticism of ICE for putting “patients with mental illness into detention instead of allowing them to receive community-based treatment.”Yet there is at least one less policy limit on detaining people with mental illness now than when that study came out. A month after President Trump’s inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security rescinded a 2014 memo that stated ICE should not detain people “suffering from serious physical or mental illness” unless there were “extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention.”Opponents of solitary confinement have questioned whether its use for long periods of time violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. In one case, a federal judge wrote that placing those with mental illness in solitary confinement is akin to “putting an asthmatic in a place with little air to breathe.” The discussion of solitary has predominantly been in the context of prison—a punishment for those found guilty of a crime. Because immigrant detention, unlike prison, is not officially meant to be punitive, prolonged use of solitary may pose additional legal and constitutional concerns.The ICE data obtained by POGO shows some detainees were kept in solitary for long periods, in nine cases exceeding a year.This article is republished in conjunction with the Project on Government Oversight please continue here.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Trump says people have 'no choice' but to vote for him to save stock market

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 03:20

Trump says people have 'no choice' but to vote for him to save stock marketDonald Trump said even Americans who hate him “have no choice” but to vote for him in the next US election because otherwise the stock market will collapse.He doubled down on his economic argument for re-election on Thursday night amid increasing concerns about a recession. Markets are already wobbling over the escalating trade and currency war with China. Mr Trump flew to a battleground state to defend policies that are rattling businesses and investors and to insist he will continue the country’s decade-long economic expansion into a second term.“You have the best unemployment, you have the most successful state in the history of your state and the history of our country,” the US president told a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. “And then you’re going to vote for somebody else? Oh great. ‘Let’s vote for Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren. We have the best numbers we’ve ever had — let’s vote for somebody else.’ ”Even as he derided Democratic presidential candidate Ms Warren with a racial slur, Mr Trump acknowledged the deep antipathy many voters have for him and argued they should put this aside for their own economic well-being.“You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes,” he told the crowd. “Whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me.”In resting his case for a second term on the health of the economy, Mr Trump underscored the political consequences of the economic turmoil that has played out in recent days.In private, he has expressed his own anxiety about the economy taking a dive, knowing that his electoral fortunes are likely tied to it, even as he vents frustration that his opponents are exaggerating the troubles. American stock markets fell about 3 per cent on Wednesday amid indications that the global economy could slow before shares rebounded slightly on Thursday.Mr Trump lashed out at those questioning his confrontation with China, including the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.The WSJ‘s editorials “demonstrate that they understand nothing about trade or business,” he said. “Nothing. They advocate only economic surrender. They actually say go to China, take off the tariffs, make a deal. I lose all the cards, we take off the tariffs. We don’t have any cards.”Polls show economic stewardship is perhaps Mr Trump’s biggest political asset.He boasted: “Hey, you got low interest rates, the lowest ever.”He made no mention of his regular attacks on the Federal Reserve for keeping interest rates too high.New Hampshire, which Mr Trump narrowly lost in 2016, is a state where the economic argument may not resonate as strongly as in other places.Its unemployment rate had already fallen to 2.8 per cent under Barack Obama and has since ticked down to 2.5 per cent.Mr Trump’s speech was marked by repeated inconsistencies. The same president who last year said trade wars were “easy to win” told his supporters that “I never said China was going to be easy”.The same president who compared America’s intelligence agencies to “Nazi Germany” when he took office complained that Democrats “use the term Nazi” to attack their opponents.At one point, when a protester disrupted the speech and was escorted out of the arena, Mr Trump belittled the man’s physical appearance. “That guy has a serious weight problem,” he said. “Go home, start exercising!”The New York Times

Exclusive: China-owned oil tanker changes name in apparent effort to evade U.S. sanctions

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 02:25

 China-owned oil tanker changes name in apparent effort to evade U.S. sanctionsSINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - While in the Indian Ocean heading toward the Strait of Malacca, the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Pacific Bravo went dark on June 5, shutting off the transponder that signals its position and direction to other ships, ship-tracking data showed. A VLCC typically transports about 2 million barrels of oil, worth about $120 million at current prices. On July 18, the transponder of the VLCC Latin Venture was activated offshore Port Dickson, Malaysia, in the Strait of Malacca, about 1,500 km (940 miles) from where the Pacific Bravo had last been signaling its position.

Tears and shouting as Australia dilutes Pacific climate warning

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 02:20

Tears and shouting as Australia dilutes Pacific climate warningA Pacific summit has descended into tears, recriminations and shouting between pro-coal Australia and low-lying island nations facing an existential threat from climate change. The annual Pacific Island Forum wrapped up in Tuvalu late Thursday with Australia and the group's 17 other members sharply at odds, potentially undermining Canberra's efforts to curb China's growing influence in the region. "There were serious arguments and even shouting, crying, people, leaders were shedding tears," Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told Australia's national broadcaster ABC after the summit broke up with a communique with "watered down" language on global warming.

After El Paso shooting, Mexican Americans can no longer be ambivalent minority

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 02:15

After El Paso shooting, Mexican Americans can no longer be ambivalent minorityWe think of ourselves as both an immigrant ethnic group and a racially oppressed minority. After El Paso, that is a luxury we can't afford.

17 missing in SW China landslide

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 00:48

17 missing in SW China landslideMore than a dozen workers remained missing Friday after a landslide in southwest China buried a section of railway that was under repair, according to state media. The 17 missing people were carrying out maintenance work on the track Wednesday when the hill above them gave way, China Daily reported. The landslide in Ganluo county in Sichuan province happened very quickly, a witness told the newspaper.

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