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Face masks aren't a very effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus, experts say, despite spiking sales

Face masks aren't a very effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus, experts say, despite spiking salesWearing a face mask won't protect you from the Wuhan coronavirus as much as washing your hands and avoiding contact with anyone who may be infected.



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Democrats Sparred Over a Wine Cave Fundraiser. The Cave's Billionaire Owners Aren't Pleased.

Democrats Sparred Over a Wine Cave Fundraiser. The Cave's Billionaire Owners Aren't Pleased.RUTHERFORD, Calif. — To reach the wine cave that set off a firestorm in this week's Democratic presidential debate, visitors must navigate a hillside shrouded in mossy oak trees and walk down a brick-and-limestone hallway lined with wine barrels. Inside the room, a strikingly long table made of wood and onyx sits below a raindrop chandelier with 1,500 Swarovski crystals.The furnishings drew the ire of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Thursday when she chastised Pete Buttigieg for holding a recent fundraiser in a wine cave "full of crystals" where, she said, guests were served $ 900 bottles of wine."Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States," she said. Andrew Yang, a former tech executive, added that candidates should not have to "shake the money tree in the wine cave."On Friday, the billionaire couple who owns the wine cave — wine is often stored underground because of the cool, stable temperatures — said they were frustrated that their property had set off one of the fiercest back-and-forths of the debate. Watching the contentious moment on television, they grew frustrated as Warren and other candidates used their winery as a symbol of opulence and the wealthy's influence on politics."I'm just a pawn here," said Craig Hall, who owns Hall Wines, which is known for its cabernet sauvignon, with his wife, Kathryn Walt Hall. "They're making me out to be something that's not true. And they picked the wrong pawn. It's just not fair."Craig Hall said that he had not settled on a favorite Democratic candidate but that Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was a leading contender. His positions on climate change, gun safety and immigration appealed to the couple, said Craig Hall, who added that he wanted it to be easier for middle-class Americans to start successful businesses.The Halls have given at least $ 2.4 million to Democratic candidates, committees and PACs since the 1980s, according to Federal Election Commission records. They have donated to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Kamala Harris of California before she ran for president.But in this election cycle, some Democratic candidates have criticized the spending of wealthy donors like the Halls, arguing that their large contributions can lead to outsize influence on policy — or even jobs in a future administration. Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in particular, have harped on other candidates for soliciting wealthy donors and traveling from coast to coast to attend fundraisers.For the Halls, the scrutiny has felt personal. Craig Hall said that during the debate, Kathryn Walt Hall turned to him and jokingly said she might go buy something for herself instead of contributing to another political campaign.Craig Hall, 69, made much of his fortune in the real estate industry and said he started a business at 18 with $ 4,000 from his savings account. Kathryn Walt Hall, a lawyer and businesswoman, served as the U.S. ambassador to Austria under President Bill Clinton after donating to his reelection campaign. Her family has worked in the wine industry since the 1970s.As chairman of the Hall Group, which is based in Dallas, Craig Hall oversees a financial services company, wineries, art exhibits and a luxury hotel. He said that in Texas, he is often seen as the most liberal among friends and business colleagues, part of why he felt unfairly targeted during the debate."These people don't know who they're talking about when they throw me in the class that they did," Craig Hall said of the presidential candidates. "As much as it's frustrating, it's more disappointing to me that Democrats are fighting with each other when we have a common goal, which is to get back to the White House."On the debate stage, Buttigieg responded to the attacks by arguing that the views of donors would not influence his positions and saying that his net worth was one one-hundredth of Warren's.Buttigieg said accepting the contributions of all donors was necessary to "build a campaign ready for the fight of our lives," referring to the general election faceoff against President Donald Trump.Warren's comments also did not sit well with some local residents, who are accustomed to encountering politicians and their high-end contributors. Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California each own a valuable vineyard nearby."It connoted something snobbish, which it really isn't," said Carl Myers, a retired general contractor who lives in St. Helena, California.Wine is stored in caves around the world, and Craig Hall noted that the Romans followed the practice. Storing wine underground saves money on climate control and humidification, said Jonathan Ruppert, the general manager of Gary's Wine & Marketplace in St. Helena."Caves are a necessity," Ruppert said. "It's the green way to keep wine and preserve it for aging."Although the wine cave at Hall Wines is occasionally used for fundraising events, it typically serves as a private tasting room. But the winery was closed Friday for the employee Christmas party and, in a sign of the times, active shooter training.High-dollar donors have visited his wine cave, but Craig Hall emphasized that his wineries do not sell a $ 900 bottle of wine — or, at least, not a regularly sized one. The $ 900 bottle they do sell is 3 liters, he said, which holds as much wine as about four normal bottles. Most of the company's wines cost between $ 45 and $ 65.Craig Hall said he intended to support any Democratic nominee in the general election, but he admitted it would be hard to back Warren or Sanders."I hope I don't face that question," Craig Hall said. "It may be difficult. But I really want to support whoever the nominee is, and I plan to, but there may be some holding my nose."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company



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Democratic Sen. Doug Jones says he'll vote to acquit President Trump if 'dots aren't connected'

Democratic Sen. Doug Jones says he'll vote to acquit President Trump if 'dots aren't connected'Democratic Sen. Doug Jones dismissed concerns that he will lose his seat if he votes to remove President Trump in a Senate trial, but said he would acquit Trump if "dots aren't connected" over “gaps” in the impeachment case.



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Trump says al-Baghdadi died 'screaming and crying.' U.S. officials aren't sure how he knows that.

Trump says al-Baghdadi died 'screaming and crying.' U.S. officials aren't sure how he knows that.Gen. Mark A. Milley, who watched the raid with Trump in the Situation Room, told reporters at the Pentagon that he doesn't know "what the source of that was."



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'We know they aren't feeding': fears for polar bears over shrinking Arctic ice

'We know they aren't feeding': fears for polar bears over shrinking Arctic iceExpert Steven Amstrup says ‘the longer the sea ice is gone from the productive zone the tougher it is on the bears’This year’s annual minimum of the Arctic sea ice tied with the second-lowest extent on record. Photograph: Chase Dekker/Getty ImagesThe loss of Arctic ice from glaciers, polar land and sea is declining faster than many scientists expected, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report on oceans and the cryosphere said this week.That’s bad news for polar bear populations, a top expert involved in field studies on the endangered animals has told the Guardian.This year’s annual minimum of the Arctic sea ice tied with the second-lowest extent on record, a mere 1.6m sq miles, and badly affected polar bear populations that live and hunt on the north slope of Alaska, plus those that live on the ice floes in the Bering Sea.“Now the ice has gone way offshore we know that the bears aren’t feeding, and the bears that are forced on to land don’t find much to eat. The longer the sea ice is gone from the productive zone the tougher it is on the bears,” said Polar Bears International’s Steven Amstrup.In 2015, the group reported that the polar bear population in the Beaufort Sea had declined by 40% over the previous decade. “We can only anticipate that those declines have continued,” Amstrup said.The loss of sea ice this year was so pronounced early in the season that tagging crews from the US Geological Survey (USGS) concluded that the sea ice offshore in the western arctic was too thin and unstable to be able to conduct their studies – the first time the team have pulled their studies because of safety issues.That’s a far cry from the two decades to 2010 when Amstrup did two two-month field studies a year. In recent years, the spring season has also been severely hampered by open water, fog and bad weather.This year, the trends were repeated. Amstrup said: “The ice in the spring … was really tough this year. What ice was there was thin and rough this year. That’s part of progressive trend that we’ve seen over several years.”The circumstances of global heating in the Arctic region, from record heatwaves in Alaska to the loss of more than 60bn tons of ice from Greenland’s ice cap during a five-day heatwave this summer, including the biggest loss in a 24-hour period since records began.For both polar bear populations, the circumstances are grim. Those that live on shore aren’t finding much to eat, says Amstrup, and those that live permanently on the pack ice don’t appear to be feeding much either.“They’re having a long fast in the summer and there’s a limit to how long that fast can last. We’re already seeing indications in terms of poorer cub survival in the Beaufort Sea. An adult bear has a lot of body mass, and maybe can get through a long summer fast, but young bears don’t have the body mass or hunting skills to survive,” he said.But because 2019 did not set a record in terms of sea-ice loss, Amstrup stressed, we should not be fooled into thinking that, short of an extreme event, circumstances have stabilized or improved.Amstrup said funding cutbacks and the fact that biologists cannot get out and study the bears means it may never be able to collect the necessary data to assess “just how bad this year was”.Instead, Amstrup says this bad ice year and record warm summer are symbols of what the future will bring. Bad years like this will be increasingly frequent and the bad years will be increasingly worse – as long as we allow CO2 levels to continue to rise.“We know that as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise it’s going to be warmer and we’re going to have less and less sea ice until polar bears disappear,” he said.



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Colt Says Its Decision to Stop Making AR-15 Rifles for Civilians Is Driven by Customers. Experts Aren't So Sure

Colt Says Its Decision to Stop Making AR-15 Rifles for Civilians Is Driven by Customers. Experts Aren't So SureExperts wonder if the company was swayed by mass shootings involving the weapon



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Most of the robocalls you get aren't coming from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile numbers

Most of the robocalls you get aren't coming from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile numbersAmericans received 200 million unwanted calls per day during the first half of the year, according to the report.



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California and Alabama are the only two states that aren't participating in the giant antitrust investigation of Google, and neither is really saying why (GOOGL, FB)

California and Alabama are the only two states that aren't participating in the giant antitrust investigation of Google, and neither is really saying why (GOOGL, FB)Every other US state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, is taking part in the inquiry.



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We need an active, robust Republican primary with choices that aren't Donald Trump

We need an active, robust Republican primary with choices that aren't Donald TrumpThe presidency hasn’t changed Trump, he is changing the presidency. I hope he gets more primary challengers. Give Republicans a chance to reject him.



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'That is ridiculous': Andrew Gillum rips Rick Santorum for claiming guns aren't 'problem' in mass shootings

'That is ridiculous': Andrew Gillum rips Rick Santorum for claiming guns aren't 'problem' in mass shootingsFormer Tallahassee, Fla., Mayor Andrew Gillum slammed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's stance on gun control as “ridiculous” for saying guns are not the “problem” in mass shootings.



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