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Republicans reject subpoenas as impeachment debate goes on

Republicans reject subpoenas as impeachment debate goes onThe U.S. Senate plunged into President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday with Republicans abruptly abandoning plans to cram opening arguments into two late-night sessions and Democrats arguing for more witnesses to expose Trump’s “trifecta” of offenses. The turn of events was a setback for Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and the president’s legal team, exposing a crack in the GOP ranks and the growing political unease over the historic impeachment proceedings unfolding amid a watchful public in an election year.



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AOC-Linked Dark Money Goes After Biden and Buttigieg

AOC-Linked Dark Money Goes After Biden and ButtigiegWait, isn't she against that…



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‘I never understood wind’: Trump goes on bizarre tirade against wind turbines

‘I never understood wind’: Trump goes on bizarre tirade against wind turbinesPresident’s nonsensical rambling remarks about ‘windmills’ in segment from weekend speech raised eyebrowsHe says he knows more about Isis than his generals, and claims to understand politicians “better than anybody”. Now there is another subject in which Donald Trump’s expert knowledge surpasses that of everybody else: wind turbines, though he calls them windmills.“I’ve studied it better than anybody I know,” the president asserted in a bizarre segment from a weekend speech to young conservatives in West Palm Beach, Florida, close to his winter retreat at Mar-a-Lago where he is spending the holidays.“I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. They’re noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? Go under a windmill someday. You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.”> President Trump: "I never understood wind, you know I know windmills very much. I've studied it better than anybody." pic.twitter.com/0U432SgNA2> > — The Hill (@thehill) December 22, 2019Trump ripped into a range of familiar targets in a speech lasting more than one hour at the Turning Point USA student action summit, from the Democrats and House speaker Nancy Pelosi, to his recent impeachment and the so-called Never Trumpers in the Republican party who he said were “the dumbest human beings on earth”.But it was his rambling and often nonsensical remarks about wind turbines, during a diatribe against the Green New Deal and renewable energy resources, that raised eyebrows.“They’re made in China and Germany mostly,” Trump said of wind turbines, of which there are more than 57,000 across the US, according to the American Wind Energy Association. “But they’re manufactured tremendous if you’re into this, tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything.“You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything, right?”It was unclear what exactly Trump meant, or how Trump equated wind turbines converting clean air into energy to toxic fumes fouling the atmosphere. But he did share his thoughts on their appearance.“You see all those [windmills]. They’re all different shades of color,” he said. “They’re like sort of white, but one is like an orange-white. It’s my favorite color, orange.”The president’s “war on wind” is not new: earlier this year he was ridiculed for his claims that wind turbines destroyed property values and caused cancer from their noise.He is accused of having begun his tirades against wind turbines after wind farm developments were proposed near the golf course he owns in Scotland.There is some evidence that wind turbines have a negative impact on wildlife: a 2013 study by the Wildlife Society of fatalities in California resulted in the society estimating that nationally more than half a million birds, including 83,000 raptors such as bald and golden eagles, died such deaths.The president’s final words on the subject, before hailing himself an “an environmentalist” presiding over an environment “in very good shape”, concerned the long-term aesthetics of wind turbines.“You know what they don’t tell you about windmills? After 10 years they look like hell. They start to get tired, old,” he said, lamenting that owners of ageing windmills not replacing them without government subsidies was “a really terrible thing”.• This article was amended on 24 December 2019 to clarify estimates of US bird deaths linked to wind turbines.



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Why the Drug War Can’t Be Won—Cartel Corruption Goes All the Way to the Top

Why the Drug War Can’t Be Won—Cartel Corruption Goes All the Way to the TopCALI, Colombia—Mexico’s former security minister, who also masterminded that country’s war against the cartels, was arrested last Monday by U.S. officials in Dallas, Texas. Genaro García Luna stands accused by the U.S. attorney general of accepting millions of dollars from Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán while serving as the country’s crime czar. That’s like Al Capone bribing J. Edgar Hoover to keep the FBI off his back. When then-President Felipe Calderón chose to militarize Mexico’s fight against organized crime, he tasked Luna with drafting the strategy. An engineer by training, and having never served in the armed forces or law enforcement, Luna drafted a controversial plan that involved deploying the Mexican Army across the country to fight the cartels.Trump Labeling Mexico’s Cartels ‘Terrorists’ Makes Things WorseWhile Luna allegedly got rich taking bribes from El Chapo, tens of thousands died in the ongoing violence, with 2019 set to be the worst year on record. Luna is also wanted in Mexico for his crimes.Court documents unsealed this week in Brooklyn revealed the allegations, which include conspiracy to traffic cocaine. He’s also charged with lying about his criminal background when he applied for naturalization in the U.S.  Prosecutors say that on two occasions Luna accepted suitcases full of cash containing about $ 5 million each. In exchange, he provided Chapo's syndicate with security and access for shipping drugs into the U.S., as well as intel on official investigations and the doings of rival cartels.Luna has maintained his innocence, referring to the allegations when they first surfaced as: "Lies, defamation and perjury."According to U.S. prosecutors, Luna’s assistance allowed El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel to conduct business “with impunity” in Mexico for more than a decade.“The arrest of García Luna highlights just how significant of a challenge Mexican president Manuel López Obrador faces in rooting out corruption among government officials,” wrote Maureen Meyer, the Mexico director at the Washington Office on Latin America. “The sole fact that cases like Luna's are being heard in the U.S. and not Mexico points to significant weaknesses in Mexico’s criminal justice institutions, and how political influence has tainted investigations for far too long.”Mexican journalist Emmanuel Gallardo, who specializes in covering the cartels, said this was indicative of a larger pattern in Mexico, in which “the drug war is a farce waged against peasants” while wealthy businessmen and politicians profit on the side. “Think about it: The president’s right-hand man was working with the country’s largest mafia. This is another example which shows the narcos can exist only because the state allows them to,” Gallardo said.“This proves the corruption goes all the way to the top of the Mexican government.” * * *“A Strong Incentive for Collusion”* * *If this were but an isolated incident, it would still be an outrageous scandal. But, sadly, corruption like Luna’s has become a common feature of the drug war in Mexico and much of Latin America.Official statistics are hard to come by. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime issued a report in 2017 that indicates further study into the link between drug trafficking and corruption is needed. But one stat in the report stands out: In low-income countries the percentage of public officials, judges, and police officers taking bribes can exceed 50 percent.And the anecdotal evidence suggests that, as with Secretary Luna, the drug war rot goes straight to the top in many countries.Long considered one of the most corrupt countries in the Americas by groups like Transparency International, Mexico has been rocked by a number of high-profile corruption cases of late. Public figures like athletes, musicians, and a string of wealthy state governors have all been implicated. And recent accusations similar to those that brought down Luna have also surfaced against former president Enrique Peña Nieto (more on that later). But the whiff of narco gangrene isn’t limited to Mexico.Last June, a Brazilian military officer traveling as part of President Jair Bolsonaro’s official G20 delegation was arrested in Spain for attempting to ferry 39 kilos (about 86 pounds) of cocaine in his suitcase. Earlier this year, Colombia’s National Director of Anti-Corruption was busted in a DEA sting in Miami after he attempted to solicit a bribe in exchange for sabotaging an investigation into another corrupt official. Also in Colombia, an unrelated DEA agent was rolled up for attempting to commit “deceit, craft, and trickery” on behalf of a drug lord who had plied him with cash and prostitutes.“The cartels are powerful and dangerous, and the probability of punishment for cooperating with them is still too low. That creates a strong incentive for officials to tolerate or collude with criminals,” said Adam Isacson, a colleague of Meyer’s, and the director of WOLA’s Defense Oversight program.* * *Welcome to the Narco-State* * *The Central American nation of Honduras is perhaps the most striking example of the tendency toward criminal collusion among America’s ostensible drug war allies. After the democratically elected president was ousted in a military coup in 2009, the country  became home to one of the highest homicide rates on earth. It’s also  a major way station for drugs passing from South America to Mexico and the U.S.In August of this year, a 44-page document filed by prosecutors in New York’s Southern District Court identified Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and former President Pepe Lobo—along with other prominent politicians and family members—as “co-conspirators” in a plot to “leverage drug trafficking to maintain and enhance their political power."Prosecutors in that case also alleged that some $ 1.5 million of drug money was used to help Hernández win the presidency in 2013. His re-election in 2017 was also tainted with charges of tampering, though the Trump administration chose to look the other way. Also in 2017, ex-President  Lobo’s son was sentenced to more than two decades in U.S. federal prison for cocaine trafficking.Honduras’ descent into a full-fledged “narco-state” is all the more worrisome given its long history as one of the White House’s staunchest allies in the war on drugs, and the recipient of millions of dollars in controversial military and security assistance.Grahame Russell, director of the US-based NGO Rights Action, which maintains a full-time presence in Honduras, criticized Washington for ignoring all those mis-spent tax dollars:“President Hernández, many government officials, military and police officers have been implicated in or charged with drug trafficking and money laundering,” Russell told The Daily Beast. Yet “there has been no change whatsoever in the political, economic and military support that the Honduras regime receives from the U.S.”In Mexico’s Cartel Country, a Murderer Who Kills Murderers Tells His StoryThe same could be said of Mexico, which has received almost $ 3 billion to fight the drug war over the last 12 years, regardless of human rights violations and corruption charges accrued during that span. Russell said the lack of oversight by the White House actually empowers greed-driven elites in Latín America, and accused the Trump administration of being willing “to maintain relations with governments—no matter how corrupt, anti-democratic or repressive—that promote the interests of international corporations, investors and banks.”WOLA’s Isacson agreed that graft has led to America keeping some strange, drug-war bedfellows.“U.S. administrations need to be much more careful about who their ‘friends’ are in the struggle against organized crime,” he said. “Organized crime is much harder to fight than an insurgency or terrorist group” because “you’re fighting an enemy whose main mode of operation is to corrupt and penetrate [your allies]. Any U.S. strategy that loses sight of high-level corruption is doomed to failure.”* * *“A Politician Who’s Poor is a Poor Politician”* * *U.S. prosecutors first got wind of what Luna had been up to during Chapo Guzmán’s trial in New York, when a key witness recounted how the cash-filled luggage had been delivered to the defense secretary. The AG pounced on that evidence, leading to Luna’s arrest this week, but even more shocking allegations also surfaced during the trial.Another witness called in Chapo’s defense, in January of this year, was Alex Cifuentes, who worked with Guzmán in Mexico from 2007 to 2013. During that time, as revealed in Cifuentes’ sworn testimony, penultimate Mexican President Peña Nieto asked that Chapo suborn him to the tune of $ 250 million. In return for the enormous kickback, according to Cifuentes, Nieto promised that Chapo “wouldn’t have to hide anymore.” As per the trial transcripts, the sitting president at the time eventually settled for $ 100 million and the payment was delivered. Nieto then went on to have Chapo captured twice, finally resulting in extradition to the U.S.Nieto, for his part, tweeted at the time that the charges laid out by Chapo’s witness were “false, defamatory, and absurd.”But since the testimony from Chapo’s trial netted them a successful indictment against Luna, might U.S. prosecutors also probe Nieto?“Only time will tell,” said WOLA’s Meyers.“U.S. prosecutors will be responsible for deciding to investigate all allegations against Mexican officials raised in [Chapo’s] trial, which could also be complemented by information that García Luna might choose to provide,” she said. “There’s a saying in Mexico: A politician who is poor is a poor politician,” said Gallardo. “In Mexico politics is a business.” A very dirty business indeed.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.



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Sackler-owned opioid maker goes global with OD treatment

Sackler-owned opioid maker goes global with OD treatmentSome conference attendees were stunned when they saw the booth’s company logo: Mundipharma, the international affiliate of Purdue Pharma — the maker of the 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.



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Trump goes on a Twitter tantrum after Democrats announce 2 articles of impeachment against him

Trump goes on a Twitter tantrum after Democrats announce 2 articles of impeachment against himPresident Donald Trump unloaded on House Democrats on Twitter shortly after articles of impeachment were announced against him.



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Whistleblower goes public after leaked documents reveal China's crackdown on Uighur Muslims

Whistleblower goes public after leaked documents reveal China's crackdown on Uighur MuslimsA Uighur woman living in the Netherlands has gone public about helping to leak secret Chinese government documents regarding human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province because of fears for her safety. Asiye Abdulaheb told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that she was involved in last month’s leak of papers to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which highlighted the Chinese government's crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang. The reveal, which followed an earlier document leak to the New York Times, showed how the Chinese government has indoctrinated and punished over a million Muslims, mainly members of the Uighur ethnic minority, in internment camps. Ms Abdulaheb, 46, told the New York Times that she went public to dissuade Chinese authorities from harming her, her ex-husband Jasur Abibula and the former couple’s two children. She said that after tweeting an excerpt from the documents in June she received a message on Facebook saying: “If you don’t stop, you’ll end up cut into pieces in the black trash can in front of your doorway.” Ms Abdulaheb and Mr Abibula are Dutch citizens and have lived in the Netherlands since 2009. Ms Abdulaheb said she had worked in a government office in Xinjiang, and was sent the secret documents electronically by an unnamed source or sources in June. Mr Abibula was convinced by a Xinjiang-based friend to travel to Dubai in September where, according to Ms Abdulaheb, he was met by Chinese security officials. They allegedly questioned him for days and attempted to convince him to help them hack his ex-wife’s computer.  “I thought that this thing has to be made public,” Ms Abdulaheb said. “The Chinese police would definitely find us. The people in Dubai had told my ex-husband, ‘We know about all your matters. We have a lot of people in the Netherlands.’”   Beijing dismissed the documents as “fake news”, claiming that the internment camps were “re-education centres” built to quell terrorism. On 3 December the US House of Representatives passed the Uighur Act of 2019 bill, which could lead to sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the abuses.



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The 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show Goes Electric

The 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show Goes Electric



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Substitute teacher fired after student beating goes viral

Substitute teacher fired after student beating goes viralA substitute teacher has been fired and charged with aggravated assault following the beating of a 15-year-old female high school student in an incident captured on video. Tiffani Shadell Lankford is free on $ 10,000 bond after her arrest Friday afternoon. Video of last week’s incident in a foreign-language class at Lehman High School in Kyle, Texas, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Austin went viral.



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Alex Jones Goes on Tirade Against Roger Stone Jurors

Alex Jones Goes on Tirade Against Roger Stone JurorsPhoto Illustration by Kristen Hazzard/The Daily Beast/Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/GettyInfoWars conspiracy theorist and Roger Stone ally Alex Jones stepped up his attacks on the jury at Stone’s trial on Tuesday, broadcasting the name and face of a woman he claimed was a juror at the trial and calling her a “minion” of anti-Trump forces.“We’ve got her name, and we’re going to release it,” Jones said on his InfoWars broadcast, before revealing a woman’s name and putting her face on the screen behind him. Later in the broadcast, Jones and his attorney were joined by a person dressed as the Grim Reaper and wielding a sickle. Stone hosted a show broadcast on InfoWars until recently, and Jones and his employees have frequently attacked the judge in Stone’s case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson.Jones’ attacks on the jury were based on reporting that the first potential juror in the case was a former Obama administration employee in the Office of Management and Budget whose husband works for the Department of Justice. But in his rush to attack the potential juror as a deep-state plant, Jones appears to have gotten the wrong person. During his broadcast, Jones didn’t show a picture of the actual potential juror, who, despite his claims, didn’t make it onto the jury anyway. Instead, he showed a picture of another former OMB staffer who appears to be totally unrelated to the Stone trial. This wasn’t Jones’ first attack on the jury—or his first that implied a threat to launch his legions of harassing fans at any jurors who find Stone guilty on witness tampering and obstruction charges. On Monday, he tried to convince political operative and close Stone associate Jacob Engels to name the juror, reading a list of names of former Obama administration officials and attempting to have Engels confirm which one was on the jury. Meanwhile, Owen Shroyer, an InfoWars employee who used to host a show with Stone, has been broadcasting live from outside the Washington, D.C., courthouse where Stone is being tried. Roger Stone Pleads Not Guilty, While Proud Boys and InfoWars Fight the Resistance OutsideJones is facing a number of legal issues of his own, including lawsuits filed by the families of Sandy Hook massacre victims who say Jones’ baseless claims that the shooting was faked provoked waves of harassment and death threats against them. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.



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