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Moderate Democrats warn Pelosi of impeachment obsession

Moderate Democrats warn Pelosi of impeachment obsessionVulnerable House Democrats fear the party's drive toward impeachment will undercut them in 2020.



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US officials warn of danger of feral hogs heading across the border from Canada

US officials warn of danger of feral hogs heading across the border from CanadaUS officials have warned that feral hogs heading across the border from Canada may pose a danger to the local environment. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that sightings of the feral animals on the US-Canadian border have increased in recent years.  At least eight of the wild animals have been sighted just north of Lincoln County, Montana, this summer, officials said.  Several agencies, including Wildlife Services, the Montana Invasive Species Council, the National Feral Swine Program and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department fear the wild pigs could cause significant damage to the landscape. Officials warned the animals can often be aggressive, breed rapidly, and difficult to catch.  The feral pigs pose a risk to the local agriculture industries as they often destroy farm land and crops as they root for food. They also have the potential to spread diseases to domestic livestock, although no disease has been detected in the team in Canada. Female hogs typically have more than a dozen piglets in each litter and full grown hogs can weigh anywhere between 120lb to 400lbs.  Dale Nolte, from the USDA’s National Feral Swine Program, described the prospect as “a disaster”. “Multiple people say that if we were to design an invasive species that would do the most widespread damage, feral swine aren’t too far off from being the perfect specimen,” he told local newspaper Daily Inter Lake.      Ryan Brook, an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan, blamed the southern migration of the feral pigs on poor monitoring systems in the province, which are allowing numbers – and the spread of the animals – to grow unchecked.  “Saskatchewan is a very high functioning pig factory and the populations are exploding with very minimal efforts to control them,” he told the Daily Inter Lake. “Lack of serious action in Saskatchewan is the single greatest threat to Montana.” Legit question for rural Americans – How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?— Willie McNabb (@WillieMcNabb) August 4, 2019 The warning of a potential hog invasion prompted amusement on social media, with users highlighting a viral tweet last month by a man arguing assault weapons were necessary to manage the feral populations. “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?” he asked on Twitter, prompting widespread mockery at the time.



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Hong Kong Police Warn of More Arrests After Sweep of Activists

Hong Kong Police Warn of More Arrests After Sweep of Activists(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong police arrested prominent opposition figures including Joshua Wong — and warned other protesters could share their fate at illegal demonstrations this weekend — raising tensions as authorities seek to quell pro-democracy demonstrations that have raged for almost three months.The 22-year-old Wong, who was scheduled to speak about the protests in the U.S. next month, was among well-known pro-democracy activists arrested by police on Thursday and Friday. Those arrested included Wong’s fellow leader of 2014 Occupy protests, Agnes Chow; independence advocate Andy Chan; and District Councilor Rick Hui.Police said more than 20 people were arrested since Thursday, and warned at a briefing Friday that others could be charged if they take part in protests without official approval. A colonial statute passed during a wave of deadly riots in the 1960s allows authorities to the power to imprison those who participate in unlawful assemblies for as long as five years and more than 900 have been arrested on a variety of charges since June.The arrests were part of a broader push back against the largely leaderless protest movement, which flared up in June over now-suspended legislation allowing extraditions to China before widening into a broader push for more democracy. The Civil Human Rights Front — the organizer of the biggest recent demonstrations — said Friday it was forced to cancel a rally planned for Saturday after police withheld approval.The crisis in the former British colony threatens to distract from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s celebrations of 70 years of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1, which will highlight the country’s rebound from imperialism, war and inner turmoil. Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive, Carrie Lam, earlier this week called for a dialogue with the opposition, while refusing to rule out invoking a sweeping colonial-era law that allows for easier arrests, deportations, censorship and property seizures.“We still keep on our fight and we shall not surrender,” Wong told reporters as he and Chow emerged from court after being released on bail on charges related by unlawful assembly. “I urge the international community to send a message to President Xi, sending troops or using emergency ordinance is not the way out.”The summer’s political unrest has been the worst since the city’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, with demonstrations that have resulted in often-violent clashes between protesters and police. Political observers said the moves ran the risk of drawing more people into the streets for unauthorized rallies, which can more easily get out of hand.“Such actions are tantamount to inciting trouble at a time when the government is talking about dialogue and trying to lower the temperature,” said Kevin Yam, a political commentator and member of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Progressive Lawyers Group. “You can’t on the one hand say, ‘Let’s lower the temperature, let’s talk, let’s make nice,’ and on the other hand do something like this.”Ronny Tong, a member of Lam’s advisory Executive Council, acknowledged that “the timing could have been better,” said said he had faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law and the police.“The most important thing is that Hong Kong is a place where the rule of law still is alive and kicking,” Tong said. “We have a very able and independent judiciary. And the police know that. They know that unless they have a reasonable chance of a conviction, they would not try to arrest somebody at random only to give out a political message.”Separately, Reuters reported Chinese authorities had earlier this month rejected a Hong Kong government proposal to formally withdraw extradition legislation that sparked the protests. The bill’s withdrawal and an independent inquiry into the unrest were seen as the most feasible compromises, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed senior Hong Kong government official.Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. warned employees not to take part in a general strike planned for next week, after the airline’s chief executive, Rupert Hogg, stepped down to take responsibility for the uproar over airline staff’s participation in earlier actions. Two other organizers of recent protests, including CHRF leader Jimmy Sham and Max Chung, were attacked Thursday in the latest of several reported incidents of mob violence against activists.891 Arrests, 2,071 Tear-Gas Canisters: Hong Kong’s Protests By the NumbersTaiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen — who has helped resuscitate her re-election prospects by criticizing Beijing’s handling of the protests — was among the first officials to express concern about the arrests. She called on authorities to comply with their promises of democracy, freedom and human rights to the city’s people, according to a statement from her office.While the three arrested activists are among Hong Kong’s most prominent opposition voices — Wong was the subject of a Netflix documentary titled “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower” — none was seen as a central figure in the recent protests. The decentralized movement relies on social media apps and chat rooms to propose and revise protest plans on the fly.Still, Wong has come under scrutiny for his meetings with U.S. officials, with China’s foreign ministry singling out one particular meeting with a U.S. diplomat. Wong was also planning to travel to the U.S. in September to speak out against what he described as authorities’ plans to establish “martial law” ahead of the National Day holiday.Countdown to 2047: What Will Happen to Hong Kong?: QuickTakeThe latest charges against Wong resulted from his role in a June 21 rally, in which he encouraged demonstrators to surround the police headquarters complex in Wan Chai, days after his release from jail on separate protest-related charges. Chan, the pro-independence founder of the banned Hong Kong National Party, said in a post on his personal Facebook page that he was stopped at the city’s airport departures area on Thursday night.“They’re trying to plant a seed of fear in people’s minds, so that people will stop from attending protests, either the one tomorrow or ones in the future,” said Alvin Yeung, a pro-democracy lawmaker. “But my judgment is they won’t succeed, because Hong Kong people are very brave.”(Updates with Executive Council member comments in eighth paragraph.)\–With assistance from Sheryl Tian Tong Lee and Shawna Kwan.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Annie Lee in Hong Kong at olee42@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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UK, Germany, France warn on South China Sea tensions

UK, Germany, France warn on South China Sea tensionsBritain, Germany and France said on Thursday they were concerned by tensions in the South China Sea, in a statement issued the day after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China. The situation there “could lead to insecurity and instability in the region,” the three countries said in a joint statement issued by Britain’s foreign ministry. China and the United States have traded barbs in the past over what Washington has said is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea via the building of military installations on artificial islands and reefs in disputed waters.



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Cathay Pacific cabin crew union leader fired as Hong Kongers warn of spread of 'white terror'

Cathay Pacific cabin crew union leader fired as Hong Kongers warn of spread of 'white terror'Cathay Pacific fired a cabin crew union leader on Friday, the latest casualty in a fast-spreading “white terror” as mass protests in Hong Kong continue into their third month.  Rebecca Sy, head of the Cathay Dragon flight attendant’s association, said she lost her job of 17 years, without explanation,  after managers saw and confirmed her Facebook account,  which included messages in favour of the protests. “All the employees are being frightened, not just cabin crews, but even the management,” Ms Sy told reporters. “My colleagues are all terrified because of its white terror.” “White terror” is a term used to describe a slew of events that create a climate of fear particularly as companies and employees worry of serious repercussions for voicing their views. Her departure follows a surprise resignation last week by CEO Rupert Hogg, reported first by Chinese state media, underlining the political nature of the decision. Cathay has borne the brunt of Beijing’s anger as authorities look to punish companies with any link to the Hong Kong protests – a direct challenge to the power of the Communist Party. Rebecca Sy was dismissed from her position as flight attendant for Cathay Pacific's subsidiary Cathay Dragon Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images In the crackdown, companies and employees could face serious repercussions for voicing their views. Hong Kong subway operator MTR has also come under fire for arranging additional trains to allow protesters to travel home, accused of “colluding with rioters” in Chinese state media.  Beijing authorities have long put the squeeze on companies over political issues by encouraging its 1.4 billion citizens to snub various brands or by throwing up a number of regulatory roadblocks – a move that can have devastating consequences for even the biggest firms. Simon Cheng, 28, a British consular official in Hong Kong and permanent resident of the city has been detained for two weeks in mainland China for allegedly visiting prostitutes.  Under Chinese law, Mr Cheng should have been released today after a 15-day administrative period but at time of publication he was still in detention. Hong Kong police said on Friday that they did not know Mr Cheng's whereabouts.  Protests in Hong Kong first kicked off over an extradition proposal that would have exposed people to China’s murky legal and judicial system, where authorities have also in the past detained foreigners to express political displeasure. Two Canadians – Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur – were detained in China last year during Beijing’s diplomatic dispute with Ottawa over its arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. It is widely viewed that both men – who are still being held and have been charged with spying – are being used as political pawns. Hong Kong protests | Read more A number of multinationals operating in Hong Kong have sought to stress their political neutrality to avoid their businesses being targeted and to protect staff from arbitrary detention.  Earlier this week, the world’s “big four” accounting firms came under attack after an anonymous group claiming to be made up of their employees took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to express support for protests in Hong Kong and condemn the firms for remaining silent on the issue. Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers all sought to distance themselves from the advertisement, saying it didn’t represent the companies’ views. But Chinese state media had already seized on the situation, calling for the firms to identify and sack the employees behind the ad. FinnAir has also issued a warning to staff to remember to “keep work and politics separate,” reported the South China Morning Post, over concerns that any link to the protests might lead to a customer backlash or flight cancellations in China, its second-largest market for long-haul travel.   “China is obviously putting pressure on companies to ensure that they all hold the same political views,” said Keenan Chuk, 30, a finance manager who attended a lunchtime rally or accountants in Hong Kong’s central business district Friday.  “I am concerned that I will be fired,” he said, adding that “we still have to fight for our rights.” Even universities have warned students against discussing politics and participating in rallies.  “In a modern society, education should be free from politics so as to alleviate the escalation of anxiety and avoid the divisive society caused by chaos,” according to a statement from the City University of Hong Kong issued earlier this month. A woman said she experienced at a police station during her detention in Hong Kong Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter Some banks are also now taking precautionary measures, purchasing full page ads in newspapers to affirm their support for the government. Edwin, 26, an accountant who declined to give his last name, said senior partners in his firm had invited junior employees to lunch that day in an attempt to dissuade people from attending Friday’s protest.  But he participated in the demonstration anyway, turning up again in the evening to join a human chain meant to evoke the Baltic Way, when two million lined up across three countries to protest Soviet rule in 1989.  “In the industry, we switch firms quite often,” he shrugged. Hong Kong police came under renewed pressure on Friday when officers were accused of conducting an unnecessary strip search on a female protester. The alleged victim appeared at a press conference dressed in all black with a black face mask, cap and sunglasses. Facing the cameras in front of a "MeToo" sign, she claimed she was arrested weeks ago at a protest against the now-abandoned extradition bill and was admitted to hospital for injuries she suffered that night. By her account, one officer patted her thighs with a pen, instructing her to open her legs wider after ordering her to take off all her clothes in a police cell. The police said their body search procedures had not changed during the recent outbreak of citywide protests.



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Police are trying to arrest their way out of a mass shooting epidemic, and experts warn it could have dire consequences

Police are trying to arrest their way out of a mass shooting epidemic, and experts warn it could have dire consequencesThe arrests won't fully or permanently stop a person determined to inflict mass death — and the US is nowhere near close to tackling the root causes.



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Donald Trump calls Hong Kong protests 'tough,' 'tricky' but declines to warn Beijing

Donald Trump calls Hong Kong protests 'tough,' 'tricky' but declines to warn BeijingPresident Trump described the developing unrest in Hong Kong as a "tough situation" but stopped short of calling Beijing to task for its response.



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Trump’s asylum deal with Guatemala threatens to plunge country into political crisis, analysts warn

Trump’s asylum deal with Guatemala threatens to plunge country into political crisis, analysts warnIn pressuring Guatemala to accept a deal to absorb vast numbers of asylum-seekers, the Trump administration has embarked on a dramatic and risky strategy to slash the number of Central Americans flooding the US-Mexico border.The accord – which was negotiated in secret and signed at the White House on Friday – could plunge Guatemala’s young democracy into a constitutional crisis, analysts warn.It could also saddle one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries with tens of thousands of Salvadoran and Honduran migrants who would be barred from making their claims in the United States.The agreement is one of the boldest steps yet taken by Donald Trump to stanch the flow of migrants to the US border.It aims to close off the US asylum system to the migrants who have crossed through Guatemala en route to the United States. They would instead have to seek protection in Guatemala.But the agreement is built on a fragile political and legal base.Guatemala’s constitutional court ruled earlier this month that President Jimmy Morales needed approval from the Guatemalan Congress to sign the accord – something he has not received.The Guatemalan president has sharply criticised the court decision, saying on Friday that “as far as we understand, this doesn’t have to go before Congress”.Some analysts said Mr Morales could get around the ruling with his argument that the deal is simply a cooperation agreement, not a treaty. But others note Mr Morales has at times simply shrugged off court rulings he dislikes.“This leaves a legacy we won’t be able to recover from, that the country’s constitution can be flagrantly violated without any kind of reaction or penalty,” said Renzo Rosal, an independent political consultant.The agreement is also likely to be challenged in US courts by opponents who say that Guatemala does not qualify as a “safe” country, because of high levels of violence.Whatever happens with the courts, the agreement has little political support in Guatemala.Mr Morales, who finishes his four-year term in January, is highly unpopular.Among the top Twitter hashtags in Guatemala in recent days has been Jimmyvendepatrias – Jimmy the sellout – as a dig at the country’s leader.Guatemalans were startled by a widely published photo showing their government minister, Enrique Degenhart, signing the agreement as Mr Trump loomed over his shoulder, an image suggesting the Central American country’s submission.On Saturday, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the presidential palace in Guatemala City to protest the agreement, the Associated Press reported. The protesters carried Guatemalan flags and called for Mr Morales’ resignation.Guatemalan analysts have suggested Mr Morales made the deal with Mr Trump in hopes of winning support from the US government.Mr Morales faces allegations of financial crimes related to his 2015 electoral campaign but has been shielded by presidential immunity, which he loses in January. He says he is innocent.Mr Morales said the agreement would help Guatemala by “putting us in a privileged position” with the country’s top trading partner and most important ally.Guatemala holds a run-off presidential election on 11 August, and both candidates have criticised Mr Morales’ negotiation of such a broad agreement in secret.The accord “is unlikely to be sustainable”, Stephen McFarland, a former US ambassador to Guatemala, wrote in a tweet on the eve of the agreement’s unveiling.“A bitter US ‘win’ would put at risk US goals in democracy and law enforcement with the current and next governments.”While the next Guatemalan government could cancel the agreement, it would face intense pressure from the Trump administration to not do so.Mr Morales’ government signed the pact after Mr Trump threatened severe penalties on Guatemala – tariffs, a travel ban or taxes on the billions of dollars in remittances sent home by migrants in the United States.Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said the administration plans to start the “safe third country” programme with Guatemala in August.Human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers and immigration experts have said Guatemala is too poor and underdeveloped to handle a flood of asylum applicants.Last year, Salvadoran and Honduran migrants filed nearly 58,000 applications for asylum in the United States. That same year, Guatemala received just 259 asylum applications overall.Guatemala is the number one source of irregular migration to the United States, with citizens fleeing poverty, violence, low coffee prices and drought.Eric Schwartz, head of Refugees International and a former top refugee official at the US State Department, said in a statement that the agreement “would represent a grotesque violation of both US law and human decency” and “would put at risk the lives of thousands of Central Americans”.Sonia Lucia Valenzuela, a constitutional law expert in Guatemala, said the Constitutional Court ruling was clear in instructing Mr Morales to send the agreement to Congress but that political pressures could determine what happens next.The migration agreement has been strongly supported by Guatemala’s influential business groups, who had feared US tariffs. But many current and former politicians oppose it.“If the opposition to this accord continues, that’s a sign this will escalate,” she said.Washington Post



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Louisiana officials warn of snakes and other creatures fighting to escape Hurricane Barry floodwaters

Louisiana officials warn of snakes and other creatures fighting to escape Hurricane Barry floodwatersHurricane Barry made landfall Saturday morning in Louisiana. It has since weakened back to a tropical storm, but heavy rains will continue.



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2020 Election Meddling by China, Iran, N. Korea Likely, Administration Officials Warn

2020 Election Meddling by China, Iran, N. Korea Likely, Administration Officials WarnChina’s government finances English-language media outlets in the United States to influence U.S. perceptions on various issues, such as trade, the senior intelligence official told reporters during a briefing on election security. Russia isn’t the only threat to election security going into 2020, as Trump administration officials say they are preparing for meddling from Iran, China, and North Korea. The federal government anticipates that Russia will again meddle in the U.S. election in 2020 through “Russian-controlled or influenced English-language media, false-flag operations, or sympathetic spokespersons,” a senior intelligence official said. China’s government finances English-language media outlets in the United States to influence U.S. perceptions on various issues, such as trade, the senior intelligence official told reporters during a briefing on election security. “No surprise to you: Iran is increasing their use of social media to promote strategic goals and perspectives to the American public,” the official continued. “Its influence campaigns have included denigrating U.S. decisions to leave [the Iran nuclear deal], downplaying the effectiveness of sanctions, and promoting pro-Iranian interests.”Administration officials asked reporters that the conference participants’ names not be used.



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