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2020 Vision Monday: Polls show a 17-point swing toward impeaching Trump, which could drag down his reelection bid

2020 Vision Monday: Polls show a 17-point swing toward impeaching Trump, which could drag down his reelection bidA rapid 17-point shift means a majority of Americans may soon support impeachment, or, taking margin of error into account, might already. And that’s terrible news for Trump.


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:57:23 -0400

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Police officer stabbed in the neck in latest Hong Kong clashes

Police officer stabbed in the neck in latest Hong Kong clashesA Hong Kong police officer was stabbed in the neck on Sunday in one of the worst acts of violence against the authorities during the 19th straight weekend of civil unrest in the global financial hub. Graphic footage emerged of the policeman being stabbed in the neck from behind with a sharp object as his team retreated towards Kwun Tong metro station.  The police confirmed that two people had been arrested at the scene and the officer had been transferred to hospital “in a conscious state” and was stable.  A police source said that the officer had sustained a 3cm cut to his neck, and while it was still hard to confirm the extent of his injuries, that the attack was “one of the worst” when seen “in terms of malice, in terms of an attempt to kill the officer.”  Flash mob-style protests had initially peacefully in multiple locations with small groups of a few hundred people chanting “Free Hong Kong” slogans but soon developed into chaotic clashes with the riot police as more radical black-clad activists trashed shops and erected barricades on busy roads.     Anti-government protesters in Tai Po, Hong Kong Credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters Dozens were reportedly injured, numerous arrests were made and tear gas was deployed to disperse protesters, although the police said “minimum force” was used. As night fell, about 20 Molotov cocktails were thrown at a police station in Mongkok in Kowloon.  Earlier in the day, protesters played a game of cat-and-mouse with riot officers in Mongkok’s busy shopping district – blocking roads with metal railings and bamboo sticks, only to disappear into a warren of side streets when police vans arrived to clear the way. The Telegraph witnessed at least two rough arrests and an injured officer on the ground on the main thoroughfare of Nathan Road. One bystander claimed that a young man had been detained simply for being alone in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Crowds of residents surrounded the police, hurling insults and accusing them of being “mafia,” jeering as the vans pulled away and giving officers the finger. Video footage of an officer being floored by a protester’s flying kick during another attempted arrest in the area went viral. Elsewhere, the ongoing anti-government protests, which began in opposition to a controversial extradition bill but have now widened into an appeal for universal suffrage and greater democracy, played out more peacefully.  Alan Fung, 62, is taking part in a 48-hour sit-in outside the main police station on Hong Kong island Credit: Michael Zhang On Saturday night, pro-democracy demonstrators performed the exhausting feat of hauling a four-metre statue called “Lady Liberty” to the top of the Lion Rock, a 495-metre peak overlooking Kowloon’s skyscrapers. The statue, which has become one of the many symbols of the movement, was left watching over the city wearing a gas mask, protective goggles and a helmet, proclaiming the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times". Meanwhile, as younger protesters tried to taunt and out-run the police, the older generation were staging their own rebellion.  About 100 “silver hair” protesters gathered for a 48-hour sit-in outside the main police headquarters in Wan Chai on Hong Kong island this weekend, chanting anti-government slogans and making protest banners. A masked old man took out a black marker pen and wrote insults against the police on the barriers surrounding the station before running away giggling.  About 100 older Hong Kong citizens are staging a "silver hair" rally this weekend Credit: Michael Zhang The group’s presence was a sign of the city’s continuing widespread anger over the government’s handling of the worst political crisis in decades. Although the summer’s mass rallies have largely been led by the young, support for their pro-democracy demands crosses generations.   “We want to say we are the silver haired coming together. We are old but we want to support the younger people. We can’t go to the frontlines but we are in the back to support them,” said Mr Yip, 73, who had come with his 70-year-old wife and two small picnic stools. “I support democracy, I hate the government now.”  Alan Fung, 62, was one of about a dozen pensioners who had braved the humidity as they huddled through the night under a bridge next to the station.  He admitted that he had not got much sleep but said he wanted to camp outside to “protect the young people” and prevent more clashes in the area with the police. “We don’t want it to be dangerous for them again,” he said.  “If we are noisy the government will see that it’s not just the young people who support the campaign but we are too.”


Date : Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:14:11 -0400

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Flooded bullet trains show Japan's risks from disasters

Flooded bullet trains show Japan's risks from disastersThe typhoon that ravaged Japan last week hit with unusual speed and ferocity, leaving homes buried in mud and people stranded on rooftops. Japan's technological prowess and meticulous attention to detail are sometimes no match for rising risks in a precarious era of climate change. "Weather conditions in Japan up to now have been relatively moderate," said Toshitaka Katada, a disaster expert and professor at the University of Tokyo.


Date : Tue, 15 Oct 2019 03:19:23 -0400

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Kamala Harris’s Offices Fought Payments to Wrongly Convicted

Kamala Harris’s Offices Fought Payments to Wrongly Convicted(Bloomberg) -- Jose Diaz was exonerated after serving almost nine years in a California prison for two sexual assaults he didn’t commit. But the office of then-Attorney General Kamala Harris wasn’t ready to let him off the hook.Diaz was convicted in 1984 of rape and attempted rape. He was paroled in 1993, became a registered sex offender, and began the work of proving his innocence. It took 19 years for his conviction to be reversed -- and two more years for the State of California to grant him compensation for the time he was wrongfully imprisoned.Diaz’s battle with Harris’ office began in 2012 when a judge reversed his conviction. As state attorney general, her staff vigorously resisted his claim for compensation and tried to make him re-register as a sex offender, despite a formal ruling in April 2013 that he was innocent.The Diaz case is one of a series of battles Harris’ prosecutors waged -- in both the offices of San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general -- to resist innocence claims, often using technical timeliness or jurisdictional arguments, lawyers and innocence advocates say.Bending Toward Justice“The goal is justice,” said Gerald Schwartzbach, Diaz’s lawyer. “The goal isn’t just rules, regulations and procedures. They penalized an innocent man with technical arguments. To me that’s fundamentally contradictory to the whole purpose of the criminal justice system.”Harris is now a U.S. senator running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on the notion that she is a “progressive prosecutor,” threading the needle between law-and-order toughness and a protective instinct for those who need it. Harris told ABC News recently that she became a prosecutor “because I just have a very strong and natural desire to want to protect people, and in particular our most vulnerable.”A Harris campaign aide said she was unaware of the Diaz case while it was being litigated by her office, and that it’s rare for an attorney general to be made aware of cases before the state compensation board.Multiple documents in the case appear on Harris’ letterhead and were signed by staff members with the notation under their names, “For Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General.”Distrust LingersWhatever her involvement in the Diaz case and other innocence claims, actions by Harris’ offices -- carried out in her name, by people working on her behalf -- have left some voters and advocates distrustful. Criminal justice advocates are critical of her handling of wrongful conviction cases, in particular, saying her offices resisted at least five such claims despite compelling evidence of innocence.“Kamala Harris should have known” about the Diaz case, said Lara Bazelon, an innocence advocate and law professor at the University of San Francisco. “If she truly was not aware that these specious and risible arguments were being made in her name, that is a failure of management.”It wasn’t just Diaz.Harris’ district attorney’s office repeatedly delayed responding to the innocence claims of Maurice Caldwell by filing for extensions as Harris ran for attorney general in 2010, keeping Caldwell in prison for more than a year despite evidence that someone else had committed the murder for which he was convicted, according to court records. A judge admonished Harris’ office for the delays and said they might warrant sanctions.A state appeals court judge criticized Harris’ office for falsely claiming that the only eyewitness against Jamal Trulove in his murder case feared for her life, making Trulove seem more sinister than he was. The judge said the story was “a yarn” and “made out of whole cloth.” Trulove was convicted, but later exonerated after six years in prison.The California attorney general’s office under Harris resisted the innocence claim of Daniel Larsen by arguing that he hadn’t filed his petition for release in a timely fashion, and also contested his request for compensation after he was exonerated. Larsen had been sentenced to 27-years-to-life for possession of a knife under California’s “three-strikes” law.Harris’ presidential campaign spokesman, Ian Sams, responded to questions about those cases by pointing to reforms Harris enacted.“Kamala has fought to give ex-offenders a second chance ever since she created one of the nation’s first major re-entry programs, ‘Back on Track,’ in San Francisco, which helped put people in jobs not jails,” Sams said in a written response.“Of course, she wishes she could’ve gotten more done,” Sams added, “but she fought to clear the state rape-kit backlog in her first year to ensure evidence is available in cases and, in the Senate, she’s introduced a bill to increase pay for public defenders to improve the quality of defense counsel for individuals in their cases.”Sams didn’t respond to an email asking whether she was aware of or personally involved in the Caldwell, Trulove or Larsen cases.Criminal-justice reform advocates praise some aspects of Harris’ record. As San Francisco district attorney, for instance, she resisted calls to seek the death penalty for a man who killed a police officer. As attorney general, she required agents to wear body cameras and created implicit-bias training for law enforcement officers.Fighting CompensationAfter Diaz’s conviction was vacated in September 2012, Harris’ office sent him a letter telling him that he no longer had to register as a sex offender, as he’d been doing since his parole in 1993. “The DOJ has updated its records and a notification concerning this termination action has been sent to the law enforcement agency that last registered you,” said the document on Harris’ letterhead.Diaz then filed for compensation, a standard practice in states to pay wrongfully imprisoned people, for some of the earnings they missed.Both the state compensation board and attorneys working for Harris vigorously challenged Diaz’s right to any money, arguing that he hadn’t obtained a formal judgment of acquittal -- and that the court that reversed his conviction lacked proper jurisdiction.Offender RegistryThe following April, Diaz says, Harris’ office told him that, in fact, he must continue to register as a sexual offender -- although by that time he had obtained a formal judgment of innocence -- because he’d been released on parole before he filed the petition to vacate his conviction.Filled with legal citations and precedents, the letter concludes: “Therefore, you are required to continue to register as a sex offender in California.” The letter is signed by a staff member in the sex offender tracking program “For Kamala D. Harris.”That barred Diaz from coaching his children’s sports teams, he said in an interview, and was a problem when he was looking for work. It also meant that he would continue to be subject to unannounced police visits to his home, as had been happening for 19 years, he added.Diaz said he believes Harris’ office was trying to intimidate him out of seeking compensation.“There’s no question in my mind,” Diaz said. “When I received that letter, I was so upset.”Jurisdiction QuestionedThroughout much of 2012, David Angel, a Santa Clara County assistant district attorney who supervises his office’s conviction integrity unit, investigated Diaz’s persistent claims that he didn’t commit the two sexual offenses for which he’d been convicted. After multiple interviews, including consultations with the victims, Angel concurred.Angel said he was surprised when Harris’ office fought a judge’s ruling vacating Diaz’s conviction by arguing that Diaz’s defense lawyer hadn’t filed the petition for release in a timely fashion and that the court lacked proper jurisdiction.“That’s when I called the AG’s office,” Angel said, declining to say who he spoke to. “I told them, ‘I find it hard to believe that you are trying to block what the elected DA of Santa Clara County has called an exoneration.’” Her office withdrew its opposition, he said.Morally Wrong?But Harris’ office continued to fight Diaz’s right to compensation for almost a year. Documents filed by Schwartzbach detail filings and arguments both the compensation board and the attorney general’s office used to try to block the claim.In October 2014, more than two years after his conviction was vacated, Diaz was awarded $305,300 for his almost nine years in prison. The requirement to register as a sex offender was also eventually dropped.Two experts on prosecutorial ethics were critical of the methods used by prosecutors working for Harris in innocence cases, saying some of the tactics were morally wrong and risked compromising justice.“The knee-jerk reaction is ‘Oh no, we can’t let someone out on a habeas petition or give them compensation for their time in prison.’ They don’t like to lose, and they see a concession as losing,” Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who’s now chair of ethical advocacy at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said of Harris’ office and the Diaz case.Culture Clash“The sex-offender registration thing is really indefensible,” said Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham Law School in New York and a former federal prosecutor who was chairman of the American Bar Association’s criminal justice standards committee.“The idea that some innocent person should have to labor under the branding of a sex offender for the rest of their lives because they didn’t meet the technical requirements, that’s just wrong,” Green said.Newly-elected attorneys general, Green said, often find a certain culture and set of practices in place in the offices when they take charge. “If you start to overturn convictions others obtained, it doesn’t make you popular with your staff,” he said. “Prosecutors’ offices have an important duty to exonerate wrongly convicted people, just as they do to do justice for those who are guilty. But historically, that wasn’t viewed as part of the job.”Some other wrongful conviction cases handled by Harris’ offices were also focused on technicalities and timeliness, but sometimes the lack of timeliness was on the prosecutors’ side.Lost TimeIn the Maurice Caldwell case, Harris’ DA’s office filed for multiple extensions rather than responding to his innocence petition, causing Caldwell to spend an extra year in prison before he was exonerated, said Linda Starr, co-founder of the Northern California Innocence Project at the Santa Clara University Law School.Caldwell had been convicted of murder in 1991 in the fatal shooting of a woman during a botched drug deal. After doubt was cast on the lone eyewitness whose testimony led to his conviction, the innocence project and a private investigator located Marritte Funches, a man already serving a life sentence in Nevada for another murder, and he confessed.Harris was running for California attorney general when Caldwell filed his petition for release, and by the time San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charles Haines reversed his conviction, she’d been elected. The district attorney’s office’s slow response earned a written admonishment in the judge’s order.Flawed Case“The court finds the delay in filing the return to be egregious, and possibly deserving of sanctions,” Haines said.“If Kamala would have stopped this in 2009 or 2010, I wouldn’t have been in for the extra years,” Caldwell said in an interview. “I would have been able to come home and bury my mother.”A judge declared in 2014 that false statements made by a prosecutor working for Harris about the fears of the only eyewitness against Jamal Trulove had likely prejudiced the jury. For that and other reasons, including questions about the competence of Trulove’s original lawyer, the judge overturned Trulove’s conviction, remanding the case for a new trial. Trulove was acquitted in a second trial after his lawyers introduced ballistics and other evidence that cast doubt on the witness’ story.Concealed KnifeHarris’ attorney general’s office tried to keep Larsen in prison under California’s three-strikes law for possession of a concealed knife found during a fight outside a suburban Los Angeles bar. Claims had emerged that someone else had been carrying the weapon and there were concerns that Larsen’s trial lawyer was incompetent.Harris’ office also contended that Larsen’s arguments were too late. “A federal habeas petition filed even one day late is untimely and must be dismissed,” the office said. After Larsen was released, Harris’ office successfully campaigned against compensation for the more than 13 years he was imprisoned.Jose Diaz, meanwhile, says he still struggles with the trauma of having been wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and forced to register as a sexual offender for months after his exoneration.“What her office did was wrong, and the buck stops with her,” Diaz said.To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Taylor in San Francisco at jtaylor48@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 04:00:00 -0400

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'Do the right thing,' family of UK teen killed in crash tells U.S. diplomat's wife

'Do the right thing,' family of UK teen killed in crash tells U.S. diplomat's wifeCharlotte Charles and Tim Dunn spoke to media in New York during a visit intended put pressure on the Trump administration to have Anne Sacoolas to be sent back to face British investigators. Harry Dunn, 19, died after a car driven by Sacoolas crashed into his motorbike near RAF Croughton, an air force base in Northamptonshire in central England used by the U.S. military. Vehicles drive on the left in the United Kingdom, and the American woman was driving on the wrong side of the road when the accident happened, Dunn's family said.


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:19:02 -0400

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Climate change researchers recommend banning all frequent flyer reward programs to cut carbon emissions by targeting jet-setters

Climate change researchers recommend banning all frequent flyer reward programs to cut carbon emissions by targeting jet-settersA report commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change says that just 15% of the entire British population take 70% of all flights from the country.


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:20:55 -0400

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In Jamal Khashoggi's death, Saudi money is talking louder than murder

In Jamal Khashoggi's death, Saudi money is talking louder than murderDonald Trump praises Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Jared Kushner is among those flocking to the Saudi 'Davos in the Desert': Our view


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 17:35:22 -0400

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When police misconduct occurs, records often stay secret. One mom's fight to change that.

When police misconduct occurs, records often stay secret. One mom's fight to change that.A police officer is accused of playing with her dead son's body after he was shot. An angry California mother wants secret cop records to go public.


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:27:02 -0400

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Kurds Ally with Assad’s Forces as Turks Advance into Syria

Kurds Ally with Assad’s Forces as Turks Advance into SyriaThe Syrian Democratic Forces struck a deal on Sunday with president Bashar al-Assad's government to allow Syrian troops to reenter the northeast region of the country for the first time in years, following a withdrawal of U.S. troops and subsequent Turkish invasion of the area.SDF commander Mazloum Abdi outlined his reasoning for making the alliance in an article in Foreign Policy, writing that his forces cannot repel the Turkish military without the aid of allies, and that in the absence of American help his organization would be forced to ally itself with the Syrians and the Russians.“We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them,” wrote Abdi. “But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people.”The U.S. presence in the region has for years prevented Syria- and Russia-backed militias from gaining control over the area. Kurdish groups had allied themselves with U.S. forces to combat ISIS following the latter's emergence during the Syrian civil war.The Syrian army quickly moved to take over certain towns including Tel Amer, the site of a previous battle between Kurdish and ISIS forces."I’m here to kick out the Turkish mercenaries," said one Syrian soldier quoted on Syrian state TV.President Trump announced on October 7 that he would be withdrawing U.S. troops from the Syrian-Turkish border in anticipation of a Turkish invasion of the area. Turkey plans to resettle 3.6 million Syrian refugees in the region once the conquest is complete, while it is also fighting Kurdish groups that it deems terrorist organizations.


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 08:08:09 -0400

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White House: Trump 'strongly condemns' parody video of him shooting critics and media outlets in church

White House: Trump 'strongly condemns' parody video of him shooting critics and media outlets in churchThe White House on Monday tried to distance itself from a violent parody video that was shown at a pro-Trump conference at the president’s Doral Miami resort over the weekend.


Date : Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:26:32 -0400

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