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Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blasts

Netanyahu hints at Israeli involvement in Iraq blastsIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq. A series of blasts in the past few weeks have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Israel's regional foe Iran. The groups blamed the United States and Israel for the blasts on Wednesday.




POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 4:33 PM

Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in America

Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in AmericaAs she cleans up the counter where the teenagers at her church’s Vacation Bible School ate their cookies and yoghurt, Luba Yanko complains about the state of the country. President Donald Trump is trying to act on Christian values, she believes. But from what she reads online, it seems that a certain group keeps getting in the way.Trump, she says, “is surrounded by a Zionist environment with completely different values from Christians. It’s kabbalist. It’s Talmudic values. Not the word of God.”




POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 3:21 PM

Texas governor expresses concern about private gun sales

Texas governor expresses concern about private gun salesRepublican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday raised concern about private firearm sales but didn't commit to crack down on them or act on gun control issues following a meeting on ways to prevent mass shootings such as the El Paso attack that killed 22 people. While lawmakers are feeling pressure to respond quickly to the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart, Abbott signaled that Texas would take a long and careful look at gun laws and other safety measures before its Legislature next meets in 2021. Scrutinizing private guns sales was among a list of ideas Abbott rattled off after emerging from a four-hour, closed-door meeting about the El Paso shooting with lawmakers, police and representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter.




POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 7:32 PM

L.L. Bean's Huge End-of-Summer Sale Is Taking Up to 70% Off

L.L. Bean's Huge End-of-Summer Sale Is Taking Up to 70% Off




POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 2:17 PM

Newt Gingrich says slavery needs to be put 'in context,' calls 1619 project a 'lie'

Newt Gingrich says slavery needs to be put 'in context,' calls 1619 project a 'lie'"There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves," Gingrich argued.




POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 11:53 AM

Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington

Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in WashingtonAn ambitious agenda by the March for Our Lives activists may be the first time the majority of Americans get real representationA young girl looks on as she attends a vigil for the victims of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMarch for Our Lives, the national youth gun violence prevention movement founded by survivors of last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, released a sweeping gun reform agenda this week.The agenda calls for significantly raising the standards for gun ownership in America, and reducing by about 100m the total number of guns in circulation.It’s a dramatic, ambitious plan. And it may represent the first time in decades that the majority of Americans will get any real representation in the gun control debate in Washington.March for Our Lives’ young activists endorsed an Australia-style mandatory government buyback and destruction of “assault weapons”. They want to decrease the number of guns in circulation by 30% – which would mean roughly 100m fewer firearms in American hands. They proposed regulations that would dramatically raise the bar for who is allowed to purchase a gun, putting US law much more in line with European countries. And they want to revisit the 2009 supreme court decision, District of Columbia v Heller, which enshrined a pro-gun interpretation of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms.These proposals are substantially more aggressive, and more ambitious, than anything the Democrats in Washington have fought for in years. In fact, for decades, gun control groups and progressive politicians have done a poor job at representing the majority of Americans in Congress when it comes to gun control. A surprising voidDemocrats have fought for minor new restrictions on gun buying – and been defeated by the Republican party’s gun absolutists – but, fundamentally, the Democratic party has remained supportive of gun ownership.Democratic lawmakers’ efforts to “ban assault weapons”, for example, have not meant an actual ban on these guns, but only a ban on future sales, meaning that Americans could keep the millions of military-style rifles they already own. President Obama’s signature gun control legislation after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a compromise bill that would have closed just a few of the gaping loopholes in the nation’s background check system – a measure so weak it’s doubtful whether it would have had any effect on gun violence at all.The country’s largest gun control groups, too, have made great efforts to portray themselves as pro-“gun safety”, not anti-gun. They routinely advertise themselves as supporters of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms. And they have focused on “commonsense reforms”, such as getting what activists see as particularly extreme weapons off the streets, or requiring a criminal background check before every gun sale.This lack of any explicit anti-gun side in the American gun debate is strange.Although many Americans may not realize it, gun owners are a minority in the United States. American civilians overall own an estimated 300m to 400m firearms, more than one gun per person. But this frequently cited statistic obscures how concentrated American gun ownership is.In recent surveys, roughly 70% to 80% of Americans said they do not personally own a gun, and a majority said that nobody in their household owns a gun. Just 3% of American adults own half the country’s guns, according to a definitive 2015 survey. This small group of gun super-owners have an average of 17 guns each.Gun absolutists – the activists who oppose any gun control measures, who want Americans to be able to own any kind of gun, and carry them everywhere – are a minority within that minority. According to the best available estimates, fewer than 10% of American gun owners overall are members of the National Rifle Association.There appear to be at least as many Americans who are vehemently anti-gun as there are NRA members.Recent Gallup polls have found that 28% of American adults say they would support a law banning handgun ownership, except by the police and other “authorized persons”. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 9% of American adults believed that “almost no one” should be legally allowed to own guns – about the same proportion as the number of adults who believed that “almost everyone” should be able to own them.A coalition of 9% of American adults would translate into more than 20 million people. That’s a group four times larger than the NRA, which claims between 5 million and 6 million members.Only a minority of Americans oppose most private gun ownership. But there’s strong majority support for much tougher gun control laws than the ones currently on the books.A 2017 Pew survey found 68% supported banning assault-style weapons. Seventy-one percent supported having a federal database to track all gun sales. A 2018 Gallup survey found 68% of respondents supported raising the legal age to buy certain guns. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 77% of respondents were in favor of requiring people to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.It’s not hard to find Americans who oppose the country’s current gun culture. They show up at gun control rallies, holding signs that say things like “Repeal the Second Amendment”. They live in neighborhoods burdened by decades of daily gun violence. They’ve lost family members or friends to shootings. They keep asking: why can’t we just get rid of the guns?But for years, these Americans’ views have not been well represented by America’s “gun safety” groups, and they have had virtually no representation in Congress.This may finally be starting to change. Moving the gun debateIn 2016, a progressive activist launched Guns Down America, a small organization that advocates not simply for “gun sense laws”, but for “a future with fewer guns”. Following the Parkland shooting, the young March for Our Lives activists have advocated unapologetically for bold reform, though they, like other American gun control activists, say they’re not anti-gun and their proposals for stricter regulation represent the interests of “responsible gun owners”.It’s not yet clear how much the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will move towards embracing these majority opinions on gun control policy. But there’s already been movement towards the actual middle of the debate.In 2016, Obama argued in a CNN Town Hall that “issues like licensing, registration, that’s an area where there’s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it”. This year, the New Jersey senator Cory Booker made gun licensing the center of his 2020 gun control platform.After the mass shooting targeting Latino families in El Paso, the former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke said he endorsed not just an assault weapon ban, but a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. On Wednesday, he became the first Democratic 2020 candidate to tweet that he supported March for Our Lives’ new policy agenda.O’Rourke’s campaign did not back away from the most controversial elements of the youth activists’ plan, including their desire to revisit the supreme court’s current interpretation of the second amendment, enshrined in the Heller decision.“While Beto agrees with the court’s holding that the second amendment allows for regulation, he does not agree with the entirety of the Heller decision,” said Aleigha Cavalier, O’Rourke’s national press secretary. “One piece of the Heller case Beto believes should be revisited is the court’s decision to strike down DC’s safe storage requirements.”America’s gun debate may soon actually have two sides.




POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 1:00 AM

Cathay flight attendant says fired over Facebook posts on HK protests

Cathay flight attendant says fired over Facebook posts on HK protestsA flight attendant on Friday accused Cathay Pacific of summarily firing her over Facebook posts linked to Hong Kong's political crisis, adding to concerns about a China-driven witch-hunt to root out pro-democracy supporters at major firms. The Hong Kong-based airline has been accused of bowing to political and commercial pressure from Beijing by sacking employees in recent weeks for their public support for the massive anti-government movement roiling Hong Kong. Earlier this month, China's aviation authority ordered Cathay Pacific to stop pro-democracy supporters among its 27,000 staff from working on flights to -- or over -- China, after a general strike drew out some of its staff.




POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 4:35 AM

Ontario mother under arrest for death of her 2 daughters, police say

Ontario mother under arrest for death of her 2 daughters, police sayLinda Nguyen has been placed under arrest for the deaths of her two daughters, according to the Ontario Police Department.




POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 12:47 AM

Putin Needs to Bury This Relic of Stalin

Putin Needs to Bury This Relic of Stalin(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As Europe marks 80 years of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which carved up eastern Europe between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, Russia is trying to defend the agreement again. There is no political benefit to doing this. President Vladimir Putin needs to abandon his Stalinist inheritance of a foreign policy based solely on national interest.If Moscow needed any reminder that many in eastern Europe still hold the treaty against it and still consider it a threat, plenty came on the anniversary. The governments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania – the countries directly affected by the pact’s secret protocol – issued a joint statement saying the document “sparked World War II and doomed half of Europe to decades of misery.”More than a million people gathered to celebrate the Baltic Chain, the 419-mile (675 kilometer) long line of people who protested Soviet rule on Aug. 23, 1989. The demonstrators didn’t pick that day at random – they, too, were making the point that the subjugation of their countries by the Soviet Union began with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.Russia is fighting back. In Moscow, the original of the treaty is now exhibited alongside documents relating to both the 1938 Munich Agreement, where British and French leaders sanctioned the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and Poland’s subsequent invasion of part of Czechoslovakia.At the opening of the exhibition earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of Britain and France’s treachery: By cosying up to Hitler, they forced the Soviet Union to sign a deal with the Nazis to ensure its own security, he said. Had the Western Europeans listened to the Soviets and set up a collective security system, the bloodshed of World War II could have been averted. Lavrov was making a clear analogy with Russia’s efforts to build an alternative security architecture in today’s Europe – an idea the Kremlin hasn’t abandoned despite the rest of Europe’s lack of interest.For its part, the Russian mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the group the Kremlin sees as the foundation for its alternative security architecture, tweeted on Aug. 20 that lots of other countries had signed pacts with the Nazis before the Soviet Union did.Kremlin officials can say all this until they go hoarse, but that can’t erase the undeniable fact that the Soviet Union’s security didn’t require it to grab the Baltics and parts of Poland and Romania. Poland, which tried to benefit from the Nazis’ aggression, has admitted it was in the wrong when it invaded part of Czechoslovakia. President Lech Kaczynski apologized for it in 2009.In 1989, the Soviet Union, too, officially condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact – but subsequent Russian communications about it, including an entire article signed by Putin himself in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, have come with the caveat that lots of others were at it, too.These excuses are a major reason other European countries don’t trust Russia: To them, Putin and his subordinates are saying that Moscow would do something like this all over again if its interests dictated it, small countries be damned.Concern this might happen was what drove eastern Europeans into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The reality of the annexation of Crimea – another opportunistic move dictated ostensibly by Russian security considerations – is pushing Ukraine in the same direction.If Putin’s goal was to inspire trust and start a meaningful conversation about collective European security in an age of increasing global competition, an unconditionally apologetic stance would work much better. Refraining from invading neighboring countries would be an even more meaningful step.I suspect, however, that Putin doesn’t really believe in such goals, because, like Stalin, he thinks a deal with the devil, based on common interest rather than trust, is the best.My epiphany about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact came when I read the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi ideologue and Hitler’s one-time minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Rosenberg was skeptical about the deal and recoiled in horror when fellow Nazi Richard Darre told him of Joachim von Ribbentrop’s comment that he had “felt as though among old party comrades” when meeting the Soviet leadership.Incredulously, Rosenberg recounted that during Ribbentrop’s visit, Stalin raised his glass not just to Hitler but also to Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi security chief, calling him “the guarantor of order in Germany.”“Himmler has eradicated communism, i.e. those who believed in Stalin, and this one – without any need for it – raises a toast to the exterminator of his faithful,” Rosenberg noted.For Stalin, any kind of ideology took a back seat to expediency. He was a man of interests, not values. In that sense, Putin, an avowed anti-communist who has condemned Stalin on many occasions, is following the dictator’s realpolitik. His adherence to his current Orthodox Christian brand of social conservatism is as flimsy as Stalin’s link to leftist idealism was. If Putin can do a deal that will promote what he sees as Russia’s interests, he will do it with anyone. He will wear any hat required of him while doing so, and raise any toast. He is oblivious to Molotov-Ribbentrop’s biggest lesson of all: That such agreements don’t hold.That’s why eastern Europeans, and especially Ukrainians, are so worried about the possibility of a grand bargain between Putin and a U.S. president, most recently Donald Trump. The consequences for them could be comparable to those of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.What’s needed from Russia isn’t an apology for carving up Europe with Hitler, but a different foreign policy is – one in which principles trump interests. Only such a change can bring closer the idealistic vision of a Europe that stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok, a goal to which both Russian and European leaders still like to refer. And that shift shouldn’t come at a moment of weakness, as it did in the waning years of the Soviet Union. Restoring trust should be a conscious process. It will take some time.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.




POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 7:52 AM

U.S. will aggressively enforce sanctions over Iran tanker: State Department official

U.S. will aggressively enforce sanctions over Iran tanker: State Department officialThe United States will aggressively enforce its sanctions to prevent the private sector from assisting an Iranian oil tanker that is traveling through the Mediterranean and that Washington wants seized, a State Department official said on Thursday. "The shipping sector is on notice that we will aggressively enforce U.S. sanctions," the official told Reuters days after warning countries not to allow the tanker to dock. Ship tracking data has shown the ship, Adrian Darya, formerly called Grace 1, last heading toward Greece, although Greece's prime minister said it was not heading to his country.




POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 5:34 PM

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