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Israeli Forces Kill 5 Palestinians In Overnight West Bank Raid

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 18:13

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Israeli forces raided a stronghold of an armed group in the occupied West Bank's second-largest city, blowing up a bomb lab and engaging in a firefight, the military said Tuesday. Five Palestinians were killed and 20 were wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The overnight raid in the old city, or kasbah, of Nablus, was one of the deadliest in the West Bank in 2022 and comes at a time of escalating tensions.

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Television footage showed flames and smoke rising in the night sky over Nablus. The army said it used shoulder-launched missiles. Local residents reported a large explosion that rocked the old city and surrounding neighborhoods.

The target of the raid was a group of Palestinian gunmen calling themselves the Lions' Den. The group was responsible for the recent fatal shooting of an Israeli soldier and several attempted attacks, the army said.

The five men killed in the raid were in their 20s and 30s, the Health Ministry said. Several of the wounded were in serious condition, the ministry said.

Israel’s caretaker prime minister, Yair Lapid, confirmed that Wadie Houh, a leader of the Lion’s Den group, was killed in a shootout with Israeli troops overnight. In remarks at a conference, he said the operation was “an accurate and deadly strike at the heart of terror infrastructure trying to carry out attacks.”

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip staged a general strike in protest of Tuesday's killings. Stores remained shuttered throughout the day in Nablus, Ramallah, Gaza City and other Palestinian cities.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the army said troops fired at a suspect who threw an explosive at them during an arrest raid near the village of Nebi Saleh. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported the death of 19-year-old Qusai al-Tamimi.

SEE MORE: Palestinian Death Toll Mounts As Israel Steps Up West Bank Raids

Later on Tuesday, dozens of Palestinians gathered near the perimeter fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel to protest the Israeli military raid in Nablus. The protesters waved Palestinian flags and burned dozens of tires, sending columns of black smoke into the air. The protest ended at sunset and there were no reports of injuries.

The location of the protest in east Gaza City was one of five that saw weekly protests in 2018 and 2019 in which dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers. Gaza’s Hamas rulers launched those protest to demand an easing of the blockade. The protests wound to a halt with unofficial understandings reached between the two sides via regional mediators.

Ongoing Israeli arrest raids in the West Bank pose a serious challenge to the Palestinian self-rule government, which administers just over one-third of the territory.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas relies on security cooperation with Israel, particularly against his Islamic militant rivals, to remain in power. At the same time, this cooperation is deeply unpopular among Palestinians who chafe against Israel's open-ended occupation, now in its 56th year.

Younger Palestinians are particularly disillusioned. Small bands of gunmen have formed in some areas, first in the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold of militants, and now in Nablus. These groups challenge the Palestinian Authority and carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

In Tuesday's raid, Israeli forces blew up a bomb lab in an apartment in Nablus, the military said. The statement said a number of militants were targeted and noted that Palestinians were reporting casualties. From the wording of the statement it was not immediately clear if some of those killed and wounded were hit in an initial ambush rather than a subsequent firefight.

Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, issued a statement in which he described the ongoing Israeli raids as a war crime.

More than 125 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year. The fighting has surged since a series of Palestinian attacks killed 19 people in Israel in the spring. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has built more than 130 settlements there, many of which resemble small towns, with apartment blocks, shopping malls and industrial zones. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state. Most countries view the settlements as a violation of international law.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Justice Department Charges 13 Chinese Nationals Accused Of Spying

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 18:12

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In a rare joint news conference, the FBI and the Justice Department announced charges in several cases of alleged Chinese spying. 

Two suspects are accused of trying to obstruct the U.S. criminal investigation of Chinese tech giant Huawei. 

They're charged with trying to recruit a U.S. law enforcement agent as their spy, but the recruit was a double agent. 

Arrest warrants have been issued but it's unclear whether the pair will ever be taken into custody. 

Huawei was indicted in 2019 for allegedly misleading HSBC and other banks about its business in Iran. 

In 2020, Huawei was also accused of conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies, and helping Iran track anti-government protesters. 

"The cases unsealed today take place against a backdrop of malign activity from the People's Republic of China," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. "That includes espionage, harassment, obstruction of our justice system and unceasing efforts to steal sensitive U.S. technology."

SEE MORE: Huawei Executive Resolves Criminal Charges In Deal With U.S.

In the other cases, Chinese nationals are accused of targeting individuals in the U.S. to act on China's behalf, and of trying to force a Chinese national to return to China. 

"Those directives included attempts to procure technology and equipment from the United States and to have it shipped to China," Monaco continued. "They also included attempts to stop protected First Amendment activities, protests here in the United States, which would have been embarrassing to the Chinese government." 

Officials say the cases are part of a broader pattern of illegal influence efforts by China. 

"Each of these cases lays bare the Chinese government's flagrant violation of international laws as they work to project their authoritarian view around the world, including within our own borders," Monaco said.

There was no immediate comment from Huawei or the Chinese government, but in the past Huawei has called the federal investigation "political persecution, plain and simple."

DeSantis, Crist Square Off In Florida Gubernatorial Debate

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 17:11

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Monday's lone gubernatorial debate between current Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic rival Charlie Crist focused on everything from inflation to hormone therapy for minors.  But the main highlight was when DeSantis refused to commit to serving another full second term if reelected.

Crist accused him of being too distracted by his national political ambitions to lead properly. DeSantis skirted several attempts by Crist to get him to say he'd serve another full four-year term.

“I know that Charlie is interested in talking about 2024 and Joe Biden, but I just want to make things very, very clear: The only worn-out old donkey I’m looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist,” DeSantis said of his 66-year-old opponent.

There were several heated clashes during a raucous debate that covered the COVID-19 pandemic, crime, education and abortion.

"You think you know better than a doctor," Crist said. "You want to be the judge and you want to decide what people can do with their own health."

DeSantis — who was once incredibly outspoken on the topic of abortion — wouldn't say whether he would support banning the procedure entirely.

"I'm proud of the 15-week legislation that I signed," he responded.

SEE MORE: Election '22: What Matters: The Fight Over Legal Abortion

The Florida governor’s race may not be the nation’s most competitive election this fall, but it is no less consequential for DeSantis, a 44-year-old Harvard-educated Republican who could launch a presidential bid in the coming months. He hopes to use a strong reelection victory on Nov. 8 in Florida, a state he carried by just 32,000 votes out of 8.2 million cast four years ago, to demonstrate the breadth and strength of his support.

DeSantis has benefited from demographic shifts across Florida, a perennial swing state that has shifted to the right during his first term. Former President Donald Trump carried the state by more than 3 points in 2020 and Republicans now hold a registration advantage of nearly 300,000 voters.

Monday’s debate offered voters in Florida and beyond a rare opportunity to see DeSantis under pressure. Like many leading GOP officials across the nation this fall, he has limited unscripted moments in recent months, save for periodic interviews with friendly conservative media.

The candidates faced each other from behind wooden lecterns at Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce. Both men seemed to relish the hourlong fight, which was interrupted repeatedly by the rowdy audience.

DeSantis' embrace of divisive cultural issues weighed heavily on the prime-time affair.

SEE MORE: Florida Gov. DeSantis: Transgender Swimmer's Victory A Fraud

The Republican governor specifically defended his record to bar transgender girls from competing on public school teams intended for student athletes identified as girls at birth. He also fired back against Crist's criticism of laws DeSantis signed limiting discussions of race and sexual orientation in schools and his opposition to gender transition treatments for minors.

Yet DeSantis has delighted his supporters over and over with his extraordinary willingness to fight — whether facing political adversaries, the federal government or powerful Florida businesses. Crist, a former Republican governor who most recently served as a Democratic congressman, has tried to cast himself as a moderate alternative to lead the perennial swing state.

Over and over, DeSantis sought to link Crist to President Biden, whose popularity is sagging in Florida and across the nation. “Charlie Crist has voted with Joe Biden 100% of the time,” DeSantis said, referring to the "Crist-Biden agenda."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

FBI To Monitor Election Day Threats, Fraud and Complaints

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 16:35

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The FBI and Department of Justice have announced they will mobilize to respond to voter fraud, discrimination or threats of violence on Election Day.

They say anyone facing intimidation or violence should call 911 first.

The FBI says it will have agents prepared to respond to complaints in the field.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has set up a toll-free number to answer complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights. Those with such complaints can call (800) 253-3931. They can also fill out a complaint form on the department's website.

SEE MORE: Election Security Changes Since 2020

Diwali Celebrations Growing Across The U.S.

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 15:19

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden held a reception at the White House Monday to celebrate Diwali.

Vice President Kamala Harris joined the Bidens in the East room to mark the Hindu festival that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness.

Hindus believe that the deity Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya, where he returned after 14 years in exile.

To celebrate his return, people light earthen lamps.

SEE MORE: What Schools Are Doing To Cultivate Religious Inclusivity

German President Visits Kyiv As West Mulls Rebuilding Plan

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 13:44

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Germany's president arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday for his first visit to Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion, as Western countries mulled a massive plan for Ukrainian rebuilding when the war eventually ends.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after arriving that "it was important to me in this phase of air attacks with drones, cruise missiles and rockets to send a signal of solidarity to Ukrainians."

Eight months of pummeling by the Kremlin's forces has ruined homes, public buildings and the power grid. The World Bank estimates the damage to Ukraine so far at $345 billion.

The German president, whose position is largely ceremonial, made it to Ukraine on his third try.

In April, he was planning to visit the country with his Polish and Baltic counterparts, but said his presence "apparently … wasn't wanted in Kyiv." Steinmeier has been criticized in Ukraine for allegedly cozying up to Russia during his time as Germany's foreign minister.

Last week, a planned trip was put off because of security concerns.

SEE MORE: In Irony Of War, Ukraine's Holocaust Survivors Flee To Germany

Steinmeier's visit came as Ukrainians are bracing for less electric power this winter following a sustained Russian barrage on their infrastructure in recent weeks.

Citizens in the southern city of Mykolaiv lined up for water and essential supplies Tuesday as Ukrainian forces advanced on the nearby Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

In Berlin, meanwhile, European Union leaders brought together experts to start work on a "new Marshall Plan" for the future rebuilding of Ukraine — a reference to the U.S.-sponsored plan that helped revive Western European economies after World War II.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the meeting aims to discuss "how to ensure and how to sustain the financing of the recovery, reconstruction and modernization of Ukraine for years and decades to come."

Scholz, who co-hosted the meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said he's looking for "nothing less than creating a new Marshall Plan for the 21st century — a generational task that must begin now."

Even so, one of Moscow's allies on Tuesday urged Russia to step up the pace and scale of Ukraine's destruction.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the regional leader of Chechnya who has sent troops from the region to fight in Ukraine, urged Moscow to wipe off the map entire cities in retaliation for Ukrainian shelling of Russia's territory. Authorities in Russia's Kursk and Belgorod regions that border Ukraine have repeatedly reported Ukrainian shelling that damaged infrastructure and residential buildings.

"Our response has been too weak," Kadyrov said in a statement posted on his messaging app channel. "If a shell flies into our region, entire cities must be wiped off the face of the Earth so that they don't ever think that they can fire in our direction."

Ukrainian authorities, meanwhile, sought to ease public fears over Russia's use of Iranian drones to strike the country's infrastructure, claiming increasing success in shooting them down.

Ukraine's forces have shot down more than two-thirds of the approximately 330 Shahed drones that Russia has fired through Saturday, the head of Ukraine's intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, said Monday. Budanov said Russia's military had ordered about 1,700 drones of different types and is rolling out a second batch of about 300 Shaheds.

Although Russia and Iran deny that the Iranian-built drones have been used, the distinctive triangle-shaped Shahed-136s have rained down on civilians in Kyiv and elsewhere.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said Russia was likely to use a large number of drones to try to penetrate the "increasingly effective Ukrainian air defenses" — to substitute for Russian-made long-range precision weapons "which are becoming increasingly scarce."

Russia's "artillery ammunition is running low," the British report said Tuesday.

The Institute for the Study of War, in Washington, added that "the slower tempo of Russian air, missile, and drone strikes possibly reflects decreasing missile and drone stockpiles and the strikes' limited effectiveness of accomplishing Russian strategic military goals."

Kyiv also says it needs more war material.

"We need more weaponry, we need more ammunition to win this war," Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told reporters in Berlin. He added: "We need tanks from our partners, from all of our partners; we need heavy armored vehicles, we need additional artillery units, howitzers."

Despite the reduced attacks, at least seven civilians were killed and another three wounded in the latest Russian shelling of the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine's presidential office said Tuesday.

The attacks came as the Russians pressed their offensive on the strategically placed towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka and also shelled other areas in the Donetsk region, which is part of Ukraine's industrial heartland of Donbas.

Ukrainian guerrillas reportedly staged several explosions in a Russian-held southern city.

A car bomb exploded Tuesday near an office building that houses the headquarters of the Federal Security Service, Russia's top security agency, and a local television company, according to Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the city of Melitopol.

The city's Moscow-appointed administration in Melitopol said five people were injured by the explosion.

Melitopol is in the Zaporizhzhia region, part of which was captured by the Russian military early in the invasion. It was illegally annexed by Russia last month along with three other regions of Ukraine.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Russian Court Rejects Griner's Appeal Of 9-Year Prison Sentence

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 13:25

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A Russian court has upheld the nine-year prison sentence handed to American basketball star Brittney Griner for drug possession, rejecting her appeal.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

SEE MORE: Expert Talks About Effects Of Trauma On Detainees Like Griner, Whelan

Griner took part in the Moscow Regional Court hearing via video call from a penal colony outside Moscow where she is imprisoned.

The Moscow region court ruled Tuesday to uphold the sentence. In the ruling the court stated, however, that the time Griner will have to serve in prison will be recalculated with her time in pre-trial detention taken into account. One day in pre-trial detention will be counted as 1.5 days in prison, so the basketball player will have to serve around eight years in prison.

Griner’s February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At the time, Griner was returning to Russia, where she played during the U.S. league’s offseason.

Griner admitted she had the canisters in her luggage but testified she inadvertently packed them in haste and had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements saying she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

The nine-year sentence was close to the maximum of 10 years, and Griner’s lawyers argued after the conviction that the punishment was excessive. They said in similar cases defendants have received an average sentence of about five years, with about a third of them granted parole.

Before her conviction, the U.S. State Department declared Griner to be “wrongfully detained” — a charge that Russia has sharply rejected.

SEE MORE: Why Is It So Difficult To Bring Detained Americans Home?

Reflecting growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that Washington had made a “substantial proposal” to get Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didn’t elaborate, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to exchange Griner and Whelan for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the “merchant of death.”

The White House said it has not yet received a productive response from Russia to the offer.

Russian diplomats have refused to comment on the U.S. proposal and urged Washington to discuss the matter in confidential talks, avoiding public statements.

In September, U.S. President Joe Biden met with Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner, as well as the player’s agent, Lindsay Colas. President Biden also sat down separately with Elizabeth Whelan, Paul Whelan’s sister.

The White House said after the meetings that the president stressed to the families his “continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely.”

The U.S. and Russia carried out a prisoner swap in April. Moscow released U.S. Marines veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for the U.S. releasing a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted in a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Moscow also has pushed for the release of other Russians in U.S. custody.

One of them is Alexander Vinnik, who was accused of laundering billions of dollars through an illicit cryptocurrency exchange. Vinnik was arrested in Greece in 2017 and extradited to the U.S. in August.

Vinnik's French lawyer, Frederic Belot, told Russian newspaper Izvestia last month that his client hoped to be part of a possible swap.

The newspaper speculated that another possible candidate was Roman Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker. He was sentenced in 2017 to 27 years in prison on charges from a hacking and credit card fraud scheme.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Fetterman, Oz Meet For Highly Anticipated Pennsylvania Senate Debate

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 12:45

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Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz will meet Tuesday for one of the most highly anticipated debates of the midterm elections as they wage a fierce contest for a U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania that could decide control of the chamber and the future of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Much of the focus is on Fetterman, who has spent the past several months fending off an escalating series of attacks from Oz about his health and fitness for office. Fetterman, who is Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, had a stroke in May, a health scare that was so severe he said he “almost died.”

But he has insisted he is prepared for the demands of the Senate. Since his stroke, Fetterman has struggled at times to speak clearly in public events. Independent experts consulted by The Associated Press, however, said he appears to be recovering remarkably well. He will use closed-captioning during the debate to help him process the words he hears.

SEE MORE: Key Midterm Races To Watch For Congressional Control

Still, Tuesday’s debate could prove to be a decisive moment in a race that represents the best chance for Democrats to flip a Republican-held Senate seat this year. It will provide an opportunity for Fetterman to prove that he has the stamina for the job and shift the focus to Oz, who Fetterman has argued is a carpetbagger from New Jersey with no understanding of the state. Oz, meanwhile, will have a high-profile chance to unite Republicans and appeal to moderates who could decide the race.

“The debate looms very large, bigger than usual for a Senate debate,” said Republican activist Charles Gerow, a veteran of two decades of Sunday TV political talk shows.

The high-stakes debate — the first and only in the contest — comes just two weeks before Election Day in what polls say is a close race to replace retiring two-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. It’s the only major statewide debate happening this year in Pennsylvania since Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican Doug Mastriano couldn’t reach an agreement on terms for a gubernatorial debate.

Fetterman has grown as a national brand thanks in part to his extraordinary height, tattoos and unapologetic progressive stances. But the 53-year-old Pennsylvania Democrat's health has emerged as a central issue over the election's final weeks, even as candidates elsewhere clash over issues like abortioncrime and inflation.

Oz, trailing in the polls, had pushed for more than a half-dozen debates, suggesting that Fetterman's unwillingness to agree to more than one is because the stroke had debilitated him. Fetterman has insisted that one debate is typical — two is more customary — and that Oz's focus on debates was a cynical ploy to lie about his stroke recovery.

SEE MORE: What Matters: Inflation And Everyday Americans

Meanwhile, Fetterman’s lead in polls has shrunk as Oz's Republican allies poured tens of millions of dollars into a perennial battleground state that President Biden won by just 1 percentage point in 2020.

Fetterman's allies fear that the 60-minute live televised debate may represent a no-win situation for the Democrat, even if the typical audience for a Senate debate is quite small. Much of the attention will likely focus on how Fetterman — who is blunt and plainspoken — can communicate in a high-pressure situation.

His campaign has acknowledged the built-in disadvantage of putting Fetterman on stage with Oz, a longtime TV personality who hosted “The Dr. Oz Show” weekdays for 13 seasons after getting his start as a regular guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show in 2004.

“This was always going to be an away game for John Fetterman,” said Mustafa Rashed, a Democratic political consultant based in Philadelphia.

The debate host declined to allow an AP photographer access to the event, and the AP declined to accept handout photos.

Fetterman's stroke happened just days before his resounding victory in the Democratic primary. Recovery kept him out of the public eye for much of the summer, though the campaign said he was meeting with aides, taking long daily walks, driving and doing household errands.

Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, barely survived his own primary, beating Republican rival David McCormick by 951 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast after a dayslong recount.

Fetterman has rebuffed calls to release medical records or let reporters question his doctors, but last week he released a note from his primary care physician, who wrote that Fetterman is recovering well, shows no cognitive effects and "can work full duty in public office.”

Fetterman acknowledges that he continues to stumble over the occasional word and that a common condition of his stroke — called auditory processing disorder — means that his brain's language network cannot quickly and accurately turn sound into meaning. That requires him to use closed-captioning during interviews and at the debate.

Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democratic state lawmaker who is campaigning for Fetterman after unsuccessfully challenging him in the primary, said Fetterman should talk about his priorities as a senator and be selective about which of Oz's attacks to respond to.

Fetterman should “to the extent possible ignore the clown show that’s happening on the other side and, if he does that, I think that's a win,” Kenyatta said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Adidas Ends Partnership With Ye Over Antisemitic Remarks

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 12:24

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Adidas has ended its partnership with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West over his offensive and antisemitic remarks, the latest company to cut ties with Ye and a decision that the German sportwear company said would hit its bottom line.

"Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "Ye's recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company's values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness."

The company faced pressure to cut ties with Ye, with celebrities and others on social media urging Adidas to act. It said at the beginning of the month that it was placing its lucrative sneaker deal with the rapper under review.

Adidas said Tuesday that it conducted a "thorough review" and would immediately stop production of its line of Yeezy products and stop payments to Ye and his companies. The sportswear company said it was expected to take a hit of up to $246 million to its net income this year from the move.

SEE MORE: George Floyd's Family Issues Cease-And-Desist Letter To Kanye West

Adidas is just the latest company to end connections with Ye, who also has been suspended from Twitter and Instagram over antisemitic posts that the social networks said violated their policies.

He recently suggested slavery was a choice and called the COVID-19 vaccine the "mark of the beast," among other comments. He was also criticized for wearing a "White Lives Matter" T-shirt to his Yeezy collection show in Paris.

Ye's talent agency, CAA, dropped him, and the MRC studio announced Monday that it is shelving a complete documentary about him.

The Balenciaga fashion house cut ties with Ye last week, according to Women's Wear Daily. JPMorganChase and Ye have ended their business relationship, although the banking breakup was in the works even before Ye's antisemitic comments.

In recent weeks, Ye has also ended his company's association with Gap and has told Bloomberg that he plans to cut ties with his corporate suppliers.

After he was suspended from Twitter and Facebook, Ye offered to buy conservative social network Parler.

Demonstrators on a Los Angeles overpass Saturday unfurled a banner praising Ye's antisemitic comments, prompting an outcry on social media as celebrities and others said they stand with Jewish people.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

On Board With The U.S. Coast Guard: Surveilling The Sea For Migrants

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 01:20

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U.S. Coast Guards are patrolling the vast ocean, looking for migrants 1,500 feet above the Florida straits.

NEWSY'S BEN SCHAMISSO: On a five-hour flight like this one, what are the chances that you are going to find some migrant boats?

LT. CONNOR HOEHLE: We could find two to three, three to four today, so it's definitely always been a busy area. It's just gotten noticeably busier.

Newsy recently embedded with a crew from Miami tasked with surveilling the sea passage between the U.S., Cuba, and the Bahamas. A couple of hours into the flight, the Coast Guard recorded a spotting, and down below, on rescue boats, their colleagues took action.

The migrants attempting the treacherous and days-long journey to Florida mostly come from Cuba and Haiti. 

Seeking to escape poverty, violence and persecution, they are taking to the sea in record numbers. The U.S. Coast Guard says they have intercepted over 13,000 Haitians and Cubans this year — the most in nearly three decades. 

For the migrants, being caught in the ocean can be a blessing and a curse. Their lives are often saved, but they are also typically sent back home within a week.

"Even if it's back to Cuba, they're going home to their loved ones, and they're not lost at sea," said Nicole Groll, petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Those who make it to land may face different outcomes. Some are allowed to stay while their claims of asylum are heard.

SEE MORE: Border Crossings To U.S. From Mexico Hit Annual High

Haitian immigrant Lyly made it to Florida by sea in August 2021. The 28-year-old, who volunteered for the late Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, says he was twice attacked and threatened at gun point by a rival political faction. 

Lyly says he heard about a smuggling operation from a friend and boarded a boat with 40 other Haitians. Four days later, they swam to shore near Miami and were arrested by border authorities.

After a month in federal detention, Lyly was released by ICE on parole.

Today, he's waiting for a decision on his asylum case – a process that can take years. In the meantime, he receives help from a refugee resettlement organization called Church World Service. 

David Claros, a Church World regional director, says people taking to the sea speaks volumes about the worsening conditions they face at home.

"I would like people to think, what would it take for you to decide, 'I have to go. I don't care if I die. I have to leave this place,'" Claros said.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, is still reeling from the assassination of President Moïse last year. Gang violence, street protests and a cholera outbreak are bringing the country to a breaking point. 

In Cuba, the authoritarian government is struggling to recover from a deep economic crisis, while continuing to crack down on political dissidents.

Out at sea, Lt. Hoehle says he and his colleagues think of their mission as a humanitarian one. Though technically their job is to prevent unauthorized migration, they say their goal is to save lives. 

"Those are people down there that in some sort of desperate situation," Lt. Hoehle said. "We're just looking out for their safety at sea."

Sikh Air Force Cadet Explores Religious Identity Woes In U.S. Military

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 01:10

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Gursharan Virk, a 21-year-old University of Iowa student, starts his day at 5:30 a.m. One of his roommates helps him shake the wrinkles off his turban.

Virk is Sikh; it's a monotheistic religion that began in Punjab, India. Sikhs traditionally don't cut their hair, as its considered sacred. Virk wraps a turban around his to keep it protected.

"It's part of me," Virk said. "It's part of my identity. It's important to me."

Virk dreams of one day being a pilot, and being a cadet at the University of Iowa's Air Force ROTC program gets him a step closer to his dream. 

Still, Virk wasn't about to let his love for flying stop him from practicing his faith.

"Every Sikh who ties a turban is carrying that symbol that they're Sikh and is being able to represent that," Virk said. "I think that's one of the most important things for me." 

For the military, uniformity among the ranks is seen as an essential part of discipline and battle readiness, so Virk had to apply for a religious exemption. He became the first Air Force Sikh cadet in U.S. history allowed to wear these reflections of faith: his turban, beard and bracelet.

"For people that have this passion to serve others and to serve their country, it is key that we grant them that opportunity," said Lt. Col. Matthew Youmans, commander of Air Force ROTC at the University of Iowa. "Generally speaking, it shouldn't be because of an appearances thing that holds somebody back from serving."

As an upper classman, Virk leads the younger cadets.

"When we wear the turban, we carry that responsibility as well as helping people if someone needs help or if we see someone needs help again," Virk said.

At a flag ceremony, much like the wrapping of his turban, there is symbolic meaning and attention to detail with each crease and fold of the U.S. flag. Virk sees no difference between practicing his faith and serving his country.

"It's pretty similar because, again, it's the service before self," Virk said. "It's one of the core values of the Air Force, and that aligns a lot with what Sikhism is."

SEE MORE: Tired Of Being Misrepresented, Sikh Americans Create Their Own Stories

While Virk is allowed to wear his beard, turban and bracelet, that's not true for all Sikhs in the military.

Giselle Klapper, from The Sikh Coalition, represents three Sikhs who are suing the Marine Corps for the right to wear articles of faith during boot camp. They have put their military lives on hold for two years in this legal challenge and are currently waiting for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule. 

"It's actually an employment discrimination issue more than anything else," Klapper said. "There are other militaries around the world, including allies, that our forces fight with that way longer than the U.S. have found a way to integrate Sikhs without any issue."

Sikhs served in U.S. Army in World War I and II, but uniform standards in the 80s changed that.

The Air Force and Army have since granted religious accommodations to Sikhs. But the Marines have pushed back, telling The New York Times that religious articles get in the way of safety, begging the question: Can one serve their country safely and still practice their faith?

Dr. Kamal Singh Kalsi says absolutely, pointing to Army research done in 2016 ranging from the proper fitting of helmets to gas masks to other safety equipment. Kalsi went through it himself as the first Sikh in the Army to be granted religious accommodations.

"There's no reason why we can't serve," Kalsi said. "I've been through the gas mask testing, I don't know, maybe half a dozen times at least already."

Kalsi has been deployed to Afghanistan as a medical doctor, and when he trained alongside the Israeli army, some soldiers had beards and wore gas masks safely.

"There are arguments that are used and just sort of thrown out there over the years to try to push back against what we know is really blatantly racist and discriminatory institutional policy," Kalsi said.

Over 100 Sikhs serve in the U.S. Army and Air Force, and Virk will be one of them.

A trailblazer in his own right, his official permission was easy compared to others: It took him a few months, and even though he took the initiative, he credits the encouragement from his community.

"That community includes my friends... I have my family in Des Moines, so I talk to them, and I go back home," Virk said. "I got a whole lot of people, I guess, cheering for me."

Uvalde Residents Are Now Running For City Council

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 01:04

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"Uvalde Strong" signs are everywhere, and for some in the Texas town struck by the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, which left 19 school children and two teachers dead back in May, the feelings are also strong that the status quo must be upended. 

Emotions are still raw at school board meetings, as parents are looking for new leadership. 

Angie Villescaz shared their pain, though she's not directly affected by the shooting, the Uvalde native started a group she dubbed "Fierce Madres." Newsy caught up with them as they wrote post-cards for voter outreach effort for Texas Democrats.  

The group wants to change the local and state political map. One result: a member is now going to serve out the rest of city councilor Pete Arredondo's term. You may recall Arredondo was Uvalde's school district's police chief. The district fired him back in August, he never assumed his council seat.  

"Here I am, you know, I know that the desk that sits up there — city council, is all men and I'm going to be the only mom," said Eloisa Medina, the Uvalde city council member elect. 

Eloisa Medina ran unopposed. She and Villescaz said their political will was forged in the fire of community pain.  

"There's a lack of trust in law enforcement or the school district administration, right? Like, they're scared. They're scared to leave their children in the hands of 'oh step back! You know, we've got this taken care of.' They've seen where the families in Uvalde were lied to," said Villescaz. 

A slow drip of information showed a bungled police response and an ever changing narrative has rocked Uvalde.  

Fierce Madres volunteer Bobby Tafolla believes that if it wasn't for the scrutiny from outside police agencies and the media, the truth would never have come to light. 

"They've done that to us forever. The the white man has spoken, and this is the way it's going to be. But what happen to these people is that the whole United States was watching," said Tafolla. 

The crime, re-opened old wounds of a racist past, which the people of Fierce Madres say resulted in historically low voter turnout among Hispanics, who are the demographic super majority.   

Mid-term elections typically bring less voter interest. But in data obtained by Newsy, we found that nearly 17,500 people have registered to vote in Uvalde County for the next month. 

That’s slightly more than the number for the 2020 presidential election, when voter turnout in Uvalde County was at almost 60%.

SEE MORE: Uvalde, Texas Schools Suspend Entire Police Force After Outrage

Another sign of an energized electorate, the number of volunteer deputy registrars, who are people who can officially register Texans to vote, increased more than five fold after May 24, from seven to 37.  

"I think that this massacre has inspired a lot of people to look at their own local government and suggest that they want different things to be happening," said Texas Sen. Roland Gutierrez.

There are three right-in candidates vying for a spot on Uvalde's County Commission. For Javier Cazares, it's deeply personal, his daughter Jackie, was among the students who died. He's campaigned with other aggrieved Uvalde parents for the Texas governor to call for a special session to change the state's lax gun laws. The 43-year-old father has said he didn't even vote in 2020. Now, he's seeking elected office. His brother in law explains why.  

"And I think that's where Javier gets his energy. He said 'I don't want my child to die in vain,pass away in vain. I'm never going to get see her again. I'm going to try my best so that somebody else doesn't have to go through this kind of pain again,'" said Jesse Rizo, Jackie Cazares' uncle. 

Diana Olvedo Karau is vying for the same seat. 

She's a retiree who moved back home to Uvalde in 2018 and has made herself a constant presence at school board and city council meetings.  

"I think May 24 has helped people find their voice. And people are challenging the status quo," said Karau.

She's a retiree who moved back home to Uvalde in 2018 and has made herself a constant presence at school board and city council meetings.

"We need to take government back and help it work for us," said Karau. 

The candidates we spoke with all lack political experience, but say they want to turn Uvalde's pain into a positive purpose and build a movement. 

"So, there are people that are sitting there right now at their desk at work, or at home in the kitchen, and they're thinking,'I want to step up, I just don't know how to do it. You know, where do I sign up? How do I start my campaign? How do I start my, you know, fundraising?' But that's where we're going to help with that, too," said Villescaz.  

Texas has stubbornly low voter turnout and that could be a big obstacle and changing things in Uvalde County. That being said, in the last several election cycles, numbers of voters have been up.

What Brazil's Election Could Mean In The Fight For Democracy

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 01:00

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An election where democracy itself may be on the line is happening Sunday in Brazil, and it could foreshadow the future of democracy, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Brazil is a powerhouse of its continent, both economically and geographically, with a history of both being colonized and colonizing others, of slavery and westward expansion that exploited natural resources while displacing and killing Indigenous peoples. Then, it became a melting pot for immigrants around the world.

But the country's right-wing populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, is threatening to cling to power in the runoff elections, even if the votes show he loses against left-wing candidate and familiar face for many Brazilians, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro's closing message focused on presenting a vision of his country rooted in Christianity, standing for big business growth, and police, and against things like socialism and abortion. Lula has focused on his prior terms, during which commodities exports surged and tens of millions of Brazilians joined the middle class.

Lula won more votes in the first part of the elections, but Bolsonaro had a stronger than-expected showing. With neither candidate crossing the 50% vote threshold, the election had to go to a runoff. Lula is still favored to win, but polling has proved less than reliable so far.

But, things might get murky from there. Bolsonaro's coalition is still expected to control majorities in both chambers of Brazil's National Congress, and it's unclear whether Bolsonaro will actually give up power. He's already spread false allegations about secret vote counting and rigged voting machines, leading to high levels of mistrust in the electoral process.

Bolsonaro has already said he won't accept a result that isn't a win and laid out some objectively morbid alternatives. 

"We have three alternatives, especially for me: jailed, killed, or victorious," Bolsonaro said. "I say to the scoundrels that I will never be jailed."

Brazil also has a history of coups, including a military dictatorship that ruled for more than two decades until 1985, and Bolsonaro seems to have a taste for that era. 

SEE MORE: Brazil Election Authority: Bolsonaro, Da Silva Headed To Runoff

In a 1993 speech, eight years after democracy was instituted, Bolsonaro said, "I am in favor of a dictatorship." 

He wanted Brazil to follow the path of then-Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. Fujimori pulled a self-coup, using the military to close Congress and the federal judiciary and give all three branches of government to himself, the president.

Bolsonaro told The New York Times, also in 1993, "I sympathize with Fujimori," and that the self-coup approach was "the way out for Brazil" at the time.

He's still spoken glowingly about Brazil's dictatorship era over the past decade.

When voting to impeach former President Dilma Rousseff in 2016, he dedicated his pro-impeachment vote to a colonel who had led a torture unit in the dictatorship era. Rousseff used to be a guerrilla fighter and was one of those tortured.

While campaigning for president in 2018, he told NPR he thought the dictatorship was a "very good" era for Brazil. In office, Bolsonaro has brought back annual celebrations of the coup that put the military into power, focusing on the military's role in fighting communism.

But, when he first ran for president, he said if a military official takes power, it should be via voting rather than a coup. However, those comments didn't mention what would happen if it came down to staying in power. 

So, if Brazil has its own version of the United States' 2020 election — or a Capitol riot or a coup — what does it mean for the U.S.?

Firstly, the U.S. has a potential role here. President Joe Biden has already made promoting democracy at home and abroad a priority, and the Biden administration can apply pressure. Threats of sanctions or loss of economic opportunities could lead big businesses pushing Bolsonaro to avoid taking the most drastic measures to retain power.

On the other hand, lessons from Brazil could quickly be imported from Bolsonaro to the American right. Former President Donald Trump offered a personal endorsement for Bolsonaro, a rarity in a world where political leaders don't usually make international election endorsements.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller have vocally campaigned for Bolsonaro online, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson went to Brazil earlier this year for a meeting and a favorable televised interview with Bolsonaro.

Ukraine’s Big Question: Will Russia Fight, Flee Or Flood Kherson?

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 00:36

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As Ukraine begins its ninth month of fighting, the south becomes the main focus of Kyiv's forces. The loss of Kherson would be a major embarrassment to Putin, who last month declared it one of four Ukrainian regions annexed to Russia.  

It would also shatter Russian hopes of taking Mykolaiv and Odesa, to cut off Ukraine's access to the Black Sea. But, last week, Russia's newly appointed commander in Ukraine Gen. Sergei Surovikin, said the region was proving "quite difficult" for Russia. 

Difficult indeed. Kherson is Russia's only foothold on the west side of the Dnipro River and for Russia, sending fresh troops and supplies to the city has become increasingly perilous — with Ukrainian forces, since August, using the U.S. supplied HIMARS rocket system to attack the main bridge to Kherson.

SEE MORE: Russian-Installed Authorities Order Evacuation Of Kherson

Russia continues to use makeshift pontoon bridges to get across, but those come under attack as Ukraine's army steadily advances south, retaking villages on the outskirts of the city. But the head of Ukrainian intelligence told a national news outlet Monday that Russia is "creating the illusion they're leaving Kherson, but in fact, they are moving military units there." 

Just last week, President Zelenskyy advanced another theory: Russia plans to retreat and then unleash catastrophe. 

"We have information that Russian terrorists mined the dam and units of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant," said Zelenskyy. Detonating them would result in nearly five billion gallons of water inundating the region and then, he said, Russia would blame Ukraine. 

Fight, flee or flood? Kherson's fate could be soon decided, as western military analysts predict Ukraine will try to retake the city before winter, just weeks away. 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Rallies To Raise Awareness For Military Hunger

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 00:20

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was joined by 9/11 first responder and longtime veterans advocate John Feal and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, called on lawmakers to help military families struggling with hunger.

"Our service members that put everything on the line that sacrifice everything are more likely to be food insecure than any other American citizen. That is a moral outrage. People should be furious about it, and we should be demanding better," said Gillibrand. 

NEWSY'S MARITSA GEORGIOU: What's your message to Congress? 

JOHN FEAL: I'm coming, and I'll be wearing bells. 

The Department of Defense estimates 24% of military families are food insecure, and those surveys were taken before inflation reached 8%. As Newsy has extensively reported a bureaucratic oversight is costing thousands of military families critical benefits to keep them from going hungry. 

"This is cruel, and it's unacceptable. And you know, most Americans don't know about this issue. But a couple F bombs here and there — they'll know about it," said Feal. 

Feal is no stranger to Capitol Hill fights. He fought alongside TV host Jon Stewart, for 9/11 first responder benefits and for expanded care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. After Newsy's Reports, military family hunger became his next fight.  

"Let's go back couple months ago, when you told me about all of this, I was in shock. And over the next couple of months, I got angry," said Feal. 

Angry for families like Sara Leeman's. They used to live off base and got what's called a basic allowance for housing. It put her over the limit for qualifying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, today's equivalent of food stamps.  

"You're constantly looking at the costs and benefits of shopping here or purchasing this or if how many? How many fruits and vegetables? Can I realistically purchase in a week or two weeks?" said Leeman. 

Now, Leeman's family lives on base.  

SEE MORE: Government Takes Steps To Improve Food Security For Military Families

"We're not making more money. But we're saving a slight amount," she said. 

Her life depends on strict budgeting, and most extras don't make the cut. 

"Nobody likes to say to your kids like you know, maybe we have to cut back on that. And that's embarrassing for anybody," she continued.  

Some families may soon get what is called a Basic Needs Allowance. Basically, it's a pay bonus for low-income military families. It was part of last year's bill that appropriates money for the Department of Defense. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will mean about $400 extra each month on average. But like SNAP eligibility, the Basic Allowance for Housing counts as income, disqualifying many families. And the income eligibility thresholds are low. That's part of what this group wants to change. 

"If you heard these stories today, my heart hurts. My soul was crying," said Feal. 

They met with Sara and other military family spouses at a food pantry at Fort Wadsworth, where more than 100 families stock up this week on food essentials.  

Josh Protas, is the vice president of public policy at MAZON.  

"It's shocking on or near every single military base in the country. There's a food pantry that's quietly serving military families, who are turning in desperation, because they're prevented from getting the help that they need, and should be entitled to from programs like SNAP," said Protas.   

The group's goal is to get Congress to raise the income limit on the basic needs allowance and prevent the basic allowance for housing from counting as income to qualify. It would be part of this year's National Defense Authorization Act. 

"It would definitely mean I could maybe stop scrimping, stop pinching every penny," said Leeman. 

Senator Gillibrand said she's confident this will get bipartisan support to help these families but says a bigger solution is needed. 

"We can fix the basic allowing for housing problem. We can we can get them access to SNAP, but SNAP's a federal benefit. Again, they shouldn't have to be accessing SNAP benefits, just to put food on the table. It's an outrage that they're not getting access. But again, as someone said, we don't want to have to have a food bank. We want to be able to pay our service members enough," said Gillibrand. 

"We got to stop putting a Bandaid on a machine gun wound," said Feal. 

This will be the 18th piece of legislation John Feal has worked on since 9/11 and he says he doesn't plan to lose. Going back to some of these families we talked to today, one mom told me she can't afford to put her kids in sports here. It just costs too much. Another mom said her daughter wants to be a ballerina, but they've had to prioritize food over extras like that.  

And MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger launched a website to help people get involved in this battle, it's Really, at the end of the day, they just want more Americans to know about the financial struggles facing so many members of the military who sign up to serve their country.  

Rishi Sunak To Become Britain's Next Prime Minister

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 00:18

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Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is set to become Britain’s next prime minister after winning the Conservative leadership race Monday — and now faces the huge task of stabilizing the party and country at a time of economic and political turbulence.

Sunak will be Britain’s first leader of color, and the nation's third leader just this year. He will take over as prime minister from Liz Truss, who quit last week after 45 tumultuous days in office, leaving a staggering economy and a shell-shocked and divided party.

His only rival, Penny Mordaunt, conceded and withdrew after failing to reach the nomination threshold of 100 Conservative lawmakers needed to stay in the race.

Sunak had been the strong favorite as the governing Conservative Party sought stability at a time of immense economic challenges and after months of chaos that consumed the past two leaders.

SEE MORE: U.K.'s Liz Truss Quits After Turmoil Obliterated Her Authority

Sunak lost out to Truss in the last Conservative election, but his party and the country now appear eager for a safe pair of hands to tackle soaring energy and food prices and a looming recession. The politician steered the economy through the coronavirus pandemic, winning praise for his financial support for laid-off workers and shuttered businesses.

He has promised "integrity, professionalism and accountability" if he forms a government — a nod to the growing desire for a leader who can tackle the country's problems.

Earlier in the day, the 42-year-old was the only candidate with confirmed support from more than 100 lawmakers, the number needed to run in the election, with his backers claiming he has been endorsed by more than half the 357 Conservative lawmakers in Parliament. Mordaunt had hoped to reach the threshold by the time nominations closed — but she backed out.

That means Sunak is now the Conservative Party leader and will be asked by King Charles III to form a government. He will become the prime minister in a handover of power from Truss later Monday or on Tuesday.

Sunak's victory is historic: He is the first British prime minister of South Asian heritage, the first Hindu to hold the post and the youngest for 200 years.

His challenge is enormous as he tries to unite a demoralized and divided party that trails far behind the opposition in opinion polls, and seeks to shore up an economy reeling after Truss' brief, disastrous experiment in libertarian economics.

Her proposal for aggressive tax cuts that would be paid for through government borrowing pummeled the value of the pound drove up the cost of government borrowing and home mortgages, and forced emergency Bank of England intervention. Truss executed a series of U-turns and replaced her Treasury chief but faced rebellion from lawmakers in her party that obliterated her authority.

In the lighting-quick contest to replace her, Johnson dramatically quit the race on Sunday night, ending a short-lived, high-profile attempt to return to the prime minister's job he was ousted from little more than three months ago amid ethics scandals.

Johnson spent the weekend trying to gain support from fellow Conservative lawmakers after flying back from a Caribbean vacation. Late Sunday he said he had amassed the backing of 102 colleagues. But he was far behind Sunak in support, and said he had concluded that "you can't govern effectively unless you have a united party in Parliament."

The prospect of a return by Johnson had thrown the already divided Conservative Party into further turmoil. He led the party to a thumping election victory in 2019, but his premiership was clouded by scandals over money and ethics that eventually became too much for the party to bear.

SEE MORE: Boris Johnson Drops Out Of Race To Be Next U.K. Prime Minister

In his Sunday statement, Johnson insisted he was "well placed to deliver a Conservative victory" in the next national election, due by 2024. And he said that he likely would have won a ballot of Conservative Party members against either of his rivals.

"But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do," he said.

He hinted he might be back, however, saying: "I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time."

Truss quit Thursday after a turbulent 45 days in office, conceding that she could not deliver on her botched tax-cutting economic package, which she was forced to abandon after it sparked fury within her party and weeks of turmoil in financial markets.

The Conservative Party turmoil is fueling demands for a national election. Under Britain's parliamentary system, there does not need to be one until the end of 2024, though the government has the power to call one sooner.

Currently that looks unlikely. Opinion polls say an election would spell disaster for the Conservatives, with the left-of-center Labour Party winning a large majority.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

How To Remove Your Personal Information From Google Searches

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 22:51

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What information is publicly available when you type your name into Google's search engine? While you might not have any dark secrets to hide, it's not exactly comforting to discover that searching your name can produce details about you, such as where you live (with satellite and street-view images just another click away), where you work and when you were born.

In April, Google announced it would offer new options for anyone who wants to remove personally identifiable information from the databases used by its search engine. Given that Google dominates the global market share for search engines and is the most visited website in the world, with as many as 8.5 billion visits daily, this could significantly decrease the chances of others accessing your info.

What Information Can You Remove From Google?

Google already has procedures in place that allow you to protect your information. For instance, you've long been able to blur images of your home on Google Maps and opt out of sharing personal info. In addition, Google Search allows users to request the removal of specific, highly personal content that could cause direct harm. These include:

- Non-consensual explicit or intimate personal images (aka revenge porn).

Involuntary fake pornography (where a person's likeness is digitally edited onto another person's body in a sexually explicit setting).

- Irrelevant pornography from Google search results for your name.

- Content about you on sites with exploitative removal practices.

- Images of minors.

SEE MORE: Changing Your Password Too Often Might Be Hurting Your Account Privacy

But as the internet and its usage continue to constantly evolve, Google has also acknowledged the need for its policies to keep up. With its new guidelines, you can request removal of even more types of information found in search results, including your personal contact information and other data that could present a risk for identity theft.

So, now you can ask Google to remove personally identifiable information from Google Search results, which includes:

- Confidential government identification numbers, such as your Social Security number.

- Bank account and credit card numbers.

- Images of handwritten signatures.

- Images of identification documents.

- Highly personal, restricted and official records, such as your medical history.

- Personal contact information, like your physical address, phone number and email address

- Confidential login credentials.

How to Remove Your Info from Google

If you want Google to remove information from its search, you must complete a removal request. Visit Google's Request to Remove Personal Information form and select Remove information you see in Google Search.

Next, you'll be asked to choose whether the information is in search results and on a website or only in Google's search results. Depending on your selection, you'll be given specific directions to follow. For instance, if the content appearing in Google searches is from a deleted website, you'll need to provide the URL of the page. Similarly, to remove an image, you must provide the link address of the picture.

Once you have submitted a removal request, Google will evaluate the content to determine whether it meets the removal criteria. For instance, if the data is included in a news article or is a public record that's available on a government website, Google will not be able to remove the information.

You will get an automated email confirming Google received the request. If more information is needed, you'll also receive specific instructions. Finally, you will get a notification about any action taken.

It's important to note that these steps only let you remove content from Google Search results. Even if your removal request is accepted, it won't delete the personal information from the internet completely or remove the website where it appears. It will still be accessible from other search engines.

If you want information about yourself removed from a specific website, the best option will be to contact the webmaster of that site. Look for a "Contact Us" link or email address for the webmaster on the site's homepage, search to find out who owns the site or contact the site's hosting company, which will also be listed by Whois under "Registrar."

For more help and information about removing your data from Google search results, check out the Frequently Asked Questions section of Google's Help Center.

Viva Las Vegas: F1 Racing Behind $1 Billion Makeover On ‘The Strip’

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 22:42

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This weekend, Formula 1 ran its United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

On Sunday, Max Verstappen won for a record-tying 13th time this year. 

F1 race cars are open, single-seaters and are among the fastest cars in the world.

Austin and Miami have been the two U.S. stops, but next year there will be a third as F1 adds Las Vegas to their list.

Las Vegas is getting ready to park the slot machines, out a red light at the blackjack tables and roll the dice with one of the most popular sports in the world.

With Sin City betting billions of dollars on Formula 1 auto racing, there is no guarantee come next November what happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas.

"They really are convinced that this will be such a draw around the world. You can imagine right below us, on that street. We're gonna be having cars going 200 MPH," said Governor Steve Sisolak.

So convinced that formula one will be such a draw, the famous venetian hotel – known for its authentic Italian-style gondolas floating along in artificial canals – is renovating its grounds to the tune of one billion dollars to allow for fast-moving open wheel race cars zooming past the luxurious hotel.

SEE MORE: How Soccer And Formula One Are Winning Over American Fans

Additionally, MGM Resorts is planning to buy between $20 million and $25 million worth of tickets, then offer 4-day packages for fans priced at $100,000 or more.

Formula 1 is no stranger to Vegas, holding races back in 1981 and 1982, but the events crashed and burned. 

"It was in the parking lot. If you look at Caesars Palace as it exists today. It's now where the Forum Shops lie. I mean, we were a city of what about 300 to 350,000 people here perhaps, and it didn't attract the locals at all. They didn't like the track very much. The racers, the drivers," said Tony Cordasco, a veteran Las Vegas Sportscaster.

But this time it's going to be completely different. Plans call for Las Vegas' F1 race to cover 50 laps on a 3-point 8-mile track past the posh resort hotels on the iconic Las Vegas strip under all those bright neon lights with a 10 P.M. start time.

The event, though, is not only about speed. Formula 1 is also paying attention to the city's needs.

Ticket buyers will be asked to donate a lucky seven – $7.77 – to the Las Vegas Grand Prix Foundation, which will distribute the accumulated donations to Las Vegas community charities, including providing one million free meals through the Three Square's hot food rescue program.

But even as the F1 tour heads into its final five races of 2022, the drivers know the Vegas race will post new challenges. 

Driver Lewis Hamilton said "Knowing that it's a real party city … it's difficult for a racing driver to stay focused that weekend. There's going to be so much going on."

And driver Valterri Bottas said, "I've been once to Vegas. When I left, I said 'Never again.' But I'm coming back. I might need to try to behave better than I did last time."

Drivers and fans will get a first-hand taste of Las Vegas on Saturday Nov. 5, when F1 holds its Las Vegas Grand Prix launch party.

They're planning an eye-popping day including a live car run.

Self-Defense Class Teaches Older Asian Americans How To Fight Back

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 20:06

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Asian American and Pacific Islanders are one of the fastest growing populations of older adults in the United States. 

According to the Diverse Elders Coalition, the number of AAPIs aged 65 and older is expected to grow by more than 350% in the next 50 years. 

However, the coalition says that due to discrimination and isolation, they experience an overall lower quality of life, with seniors more prone to experience poverty and health issues. 

Newsy spoke to Sammy Yuen, who is working to give this group a sense of safety amid the rise of hate crimes against AAPI, and he's doing so through self-defense and art.

Why Are Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans On The Rise?

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 19:58

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There aren't many headlines or news coverage of anti-Asian hate crimes now, compared to what was shown during the height of the pandemic — but attacks and insults are still happening in various parts of the country.

The national coalition Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate tracked 11,500 hate incidents from March 2020 to March 2022. At the start of the pandemic, Asians were scapegoated and wrongfully blamed for COVID-19. It is true that the Chinese government silenced their doctors and kept the outbreak a secret from the rest of the world.  

John C. Yang, is the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

"We should be calling out that government. But in doing so, we absolutely need to be clear that it's a government that we are concerned about and not the people," said Yang. 

Politicians like former President Donald Trump publicly blamed China and continued to use radicalized terms like "Wuhan virus" and "China virus," terms the World Health Organization warned could lead to racial profiling and stigma. Trump's first "Chinese virus" tweet was followed by an increase in anti-Asian hashtags. But activists say anti-Asian hate didn't start with the pandemic.  

Stewart Khow, co-founded the Asian American Education Project.

"There was a political party built, the Workingmen's party that was established in California. That main point was to get rid of the Chinese. So there was violence," said Khow. 

Khow is referring to an American Labor Organization founded in San Francisco in 1877. Five years later, anti-Asian sentiments led to the Chinese Exclusion Act. That was the first and only federal law that banned immigration of a specific nationality.  

Experts say the trope of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners and treated as "others" continues today with dangerous consequences.  

"Regardless of how long we've been in the United States, whether we were born here or not, that we are seen as a foreigner," said Yang.

During WWII, Japanese Americans, men, women and children were rounded up and placed in detention camps. They were incarcerated for three years, their property and personal items taken.   

"Not one Japanese American was ever convicted for spying for Japan," said Khow. 

Then, when the Twin Towers fell in 2001, South Asians and Muslim Americans were targeted. It didn't matter if they were born here.   

SEE MORE: More Asian Americans Are Purchasing Guns

"Hundreds of South Asians and Muslim Americans were singled out, brutalized, and some were killed in a wave of Islamophobia after 9/11," said Khow. 

Janelle Wong, is a professor of American studies, at the University of Maryland.

"This is a cyclical kind of trope that is always kind of beneath the surface, but arises in times where the U.S. feels under threat," said Wong.  

And now, during the pandemic, experts say one way to combat hate is through education.

"You prevent that from making sure people understand that Asian Americans are American, are part of the fabric of our history," said Yang. 

The Asian American Education Project aims to train teachers and teach this history in every public school from kindergarten through 12th grade. Currently, five states have passed a mandatory Asian American history requirement.    

"Asian American history, is American history. Let me say it again. Asian American history, is American history. You don't understand big parts of American history — unless you understand Asian American history," said Khow. 

The surge in anti-Asian hate has led to a reemergence and groundswell of Asian American activism. In the 80s there was no justice for Vincent Chin, who was killed in a brutal racial attack in Detroit over rising tensions over Japanese auto imports. 

Compare that to the reaction after the 2021 mass killing of eight people — mostly Asian women, at massage parlors in metro Atlanta. 

"The fact that President Biden went down to Atlanta, along with the vice president, almost immediately after the Atlanta murders, and that there was legislation passed within a within a couple of months addressing hate crimes against Asian Americans —  power to Black people, power to Asian people," said Yang.  

"One of the most exciting kinds of activism to emerge from the last two years is Asian-American young people's interest in telling their own stories," said Wang. 

Chicago held its first ever Blasian March, a coalition of stop anti-Asian hate and Black Lives Matter activists.   

Rohan, is the founder of Blasian March. 

"I think being Blasian and being a Black Asian is incredibly powerful because, you know, so often society is trying to divide us and separate us. But you can't separate me. You know, I am living proof that we can coexist," said Rohan. 

"We can unite as a community from the Black and Asian and Asian communities to come together and just understand our differences and also just celebrate our intersectionality and our history together," said Kate Ventrina, the Chicago Blasian March organizer.