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Texas storm Harvey breaks historic rainfall record

August 30, 2017 rbksa 0
Wed, 2017-08-30 03:00

MIAMI: Hurricane Harvey has set what forecasters believe is a new rainfall record for the continental United States, officials said Tuesday.
Harvey, swirling for the past few days off Texas and Louisiana — at times as a hurricane and at times a tropical storm — has dumped 51.88 inches (132 centimeters) of rain in Cedar Bayou, a salt water channel on the Texas coast, the National Weather Service said.
“This reading is higher than the previous record of 48 inches set during tropical cyclone Amelia of 1978 at Medina, Texas,” it added.
It was the second record reported in just one day. The first was 49.32 inches measured at a rain gauge southeast of Houston.
NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said that record is being treated preliminarily as one for the entire continental United States.
He added that confirming the figure “will take a lot of research,” as experts review water gauges and past historical records — a process likely to take several weeks.
Harvey made landfall in Texas on Friday as a Category Four hurricane. It has since weakened to a tropical storm but is still unleashing massive amounts of rain over Texas and Louisiana.

Main category: 
Kevin Hart calls on fellow stars to help with Harvey relief
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Social media users share fake photos of Hurricane Harvey in a bid to go viral

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UN Council unanimously condemns North Korea missile test

August 30, 2017 rbksa 0
Wed, 2017-08-30 03:00

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council denounced North Korea’s latest missile test Tuesday, unanimously demanding that Pyongyang halt the program after a rocket was fired over Japan into the Pacific.
Following the emergency closed-door session called by the United States and Japan, Tokyo’s envoy at the UN suggested that a new sanctions declaration could be issued.
“Next step starting now. We can’t predict the outcome but I certainly hope it would be a strong resolution following this statement,” Koro Bessho said.
The 15-member body maintained its unity after Kim Jong-Un’s latest provocation, with China and Russia agreeing to sign up to a statement condemning his isolated regime’s action.
But the US-drafted statement, while noting that the test contravened several previous Security Council resolutions, will not immediately lead to new or tightened measures against Pyongyang.
Still, diplomatic sources told AFP that the speed with which the members had reacted underlined their determination to remain united.
“The Security Council stresses that these DPRK actions are not just a threat to the region, but to all UN member states,” said the statement, issued after closed-door talks at UN headquarters.
“The Security Council expresses its grave concern that the DPRK is, by conducting such a launch over Japan as well as its recent actions and public statements, deliberately undermining regional peace and stability.”
The Council demanded that North Korea — already the target of seven rounds of UN sanctions that have done little to quell Kim’s nuclear missile ambitions — obey all existing resolutions.
This would mean the North “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and immediately cease all related activities.”
Pyongyang must not “conduct any further nuclear tests or any further provocation; and abandon any other existing weapons of mass destruction in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”
Finally, the body “welcomes efforts by Council members, as well as other states, to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.”

Main category: 
US warns ‘all options’ open after North Korea launch
China says N. Korea tensions reached ‘tipping point’
North Korea’s Kim has third child: reports

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Mattis: “Transgender Troops Can Continue Serving, Pending Study”

August 30, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The approximately 15,000 transgender servicemembers can breathe a sigh of relief – for now, at least.

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced on Tuesday that trans soldiers will be allowed to remain in the military pending the results of a study conducted by a panel of experts. The news, which was first reported by USA Today, follows President Donald Trump’s signing last week of a memorandum officially prohibiting individuals who identify as transgender from joining the military.  In that memorandum, Trump granted Mattis and the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security (which includes the US Coast Guard) wide latitude to decide how trans servicemembers should be treated.

The policy shift, which Trump first announced via Twitter last month, reverses an Obama-era decision, made shortly before he left office, that allowed trans individuals to service openly for the first time.

Mattis said the current policy of allowing trans individuals who are currently serving to finish out their assignments will remain in place, unless the panel recommends that it be reversed.

“Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction,” Mattis said in the statement. “In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.”

His decision will give the Pentagon more time to work out the details of allowing trans individuals to serve, like determining whether the VA should pay for gender-reassignment surgery. 

“Mattis’ move buys time for the Pentagon to determine how and if it will allow thousands of transgender troops to continue to serve, whether they will receive medical treatment, or how they will be discharged.”

Contrary to the perception, this decision does not signal that Mattis agrees with Obama’s directive that all trans people be allowed to serve. Mattis, as USA Today notes, has “little tolerance for policies that detract from military readiness.” Back in June, he delayed the Pentagon’s plan to accept new transgender troops to allow more time to study the effect of transgender recruitment on the US’s ability to fight (and win) wars.

When Obama first lifted the ban, the Pentagon outlined its plan for providing medical coverage to trans soldiers. The plan mandated that the VA should cover gender reassignment surgery if it was deemed medically necessary.

Trump claimed that the military wouldn’t pay for these surgeries when he first announced his decision to reinstate the ban.

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017


….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017


A RAND Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon last year found that trans troops would have a “negligible” impact on military readiness, according to USA Today.

“Last year, the Pentagon commissioned a study by the non-partisan RAND Corp. to examine the effects on military readiness of allowing transgender troops to serve openly and the cost of providing them medical treatment. The study estimated that a few to several thousand transgender troops are on the active duty force of 1.3 million. Researchers found that paying for their health care needs would amount to about $8 million per year and their effect on readiness would be negligible.”

As we’ve previously reported, available data suggest that trans people serve in the military at rates well above the national average. Though the data is sparse, studies estimate that trans men and women are anywhere from two- to five-times more likely to join the military as their cisgender (nontrans) counterparts.

Trans service members and veterans offer a variety of explanations for this disparity. For some, the military uniform functions as gender camouflage—a way to forestall uncomfortable questions from friends, family, or spouses. For others, joining the armed forces offers financial security and community to a group that is disproportionately denied both.

Contrary to what progressives may believe, the reality of whether trans individuals should be allowed to openly serve is a complex one. To better accomodate trans servicemembers, the military needs to develop guidelines not just relating to their medical care, but to a host of other issues affecting both their well-being, and the well-being of their fellow soldiers. Whatever Mattis’s panel ultimately decides, at least it will be an evidence-based decision.

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Tunisian parliamentarian sues Al Arabiya

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

A member of the Tunisian parliament and the owner of the private airline “Syphax,” Mohammed Frikha, plans to sue Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya TV news channel on the charge of publishing “false news and accusations of terrorist transportation to Syria.” In a statement to Anadolu, Frikha said that these “false news and falsifications” were broadcast on  26 August in a programme called “Special Mission,” which deals with networks of transportation to Syria. Frikha responded that “these charges affect the image of the member of the Tunisian People’s Assembly, the reputation of a Tunisian airline company and consequently causes moral and material damage. I will not allow myself, my company and my country to be influenced by any party, no matter how influential […]

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Jordan border crossing with Iraq to reopen in major boost to ties

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Jordan will open its main border crossing with Iraq on Wednesday for the first time since 2015 now that Iraqi forces have gained control of the main highway to Baghdad from Daesh militants, officials said on Tuesday. Iraqi troops pulled out of the Tureibil post, on the 180 km (110 mile) border, in the summer of 2014 after the militants secured nearly all the official crossings of the western frontier as they swept through a third of the country. Commercial traffic continued for a year after until Iraq launched an offensive in July 2015 to reclaim the predominately Sunni Anbar province and deprive the militants of funds raised from truck drivers forced to pay a tax on cargo coming in […]

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Egypt puts 56 people on terrorist list

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Egypt’s criminal court put today 56 people on the terrorist list, state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported. According to MENA, the defendants, who were convicted in the so-called “harming national economy and public security” case, include the prominent Muslim Brotherhood businessman, Hassan Malek. The verdict also includes a travel ban, assets freeze, loss of political rights, and passport cancellation. According to Egyptian law, the verdict is subject to an appeal before the Court of Cassation – the highest appeals court in Egypt – within 60 days from the publication date. Read More: Egypt: Verdict in Irish man’s trial delayed The case dates back to 2015, when the Egyptian prosecution convicted the defendants with several charges, including the involvement in a […]

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133 trafficked migrants rescued in Mexico

August 30, 2017 rbksa 0
Wed, 2017-08-30 03:00

MEXICO CITY: Mexican authorities said Tuesday they rescued 133 Central American migrants, including 34 children, from a house where they were apparently locked up and abandoned while being trafficked to the United States.
The undocumented migrants, who came from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, were locked up in “overcrowded conditions” in a house in a remote area in the southeastern state of Tabasco, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
Authorities found them after receiving an anonymous tip, it said.
Two people were arrested on kidnapping charges. The migrants were handed over to immigration authorities.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants cross Mexico each year seeking to reach the United States.
Central Americans who make the trip are often fleeing brutal gang violence in their home countries. The trend reached crisis levels in 2014, when some 69,000 unaccompanied children flooded the US-Mexican border.
They often travel in perilous conditions, prey to human traffickers known as “coyotes” and drug gangs that charge them “taxes” to cross their turf.
Last month,10 migrants suffocated to death in the back of a truck that was found in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas, just across the border.

Main category: 
Backed by Italy, Libya enlists militias to stop migrants
Trump expected to decide soon on fate of young immigrants
Thousands of migrants evicted from Paris sidewalks

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Israeli settlements an obstacle to two-state solution, says UN Secretary General

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Israel’s settlement activity is illegal and represents a “major obstacle” to the implementation of the two-state solution, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, warned today. Speaking at a press conference with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, held in Ramallah, Guterres stressed that the UN is committed to exert every effort to achieve the two-state solution. “I want to express very strongly the total commitment of the United Nations, and my personal total commitment, to do everything for a two-state solution to materialise,” he said, adding that “there is no plan B to the two-state solution.” “A two-state solution that will end the occupation and, with the creation of conditions, also the suffering even to the Palestinian people, is in […]

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“Fake News” Exposed: Louise Mensch Duped By Hoaxer

August 29, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The woman who has been widely credited with the creation of the “liberal conspiracy theory” has – finally and definitively – been proven a fraud. According to the Guardian, Louise Mensch and her writing partner Claude Taylor published “bogus” allegations about President Donald Trump that had been fed to them by a hoaxer who claimed to work for New York Attorney General (and longtime Trump antagonist) Eric Schneiderman.

Mensch, a former British MP who moved to the US with her American husband a few years back to found the now-defunct Rupert Murdoch-backed conservative news website Heat Street, has garnered a large following (she has some 300,000 followers on Twitter) thanks to her “scoops” about the Russia investigation. Her “exclusives” have included patently false “stories” like her claim that the FBI had issued a sealed indictment for the president. She once suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin had Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart murdered to clear the way for Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, allowing Bannon to guide Trump to electoral victory – an assertion for which she was resoundingly mocked.

The Guardian confirmed that another one of Mensch’s claims – that Trump’s inactive fashion agency is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking – was solely sourced to the hoaxer.

“Claude Taylor tweeted fake details of criminal inquiries into Trump that were invented by a source whose claim to work for the New York attorney general was not checked, according to emails seen by the Guardian. The allegations were endorsed as authentic and retweeted by his co-writer Louise Mensch.


The source’s false tips included an allegation, which has been aggressively circulated by Mensch and Taylor, that Trump’s inactive fashion model agency is under investigation by New York authorities for possible sex trafficking.”

The hoaxer said she acted out of a “frustration with fake news” after reading other obviously ridiculous reports published by Taylor and Mensch.

“The hoaxer, who fed the information to Taylor by email, said she acted out of frustration over the “dissemination of fake news” by Taylor and Mensch. Their false stories about Trump have included a claim that the president was already removed from office in a process kept secret from the American public.


Taylor asked no questions to verify my identity, did no vetting whatsoever, sought no confirmation from a second source – but instead asked leading questions to support his various theories, asking me to verify them,” the source said in an email.”

Mensch’s assertions have occasionally osmosed into the mainstream media. In March, the New York Times published an op-ed by Mensch advising members of Congress on how to proceed with their investigations into Trump’s Russia ties. The op-ed came after the paper backed up her still-unverified claim that a FISA warrant had been issued to surveille the Trump Organization. As the Guardian notes, Sen. Ed Markley (D-Mass) was forced to apologize earlier this year after repeating Mensch’s claim that Trump was under investigation.

“During a television interview earlier this year, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts repeated unverified information about the inquiries into Trump and Russia that he had gleaned from Mensch’s website. He later withdrew the comment.


Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Schneiderman, said in a statement that the incident highlighted the importance of using “legitimate news outlets, which know to verify their sources and their facts”

Joe Scarborough once repeated one of Taylor and Mensch’s false claims on his show, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“The bogus source first contacted Taylor by email on 20 July with an email titled “NYAG investigation”. Earlier that day, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough had quoted approvingly from an online post by Taylor, describing it as “one of the best tweets of the past month.”

Mensch and Taylor eagerly embellished the false claims fed to them by the leaker, insinuating that they knew more than the leaker had shared with them.

“After being asked by a follower for more information, Taylor claimed to know even more than the hoaxer had told him. “I have few details but apparently the possibility exists that our president has been a sex trafficker,” he said.


Mensch then weighed in, reposting this false claim by Taylor and adding a vague allegation of her own that the full story was even worse.


Taylor and Mensch also repeated an invented claim from the source that former president Bill Clinton knew of criminal wrongdoing by Trump’s model agency and was was preparing to testify for the prosecution. Taylor posted another series of tweets making lurid allegations about Trump’s model agency that yet again matched invented claims supplied to him in emails from the hoaxer.”

The Guardian published the contents of the hoaxer’s emails with Taylor alongside Taylor and Mensch’s tweets about the false claims, which neither of them bothered to try and verify (note the liberal use of the hashtag #PIMPOTUS).


From NYAG Schneiderman source, “I am aware of at least one sealed indictment targeting multiple Trump Organization Principals”.

— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 22, 2017

Schneiderman is moving

— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) July 22, 2017


On all three. Many Russian nationals are also among the targets as are other Trump family members.

— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 23, 2017

I have few details but apparently the possibility exists that our president has been a sex trafficker. That’s frowned upon.

— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 22, 2017



From Schneiderman source on money laundering case. Targets include Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka, Jared & Trump Sr, Felix Sater & 15 Rus nationals.

— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 28, 2017

Clinton is an @AGschneiderman witness against Trump. #PIMPOTUS #humantrafficking

— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 6, 2017


It’s #PIMPOTUS day on Twitter. #TeamPatriot please use the hashtag and let’s trend @realDonaldTrump human trafficking #Epstein #TrumpModels

— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 6, 2017

Just in case you needed another reminder – don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

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