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Less than 24 hours after President Trump said some “great generals” told him they thought that Tuesday's massive explosion in Beirut was an “attack” involving “a bomb of some kind,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper seemed less than convinced by that explanation. Speaking to an online audience Wednesday as part of the Aspen Security Forum, Esper said he was “still getting information” on the blast in the Lebanese capital, but that “most believe that it was an accident, as reported.” Asked to explain the discrepancy between Trump's comments and Esper's explanation, and to identify which generals the president might have been referring to as the source of his information, a Pentagon spokesman replied via email: “We have nothing to offer at this time beyond the Secretary's comments.”
The Louisiana's Supreme Court has denied a request to review the case of a Black man who received a life sentence following an attempted burglary conviction, a punishment one dissenting judge called "cruel and unusual" given the object he allegedly stole was a set of hedge clippers. Bernette J. Johnson, the state's first African-American Chief Justice, wrote a scathing dissent published last week. Johnson said the conviction stemmed from the defendant's repeated petty crimes and the state's strict habitual offender laws, which she said have historical ties to slavery and racism.
Beirut has been ravaged by a massive explosion, likely caused by careless handling of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at its port. As the city is still picking through the debris and thousands search for loved ones, countries such as Turkey, Iran, Qatar, France, and Israel are rushing to provide support. While Hezbollah has not been blamed for the August 4 warehouse fire that led to the massive explosion, it is alleged to have imported and stored similar stockpiles of dangerous munitions and chemicals, such as ammonium nitrate, used in explosives.
New York's attorney general sued the National Rifle Association on Thursday, seeking to put the powerful gun advocacy organization out of business over allegations that high-ranking executives diverted millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures. Attorney General Letitia James' lawsuit, filed in state court in Manhattan after an 18-month investigation, highlighted misspending and self-dealing allegations that have roiled the NRA and its longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre, in recent years — from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself. Simultaneously, the Washington, D.C., attorney general sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the organization designed to provide programs for firearm safety, marksmanship and hunting safety, accusing it of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by its top executives.
An Alaska man went toe-to-toe with a home-intruding black bear, outlets report, putting himself between 10 children and the 300-pound predator that wandered into the living room. The fight was scary for Brandon McVey, but he survived, walking away with some nasty puncture wounds to his chest and scratches across his shoulders, the Anchorage Daily News reported. McVey was visiting his friend Norman Lott at his home around 11 p.m. July 31 in Juneau, Alaska, when the bear came in through an open door, the Daily News said.
Counties in Kansas that adopted a mask mandate have seen a drop in COVID-19 cases, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said. In late June, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) issued a statewide mask guidance, but because the Kansas legislature limited her emergency powers, each county was able to decide whether or not to enforce the order, KSHB reports. During a press conference on Wednesday, Norman said 15 counties went along with the order, while 90 decided to make wearing a mask a recommendation only. "What we've seen through this is that in the counties with no mask mandate, there's no decrease in the number of cases per capita," Norman said.
As new details emerged, the government on Wednesday ordered the house arrest of port officials who knew about the thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate explosives stored at the port for six years without safety measures. Aoun said the officials would face "the harshest punishment" if they are found responsible. Records show that a Russian-owned cargo ship ran into trouble and pulled into port in 2013.
Joe Biden asked an African American reporter if he was a "junkie" for questioning whether the former vice president had taken a cognitive test in response to attacks targeting his mental health. When asked for a response to Donald Trump, who has bragged about passing a cognitive test and made Mr Biden's mental state an issue for voters, the former vice president dismissed the question as trying to provoke a reaction. While the Biden campaign did not respond to CBS's request for additional context comparing a cognitive test to a test for cocaine, they told Politico that Mr Biden gave a deserving response to a preposterous question.
Chuck Lovell, the police chief of Portland, Oregon, called for violent protesters to stop their actions at a Wednesday press conference. While protests in downtown Portland have been peaceful since the presence of federal agents was scaled back last week, there have been violent offshoot protests in other parts of the city. Wednesday marked the 70th consecutive day of demonstrations in the city, which started after George Floyd's death in late May.
A poll by Gallup released Wednesday shows that the percentage of Republicans who say they are “satisfied” with the direction the country is heading has fallen by 60 points since February, when the pandemic began spreading rapidly across the U.S. Republicans' satisfaction today (20%) is about half what it was a month ago (39%) and down 60 points since February, after the Senate acquitted President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial. The pollster also cited the protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the economic downturn caused by the pandemic as influencing the steep drop concerning satisfaction.
Federal prosecutors have charged 11 alleged members and associates of the MS-13 street gang with sex trafficking and other charges after they say a 13-year-old runaway was repeatedly beaten with a baseball bat and forced into prostitution in northern Virginia. A child trafficking task force found the 13-year-old girl nearly two months later at an apartment in Mount Rainier, Maryland. The girl, initially reluctant to talk to police, eventually told authorities she was twice beaten on her backside and legs 26 times on two separate occasions with a baseball bat – once as an initiation to the gang, and once as a punishment for talking to rival gang members and allegedly stealing from fellow gang members.
An American-owned cargo ship named after the president of the United States docked in a Ukrainian port has just offloaded 10,000 metric tons of the same chemical substance that nearly leveled the city of Beirut this week, according to the Liveuamap news source. The hangar in Lebanon only had 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which caused catastrophic damage to the Lebanese capital. The ship docked in Ukraine, which was previously named Seabreeze before a Florida company registered as Pilin Fleet Management LLC purchased it in 2018, and renamed it Trump D, was registered by Marine Traffic tracking website in the Yuzhi port near Odessa on Friday.
North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a southern city locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said, as the country's response to a suspected case reinforces doubt about its longstanding claim to be virus-free. In late July, North Korea said it had imposed its “maximum emergency system” to guard against the virus spreading after finding a person with COVID-19 symptoms in Kaesong city, near the border with rival South Korea. State media reported that leader Kim Jong Un then ordered a total lockdown of Kaesong, and said the suspected case was a North Korean who had earlier fled to South Korea before slipping back into Kaesong last month.
The city said that given the significance of the 75th anniversary of the bombing, that killed 140,000 people before the end of 1945, they had decided to hold the ceremony despite the spread of coronavirus, but with strict precautions in place. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended as usual, but the number of foreign visitors was down. Overall attendance was scaled back to less than 10 percent of usual, with chairs spaced far apart and most attendees wearing masks.
Two dozen people in Hong Kong, including pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, have been charged with participating in an illegal assembly at a vigil on June 4 commemorating the crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen square in 1989. It was the first time the vigil had been banned in semiautonomous Hong Kong, with police citing coronavirus restrictions on group gatherings in refusing permission for it to take place. The anniversary struck an especially sensitive nerve in the former British colony this year, falling just as China prepared to introduce national security legislation later that month in response to last year's often violent pro-democracy demonstrations.
The United States retired both the warheads and the systems that carried them, including the nuclear Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile. The TLAM-N was deployed from 1983 to 1991 on surface ships and submarines before being retired in 2010. Unfortunately, Russia and China did not follow our example regarding this class of weapons, and are instead expanding their arsenals despite repeated U.S. overtures for negotiations.
More than 100 people in a Mississippi school district have been instructed to self-isolate, due to an outbreak of coronavirus less than two weeks after they reopened. At least 116 people in Corinth, a city in Mississippi, have been told to quarantine for two weeks, after six students and one staff member tested positive for Covid-19 over the past week. Taylor Coombs, spokeswoman for the Corinth School District, told NBC News that any person who was considered to have been in close contact with the people who tested positive for Covid-19, have been instructed to self-isolate.
Four days before federal agents shoot me in Portland, Ore., I riffle through the garage, shooing spiders from my son's snowboarding helmet. Can they repel tear gas? This is what happens when you rattle the barricade that policymakers hide behind, screaming “Black lives matter,” protesting for 60-plus nights the brutal tactics officers use to kill Black men on camera and Black women in beds.
The Pentagon is distancing itself from President Trump's claims about the Beirut blast that killed more than 100 people. Trump on Tuesday said his unnamed "great generals" told him they thought the massive explosion was a "terrible attack." In the early aftermath, there was speculation that the catastrophe was intentional, but it the consensus quickly became that it was almost certainly accidental — albeit brought on by neglect and mismanagement — and not linked to any foreign power, proxy forces, or terrorist organizations.
Ninety-one people caught COVID-19 after a man infected with the virus attended a church service in Ohio. Governor Mike DeWine tweeted a graphic from the Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday, which showed how the 56-year-old man was responsible for 91 infections. Close to 100 people contracted the coronavirus in Ohio after one person who had the virus attended a church service and spread it to dozens others.
The same week that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden formally canceled plans to give a convention speech in Milwaukee, the Democratic National Convention Committee detected three positive cases of COVID-19 at the site. “As testing increased this week, our system detected three cases which have been reported to the health department and given instructions to self-isolate,” an aide to the convention told The Daily Beast. Officials involved in convention planning say the decision to not host speeches from the site were not directly related to the positive test results there.
Leader Kim Jong Un visited parts of southern North Korea where days of torrential rains have flooded hundreds of houses and vast areas of agricultural land, state media reported Friday. The last time state media reported such a visit was in September 2015, when he inspected recovery work at a flood-hit northeast city, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry. It forced North Korea to close its border with China, its biggest trading partner, in January.
As part of an ongoing investigation related to unspecified "criminal acts" at an Arizona mall in May, the homes of Jake Paul and his associate, Arman 'Armani' Izadi, were raided by the FBI on Wednesday. Paul, a 23-year-old YouTube star, was charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly after footage on social-media showed him outside a looted P.F. Chang's restaurant. Izadi, 35, posted on Instagram asking that he be charged for the activities in solidarity since he was with Paul at the time.
Worker arrested after defending himself from armed robbery; Arlington Smoke Shop owner Jowan Zuber speaks out.
LAS VEGAS – A resort on The Strip is now facing a regulatory complaint alleging the hotel-casino violated social distancing policies. The Nevada Gaming Control Board filed the complaint against Sahara Las Vegas Wednesday, signaling the first time a property on The Strip has faced such regulatory backlash for failing to follow Nevada's COVID-19 safety regulations. Nevada's casinos reopened June 4 under new restrictions, including reduced occupancy, more space between gamblers and severely curtailed limits for meeting and convention spaces.
“He’s not a radical. But he is running on the most liberal policy platform of any Democratic candidate in modern history.”
“Public opinion has been shifting leftward, and Biden’s thinking has shifted with it.”
“Biden shows that he’s more moderate than some in his party.”
“Biden has always been a creature of his time, and the COVID-19 crisis could force him to veer further left.”
“Liberal activists have lauded the campaign’s outreach to progressives.”