After last night's historic Election Day, the world reacts after the polls.
After last night's historic Election Day, the world reacts after the polls.
President-elect Joe Biden's pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, "was known for his unimpeachable ethics," according to The American Prospect's prior report. That may be true, but how he's spent his time since the end of the Obama administration has left some critics bristling at his selection.In a July report, TAP put a spotlight on the strategic consultancy firm WestExec Advisers, of which Blinken and Michele Fourney, the favorite to lead the Pentagon in the Biden administration, were founding partners. The firm has ties to an array of industries, including: tech, financial services, aerospace, defense, and pharmaceuticals. But it's not exactly clear who the individual clients are since the firm, which is not registered to lobby, doesn't have to disclose them. The lack of transparency is a cause for concern among some observers, who are worried about people in the Biden, or any, administration getting too wrapped up in the interests of global corporations, TAP reported.Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group, told The New York Times that "those kinds of consulting shops," like WestExec, "take advantage of current laws, so there is no transparency in their clients and how they are trying to influence public policy for them. That's exactly the kind of people who should not be in an administration."There likely will be some clarity, however, since Blinken, as a political appointee, will have to disclose clients who paid $5,000 or more for his services in the past year. Read more about WestExec Advisers at The American Prospect. > Federal political appointees are required to disclose clients who paid $5k or more for their services in the past year. So Blinken's financial disclosure will be a rare glimpse into this sort of consultancy's clientele https://t.co/QqfICsYpx4> > -- Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) November 23, 2020More stories from theweek.com Biden is stealing the spotlight. Trump can't stand it. NYT reporter Maggie Haberman thinks Trump's tweet is 'the closest to a concession' he'll give I was wrong about Mitt Romney
Israeli media reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which would mark the first known encounter between senior Israeli and Saudi officials. The reported meeting was the latest move by the Trump Administration to promote normalized ties between Israel and the broader Arab world and reflected the shared concern of all three nations about Iran. The Israeli news site Walla, followed quickly by other Hebrew-language media, cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu and Yossi Cohen, head of Israel's Mossad spy agency, flew Sunday night to the Saudi city of Neom, where they met with the crown prince.
Decorating mansion will be her final official act as first lady
President Donald Trump gave some ground on Monday to allow Joe Biden's transition to the presidency after the ranks grew of prominent Republicans calling for Trump to end efforts to overturn his election defeat. Twenty days after Election Day, most members of Trump's party still refused on Monday to refer to Biden as president-elect, or question Trump's insistence - without evidence - that he only lost on Nov. 3 because of fraud. Trump gave the go-ahead for federal funds to start flowing to Biden so that he can carry out his transition duties before his Jan. 20 inauguration as the 46th U.S. president.
A California attorney said Monday that a Kenosha County judge will allow him to appear in court on behalf of an Illinois 17-year-old accused of killing two people during a protest in Wisconsin. John Pierce, of Los Angeles, is not licensed to practice in Wisconsin and would need the court's permission to appear in court for Kyle Rittenhouse. Such requests are routinely granted, but Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Jason Zapf has asked for a hearing on the matter “to address several issues.”
Nearly 200 mailings found delivery times of up to two weeks. Those delays could have affected election, as COVID-19 led to millions of mailed ballots
President Trump has yet to concede the election, and New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman thinks his Monday evening tweet about what is in "the best interest of our country" is "the closest to a concession Trump is going to get."Trump wrote that he spoke to Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, and recommended that she "do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols," adding that he has "told my team to do the same." Murphy needed to ascertain the election in order to formally start the transition process, and after weeks of delays, she sent President-elect Joe Biden a letter on Monday telling him the transition can officially start.Haberman tweeted that she's been told some of Trump's advisers "had been urging him" to let the transition begin before Thanksgiving, "even if he never said the word 'concede.'" Between the Trump campaign and other Republicans, more than 30 lawsuits have been filed in six swing states, in an attempt to contest the election results, NBC News reports. Despite Trump and members of his legal team claiming there has been widespread voter fraud, no court has found a single piece of evidence.Trump's election legal team is being led by his longtime friend and personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City. Giuliani has been "key in stoking Trump's conspiracy theories," Haberman said, but people with knowledge of the matter told her that a recent court loss in Pennsylvania made Trump realize "Giuliani was not painting an honest picture" of his chances of actually changing the election results. Giuliani, she added, took control of Trump's legal team after the campaign dropped a lawsuit in Maricopa County, Arizona, and he warned Trump that "other advisers were lying to him."More stories from theweek.com Biden is stealing the spotlight. Trump can't stand it. I was wrong about Mitt Romney The Secret Service is reportedly preparing for Trump's 'post-presidency life'
Outgoing Republican Steve King has long history of offensive remarks
Most conspiracy theories surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination have been disproven. Kennedy was not killed by a gas-powered device triggered by aliens or by actor Woody Harrelson’s dad.But speculation about Kennedy’s Nov. 22, 1963 murder in Dallas continues, fueled by unreleased classified documents, bizarre ballistics and the claim of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald—who was later killed on live TV while in police custody—that he was “just a patsy.”Several JFK assassination experts, like the former New York Times investigative reporter Phillip Shenon, see Mexico as the best place to find answers regarding a possible conspiracy and who was behind it.Just over a month before Kennedy’s killing, Oswald took a bus from Texas to Mexico City. He arrived Friday morning, Sept. 27, 1963 and left very early on Wednesday, Oct. 2, according to American and Mexican intelligence.Was Oswald a kind of rogue James Bond who went south of the border to consort with communists, Cuban revolutionaries and spies—or just a deranged killer?I dug into that question while researching my book on conspiracy narratives in Mexico, and I think I found something everybody else missed: a hole in the story of the very man who started a tenacious conspiracy theory about Oswald’s Mexico trip.Mexico was a Cold War hot spot in the mid-20th century, a haven for Soviet exiles, American leftists fleeing the anti-communist persecution of McCarthyism and sympathizers with Cuba’s Castro regime. Every communist and democratic country had an embassy in Mexico City—the only place in the Western Hemisphere where these enemies coexisted more or less openly.According to witnesses from the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic missions, Oswald visited their embassies repeatedly on Friday and Saturday. He was desperately seeking visas to those countries, which Americans were then prohibited from visiting.Told such documents would take months to process, Oswald got in a heated argument with the Cuban consul, Emilio Azcué. Oswald also forced a KGB volleyball match on Saturday morning to be canceled when he brandished a weapon at the Soviet consulate, before bursting into tears and leaving.Those events are well documented by the CIA, which in the 1960s had ramped up its Mexico operations to monitor communist activity, even hiring 200 Mexican agents to help. The Mexican Secret Service, whose 1960s-era files Mexico has recently begun to declassify, also tracked Oswald on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, 1963.Oswald’s whereabouts for the next three-and-a-half days, however, remain unknown.A main conspiracy about Oswald’s undocumented time in Mexico City puts him in contact with dangerous Mexicans on the left side of the Cold War.This story originated in March 1967, when the American consul in the Mexican coastal city of Tampico, Benjamin Ruyle, was buying drinks for local journalists.One of them—Óscar Contreras Lartigue, a 28-year-old reporter for El Sol de Tampico—told Ruyle he’d met Oswald in 1963 when he was a law student at Mexico’s National Autonomous University.Contreras said he’d been in a pro-Castro campus group and that Oswald had begged this group for help getting a Cuban visa. According to Contreras, Oswald spent two days with these National Autonomous University students, then met up with them again a few days later at the Cuban Embassy.Evidently afraid for his life, Contreras wouldn’t tell Ruyle much more. He said he himself had traveled to Cuba, knew people in the Castro regime and had blown up the statue of a former Mexican president on campus in Mexico City. Contreras feared persecution for his political activities.Contreras did say this wasn’t the first time he was sharing his story, though. After JFK was shot, Contreras told Ruyle, he’d commented to his editor that he’d recently met Oswald.CIA Spyhunters Knew Lee Harvey Oswald Was in Dallas Days Before JFK’s AssassinationContreras’ account hinted at suspicious, previously unknown connections between Oswald and communist Cuba made shortly before JFK’s assassination.His story was, according to a memo later sent from CIA headquarters, “the first solid investigative lead we have on Oswald’s activities in Mexico.” U.S. government officials needed to find out if Contreras was a trustworthy source.Three months after Ruyle’s happy hour, a CIA official from Mexico City went to Tampico to question Contreras. During the six-hour interrogation, Contreras still refused to go into details, but he did say Oswald never mentioned assassination—only that he said repeatedly he “had to get to Cuba.”In 1978, a researcher from the U.S. House Select Commission on Assassinations named Dan Hardway went to Mexico to investigate the JFK assassination. He was unable to interview Contreras despite several attempts, but in an influential report warned his account should not be dismissed.The New York Times reporter Shenon, who interviewed Oscar Contreras for a 2013 book on the JFK assassination, also found Contreras credible. Shenon wrote that Contreras – whom he calls a “prominent journalist” – “went much further” in their interview than he had with the CIA, alleging “far more extensive contacts between Oswald and Cuban agents in Mexico.”Dan Hardway, who is now a lawyer in West Virginia, still believes Contreras. After reading Shenon’s book, he reiterated in 2015 that Lee Harvey Oswald might have been part of a wider Cuban intelligence web.Óscar Contreras died in 2016, so I could not interview him myself.But in my investigation, a minute detail of his biography grabbed my attention—an apparently overlooked contradiction that could undermine his entire story.In Contreras’ telling, he fled the National Autonomous University campus and moved to Tampico around 1964. Yet Contreras also allegedly told his “editor” about his encounter with Oswald after the 1963 Kennedy assassination.College newspapers aren’t common in Mexico, and Contreras was a law student. So how could he have had an editor in 1963?I thought his hometown paper, El Sol de Tampico, might hold the answer. Digging through its archives, I found that the newspaper ran a Sunday gossip column in the early 1960s called “Crisol,” or “melting pot.”Óscar Contreras became the reporter for “Crisol” on June 6, 1963, and continued writing the gossip column in September and October that year.While Lee Harvey Oswald was in Mexico City, Contreras was 300 miles away in Tampico. In flamboyant prose, faded back issues of the local paper show, he chronicled the sumptuous wedding receptions, quinceañeras and yacht excursions of Tampico’s high society.What Lee Harvey Oswald’s Mother Told MeI believe the Sol de Tampico archives discredit Contereras’ account.A political correspondent may live far from where his newspaper is published. But for a gossip columnist, that would be dereliction of duty.This revelation plunges Oswald’s fall 1963 trip to Mexico back into the dark.There are other conspiracy theories, including that Oswald had a Mexican mistress who took him to a party of communists and spies.But it’s more likely Mexico holds no hidden clues to JFK’s assassination.Conspiracy theories offer assurances of depth and closure, a promise that the biggest enigma of the 20th century is solvable. But from what we know about what Oswald did and didn’t do in Mexico City, he was a volatile, disorganized loner who couldn’t even handle travel logistics.JFK’s assassination is a cold case. And in Mexico, only exhausted leads remain.Gonzalo Soltero is a professor of narrative analysis at the School of Higher Studies, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. 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On Saturday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump's challenge to mail-in ballots in the state had been "haphazardly stitched together" like "Frankenstein's monster." Several Trump campaign lawsuits have been dismissed, and legal experts said the remaining cases do not give Trump, a Republican, a viable path to overturning the election results. The Trump campaign sued on Nov. 9 to prevent Biden, a Democrat, from being certified by election officials as the winner in Pennsylvania.
Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and two other activists were taken into custody Monday after they pleaded guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year. Wong, together with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, pleaded guilty to charges related to organizing, taking part in and inciting protesters to join an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters last June. “I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said, ahead of the court hearing.
One of Britain's most prolific paedophiles, who targeted at least 500 children, would not have been caught under Facebook's proposed end-to-end encryption plans, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA). Appearing at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, labourer David Nicholas Wilson, 36, admitted 96 sex abuse offences against 51 boys aged four to 14, whom he conned into sending him sexual images or blackmailed into abusing their younger siblings or friends. The NCA investigation uncovered evidence that Wilson, who pretended to be multiple teenage girls online, managed to persuade 500 boys to send sexual abuse images to his fake identities and had approached more than 5,000 boys globally. The NCA found 250,000 messages communicating with boys in his Facebook, Snapchat, Google and Instagram accounts after obtaining access to them through an International Letter of Request to the US authorities. However, his web of abuse would not have been exposed without Facebook providing 90 referrals of suspect accounts linked to Wilson – evidence that would not be available if the social media giant goes ahead with its encryption plans, said Rob Jones, the NCA director of threat leadership. Mr Jones said: "It's chilling to think Wilson wouldn't have been caught if Facebook had already implemented their end-to-end encryption plans which will entirely prevent access to message content. The NCA, wider law enforcement and child safety groups are clear that the [encryption] move will turn the lights out for policing and effectively provide cover for offenders such as Wilson. "Facebook Messenger is already protected by strong encryption that still enables the company to detect grooming and known abuse images. It was Facebook's initial identification of Wilson's accounts in June and July 2017 which provided the intelligence that started this investigation. "Content obtained from Facebook Messenger conversations was also crucial throughout the operation. Had that content been end-to-end encrypted, there is a real risk that justice would not have been served and Wilson would still be abusing victims today." It follows calls by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and her counterparts in the "Five Eyes" intelligence network of countries for Facebook to allow law enforcement agencies lawful access to suspects communications rather than blanket encryption which means even it cannot access messages. Wilson was told by judge Rupert Overbury on Monday that he faces a lengthy prison term when he is sentenced on January 12. Using unregistered phones, Wilson sent sexual images of young women from the internet in exchange for the boys sending him videos and images of themselves. He built up trust with his victims before blackmailing them into sending him more extreme footage of themselves – and in some cases, of them abusing younger siblings or friends. On some occasions, he then distributed the images to victims' friends. He showed no compassion even when some victims begged him to stop, according to the NCA. Some of the children were so distressed that they spoke of wanting to end their lives. His activities were first detected in summer 2017 when Facebook identified 20 accounts of boys ranging from 12 to 15 years old, who had sent indecent images of themselves to an account seemingly belonging to a 13-year-old girl. The material was forwarded to the NCA for investigation by NCMEC – the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children – which receives industry referrals before disseminating them to law enforcement agencies to investigate. It was forwarded to the NCA, which found IP addresses used to commit the offences linked to Wilson’s address, CCTV footage of him buying a top-up voucher for a phone number linked to one of the accounts and the phone used to commit some of the offences hidden in his bedroom. Tony Cook, NCA head of CSA operations, said: “David Wilson is a prolific offender who has caused heartbreaking suffering to some of the boys and their families in this case. “He was able to gain the boys’ trust and exploit their use of social media using well practiced techniques to convince them he was genuinely a young female who was interested in them. “He then manipulated or forced them to send images of themselves or other children which he craved. “He knew the anguish victims were suffering but ignored any pleas from them to stop until he got what he wanted from them. “Wilson retained material the children had sent and used the threat of sharing it among their friends to control them. “I commend the victims and their families for their bravery in helping the prosecution and our investigators for painstakingly and tenaciously proving Wilson was responsible. “Wilson is an example of adult sexual offenders who use the internet to hide their real identities, using plausible online personas to exploit children. “We know children are increasingly sharing personal material on social media sites but I would implore them to think carefully about their interactions online and be aware of the hurt and long-term damage manipulative offenders like Wilson cause.” A Facebook spokesman said: “Child exploitation and grooming have no place on our platforms. Facebook has led the industry in developing new ways to prevent, detect, and respond to abuse and we will continue to work with law enforcement to combat criminal activity. "End-to-end encryption is already the leading technology used by many services to keep people safe and we will build on our strong anti-abuse capabilities at WhatsApp when we roll it out on our other messaging services. For example, through a combination of advanced technology and user reports, WhatsApp bans around 250,000 accounts each month suspected of sharing child exploitative imagery.”
Feinstein came under fierce criticism from progressives after she lavished praise on Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham for his handling of the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings.