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Roger Stone has escaped punishment for his crimes. Trump is sending a signalBy commuting Stone’s sentence, Trump is telling others who might commit crimes on his behalf that he’s got their back At America’s birth, when delegates in Virginia were debating whether to ratify the constitution, a politician called George Mason had an objection. Mason, who was influential over the development of the bill of rights, wondered whether the presidential pardon power was too broad. Might not the president encourage people who worked for him to commit crimes, and then pardon them? If he could, there would be essentially no check on a president’s power to break the law. Given that sort of leeway, an unscrupulous president could “establish a monarchy, and destroy the republic”.Mason’s objection ought to concern us still today. Late on Friday, Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, all but guaranteeing that Stone will never face justice for crimes he committed while obstructing an investigation into the Trump campaign’s links with WikiLeaks and the Russian intelligence agencies who attempted to tip the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. Backlash to the decision has been swift, with Trump’s fellow Republican Mitt Romney condemning the president’s “unprecedented, historic corruption”.It is not quite true to say that there is no precedent for Trump’s act. As Mason foresaw, executive clemency has been misused by presidents throughout American history. George HW Bush pardoned six officials who had been involved in the Iran-Contra scandal – an act which may have been intended to cover up his own wrongdoing. George W Bush commuted the prison sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who obstructed a federal investigation into the illegal outing of a CIA operative who was critical of the Bush administration.This history doesn’t make Trump’s actions any less troubling. In fact, by revealing how little restraint there is on the use of executive clemency, it ought to make us worry how much further the president – whose disregard for political and constitutional norms truly is without precedent – might go in the future.Most presidents issue their most controversial pardons furtively, at the end of their terms in office. But Trump has reveled in his ability to toss aside the principle of the rule of law when it comes to his own allies. In 2017 he pardoned the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had violated the constitutional rights of countless Arizonans. During the Mueller investigation – which exposed evidence that Trump himself may have committed obstruction of justice, a crime for which he could still be charged after leaving office – the president issued a full pardon to Libby, seemingly with the sole purpose of sending the message that he would forgive those – like Stone – who committed obstruction to protect himself.A president who is willing to use executive clemency to forgive violations of constitutional rights and protect himself from the rule of law could become, as Mason foresaw, a monarch. At the Virginia ratifying convention, James Madison replied to Mason that such a president would surely face impeachment. But today’s Republican party has made it clear that it will protect Trump from impeachment even in the face of overwhelming evidence of his abuses of power. Instead, by refusing to convict, they licensed Trump to double down.As America moves towards an election which Trump looks on course to lose, he is likely to become even less inhibited. The issuing of pardons and commutations for crimes already committed might pale in comparison with crimes yet to come. Trump could seek, once again, to sway the outcome of the election, promising pardons to his co-conspirators. He could order, as he did outside the White House, security forces to be used to disperse protesters who came into the streets in response, then issue pardons for any crimes tried by court martial or in Washington DC’s highest court.The fact that Trump has rarely shown the focus, intelligence or competence necessary to pull off such a conspiracy is little comfort. What he lacks in these qualities he makes up for in brazenness, in loyal subordinates equally willing to subvert the rule of law, and in the possession of a compliant conservative politico-media apparatus that will rationalize any action he takes. He could do incalculable damage to confidence in American democracy and the rule of law before he is finally wrested from the White House.In this sense, Roger Stone is the canary in the coal mine. Trump’s ability and willingness to commute his sentence is a reminder that for all its genius, the American founding left behind a structure which can be exploited and abused by an unscrupulous president. As we live through what are hopefully the dying days of the presidency of the most unscrupulous of them all, we have to remain on our guard. Partly because of his fears over the pardon power, George Mason ultimately became one of only three of the framers of the constitution to refuse to sign the final document, believing it created a blueprint for tyranny. Proving him wrong requires constant vigilance, now and in the future. * Andrew Gawthorpe is a historian of the United States at Leiden University


Trump's defiant help for Stone adds to tumult in WashingtonPresident Donald Trump’s intervention into a criminal case connected to his own conduct drew fierce rebukes Saturday from Democrats and a few lonely Republicans, with calls for investigations and legislation. Shortly before heading out Saturday morning for his Virginia golf club, Trump made unfounded accusations against his political foes while taking another swipe at special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which led to convictions for six Trump aides or advisers, including Stone, a larger-than-life political character who embraced his reputation as a dirty trickster. “Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place,” Trump tweeted.


Israelis protest government's economic response to virusThousands of Israelis demonstrated in downtown Tel Aviv on Saturday, protesting what is widely seen as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to address economic woes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. With economic stress deepening in recent weeks, many Israelis think the government has not done enough to compensate hundreds of thousands of workers who lost their jobs as a result of restrictions and shutdowns. Unemployment has surged over 20%, and Netanyahu has seen his popularity plummet.


Iran's president warns lockdowns could lead to protestsIran's President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the pandemic could lead to street protests over economic problems, his website reported. In a regular Cabinet meeting on the coronavirus, Rouhani said the easiest way to fight the virus is to close off all activities. Confirmed virus cases and deaths reached a record low in May after mass lockdowns were imposed in Iran.


Iraq's PM takes step in battle against border corruptionIraq's prime minister took a first step Saturday to combat cross-border corruption that has long plagued the country's frontiers as part of a reform plan to grapple with unprecedented financial shortfalls. Mustafa al-Kadhimi launched a campaign to recover “hundreds of millions” of Iraqi dinars in import tax revenue lost to bribery in the northern province of Diyala. In the first phase, security forces from the Interior Ministry will supervise the work of border guards to ensure proper payment of tariffs at the Mandili border crossing with Iran, he told reporters.


Fire destroys much of 249-year-old church in CaliforniaA fire early Saturday destroyed the rooftop and most of the interior of a Catholic church in California that was undergoing renovation to mark its upcoming 250th anniversary celebration. Fire alarms at the San Gabriel Mission rang around 4 a.m., and when firefighters arrived they saw smoke rising from the wooden rooftop in one corner of the historic structure, San Gabriel Fire Capt. Paul Negrete said.


Video calls, separate bedrooms: Bolsonaro’s first COVID weekAfter months in which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro downplayed COVID-19 by flouting social distancing recommendations and mostly shunning masks, both coronavirus precautions became part of his cloistered life this week at the official residence in capital Brasilia. Bolsonaro, 65, announced on Tuesday that he tested positive for the virus and had experienced fever, aches and malaise. One was with former congressman Roberto Jefferson, president of the conservative PTB party.


Puerto Rico questions Spain's legacy as statues tumble in USStatues, street names, plazas and even the body of conquistador Juan Ponce de León himself: Spain left a nearly indelible legacy in Puerto Rico that attracts hordes of tourists every year, but some activists are trying to erase it as they join a U.S. movement to eradicate symbols of oppression. Dozens of activists marched through the historic part of Puerto Rico’s capital on Saturday, some wearing traditional Taino clothing as they banged on drums and blew on conch shells to demand that the U.S. territory’s government start by removing statues including those of explorer Christopher Columbus. “These statues represent all that history of violence, of invasion, of looting, of theft, of murder,” said an activist who goes by the name of Pluma and is a member of Puerto Rico’s Council for the Defense of Indigenous Rights.


Rishi Sunak plans Brexit tax cuts to save the economyTaxes and red tape will be slashed in towns and cities across the country next year, under Government plans for a post-Brexit economic revolution. Rishi Sunak is preparing to introduce sweeping tax cuts and an overhaul of planning laws in up to 10 new "freeports" within a year of the UK becoming fully independent from the EU in December, The Telegraph can reveal. The disclosure comes as Michael Gove declares the reasons for Brexit are "stronger than ever", in a rebuke to Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, who last week said he saw no "added value" from leaving the bloc. Writing in The Telegraph, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, also launches "The UK's new start: let's get going", a public information campaign to help individuals and businesses to prepare for life outside of the EU's structures and "seize the opportunities" of Brexit. Ministers are dramatically stepping up plans for the end of the transition period, with less than six months until the UK leaves the EU's customs union and the single market. In other developments: Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Gove announces £705 million investment for new border control infrastructure, jobs and technology. The announcement comes 24 hours after it emerged that the Government had purchased 27 acres of land to build a vast customs clearance centre for lorries, 20 miles from Dover. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is preparing to unveil further details of the Government's planned points-based immigration system, including details of a new health and care visa for key health workers, and a "graduate route" from next summer, to allow international students to stay in the UK for up to three years to secure jobs. Senior Brexiteers warned Boris Johnson that key parts of his Withdrawal Agreement with the EU amounts to a "poison pill" that should be replaced as part of post-Brexit trade talks. UK negotiators are pushing to conclude talks with the EU by the end of the summer, in order to give businesses "total clarity" about the rules and procedures they will face from January 1. Liz Truss, the Trade Secretary, is understood to have been rebuked by Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson's chief adviser, on Thursday after the leak of a letter in which she claimed that the Government's border plans could result in smuggling and the breach of international rules. According to plans seen by The Telegraph, Mr Sunak will open the bidding for towns, cities and regions to become "freeports", in his autumn budget later this year, as he attempts to tackle the effects of a recession predicted to be the worst faced by the country in 300 years. He is planning to confirm the successful bids by the spring and introduce sweeping tax and regulatory changes in those areas at next year's budget, including research and development tax credits, generous capital allowances, cuts to stamp duty and business rates, and local relaxations of planning laws. The disclosure comes after the Chancellor unveiled an immediate national stamp duty holiday for six months on properties worth up to £500,000, as part of a package of measures to help the economy recover from the impact of Covid-19. Under the plans, up to 10 UK towns, cities and regions, will be designated as freeports, meaning that they will ultimately be legally outside of the country's customs territory, with goods imported, manufactured or re-exported without incurring national tariffs or import VAT until they enter the rest of the economy. The Government believes the policy can transform ports into "international hubs" for manufacturing and innovation, with the economic and regulatory incentives designed to encourage firms to establish new factories and processing sites in the areas. In a second wave of measures, customs duties, import VAT, and national insurance contributions would be cut from April 2022, making the freeports "fully operational" within 18 months of the UK's departure from the customs union and single market. The measures to be introduced in next year's autumn budget are understood to have been initially scheduled for the spring, but have been delayed slightly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Sunak first mapped out proposals for UK freeports in a paper he wrote as a backbencher four years ago, and Mr Johnson backed the idea during the Conservative leadership contest. The pair view the free trade zones as a prize of the "economic freedom" provided by Brexit, believing that the measure will boost manufacturing, create jobs in the areas in which they are most needed, and promote trade.


Russia's journalists under increasing pressure from the secret services in wake of Putin's shaky referendum victoryRussia's intelligence services have 'stepped up' their war on free media, carrying out a series of operations designed to intimidate journalists in the wake of Vladimir Putin's controversial referendum victory last week. In an unprecedented case for post-Soviet Russia, prominent defence reporter Ivan Safronov was seized outside his home on Tuesday morning by secret service agents and arrested on suspicion of treason. Citing the secret nature of the case, the investigators have not published any evidence to back up their claims but the reporter faces 20 years in prison. Last week’s overwhelming approval of constitutional amendments allowing Vladimir Putin to stay in office at least until 2036 was hailed by the Kremlin as a “triumph.” But results at the polling stations that were monitored by independent observers indicated something resembling a split vote. That was an apparent cue for Russia’s FSB secret service to take action.


South African church attack: Five dead after 'hostage situation'The church, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, was attacked amid reports of fighting over leadership.


Widow condemns "barbaric" death of driver beaten over masksThe wife of a French bus driver who was beaten to death after he asked four passengers to wear face masks aboard his vehicle called Saturday for “exemplary punishment” for his killers. The assault on Philippe Monguillot has scandalized France. President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday dispatched the interior minister to meet the driver's widow after his death was announced Friday.


Key parts of Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement amount to 'poison pill', senior Brexiteers warnSenior Brexiteers have warned Boris Johnson that key parts of his Withdrawal Agreement with the EU amount to a "poison pill" that should be replaced as part of post-Brexit trade negotiations. A 120-page report compiled by pro-Leave MPs and lawyers states that exiting the transition period with the current provisions of the agreement in place would have "crippling" consequences for the UK and prevent the country from becoming a "fully sovereign state". The document, which is published as the UK and EU carry out intensive trade negotiations, has been endorsed by a series of senior backbenchers, suggesting Mr Johnson could face resistance in the Commons if he fails to tackle some of their concerns. On Saturday, Mark Francois, the chairman of the influential European Research Group (ERG) of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, said: "The report argues that the remaining elements of the Withdrawal Agreement after we leave the transition period cannot be allowed to stand as they are, and particularly that there must be no remaining role for the European Court of Justice over any aspect of our national life. That is something that I and my colleagues in the ERG would very much support." The report, published by the new Centre for Brexit Policy, includes contributions from Lord Trimble, the former first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin Howe, the Brexiteer QC, and Owen Paterson, the former cabinet minister who chairs the think tank. The key elements it says make up the "poison pill" include the UK having to remain bound to some state aid laws, the creation of "burdensome EU customs mechanisms" at a border in the Irish Sea, a role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for another eight years, and the vast divorce payments, for amounts the report states are "not owing under international law" and are "subject to the determination of the ECJ". The report states: "Although the Government sees the revised Withdrawal Agreement (WA) as only transitional until the end of the transition period in December, there remain serious threats to UK sovereignty that will have crippling economic and strategic consequences for years to come if they are not dealt with now. "Exiting the TP with these threats still in place will not return the UK to a fully sovereign state and is unacceptable." The report urges Mr Johnson to replace the Withdrawal Agreement with a "sovereignty compliant" agreement. A chapter by Lord Trimble states that the current deal "rips the Good Friday Agreement apart” by handing law-making power over Northern Ireland to the EU. The paper's recommends returning to the Brexiteers' plan of "alternative arrangements" to achieve an "invisible border" on the island of Ireland and using independent adjudication. A government spokesman said: “The Government’s approach ensures businesses in Northern Ireland will have unfettered access to the rest of the UK market and that there will be no tariffs on goods remaining within the U.K. customs territory and no new customs infrastructure. “Crucially, at the heart of our proposals is a consensual, pragmatic approach that will protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and the huge gains from the peace process.”


Conservation groups upset by North Cascades grizzly decisionThe forested mountains in and around North Cascades National Park in north central Washington state have long been considered prime habitat for threatened grizzly bears, so environmental groups are upset the Trump administration scrapped plans to reintroduce the apex predators there. U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt on Tuesday announced his agency will not conduct the environmental impact statement needed to move forward with the idea.


Coronavirus deaths take a long-expected turn for the worseA long-expected upturn in U.S. coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the South and West, according to data on the pandemic. The number of deaths per day from the virus had been falling for months, and even remained down as states like Florida and Texas saw explosions in cases and hospitalizations — and reported daily U.S. infections broke records several times in recent days.


At border with Iran, Iraq PM vows to fight customs corruptionIraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi launched a new campaign on Saturday against corruption at the country's borders, saying millions of dollars were being lost by not properly taxing imported goods. Speaking at the Mandili crossing on the border with Iran, Kadhemi said Iraq's frontier had become "a hotbed for corrupt people".


Biden forges brand of liberal populism to use against TrumpJoe Biden stood in a Pennsylvania metal works shop, just miles from his boyhood home, and pledged to define his presidency by a sweeping economic agenda beyond anything Americans have seen since the Great Depression and the industrial mobilization for World War II. The prospective Democratic presidential nominee promised the effort would not just answer a pandemic-induced recession, but address centuries of racism and systemic inequalities with “a new American economy” that “finally and fully (lives) up to the words and the values enshrined in the founding documents of this nation — that we’re all created equal.” It was a striking call coming from Biden, a 77-year-old establishment figure known more as a back-slapping deal-maker than visionary reformer.


Pandemic, racism compound worries about Black suicide rateJasmin Pierre was 18 when she tried to end her life, overdosing on whatever pills she could find. Years of therapy brought progress, but the 31-year-old Black woman's journey is now complicated by a combination of stressors hitting simultaneously: isolation during the pandemic, a shortage of mental health care providers and racial trauma inflicted by repeated police killings of Black people. “Black people who already go through mental health issues, we’re even more triggered,” said Pierre, who lives in New Orleans.


Sessions vies for Senate comeback in race shadowed by TrumpSeeking a political comeback, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to beat out ex-college football coach Tommy Tuberville in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff and reclaim the Alabama Senate seat he held for decades. To do that, Sessions also has to go through President Donald Trump. Trump has endorsed Tuberville, whose name recognition comes from his time on the sidelines at Auburn University, and turned decisively against his former Cabinet member, making direct appeals for Alabama voters to reject Sessions's candidacy.


Serbia police detain 71 after 4th night of virus protestsSerbian police detained 71 people after clashes during the fourth night of anti-government protests against the Serbian president that were initially sparked by his plans to reintroduce a coronavirus lockdown. Fourteen policemen were injured in the rioting Friday evening when hundreds of right-wing demonstrators tried to storm the parliament building in downtown Belgrade, police director Vladimir Rebic said Saturday.


Dozens of US Marines in Japan's Okinawa get coronavirusDozens of U.S. Marines at two bases on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa have been infected with the coronavirus in what is feared to be a massive outbreak, Okinawa's governor said Saturday, demanding an adequate explanation from the U.S. military. Gov. Denny Tamaki said he could say only that a “few dozen” cases had been found recently because the U.S. military asked that the exact figure not be released. The outbreaks occurred at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is at the center of a relocation dispute, and Camp Hansen, Tamaki said.


5 dead in hostage situation at troubled South Africa churchFive people are dead and more than 40 have been arrested after an early-morning hostage situation at a long-troubled church near Johannesburg, police in South Africa said Saturday. A statement said police and military who responded to reports of a shooting at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church headquarters in Zuurbekom found four people “shot and burned to death in a car” and a security guard shot in another car. Police said they rescued men, women and children who had been held hostage and appeared to have been living at the church.


25 years since Srebrenica, some victims finally laid to restSREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bahrudin Salihovic always knew his father had perished 25 years ago in the storm of violence unleashed after Serb forces overran the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in the final months of the Balkan country’s 1992-95 war. On Friday, Salihovic finally huddled over a coffin holding a few of his father’s bones, unearthed from a death pit found near Srebrenica last November and identified through DNA testing. “His remains are incomplete, but mother and I decided to bury the part of him that was found, to know where his grave is, to know where to go to pray for him,” Salihovic said.


Virus cases up sharply in Africa, India as inequality stingsSouth Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have doubled in just two weeks to a quarter-million, and India on Saturday saw its biggest daily spike as its infections passed 800,000. The surging cases are raising sharp concerns about unequal treatment in the pandemic, as the wealthy hoard medical equipment and use private hospitals and the poor crowd into overwhelmed public facilities. Globally more than 12.5 million people have been infected by the virus and over 560,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.


Iran says cannot shut down economy despite worsening virus outbreakIran said on Saturday that it cannot afford to shut down its sanctions-hit economy, even as the country's novel coronavirus outbreak worsens with record-high death tolls and rising infections. Iran must continue "economic, social and cultural activities while observing health protocols", President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised virus taskforce meeting. Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari reported Saturday that 188 people had died from the respiratory disease in the past 24 hours, raising the overall toll to 12,635.


Leaders, survivors mark 25 years since Srebrenica massacreSREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Virtually joined by world leaders, the survivors of Bosnia's 1995 Srebrenica massacre on Saturday remembered the victims of Europe's only acknowledged genocide since World War II and warned of the perpetrators' persistent refusal to fully acknowledge their responsibility. Speaking at a commemoration ceremony for the thousands of massacre victims, held in the memorial center and cemetery just outside Srebrenica, a top Bosnian official warned that the extent of the 1995 slaughter is still being systematically denied despite irrefutable evidence of what happened. “The Srebrenica genocide is being denied (by Serb leaders) just as systematically and meticulously as it was executed in 1995 … we owe it not just to Srebrenica, but to humanity, to oppose that,” he added.


More COVID-19 cases in Syria's overcrowded rebel enclaveAt least two doctors in Syria's opposition-held northwest have been infected with the coronavirus, a monitoring group reported Saturday, the latest confirmed cases in the overcrowded rebel enclave. The new infections raise the number of confirmed cases to three in the area, where health care facilities have been devastated by years of civil war, and where testing has been limited due to scarce resources. Observers fear the virus could spread easily in Idlib province, a concern compounded as Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, moved at the U.N. Security Council to reduce cross-border aid from Turkey.


Zimbabwe bird sanctuary has 400 species, not enough touristsA fish eagle swoops over the water to grab a fish in its talons and then flies to its nest. Nearby are a martial eagle, a black eagle, an Egyptian vulture and hundreds of other birds. With an estimated 400 species of birds on an idyllic spot on Zimbabwe's Lake Chivero, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Harare, the Kuimba Shiri bird sanctuary has been drawing tourists for more than 15 years.


Turkey amends laws to allow multiple lawyer associationsTurkey’s parliament passed controversial legislation amending laws governing attorneys and bar associations on Saturday, despite protests from critics who say the move could limit the independence of lawyers and reduce the professional associations’ clout. The new law, submitted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party, was passed after days of heated debate and following scuffles between police and lawyers protesting the legislation. The government has said the law would create a “more democratic and pluralistic” system.


Fay becomes post-tropical cyclone over eastern New YorkA tropical storm that brought heavy rain to mid-Atlantic states and southern New England was downgraded twice Saturday morning as is moved over New York, forecasters said. Post-tropical cyclone Fay was about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Albany and had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (55 kph), the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 5 a.m. advisory. The forecasters said the advisory would be its last for the system that was expected to continue moving north Saturday.


Trump lags Biden on people of color in top campaign ranksAdvocates for minority groups say staff diversity is necessary to ensure political candidates hear a full range of voices and viewpoints to help them understand the concerns of various communities and interest groups — especially at a time when racial injustice is front and center in the national conversation. Jennifer Lawless, commonwealth professor of politics at the University of Virginia, said “there are still a lot of milestones that haven’t been hit” by political campaigns, such as a Black man or woman directing — and winning — a presidential campaign.


Trump threatens to pull tax exemption for schools, collegesIn his push to get schools and colleges to reopen this fall, President Donald Trump is again taking aim at their finances, this time threatening their tax-exempt status. Trump said on Twitter on Friday he was ordering the Treasury Department to re-examine the tax-exempt status of schools that he says provide “radical indoctrination” instead of education. “Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” he tweeted.


It's not just the presidency: Trump is changing the CongressMore than perhaps any president in modern history, Trump has been willing to ignore, defy and toy with the legislative branch, asserting power and breaking norms in ways his predecessors would hardly dare. Republicans shrug it off as Trump being Trump, leaving Democrats almost alone to object. Think of it as "the incredible shrinkage” of Congress, said historian Douglas Brinkley.


Paik Sun-yup, major South Korean war hero, dies at 99Former South Korean army Gen. Paik Sun-yup, who was celebrated as a major war hero for leading troops in several battle victories against North Korean soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War, has died. The South Korean army announced his death on Saturday. Born in 1920 in what is now North Pyongan province in North Korea, Paik graduated from a Japanese military academy in Manchuria when the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule and was a lieutenant in the Japanese army during World War II.


EU chief proposes five billion euro Brexit emergency fundEU Council president Charles Michel on Friday proposed setting up a five billion euro reserve fund for any unforeseen consequences of Brexit on bloc member states. "Brexit is challenging for all of us and that is why we propose a Brexit reserve of five billion euros ($5.7 billion)," said Michel as he unveiled his latest proposal for a long-term EU budget that will be debated by bloc leaders next week. Brexit with or without a agreement on future ties "will have consequences in Europe for the member states and that's why I think it's... necessary to ask the commission to prepare for a needs assessment by November 2021," he said.


Trump commutes longtime friend Roger Stone's prison sentencePresident Donald Trump on Friday commuted the sentence of his longtime political confidant Roger Stone, intervening in extraordinary fashion in a criminal case that was central to the Russia investigation and that concerned the president's own conduct. The move came just days before Stone was to begin serving a 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. The action, which Trump had foreshadowed in recent days, underscores the president’s lingering rage over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and is part of a continuing effort by the president and his administration to rewrite the narrative of a probe that has shadowed the White House from the outset.


Breast cancer: Zimbabwe woman's struggle to avoid mastectomyA Zimbabwean woman is campaigning to get the machine fixed to avoid a mastectomy.


UN encouraged experts may get to visit oil tanker off YemenThe United Nations said Friday it is encouraged that a U.N. team may be able to visit an oil tanker loaded with 1.1 million barrels of crude oil that is moored off the coast of Yemen, posing a serious risk to Red Sea marine life, desalination plants and shipping. Houthi rebels, who control the area where the ship is moored, have denied U.N. inspectors access to the vessel.


Mali protesters occupy national broadcasterPolice have fired shots to disperse protesters calling for President Keita to stand down.


Sudan ratifies law criminalizing female genital mutilationSudan's ruling body ratified a law banning the widespread practice of female genital mutilation, the justice ministry announced Friday, handing the movement for women’s rights in the African country a long-sought victory. The Sovereign Council passed a set of sweeping amendments to the country’s criminal code late Thursday, including one that criminalized the deep-rooted practice. The draft law had been approved by the transitional government that came to power last year following the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.


It's not just the presidency: Trump is changing the CongressMore than perhaps any president in modern history, Trump has been willing to ignore, defy and toy with the legislative branch, asserting power and breaking norms in ways his predecessors would hardly dare. Republicans shrug it off as Trump being Trump, leaving Democrats almost alone to object. Think of it as "the incredible shrinkage” of Congress, said historian Douglas Brinkley.


Army: Independent probe coming after Fort Hood soldier deathU.S. Army officials announced Friday they will begin an independent review of the command climate at Fort Hood following calls from members of Congress and community activists for a more thorough investigation into the killing of a soldier from the Texas base. Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said he was directing the review and that it will be conducted by an independent panel of congressional representatives selected in collaboration with League of United Latin American Citizens. Vanessa Guillen, who investigators say was bludgeoned to death at Fort Hood by a fellow soldier.


Church singing ban strikes sour note with California pastorCrossroads Community Church Senior Pastor Jim Clark wants to keep his 1,500 parishioners safe during the coronavirus pandemic but he's drawing the line at a new California ban on singing or chanting at religious services. “I said enough’s enough,” Clark said. The California ban was one of a number of restrictions on indoor businesses and gatherings put in place last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom amid fast-rising virus cases and hospitalizations.


WHO experts head to China to investigate origins of COVID-19Two World Health Organization experts were heading to the Chinese capital on Friday to lay the groundwork for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. An animal health expert and an epidemiologist will meet Chinese counterparts in Beijing to work out logistics, places to visit and the participants for a WHO-led international mission, the U.N. organization said. A major issue will be to “look at whether or not it jumped from species to human, and what species it jumped from,” WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said at a briefing in Geneva.









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