Day: July 1, 2019

Former PM Harper offers help on trade, but staying ‘neutral’ in UK Tory race

Former prime minister Stephen Harper says he’s willing to help the next British prime minister negotiate a divorce deal with the European Union — but he’s not taking sides in the race to decide who that is.

@repost Equitable Distribution

Via Family Law Center

source https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/07/01/news/former-pm-harper-offers-help-trade-staying-neutral-uk-tory-race

By The Wall of Law July 1, 2019 Off

US duty free magnates fund network for Israeli settlements

JERUSALEM — When travellers shop at dozens of duty free shops at airports worldwide, they may be paying for more than a bottle of vodka or box of chocolates.

The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous chain of Duty Free Americas shops, funds a generous and sometimes controversial philanthropic empire in Israel that runs through the corridors of power and stretches deep into the occupied West Bank.

An Associated Press investigation shows that the family has donated at least $5.6 million to settler organizations in the West Bank and east Jerusalem over the past decade, funding synagogues, schools and social services as well as far-right causes considered extreme even in Israel.

The Falics’ philanthropy is not limited to the settlements and they support many mainstream causes in the U.S. and Israel. However, they are a key example of how wealthy U.S. donors have bolstered the contentious settlement movement. Most of the world considers Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to be obstacles to peace, but Israel considers the territories “disputed.”

The Falics support the ultranationalist Jewish community in Hebron, whose members include several prominent followers of a late rabbi banned from Israeli politics for his racist views, and whose movement is outlawed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. They back Jewish groups that covertly buy up Palestinian properties in east Jerusalem, and they helped develop an unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank. The outpost was later retroactively legalized.

They have supported groups that are pushing for the establishment of a Third Temple for Jews at the holiest and most contested site in the Holy Land. They also have given more money than any other donor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong supporter of settlements, and have donated to other leaders of his Likud party.

In a response to AP questions through his lawyer, Simon Falic, who spoke on behalf of the family, said Jews should be able to live anywhere in the Holy Land, whether it’s Israel, Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem or the West Bank. He condemned violence and claimed none of the groups he supports do anything illegal under Israeli law.

“We are proud to support organizations that help promote Jewish life all over the Land of Israel,” said Falic, whose business is based in Miami, Florida. “The idea that the mere existence of Jewish life in any geographical area is an impediment to peace makes no sense to us.”

However, the international community overwhelmingly believes the settlements violate international law, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own population into the territory it occupies.

Since capturing the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, the settler population has grown to about 700,000 people, roughly 10% of Israel’s Jewish population. In recent years, it has received a boost from Netanyahu’s pro-settler government and from a far more tolerant attitude by President Donald Trump, whose top Mideast advisers are longtime settlement supporters.

This growth has been fueled in part by fundraising arms for leading settlement groups in the United States. According to a past investigation of U.S. tax forms by the Israeli daily Haaretz, fundraising organizations in the U.S. raised more than $230 million for settlement causes between 2009 and 2013 alone.

“Far-right foreign donors are a pillar of the settlement enterprise,” said Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog group.

Other prominent settlement donors include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, U.S. billionaire Ira Rennert, American financier Roger Hertog and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Names of dozens of other lesser-known donors adorn buildings, playgrounds and even park benches throughout the West Bank.

But the Falics stand out for the wide scope of groups they support and their close ties with leading Israeli politicians. Critics say activities billed as harmless philanthropy have come at the expense of Palestinians.

Duty Free Americas is headed by three Falic brothers: Simon, Jerome and Leon. The chain operates over 180 stores at airports and border crossings in the U.S. and Latin America. Leon Falic told the trade publication TRBusiness that the privately held company last year posted over $1.65 billion in sales.

The family has two main charitable organizations, the U.S.-based Falic Family Private Foundation and the Segal Foundation in Israel. During the decade ending in 2017, the U.S. foundation distributed about $20 million to “various worldwide Jewish organizations,” according to tax filings.

The Israeli foundation gave away roughly $15 million over that time. Financial reports do not outline recipients, but an AP analysis of the tax records of more than two dozen settlement organizations identified at least $5.6 million in donations. Other funds went to other causes, including the country’s amateur American football league, a Jerusalem hospital and a Jewish seminary in northern Israel.

Perhaps the Falics’ most controversial activity is in Hebron, a city where several hundred ultranationalist settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves amid some 200,000 Palestinians.

Relations between the populations are tense, and some of the Jewish leaders are followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose “Kach” party was outlawed in Israel in the 1980s for calling for a mass expulsion of Arabs from the country. The U.S. also branded Kach a terrorist group.

According to the AP analysis, the Falics donated roughly $600,000 to “Hachnasat Orchim Hebron,” a group that hosts visitors to the Jewish community. Baruch Marzel, a former aide to Kahane, is deeply involved.

Falic said his connections to Marzel were primarily through a “beautiful project” that distributes snacks to Israeli soldiers protecting the residents of Hebron.

“While I may not agree with everything he has said, the work we have done that has been affiliated with the Hebron community has been positive, non-controversial and enhances Jewish life in the Hebron area — which we strongly support,” he said.

Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist in Hebron, disagrees. He said the seemingly harmless project serves the settler cause at the expense of Palestinians.

“We are suffering from settler violence,” he said. “When I tell the soldiers ‘protect me,’ they tell me ‘we are not here to protect you. We are with our own people, who are the settlers.’”

Uri Blau And Josef Federman, The Associated Press

@repost Alimony Rights

Via Divorce Lawyers

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/07/01/us-duty-free-magnates-fund-network-for-israeli-settlements/

By The Wall of Law July 1, 2019 Off

US duty free magnates fund controversial Israeli settlements

HEBRON, Palestinian Territory — When travellers shop at dozens of duty free stores at airports worldwide, they may be paying for more than a bottle of vodka or a box of chocolates.

The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous chain of Duty Free Americas shops, funds a generous and sometimes controversial philanthropic empire in Israel that runs through the corridors of power and stretches deep into the occupied West Bank. An Associated Press investigation shows that the family has donated at least $5.6 million to settler groups in the West Bank and east Jerusalem over the past decade, funding synagogues, schools and social services along with far-right causes considered extreme even in Israel.

The Falics support the ultranationalist Jewish community in Hebron, whose members include several prominent followers of a late rabbi banned from Israeli politics for his racist views, and whose movement is outlawed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. They back Jewish groups that covertly buy up Palestinian properties in east Jerusalem, and they helped fund an unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank.

They have supported groups that are pushing for the establishment of a Third Temple for Jews at the holiest and most contested site in the Holy Land. They also have given more money than any other donor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong supporter of settlements, and have donated to other leaders of his Likud party.

The Falics’ philanthropy is not limited to the settlements, and they support many mainstream causes in the U.S. and Israel, such as hospitals, athletics and helping the needy. But they are a key example of how wealthy U.S. donors have bolstered the contentious settlement movement.

“Far-right foreign donors are a pillar of the settlement enterprise,” said Brian Reeves, a spokesman for Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog group.

Most of the world considers Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to be obstacles to peace that gobble up territories claimed by the Palestinians for a future independent state. The international community overwhelmingly believes the settlements violate international law, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own population into the territory it occupies.

However, Israel considers the territories “disputed,” and says the fate of the settlements should be determined through negotiations.

In a response to AP questions through his lawyer, Simon Falic, who spoke on behalf of the family, said Jews should be able to live anywhere in the Holy Land, whether it’s Israel, Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem or the West Bank. He condemned violence and claimed none of the groups he supports do anything illegal under Israeli law.

“We are proud to support organizations that help promote Jewish life all over the Land of Israel,” said Falic, whose business is based in Miami, Florida. “The idea that the mere existence of Jewish life in any geographical area is an impediment to peace makes no sense to us.”

Since the capture of the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, the settler population has grown to about 700,000 people, roughly 10% of Israel’s Jewish population. In recent years, it has received a boost from Netanyahu’s pro-settler government and from a far more tolerant attitude by President Donald Trump, whose top Mideast advisers are longtime settlement supporters.

This growth has been fueled in part by fundraising arms for leading settlement groups in the United States, which allow them to collect tax-deductible contributions from thousands of American donors.

Data on American philanthropic support for settlements is limited, mainly due to a lack of transparency requirements. But according to a past investigation of U.S. tax forms by the Israeli daily Haaretz, fundraising organizations in the U.S. raised more than $230 million for settlement causes between 2009 and 2013 alone.

Other big donors include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a backer of Netanyahu and Trump, who donated $5 million in 2014 through his charitable foundation to the Israeli university in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, according to IRS records. Billionaire Ira Rennert, financier Roger Hertog and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, are also among prominent Jewish-American donors to settlement causes. The names of scores of lesser-known donors adorn buildings, playgrounds and even park benches throughout the West Bank.

The Falics stand out for the wide scope of groups they support and their close ties with leading Israeli politicians.

The family has two main charitable organizations, the U.S.-based Falic Family Private Foundation and the Segal Foundation in Israel. It is not clear whether the U.S. foundation contributed to the settlements, because its financial reports do not outline its recipients.

The Segal foundation, operating since 2007, gave away roughly $15 million in its first decade. This foundation’s financial reports also do not outline recipients, but the AP analysis identified at least $5.6 million in donations to settlement and far-right causes by searching through the Israeli records of more than two dozen settlement organizations. Other funds went to other causes, including the country’s amateur American football league, a Jerusalem hospital and a Jewish seminary in northern Israel.

Falic said the family’s support for Jewish life “should not imply the exclusion of anyone else, including Christians and Muslims.” However, critics say activities billed as harmless philanthropy have come at the expense of Palestinians and their claim to a state.

“Now that the Falics’ philanthropic agenda is evident, everyone should be aware that when they shop at ‘Duty Free Americas,’ their dollars could potentially finance some of the most extreme right-wing actors in Israel,” said Ran Cohen, founder of the Israeli Democratic Bloc, which aims to expose anti-democratic trends.

Duty Free Americas is headed by three Falic brothers: Simon, Jerome and Leon. The chain operates over 180 stores at airports and border crossings in the U.S. and Latin America, including New York’s JFK, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Ronald Reagan and Dulles in Washington, and Miami International, according to the company website. Leon Falic told the trade publication TRBusiness that the privately held company last year posted over $1.65 billion in sales.

Simon Falic said that under Jewish tradition, it is customary to donate 10% of one’s earnings to charity.

During the decade ending in 2017, they donated about $35 million, according to U.S. and Israeli tax records. Over that time, their U.S. foundation distributed about $20 million. Their U.S. tax filings say that nearly all of the foundation’s contributions went to “various worldwide Jewish organizations,” but do not offer details.

Simon Falic provided the AP with a detailed breakdown of the foundation’s 2017 donations, much of which went to mainstream Jewish causes such as WIZO, a women’s organization that operates scores of Israeli daycare centres, shelters and training programs; Friends of the IDF, a fundraising branch that assists Israeli soldiers; and Chabad, a network of religious institutions. They also contribute generously in the U.S. to medical research, synagogues and Jewish schools.

Most of their donations in Israel, however, do not appear in these forms. Instead, that money is channeled from Panamanian-based companies through the Israel-based Segal foundation, whose name is a Hebrew acronym based on the brothers’ first names.

Falic said the reason for this is not because Panama is a tax haven, but because his brother Leon lives there, and a number of their companies are based in Panama. But the lack of transparency there makes tracking their donations more difficult.

Falic described himself as a “big supporter” of Netanyahu, who has allowed Israeli settlements to flourish during his 10 years in office. Although Falic said he has not contributed to Netanyahu since 2014, collectively the Falics have donated more than $100,000 to Netanyahu over the years, making them his biggest donors, according to Israeli public records.

The Falics are also prominent figures in Israeli right-wing circles. In April, Simon Falic mingled with the mayor of Jerusalem, Ambassador Friedman and other dignitaries in the VIP section of a special Passover service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Friedman, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, evangelical preacher John Hagee, conservative TV host Mike Huckabee and Netanyahu’s son, Yair, have been among the many politicians and VIPs to attend parties at Simon Falic’s Jerusalem home.

The Falics also support American politicians, both Democratic and Republican. Since 2000, they have given over $1.7 million to pro-Israel politicians, including Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Oded Revivi, a settler leader, described Simon Falic and his family as generous and influential, but also modest and shunning publicity.

“You understand that he knows the most important people. He sits in the most influential junction,” said Revivi. “They’ve been extremely helpful and extremely generous.”

Among the projects and investments the Falics have in the West Bank is the Psagot winery, an award-winning vintner that is also a centerpiece of the burgeoning settler tourism industry. The family has also built a sprawling biblical theme park in the West Bank settlement of Shilo, revered as the ancient site of the biblical tabernacle. The site attracts tens of thousands of evangelical Christian tourists each year, but has also drawn criticism for what some say is a narrow historical interpretation that minimizes Muslim history.

The Falics funded the construction of a synagogue and mikveh, or ritual bath, in 2014 in what was then the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Kerem Reim. Kerem Reim was retroactively legalized three years later.

“All of these donations were entirely legal,” wrote Falic. “Any insinuation or allegation to the contrary is patently false and defamatory.”

Israeli records show the Falics also granted over $100,000 to two groups that seek the re-establishment of the Jewish Temple on a contested site in Jerusalem. Revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, that same area houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site. The competing claims to the hilltop compound are a frequent flashpoint of violence.

Falic said the family is not involved in efforts to establish the Third Temple. But he described Yehuda Glick, a former lawmaker and leading figure in the Third Temple movement, as a friend, and said he finds it “ludicrous” that Jews cannot pray at their holiest site. Glick, who survived a 2014 Palestinian assassination attempt, was among the guests at a Passover barbecue hosted by the Falics at the winery for families who had lost relatives in Palestinian attacks.

Perhaps the Falics’ most controversial area of activity is Hebron, a city where several hundred ultranationalist settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves amid some 200,000 Palestinians.

Relations between the populations are notoriously tense, and some of the Jewish leaders are followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose “Kach” party was outlawed in Israel in the 1980s for calling for a mass expulsion of Arabs from the country. The U.S. also branded Kach a terrorist group.

Falic’s associates in Hebron include Baruch Marzel, Kahane’s former aide, who remains a prominent political activist in Israel.

According to the AP analysis, the Falics donated roughly $600,000 to “Hachnasat Orchim Hebron,” a group that hosts visitors to the Jewish community and provides snacks to Israeli soldiers protecting the settlers. Marzel’s wife Sarah is one of the group’s founders, and Marzel is deeply involved.

They also have given about $50,000 to the “Fund for the Rescue of the People of Israel,” which served as a fundraising arm of Lehava, a group that opposes Jewish-Arab couples in an anti-assimilation campaign and often is accused of using intimidation or even violence.

Falic said he was not aware of any connection to Lehava, and said the donations, made in 2011 and 2012, were to assist needy families. He noted that he opposes assimilation and intermarriage but also rejects violence. Israeli financial records show the fund has links to several Kahane disciples, including Marzel.

Marzel is a well-known figure in Israel, easily recognized with a wild brown beard. He continues to call for mass expulsions of Arabs, and has a long history of clashes with the police. During the recent election campaign, he was a leading figure in “Jewish Power,” a hard-line party led by Kahane followers.

Marzel said the Falics “do a lot of good things” and called them “good Jews,” but said they did not work closely together. Yet photos and videos on Facebook show Simon Falic and Marzel warmly embracing at social events in Hebron and Jerusalem. In one 2016 video, taken at Falic’s spacious Jerusalem home, the two men and Third Temple activist Glick hug and sway together as a well-known Israeli pop singer serenades them.

Falic said his connections to Marzel were primarily through a “beautiful project” that runs food trucks serving pizza, ice cream and snacks to Israeli soldiers protecting the residents of Hebron.

“While I may not agree with everything he has said, the work we have done that has been affiliated with the Hebron community has been positive, non-controversial and enhances Jewish life in the Hebron area — which we strongly support,” he said.

Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist in Hebron, disagrees. He said the seemingly harmless project serves the settler cause at the expense of Palestinians.

“We are suffering from settler violence,” he said. “When I tell the soldiers ‘protect me,’ they tell me ‘we are not here to protect you. We are with our own people, who are the settlers.’”

In Jerusalem, the family contributed more than $1 million to causes affiliated with Ateret Cohanim, which facilitates the sale of Palestinian properties in and around the Old City to Jewish settlers, an act of treason in Palestinian society.

Aviv Tartasky of Ir Amim, a monitoring group looking at Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem, said Ateret Cohanim often hides the identities of the purchasers, who are religious, nationalist Jews.

“When they come to live inside a Palestinian community, it can disrupt life for the community,” he said.

Ateret Cohanim says the Jewish people have a right to live anywhere in Jerusalem. Executive director Daniel Luria declined to comment on the Falic family, saying he does not discuss his donors.

But Falic doesn’t hide his support for what he called Ateret Cohanim’s efforts “to bring Jewish life back to all of Jerusalem.”

“It is unfortunate,” he added, “that a Jewish family dedicated to this cause is newsworthy.”

Uri Blau And Josef Federman, The Associated Press











@repost Child Custody Mediation

Via Lawyers That Handle Child Support Cases

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/07/01/us-duty-free-magnates-fund-controversial-israeli-settlements/

By The Wall of Law July 1, 2019 Off

Rep. Hunter tells judge corruption case is political bias

SAN DIEGO — U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California is charged with looting his own campaign cash to finance vacations, golf and other personal expenses, then trying to cover it up. The Republican congressman says he’s the target of politically biased prosecutors.

A federal judge in San Diego is scheduled Monday to consider if Hunter is right.

The congressman’s attorneys are trying to get the charges dismissed, arguing that prosecutors who initiated the investigation are admirers of Hillary Clinton and want to see Hunter, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, driven from office.

They contend that even if the charges aren’t dismissed, the U.S. attorney’s office in Southern California should be dropped from the case.

The attorneys behind the investigation “had a glaring conflict of interest and loss of impartiality,” Hunter’s lawyers wrote in court documents.

Prosecutors responded with an effort to block Hunter from introducing evidence about his bias claims.

The motions were among a flurry of recent legal filings in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in September.

Prosecutors revealed new details about Hunter’s alleged clandestine lifestyle and are trying to introduce evidence that the married congressman illegally used campaign funds to finance a string of romantic relationships with lobbyists and congressional aides.

Hunter’s legal team filed a series of motions to have the case or various charges thrown out, including an assertion that the search and seizure of his congressional records violated the Constitution.

In arguing that the government targeted Hunter for political reasons, his lawyers have said two prosecutors deeply involved in the investigation attended a 2015 Clinton fundraiser.

The government responded that the prosecutors were working at the time, not attending as supporters of the Democratic candidate.

But Hunter’s lawyers contend that they have obtained a redacted email indicating the prosecutors were seeking a photograph with Clinton.

Hunter and his wife were indicted in August on federal charges that they used more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses that ranged from groceries to golf trips and family vacations, then lied about it in federal filings.

Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty last month to one corruption count and agreed to testify against her husband.

In an interview with Fox News last year, Hunter said his campaign made mistakes, that he gave his wife power of attorney when he deployed as a Marine to Iraq in 2003 and that she handled his finances during his last five terms in office.

Hunter, 42, was re-elected in his strongly Republican congressional district in San Diego County last year despite the indictment.

The Hunter name represents something of a political dynasty in the area — his father captured the seat in 1980 and held it until his son was elected in 2008.

The Associated Press


@repost File for Divorce Online

Via Child Support Lawyer for Non Custodial Parent

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/07/01/rep-hunter-tells-judge-corruption-case-is-political-bias/

By The Wall of Law July 1, 2019 Off

AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

10 killed when small plane crashes on takeoff in Texas

DALLAS (AP) — All ten people on board were killed when a small airplane struggled to gain altitude after taking off from a Dallas-area airport Sunday, veered to the left and plunged into a hangar, local authorities and witnesses said.

Mary Rosenbleeth, spokeswoman for the town of Addison, Texas, said there were no survivors of the twin-engine plane crash at the Addison Municipal Airport, a northern suburb of Dallas.

The Beechcraft BE-350 King Air hit an unoccupied hangar soon after 9 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The hangar burst into flames and black smoke billowed from the building as firefighters sprayed on water to contain the blaze. The crash left a gaping hole in the hangar.

National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chair Bruce Landsberg said there were eight passengers and two crew onboard. The identities of those killed were not immediately released. Landsberg said the tail number of the plane was still uncertain. It had been owned by a charter company in Chicago but may have recently been sold, NTSB officials said.

Landsburg said the plane was headed from Texas to St. Petersburg, Florida. Edward Martelle, another official with the town of Addison, said the plane was taking off at the south end of the airport and had just lifted off the runway when it veered left, dropped its left wing and went into the hangar.

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NYC pride parade is one of largest in movement’s history

NEW YORK (AP) — Exuberant crowds carrying rainbow colours filled New York City streets Sunday for one of the largest pride parades in the history of the gay-rights movement, a dazzling celebration of the 50th anniversary of the infamous police raid on the Stonewall Inn.

Marchers and onlookers took over much of midtown Manhattan with a procession that lasted hours and paid tribute to the uprising that began at the tavern when patrons resisted officers on June 28, 1969. The parade in New York and others like it across the nation concluded a month of events marking the anniversary.

Eraina Clay, 63, of suburban New Rochelle, came to celebrate a half-century of fighting for equality.

“I think that we should be able to say we’ve been here for so long, and so many people are gay that everybody should be able to have the chance to enjoy their lives and be who they are,” Clay said. “I have a family. I raised kids. I’m just like everybody else.”

Alyssa Christianson, 29, of New York City, was topless, wearing just sparkly pasties and boy shorts underwear. A Pride flag was tied around her neck like a cape.

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At DMZ, step into history for Trump as he offers hand to Kim

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) — With wide grins and a historic handshake, President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone on Sunday and agreed to revive talks on the pariah nation’s nuclear program. Trump, pressing his bid for a legacy-defining deal, became the first sitting American leader to step into North Korea.

What was intended to be an impromptu exchange of pleasantries turned into a 50-minute meeting, another historic first in the yearlong rapprochement between the two technically warring nations. It marked a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders after talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February. Significant doubts remain, though, about the future of the negotiations and the North’s willingness to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons .

The border encounter was a made-for television moment. The men strode toward one another from opposite sides of the Joint Security Area and shook hands over the raised patch of concrete at the Military Demarcation Line as cameras clicked and photographers jostled to capture the scene.

After asking if Kim wanted him to cross, Trump took 10 steps into the North with Kim at his side, then escorted Kim back to the South for talks at Freedom House, where they agreed to revive the stalled negotiations.

The spectacle marked the latest milestone in two years of roller-coaster diplomacy between the two nations. Personal taunts of “Little Rocket Man” (by Trump) and “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” (by Kim) and threats to destroy one other have given way to on-again, off-again talks, professions of love and flowery letters.

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‘Let’s do it:’ 3 hours at the DMZ and a made-for-TV moment

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) — “Ok, let’s do it.”

With those words, a deliberate step and a pat on the arm of Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump became the first sitting American leader to step into North Korea on Sunday as the two made history at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone. The made-for-television moment was unthinkable just two years ago, when the men were trading base insults and grim threats.

Trump’s three-hour stop at the DMZ — of which about 80 minutes were spent with Kim — was a display of handshake-diplomacy for the history books, but also a chaotic spectacle reflective of the last-minute nature of the invitation to the authoritarian leader to join him at the border between the Koreas.

Afterward, it was unclear whether the meeting was more show than substance. Other than the headline-grabbing moment and the unprecedented images, Trump’s only accomplishment appeared to be securing an agreement to restart nuclear talks that he himself had walked out on in February during his last summit with Kim in Vietnam.

Trump had long planned a visit to the DMZ, dating to 2017 when a scheduled trip was cancelled by fog, but aides said the public invitation for Kim to join him there was as spontaneous as it seemed. In typical Trump fashion, it started with a tweet.

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Hong Kong marks handover to China with ceremony and protests

HONG KONG (AP) — The embattled leader of Hong Kong pledged Monday to be more responsive to public sentiment, as police faced off with protesters outside a ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China.

Police used riot shields and pepper spray to push back hundreds of helmeted protesters who tried to advance down closed streets toward the harbourfront venue, where the Chinese and Hong Kong flags were raised together and two helicopters and a small flotilla passed by.

Hong Kong leaders, mainland China representatives and invited guests watched the ceremony on a screen inside the city’s cavernous convention centre instead of outside as they normally do. The government cited inclement weather after light rain fell earlier in the morning.

City leader Carrie Lam said a series of protests that have attracted hundreds of thousands of students and other participants have taught her that she needs to listen better to the youth and people in general. Lam has come under withering criticism for pushing legislation that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to the mainland to face trial.

“This has made me fully realize that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately,” she said in a five-minute speech to the gathering.

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Navy SEAL trial exposes divide in normally secretive force

SAN DIEGO (AP) — It was called the “The Sewing Circle,” an unlikely name for a secret subsect of Navy SEALs. Its purpose was even more improbable: A chat forum to discuss alleged war crimes they said their chief, a decorated sniper and medic, committed on a recent tour of duty in Iraq.

The WhatsApp group would eventually lead to formal allegations that Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher fatally stabbed a wounded Islamic State captive in his care and shot civilians in Iraq in 2017.

Gallagher, 40, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A jury of mostly combat Marines will ultimately decide the fate of the 19-year-veteran and Bronze Star recipient charged with murder, attempted murder and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline for posing with the corpse for photographs.

No matter the outcome, the court-martial at Naval Base San Diego has provided a rare view into the insular Navy SEAL community and likely will have a long-term impact on one of the military’s most secretive and revered forces. It has pitted veterans against each other both inside the courtroom and out in a fierce debate over brotherhood, morality and loyalty.

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Drowned migrants return to El Salvador for burial on Monday

LA HACHADURA, El Salvador (AP) — The young father and daughter who drowned in each other’s arms last week in an attempt to swim across the Rio Grande to the United States have been returned to El Salvador for an expected burial at a private ceremony in the capital Monday.

Their bodies entered the Central American country by land Sunday from neighbouring Guatemala.

Photographs of Valeria, lying face down in the water with her little arm wrapped around the neck of her father, Oscar Alberto Martínez, broke hearts around the world and underscored the dangers that migrants undertake in trying to reach the U.S.

The father and daughter were swept away by the current in the river between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas.

Martínez, 25, and his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, 21, had been living with his mother and apparently felt that their salaries working at a pizza parlour and as a restaurant cashier would never be enough to purchase a modest home in their suburb of San Salvador.

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Facebook to make jobs, credit ads searchable for US users

BOSTON (AP) — Facebook says it will make advertisements for jobs, loans and credit card offers searchable for all U.S. users following a legal settlement designed to eliminate discrimination on its platform.

The plan disclosed in an internal report Sunday voluntarily expands on a commitment the social medial giant made in March when it agreed to make its U.S. housing ads searchable by location and advertiser.

Ads were only delivered selectively to Facebook users based on such data as what they earn, their education level and where they shop.

The audit’s leader, former American Civil Liberties Union executive Laura Murphy, was hired by Facebook in May 2018 to assess its performance on vital social issues.

Murphy has consulted with dozens of civil rights groups on the subject as part of her yearlong audit, assisted by lawyers from the firm Relman, Dane & Colfaxe. Sunday’s 26-page report , which also deals with content moderation and enforcement and efforts to prevent meddling in the 2020 U.S. elections and census, was her second update.

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At least 7 dead as Sudanese stage protests against army rule

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudan’s capital and elsewhere in the country Sunday calling for civilian rule nearly three months after the army forced out long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

A government official said at least seven people had been killed and nearly 200 injured during the demonstrations.

The protests came amid a weekslong standoff between the ruling military council and protest leaders. Talks between the two sides over a power-sharing agreement collapsed earlier this month when security forces violently broke up a protest camp in Khartoum.

The ensuing clampdown resulted in at least 128 people killed across Sudan, according to protest organizers. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three security forces.

Soliman Abdel-Gabar, acting undersecretary of health, reported Sunday night that at least seven people died during the day’s disturbances. He said 181 people were injured, including 27 with bullet wounds.

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Kevin Durant to sign with Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant is headed to the Brooklyn Nets, leaving the Golden State Warriors after three seasons.

His decision was announced Sunday at the start of the NBA free agency period on the Instagram page for The Boardroom, an online series looking at sports business produced by Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman.

Durant won titles with Golden State in 2017 and ’18 then was injured for much of the post-season this year as the team lost the NBA Finals in six games to the Toronto Raptors.

A ruptured right Achilles tendon could keep him out the entire next season, and whenever he returns it will be in the Brooklyn black.

ESPN first reported Durant’s decision, saying he had agreed to a four-year deal worth $164 million. Durant could have gotten five years and about $221 million to remain with the Warriors.

The Associated Press

@repost Separation Before Divorce

Via Marital Separation

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/07/01/ap-news-in-brief-at-1204-a-m-edt-97/

By The Wall of Law July 1, 2019 Off