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Flying Southwest to Hawaii: Coconut rum, snack packs and 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:12

USA TODAY flew to Hawaii on Southwest Airlines and back on Hawaiian Airlines to compare the experience.


First picture of 'mastermind' behind Sri Lanka suicide bomb attacks as identity of UK student is revealed

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 10:43

This is the first image of Inshaf Ahamed Ibrahim, the Sri Lankan suicide bomber and alleged mastermind of the atrocity which killed 359 people. Ibrahim, 33, blew himself up at the Shangri-La Hotel at just before 9am local time in a third-floor restaurant. The hotel was full of tourists including British victims Anita Nicholson, 42, and her two children Alex, 14, and 11-year-old daughter Annabel. Ibrahim’s younger brother Ilham also killed himself when he detonated a suicide bomb at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, also in the capital Colombo, five minutes later. The father of the two dead terrorists is a senior and wealthy businessman in Sri Lanka who ran a large spice trading company. Inshaf Ibrahim was involved in the spice export company but also ran a copper factory where it is thought the bombs were manufactured. It also emerged one suicide bombers who perpetrated the Easter Sunday attacks was former UK student Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, The Telegraph has learned. A group of men claiming to be the the Sri Lanka bomb attackers appear in an Isil propaganda video Credit: Twitter Mohamed is understood to have studied in south east England at some point between 2006 and 2007 before later enrolling on a postgraduate course in Australia. He is then believed to have returned to Sri Lanka. He was one of nine terrorists who carried out a series of blasts targeting churches and hotels in the country, killing 359 people - including eight from Britain. More than 500 were injured.  His identity came to light after Sri Lanka's deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said earlier today that one of the bombers had studied in the UK. “We believe one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and then later on did his postgraduate in Australia, before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka,” said Mr Wijewardene, without naming the suspect. He said one of the bombers was a woman. He told a press conference in the capital, Colombo, that most of the suicide bombers were “well-educated and come from middle or upper-middle class,” adding that they were “financially quite independent.” Some held law degrees,” he added. Mr Wijewardene’s comments came as the police confirmed that the death toll for Sunday’s massacre had risen to 359. The attacks were claimed on Tuesday by the Islamic State militant group, which did not give any evidence to support its claim. If true, it would make it one of the worst attacks linked to the group outside Iraq and Syria. The deputy defence minister said that 60 people “have been arrested on possible links to the attacks” and 32 of those are still in custody. All are Sri Lankan. Sri Lanka attacks - Locator map Among those assisting police, reported India’s First Post, is Mohammed Yusuf Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader and pillar of the Sri Lankan business community, whose two sons Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim, 33, and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, 31 allegedly bombed the breakfast buffets at the Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La hotels. Indian intelligence sources told the website that a third son Ijas Ahmed Ibrahim, 30, was also reportedly asked about the attack. Police are understood to be investigating possible links to overseas jihadist networks and training camps that had been hidden on a remote compound near Wanathawilluwa, on the island’s west coast. The compound, believed to be linked to the chief suspects in the Easter Sunday bombings, the National Thawheed Jamaath group, was raided by police in January. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Officers found 100kg of military grade explosives and arrested four suspects, all of whom were released on bail. One Sri Lankan minister alleged on Monday that political pressure had been applied to free them. Outside the Ibrahim family home in Colombo, neighbours told The Telegraph that Imsath was the business brains and Ilham was more aloof and awkward. "Imsath was the best of the sons. He runs the business and he drives good cars and wears Western brands,” said one neighbour. "Ilham was not so bright and not well educated." At a copper factory owned by Imsath in the Colombo suburb of Wellampitiya, workers said they had not seen him for a week. Sri Lankan staff and supervisors at Colossus Ltd had been arrested for questioning leaving only abandoned Bangladeshi migrant workers.


Trump: Mueller report 'didn't lay a glove on me'

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 09:57

The president continues to fume about special counsel Robert Mueller's report amid a debate among Democrats whether Trump's repeated attempts to interfere with the probe justify pursuing his impeachment.


Ford invests $500 mn in electric vehicle startup Rivian

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 09:43

Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it was investing $500 million in Rivian as part of a strategic partnership with the startup developing electric pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. The tieup will enable Ford to develop its own branded electric vehicle using Rivian's "flexible skateboard platform," according to a statement from the two companies. "As we continue in our transformation of Ford with new forms of intelligent vehicles and propulsion, this partnership with Rivian brings a fresh approach to both," said Jim Hackett, Ford president and chief executive.


See this Aircraft Carrier? It Was One of the Worst To Ever Set Sail.

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 09:33

On September 15th, 1942 USS Wasp was struck by three torpedoes from the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-19. Wasp at first though survivable and was even able to remain under her own power, but gasoline fires swept through the ship and made her recovery impossible. After five hours the order was given to abandon ship, and Wasp was scuttled by three torpedoes fired by the destroyer USS Lansdowne. Of the ship’s 2,247 crew, 193 were killed and 366 wounded.(This first appeared last month.)The U.S. Navy rose to prominence during World War II from just one of many major naval powers to the undisputed greatest in just four short years. This was in large part due to the expansion and effective use of its aircraft carrier fleet. Although most American flattops that fought in the war were highly successful designs one, USS Wasp, was fatally compromised by the need to conform to international treaty obligations. The result was a carrier that was quickly sunk early on in the war, making only a modest contribution to the overall effort.A Treaty Like No Other: One of the most ambitious conventional arms control treaties ever signed was the Washington Naval Treaty. The multinational treaty was negotiated between 1921 and 1922 and resulted in limits in the size of individual warships and the overall tonnage of the navies of the United Kingdom, United States, Italy, and France.


Sri Lanka attack victims: IT director from Manchester killed in hotel bomb blast

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 09:32

An IT director from Manchester has been named among the 310 people killed in the Sri Lanka attacks. Lorraine Campbell, 55, was staying at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo when it was targeted by suicide bombers during a series of co-ordinated attacks on Easter Sunday.  Ms Campbell was in Sri Lanka on a business trip and was living in Dubai at the time of her death. She is the eighth British victim to have been named following the atrocities. Neil Evans and Lorraine Campbell share a toast on a first-class flight to Dubai, where they were moving to start a new life Her husband Neil said: "Lorraine was a real tour de force, she epitomised the qualities she lived by, and was a conduit for bringing people together to both make things happen, and make them better. “I’ve lost my best friend in the world for all the adventures we shared and planned for the future. “I, Lorraine’s family and friends are in a state of disbelief and grief for what has happened and as such, would respectfully ask that our privacy at this difficult time is respected.” Her son, Mark Campbell, 32, said: “She had messaged me before the trip to say she was nervous about flying there because of fever. She was quite worked up about it, but I told her she would be all right. I never thought something like this could happen.” Mr Campbell described his mother's happiness at finding Mr Evans, who was "everything she wanted in a man", and overcame her reluctance to remarry. Mr Evans gave up his own career in the UK to move to Dubai with her, he added.     Daniel and Amelie Linsey A British teenage brother and sister were also named among the victims. Daniel Linsey, 19 and his younger sister Amelie, 15, were having breakfast with their father Matthew at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel when the suicide bomber struck. Mr Linsey, 63, an American city fund manager, returned to the family home in central London, on Monday to be with his British wife Angelina, 51, and his other two sons – aged 12 and 21 – who were not on the holiday.  The trio survived the first blast, but were caught up in a second explosion. Daniel Linsey, 19 and his younger sister Amelie, 15 He told The Times: "You can't describe how bad it was. People were screaming. I was with my children. I couldn't tell whether they were alright, it was dark. I was worried there would be another blast. We ran out - another blast." Both children were knocked out in the explosion, forcing Mr Linsey to take his son to hospital, as his daughter had no obvious wounds, but they both died. Mr Linsey added: "A lady said she’d take my daughter. I couldn’t find her because I was with my son. They sadly passed away.”    Amelie and Daniel were both born in Britain but had dual US and UK citizenship because their father was born in the United States. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Six sites across the country were hit with almost simultaneous explosions, with officials saying two smaller blasts followed a few hours later. The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels, all in Colombo, were targeted, and three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo's Kochchikade district were also hit during Easter services, leaving blood-stained pews, rubble and body parts strewn all over the buildings. Hours later, a further two explosions occurred at a guesthouse in Dehiwala and near an overpass in Dematagoda, on the outskirts of Colombo. Three police officers died near the overpass after entering a property to question suspects following a tip-off. Dr Sally Bradley and Bill Harrop Eight Britons were killed in the attacks, including a doctor and a retired firefighter. Dr Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop were staying in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel when one of the seven suicide bombers struck. The couple had been living in the Australian city of Perth since 2013 where Dr Bradley was practising medicine, but were due to return to the UK soon.  Billy Harrop and his wife Sally They had bought a retirement home in the Cotswolds, Dr Bradley's nephew Jonathan Bradley said. He described her as a "true daughter of Manchester" who had worked as a GP in Salford, a director of public health in Manchester and as a consultant. She was sister to Labour peer Lord Keith Bradley, former MP for Manchester Withington. Mr Harrop retired from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 2012 after 30 years as a firefighter and was decorated for his role in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA attack on Manchester. pic gallery He had two sons from a previous relationship, Miles and Gavin. Gavin had been holidaying with them at the time of the blast but was staying at a different hotel. Nicholson family A British father whose entire family were killed in the suspected terror attack in Sri Lanka has paid tribute to his "talented and thoughtful" children and his "brilliant, loving" wife. Ben Nicholson said his wife Anita, 42, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, had been killed as they sat at a table for breakfast in the Shangri-la Hotel in Colombo. "Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering," Mr Nicholson said. Alex Nicholson, 11, his mother, Anita, 42, were killed while dining at the second-floor restaurant in the Shangri La hotel in the country’s capital, Colombo, on Sunday as it was gutted in one of several explosions which hit the country. Alex Nicholson, 11, and his mother Anita were killed in the attack. Father Ben survived, while the couple’s youngest daughter is unaccounted for Credit: Facebook In a statement released by the Foreign Office, Mr Nicholson said: "I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children. The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita’s enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our children. "Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood. They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with." The couple both work as lawyers in Singapore, according to their professional profiles online. Mr Nicholson is understood to be a partner in the Singapore office of Kennedys Legal Solutions and advises clients on insurance law. His corporate profile describes him as a committee member of the Asia Power Forum and “a strong supporter of [the insurance sector in Asia] and a regular at events in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand”. Meanwhile, according to her LinkedIn profile, Mrs Nicholson was a former legal adviser to HM Treasury in London from 1998 to 2010 and relocated to Singapore to work for the oil giant, BP, in April 2012. Her profile lists her current place of employment as managing counsel at the mining and metals company, Anglo American. Alex and Anita were killed while dining at the Shangri La hotel in Colombo Credit: Facebook Mrs Nicholson shared photos of her family on social media sporting the kit of the British and Irish Lions Rugby team. In 2013 she shared a photo of her smiling son sitting between England fly half, Owen Farrell and Wales winger, George North. Her social media photographs also show her pictured at a fundraising even for First Hand, a Singapore-based volunteer group dedicated to helping children and families in Cambodia. Alex Nicholson pictured with Lions rugby players Owen Farrell, left, and George North Credit: Facebook Children of Anders Holch Povlsen The billionaire fashion tycoon behind online clothing retailer Asos lost three of his four children in the Sri Lanka terror attacks. Anders Holch Povlsen, 46, is Denmark's wealthiest man and the UK's largest private landowner after buying up 13 estates in Scotland. Three days before the attacks, Mr Povlsen's daughter Alma shared an Instagram photo of her siblings Astrid, Agnes and Alfred - calling them "three little bears" - in front of a swimming pool lined by palm trees. The billionaire and his wife Anne, who keep a low public profile, have not said which of their three children died in the attack. Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne Holch Povlsen Credit: Olufson Jonas/Ritzau Scanpix via AP Mr Povlsen set out his ambitions for the 220,000 acres he owns north of the Border, but said he would not live to see the conclusion of his "re-wilding" project. Jesper Stubkier, communications manager for Mr Holch Povlsen's wholesale fashion business Bestseller, announced the children's deaths in the Easter Sunday attacks. He said: "I can confirm that three children have been killed. We have no further comment and we ask that the family's privacy is respected at this time." Shantha Mayadunne The first victims of the Easter bombings were named as a television chef, Shantha Mayadunne, and her London-based daughter, Nisanga. They had been staying at the Shangri-La hotel in the capital Colombo, which was one of four hotels bombed on Sunday morning. Nisanga, believed to be aged in her 30s, had posted a photo of the family in the hotel shortly before the explosion with the caption, "Easter breakfast with my family". Shantha Mayadume, a television chef, and her daughter Nilanga were also killed Credit: Twitter Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. Three Indians, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals were killed, while a further nine foreigners were also reported missing. A Dutch and a Chinese national have been reported among the victims, while Japan also confirmed one of its citizens was killed. Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she lost a relative in the attacks. "It is all so devastating," she wrote on Twitter. "Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."


Samsung’s Galaxy Fold might already have a new release date – and that’s awful news

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 08:17

Samsung's Galaxy Fold launch is now nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. Who could have seen this coming... 7 months ago? The last thing a company wants to do when it's about to release a first-of-its-kind product is give consumers any doubt that it's a high-quality product. Well, Samsung went far beyond giving consumers a bit of doubt -- it showed us in the clearest possible light that the Galaxy Fold is a piece of junk. We have now lost count of how many Galaxy Fold review units broke shortly after being sent to bloggers to review, but suffice it to say the figure is painfully high. It was so high, in fact, that Samsung decided to cancel the phone's release this Friday so it can investigate the issues that have been causing the Galaxy Fold's display to break. That's right, we said "issues," as in plural. It's not just one problem that has been causing the screens to malfunction, it's several.The biggest problem appears to be the fact that the phone's foldable OLED screen has a thin plastic layer on top with exposed edges, so it looks like a screen protector you would find pre-applied on many Android phones. It's not a screen protector though, and if you pull it off the display will break. You read that correctly: this is a $2,000 phone with an exposed display layer that peels right off. But the displays on some review units broke even with that top layer intact, so Samsung clearly has some work to do before the Galaxy Fold can see the light of day again. As it turns out, however, the Galaxy Fold might already have a new release date... and that could be very bad news for anyone who plans to buy one.With the Galaxy Fold release date having been scheduled for this Friday, April 26th, Samsung has undoubtedly manufactured quite a few handsets at this point. Our guess is the figure is well into the hundreds of thousands. On top of that, many of those phones have likely already been shipped to Samsung's various partners in launch markets around the world. Now, we know that all those phones are junk, but we still don't know exactly why. Neither does Samsung, since the company is still in the process of collecting all the broken review units and investigating potential causes of the various different failures we saw.And yet despite the fact that Samsung doesn't yet know why its Galaxy Fold phones were breaking, the company may already have shared an updated release date with partners. If true, Samsung is putting the cart ahead of the horse and we have little to no confidence that the company is truly doing everything in its power to fix the phone's problems ahead of release.https://twitter.com/mighty_droid/status/1120820338965630976As you can see in the tweet embedded above, AT&T has been sending emails to customers who had pre-ordered the Galaxy Fold to let them know it will not ship on time. That is obviously a good thing. What's not so good, however, is the fact that there is already a revised ship date in that email: June 13th. How can AT&T tell customers when their orders will ship if Samsung doesn't even know what it has to do in order to fix all the Galaxy Fold units that have already been built?Either AT&T pulled a random date out of thin air and decided to share that fake ship date with its customers, or Samsung as already supplied an updated release date (which appears to be Friday, June 14th) with its partners. If the latter is the case, it will have done this without knowing for certain that it can fix the Galaxy Fold's problems and have the modified units shipped back to partners in time for the phone's new release.It's crazy to think that Samsung rushed out a product that it has been working on for many years at this point, but that's exactly what happened -- and now it looks like it might be happening again. The company already has a horrible track record with first-generation products, as we've said time and time again. This is doubly true when it doesn't have a similar product from Apple that it can copy. Just look at how terrible the company's smartphones were before Samsung decided to copy the iPhone pixel by pixel. In fact, rumor has it that Samsung rushed out the Galaxy Fold before it was ready in an effort to prove that it can innovate and release exciting new products without copying Apple. Oops.The Galaxy Fold is a brand new device in a brand new category. It's poised to be the first widely available smartphone in the world with a foldable display. If this AT&T email is legitimate and Samsung already has a new release date despite not yet knowing what it'll have to do to fix the phone's poor design and shoddy construction, the Galaxy Fold is also poised to still be a piece of junk when it hits store shelves in June.


Sri Lanka bombings: Most suicide bombers were highly educated, from well-off families, official says

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 08:06

The death toll in the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels has climbed above 350.


Father of 11-year-old American boy Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa killed in Sri Lanka attacks mourns 'what the world lost'

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:39

"The terrorists didn’t know who they were killing. But we should know what the world lost," Alex Arrow said about the death of his son.


Iran's Khamenei says US oil sanctions won't go 'without response'

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:38

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called the end of oil sanction waivers by the United States a "hostile measure" that "won't be left without a response". "US efforts to boycott the sale of Iran's oil won't get them anywhere. The United States announced on Monday it would halt the practice of exempting countries including India, China and Turkey from sanctions on purchases of Iranian oil.


Social Security Will Be Doomed in 2035

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:54

Workers and retirees have long been warned that Social Security’s trust fund will run out of funds sometime in the future, and that the program has many trillions of dollars in unfunded obligations.But what does this year’s 2019 Trustees Report, revealing $16.8 trillion in unfunded obligations over the next 75 years and insolvency in 2035, mean for current workers and retirees? (The $16.8 trillion figure includes the $13.9 trillion 75-year unfunded obligation, plus $2.9 trillion in trust fund IOUs that represent additional debt.)Well, for starters, 2035 is only 16 years away. That means that anyone below the age of 52 today is on track to receive only 75% to 80% of their scheduled benefits.But it’s not just younger workers who will receive benefit cuts. Consider people who are retiring in 2019 at age 62: Benefit cuts will kick in for them at age 78.Social Security’s insolvency is not some far-off event. It will affect virtually all current and future workers and many of today’s current retirees.


Elizabeth Warren's plan to end student debt is glorious. We can make it a reality

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:00

We fully support the 2020 nominee’s student debt relief proposal. But to make it happen, we’ll need to kick our efforts into higher gear ‘Elizabeth Warren’s proposal is a stunning, visionary plan that would transform our educational system and dramatically improve millions of people’s lives.’ Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP This week, Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, announced a proposal to cancel student debt for millions of people and make public college free. This is a stunning, visionary plan that would transform our educational system and dramatically improve millions of people’s lives. But like every other progressive proposal now being touted by presidential hopefuls, from Medicare for All to the Green New Deal, the call for debt relief and free education first came from the grassroots. And if we want a real student debt jubilee to actually happen – to go from policy paper to reality – the grassroots will need to continue to push for it. Fortunately, it’s a battle that can be won. Raising our voices is how we got this far. Ten years ago, student debt, even as it soared, was not seen as a serious issue. Writers including Tamara Draut and Anya Kamenetz were early to sound the alarm, exposing young people’s disproportionate indebtedness as a structural issue. Scholars such as Darrick Hamilton and Tressie McMillan Cottom would later go on to document the racially disparate impact of student loans, which burden women and people of color most of all. But it took the Occupy Wall Street movement to make public how profoundly the pinch of monthly payments was felt by an entire generation. Sign up to receive the latest US opinion pieces every weekday In April 2012 a group of Occupiers organized a “1T Day” protest to mark the day student debt in America surpassed $1tn. Seven years later, that number has ballooned to more than $1.5tn. That protest represented a watershed moment, the point when student debt went from being a personal problem to a political one, the result of decades of disinvestment in public colleges and universities that turned education into a consumer product instead of a public good. Some of the organizers of that event would go on to help launch the Debt Collective, a union for debtors that I co-founded. We kicked things off with the Rolling Jubilee fund, a public education campaign that bought and cancelled more than $30m in medical, student debt, payday loans and private probation debts. Then, in 2015, the Debt Collective launched the country’s first student debt strike. Since the strike was announced, we have won more than $1bn (and counting) in student debt cancellation for people who attended fraudulent for-profit colleges. Our team accomplished this by building a membership base of for-profit borrowers themselves. These debtors, a multiracial group of working-class people from across the country, led a campaign to pressure the Department of Education to cancel their loans. Their victory – and the fact that our primary demand of a debt jubilee and free college is now on Warren’s platform – demonstrates the power of grassroots organizing. The precedent-setting significance of the Debt Collective’s work is clear and cannot be overstated: Warren knows that student loans can be cancelled because they already have been on a smaller scale for for-profit college borrowers. That said, Warren’s plan, as bold as it is, is hardly inevitable. Her proposal of canceling student debt and ensuring free college seems contingent on the passage of a millionaire’s tax that, barring a miracle, is likely to be stymied by an intransigent Congress. In order to win a jubilee, then, we will have to kick our grassroots efforts into a higher gear. Debtors must continue to fight for their rights and advocate for the best possible solutions. We are preparing to do just that. Since 2016, along with our partners at Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending, we have been working out a roadmap that would allow all federal student loans to be cancelled without waiting for Congress to act. Congress, it turns out, has already given administrative agencies the power to cancel debts. Just as the Securities and Exchange Commission can cut low-dollar deals with banks that break the law, for example, the secretary of education can settle with debtors for a fraction of what they owe or suspend the collection of student debt altogether. When it was first given the power to issue and collect student loans in 1958, the Department of Education also received the power to “compromise, waive, or release any right” to collect on them. And when the Higher Education Act of 1965 made student loan authorities permanent, it solidified their power to compromise. Nothing in the law prevents the secretary of education from using compromise and settlement authority to address the worst effects of decades of failed higher education policy. But only a movement with that as its goal can get us there. Student debt abolition and free college would be a win-win for the entire country To win a jubilee, we need a movement focused on motivating candidates to commit to using the full powers available to them in office to address this emergency and stop collections on all student loans. While millionaires and billionaires should be taxed at a much higher rate, in the short term we should not let a Congress bought off by the super-rich prevent us from doing what’s right and legal – and economically beneficial. Indeed, student debt abolition and free college would be a win-win for the entire country. Not only would debtors get relief, academic research shows it would be a significant stimulus that might “supercharge” the economy and help address the racial wealth gap. Money currently used to pay back loans with interest would be redirected to other goods and services. But the win would be more profound than just an economic boost. Education could finally be a public good and not a commodity (or worse, a debt trap). This transformation would help inaugurate a new political vision that redefines liberty as the ability to freely access the social services that we all need to survive and thrive. The Debt Collective has been leading this fight for years – and our growing membership will continue to do so. Grassroots organizing is what got us this far, and it’s the only thing that can get us to the finish line: an end to student debt and free public college for everyone, once and for all. Astra Taylor is a writer, organizer, and documentarian. Her books include the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age and Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone. Her most recent film is What Is Democracy?


Bernie Sanders Got It Right on CNN: Felons Ought to Be Allowed to Vote

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 05:21

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyIn their CNN town halls Monday night, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg disagreed on whether current prisoners should be able to vote. Sen. Kamala Harris refused to endorse a plan for expanding the franchise to incarcerated people, but supported voting rights for former prisoners.Sanders was specifically asked about Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and “those convicted of sexual assault.” What sane person would want them to vote? Our political system is already run by crooks. Do we want to add murderers and rapists too?In European history dating to Roman times, criminals could be stripped of their legal personality after committing a crime. They could not sign contracts or own property. They were outlaws, banished from the city walls. John Locke and other political theorists argued that criminals broke an implicit social contract: a rule-breaker should lose the right to make rules for others. But Locke lived in a time when only white, male, wealthy landowners could vote. Today, the right to vote is enshrined in democratic constitutions and international treaties. In American history, many states’ exclusions of those with a criminal record from voting date to the post-Civil War period and were clearly aimed at denying the franchise to African Americans. Criminal justice reform advocates argue that suffering a Medieval-style “civil death” dehumanizes prisoners, prevents their reintegration into society, and perpetuates inequalities in our political system. We should not assume that prisoners are less knowledgeable about politics than those outside of prison—that’s a pretty low bar, after all. Encouraging prisoners to feel involved in the political process can have real benefits too. Isolating prisoners from the political process during and after their incarceration further stigmatizes and isolates them, and that can encourage reoffending.Prisoners lose many of their rights when they go to prison. They can’t serve on a jury from a prison cell, or own guns; both of those are probably reasonable proscriptions. They probably should not own guns. But prisoners do not lose all their rights in prison. They are entitled to practice their religion and can challenge the conditions of their confinement. Taking away prisoners’ liberty is already a heavy punishment. Allowing them to cast an absentee ballot is not an unreasonable privilege.The most important consequence of allowing prisoners to vote is that it would remove the incentives for “prison gerrymandering.” In most U.S. states, prisoners are counted by the census based on where they are incarcerated, not where they are registered to vote. Because most large prisons are in sparsely populated rural areas, prison complexes have an important effect on gerrymandering. Many prisoners are racial minorities or people who live in urban areas, which means these places lose voting population, while more conservative areas gain nonvoting population. This advantages Republican congressmen in places like upstate New York, who benefit from inflated populations for redistricting purposes, but have nothing to fear at election time. Prisoner disenfranchisement therefore contributes to a structural disparity that causes Congress and state legislatures to be more conservative than the public at large.While many states are in the process of revising their laws to allow ex-prisoners to vote, voting by current prisoners only exists in Maine, Puerto Rico, and Vermont—the latter represented by Sanders in the U.S. Senate. In addition, the trend across the developed world is to allow at least some prisoners to vote. The supreme courts of South Africa, Canada, and Israel have legalized voting for at least some prisoners. The European Court of Human Rights has also rejected blanket prohibitions on prisoner voting, though it has allowed exceptions.The policy options are far broader than a single audience question would suggest. In Germany, prisoners can vote unless they were convicted of terrorism or political violence, an exception that would encompass Tsarnaev’s marathon attack. Other European countries prevent violent criminals, those serving lengthy or life sentences, or war criminals from voting. Exceptions for crimes of dishonesty or fraud might be reasonable as well. In a few countries, only those convicted of misdemeanors can vote, rather than felonies.These are policy debates we should be willing to have. Even if we allowed only persons serving misdemeanor sentences in local jails to vote, this alone might add nearly 300,000 voters to the rolls. Prisoner voting is already underway in some states and developed countries, so it is hardly a revolutionary position. Overbroad restrictions on voting help ensure that politicians select their own voters, rather than voters electing their own politicians.Andrew Novak is Assistant Professor of Criminology Law and Society at George Mason University.Read more at The Daily Beast.


Rouhani says U.S. must lift pressure and apologize before Iran will negotiate

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 04:20

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran is willing to negotiate with America only when the United States lifts pressure and apologizes, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, according to state media. Oil prices hit their highest level since November on Tuesday after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply. "We have always been a man of negotiation and diplomacy, the same way that we've been a man of war and defense. ...


Easter Massacre Opens Door for Strongman to Return in Sri Lanka

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 02:49

The star-studded event, featuring both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, underscored the importance of the property beyond simply attracting more tourists: It was also a monument to Sri Lanka’s resurgence following a brutal three-decade civil war between the mostly Buddhist Sinhalese majority and predominately Hindu Tamils. The Shangri-La was built on the old site of the army headquarters, which was shifted outside the city after former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government won a decisive victory in 2009 with tactics criticized by human-rights activists. The Easter Sunday bombings that tore apart the Shangri-La, two nearby luxury hotels and three Christian churches have made security a top-of-mind concern in Colombo once again.


Trump news – live: White House 'blocking' officials from testifying as senior Democrats join push for impeachment

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 02:33

The Trump administration is being accused of “stonewalling” Congress by ignoring a deadline for the Treasury to hand over Donald Trump's tax returns and defying a subpoena requesting ex-personal security director Carl Kline appear before a House investigative committee.“It appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight,” said Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.President Trump made his feelings on Democrat-led investigations in the wake of the Mueller report perfectly clear in an interview on Tuesday, stating: “There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan - obviously very partisan. I don’t want people testifying to a party, because that is what they’re doing if they do this.”Please allow a moment for our liveblog to load


Check Out This Picture: You Are Looking at the Greatest Aircraft Carrier Ever

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 01:00

Shortly before USS Enterprise went to the breakers, a new ship bearing the name was laid down; CVN-65, the world’s first nuclear aircraft carrier. The latter USS Enterprise served for fifty years, before decommissioning in 2012. Another USS Enterprise, CVN-80, is scheduled for completion by 2025.In May 1938, the U.S. Navy commissioned the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the seventh ship to bear the name in American service. The second of three sisters, Enterprise made a central—perhaps the central—contribution to the war effort in 1942. The U.S. Navy began 1942 with six fleet carriers (excluding the small Ranger, which served in the Atlantic). Over the course of the year, Japanese aircraft and submarines would sink four of those carriers and put a fifth (USS Saratoga) out of action for long periods of time. Enterprise fought with distinction in most of the major battles of 1942, and survived to contribute for the rest of the war.(This first appeared several years ago.)In short, USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the finest ship ever to serve in the U.S. Navy.Construction


'Do Hard Things.' Fred Swaniker Gives Inspirational Toast at 2019 TIME 100 Gala

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 23:20

'The most difficult thing is to keep going'


Glenn Close, Hasan Minhaj and Naomi Campbell Reveal Their Most Positive Influences at the TIME 100 Gala

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 22:46

Glenn Close, Naomi Campbell and Trevor Noah talk about who influences them most at the 2019 TIME 100 Gala in a moving video.


Florida House closer to passing felon voting rights bill

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 22:28

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislation that would restore voting rights to convicted felons who complete their sentences except murderers and felony sex offenders moved another step Tuesday toward passage in the Florida House.


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