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UK PM candidates agree: EU exit needed to defeat Brexit Party


FILE PHOTO: Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage delivers a letter to Downing Street in London, Britain, June 7, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) – Britains next prime minister has to take the country out of the European Union to defeat the challenge of Nigel Farages Brexit Party, five of the six candidates for the job said on Sunday.

All of the candidates except frontrunner Boris Johnson were taking part in a televised debate on Channel 4 television. They were: Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart and Dominic Raab.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, writing by William James

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Free from Brexit burden, PM Theresa May heads to the cricket


Cricket – ICC Cricket World Cup – England v South Africa – Kia Oval, London, Britain – May 30, 2019 Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May applauds from the stands before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

LONDON (Reuters) – As the contest to replace her as prime minister gathered pace on Thursday, Theresa May opted for a different battle – watching England take on South Africa in the opening match of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

An emotional May announced last week she would step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 after three times failing to get her Brexit deal approved by parliament.

Free from the burden of trying to deliver Britains exit from the European Union, a relaxed-looking May gave a speech on student funding before heading to the Oval cricket ground around two miles from her Downing Street residence.

The British leader was photographed applauding from the stands during the unannounced trip, as her would-be successors toured the television studios setting out their plans for the country.

May, who once likened her resolve to see her Brexit plan through toRead More

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Venezuela darkened by third major blackout this month


Power went out around 7 p.m. Friday. Sirens, car horns and alarms echoed throughout the dark streets before generators began kicking in.The situation is much worse in the barrios and poorer areas of the capital, and especially outside Caracas, with many struggling with intermittent service since the first major blackout. Blackouts have become a daily occurrence across Venezuela as the economic crisis has worsened.The power outage was the talk of the town, overshadowing another round of dueling protests by supporters of embattled President Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guaido, president of the National Assembly.Maduro and his government blame the United States and its allies inside the country, accusing them of sabotaging power plants and the electricity grid. Government officials often release pictures of damaged sections and use government officials to explain on state media what happened and why it's US President Donald Trump's fault. On the other side, Guaido, recognized as Venezuela's interim president by several countries, including the United States, sees the outages as a good example of why Maduro must go. Guaido and his supporters accuse Maduro of mismanaging the income from the country's massive oil reserves and failing to maintain public infrastructure. The cause of the third blackout has not been given, but the first two occurred because of problems at the Guri hydroelectric plant, which serves 70% of the country.The first blackout started March 8 and was not completely over until about five days later. It put most of Venezuela in the dark, stopping mass transit in the capital, shuttering businesses and gas stations and disrupting operations at hospitals. Mauro Zambrano, representative of the hospitals and clinics union of Caracas, told CNN there have been four deaths at hospitals, including two at a children's hospital. CNN has not independently verified any of the four deaths. The second blackout occurred March 25 after a fire at the Guri plant that Venezuelan Minister of Communications Jorge Rodriguez said was caused by "criminals" and their "gringo masters."The blackouts cause problems beyRead More – Source

Whistleblowing tool ‘SecureDrop’ co-creator James Dolan dead at 36


Former marine, James Dolan, who along with colleague Aaron Swartz created a secure system for communication between journalists and sources in possession of sensitive information or documents, has died. He was 36.

The circumstances of Dolan’s death are not yet known, but former colleagues speculate he may have committed suicide.

“We don’t know why James took his own life; we do know, however, he long suffered from PTSD from his time serving in the Marines during the Iraq War. It was an experience that affected him in multiple ways,” wrote Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of Press Foundation, on Tuesday. Dolan worked for the foundation until 2015.

“He often cited the Iraq War as his inspiration for wanting to help journalists and whistleblowers; it made him realize governments needed to be much more transparent and accountable.”

Second developer of WikiLeaks inspired submission system "SecureDrop", security expert James Dolan, aged 36, has tragically died. He is said to have committed suicide. The first, Aaron Swartz, is said to have taken his own life at age 26, after being persecuted by US prosecutors.

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 9, 2018

In 2012, James worked with Swartz and journalist Kevin Poulsen to build the original prototype of SecureDrop, the open source whistleblower submission system.

The first iteration, StrongBox, was used by the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Associated Press, allowing secure communications between journalists and sources in possession of sensitive information and documents. Those same journalists now rely on the latest version SecureDrop.

RT Wikileaks: Second developer of WikiLeaks inspired submission system "SecureDrop", security expert James Dolan, aged 36, has tragically died. He is said to have committed suicide. The first, Aaron Swartz, is said to have taken his own life at age 26, after being persecuted…

NJ Town Spent Thousands on Wardrobe for Public Works Chief


What to Know

  • The Bogota Borough Council voted to pay the DPW Superintendent $2,000 to buy clothes in 2013 and '14, and his wife signed off on the payment[hhmc]

  • An ex-council member voted in favor of the allowance because he was misled into believing the boss' employment contract required the payment[hhmc]

  • The chief's wife says she wasnt even in the room when the clothing allowance was voted on, and signing purchase orders was routine[hhmc]

In Bogota, New Jersey, Public Works employees have tough jobs. They pick up the trash, manicure parks, and clear the snow. In short, they get dirty.

But the head of the Department, DPW Superintendent Gordon Kohles, has enjoyed a perk that helps keep his wardrobe neat and clean.

A taxpayer funded clothing allowance.

The Bogota Borough Council voted to pay Kohles $2,000 to buy clothes in 2013 and 2014. The official purchase order shows the DPW chiefs wife, Lisa Kohles, signed off on the payment to her husband.

“You had a wife signing off on public funds to be paid to her husband. Thats just not a good thing,” said Jorge Nunez, a former Borough Council Member who is critical of the way the clothing allowance was handled.

Back in 2014, Nunez voted in favor of the clothing allowance, but he now says his approval came only after he was misled into believing Gordon Kohles employment contract required the payment. Lisa Kohles, who was then the Borough Council Finance Chair, recused herself from the clothing allowance vote, but Nunez says she took part in discussions seeking to persuade other lawmakers.

“I thought it was problematic that his wife, who was a Councilperson at the time, was participating in these conversations."

Christina Koch/NASA

Kohles says she wasnt even in the room when the clothing allowance was voted on, and signing purchase orders — like the one she signed for her husband — was nothing more than a routine duty.

Twitter ridicules State Dept. after it urges US citizens to ‘reconsider travel’ to Russia


The US State Department found itself the focus of social media jibes after an overhaul of its travel safety warning system downgraded Russia to the same category as Mauritania, Sudan and other trouble spots.

The move, explained as “due to terrorism and harassment,” comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow and just five months before Russia hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The new State Department classification sees countries divided into four zones, when it comes to personal security. Russia has been bundled into the “orange” category (the 2nd most dangerous of the quartet), meaning US citizens should “reconsider travel” to this destination.

Twitter was ablaze on Thursday and Friday with condemnation of Russia’s “orange” status. For instance, Mark Galeotti, a pundit at US State Broadcaster RFE/RL described it as “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Whether a political move or stupidity, truly ludicrous,” the Russia watcher commented.

The State Department itself claims the changes are part of an “effort to streamline information on threats overseas and present it in a clearer, more direct fashion” at a “time of increased travel – 2017 was on track to be a record year for the number of Americans travelling abroad. In 2016, there were over 80 million Americans who went overseas.”

Some users have suggested the decision may be more political than practical.

Leonid Ragozin, an author at Lonely Planet, protested “if travel advisories are a tool of punishing countries for aggressive behavior, of which Russia is clearly a culprit, then fair enough. But if the idea is to provide accurate info for citizens, then it is a piece of garbage.”

State Department’s new paranoid travel advisory on Russia discredits the idea of travel advisories – it misleads US citizens by giving a grossly inaccurate picture of a country that is generally safe to travel. Seriously, why replicate Kremlin’s insanity?

— Leonid Ragozin (@leonidragozin) January 11, 2018

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin Dies at 76


What to Know

  • Aretha Franklin was renowned for her powerful, distinctive gospel-honed vocal style that influenced singers across generations[hhmc]

  • Franklin received 18 Grammy Awards, was listed on Rolling Stone's "Greatest Singers of All Time" and sang at Barack Obama's inauguration[hhmc]

  • The cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer[hhmc]

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," ''I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, "Respect," and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit. The statement said "Franklin's official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute" in Detroit.

The family added: "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds."

The statement continued:

"We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

Among a legion of those expressing their grief were former President Barack Obama, who watched Franklin perform at his 2009 inauguration, said in a statement with wife Michelle Obama that the singer "helped define the American experience."

The pair added: "America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. … For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. … In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance."

The former president and first lady said Franklin's music "remains to inspire us all."

Diane Keaton’s Lost Wallet Found in NY 50 Years Later


What to Know

  • A wallet that Diane Keaton misplaced decades ago has turned up in a New York storage unit[hhmc]

  • The Oscar-winning actress lost the wallet 50 years ago, she said on Instagram this week[hhmc]

  • This past May, a “treasure hunter” bought the contents of an abandoned storage unit and found the wallet, as well as old photographs[hhmc]

A wallet that Diane Keaton misplaced decades ago has turned up in a New York storage unit.

The Oscar-winning actress lost the wallet 50 years ago, she said on Instagram this week.

This past May, “treasure hunter” Anton Lulgjuraj bought the contents of a deserted storage unit in Putnam County at an auction and discovered the wallet as he was perusing a dusty box, the Daily News reported.

Inside the wallet were Keatons 1966 drivers license and “Actors Equity Association” card, along with a stack of personal and family photos.

“I opened it up and thought, Is this Diane Keaton the actress? It couldnt be. Or maybe it could,'” Lulgjuraj told the outlet.

Lulgjuraj reached out to Keaton on Twitter in an effort to return her wallet and photographs, but wasnt able to make contact, he said.

After the Daily News wrote about his storage unit find, however, Keaton caught wind of the story and took to social media to voice her disbelief.

“SOMEONE FOUND A WALLET I LOST 50 YEARS AGO! THANK YOU, MR. LULGJURAJ! PLEASE DM ME!” Keaton wrote in an Instagram post, attaching a childhood photo she said had been inside the wallet.

“This is the craziest story! I dont remember losing this, but Im not surprised because Ive lost my wallet many times!” she added on Twitter.

Ecuador’s indigenous protest leaders willing to negotiate


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Indigenous leaders of protests that have paralyzed Ecuador's economy for nearly a week said Saturday they were willing to negotiate with President Lenín Moreno, signaling a possible exit from the crisis.


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The Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador said on its Twitter account that after internal discussion "we have decided to participate in direct dialogue" with Moreno.

Minutes after that tweet, Leonidas Iza, a Quechua leader from mountainous Cotopaxi province, told Ecuavisa television that "we have asked for minimal conditions for dialogue," including what he called an end to government violence against protesters.

Previously, indigenous protesters had refused to negotiate until Moreno restored fuel subsidies whose cancelations prompted days of protests around Ecuador.

On Friday, the president had called for the sides to sit down immediately.

"The country must recover its calm," he said on national television. "Let's sit down and talk."

The softening of the indigenous leadership's position in response to Moreno came as street blockades and sporadic violence spread around the capital city, Quito.

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