Top40 News for 04/13/2018

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#1 Comey paints unsparing portrait of Trump in devastating tell-all book

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It is nothing less than the most devastating, contemporaneous takedown of a sitting president in modern history.

The James Comey storm, brewing menacingly on the horizon for months, slammed into the White House just after 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, as the first leaks of the fired FBI director's explosive new book started gushing out.

Proving that revenge is a dish best served cold, Comey waited 11 months to exact his retribution for his dismissal by President Donald Trump last May. When it came it was unsparing, richly detailed and mortifying for the President.

He painted Trump as a relentless liar who is obsessively unethical, devoid of humanity and a slave to his ego, who is clueless about his job and unconcerned about a Russian assault on American democracy.

Jabbing the President in a strikingly personal way, Comey noted the size of Trump's hands, said his skin looked orange and described white rings around his eyes from tanning goggles.

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#2 Overdose Antidote Is Supposed to Be Easy to Get. It’s Not.

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In 2015, when they unveiled the city’s plan to battle opioid-related deaths, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, said that from that day on, New Yorkers would be able to get the overdose-reversing drug naloxone at participating pharmacies without a prescription.

“Anyone who fears they will one day find their child, spouse or sibling collapsed on the floor and not breathing now has the power to walk into a neighborhood pharmacy and purchase the medication that can reverse that nightmare,” Ms. McCray said, with the mayor by her side.

But three years later, an examination by The New York Times has found that of the 720 pharmacies on the city’s list of locations that provide the drug, only about a third actually had it and would dispense it without a prescription. The list is used on the city’s website, the NYC Health Map, the Stop OD NYC app and when someone calls 311.

Phone calls placed to every pharmacy on the list last month found compliance with the program to be spotty, at best.

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#3 Taiwan president watches naval drill as China tensions grow

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Taiwan's president watched naval drills simulating an attack on the island Friday, days before Beijing is set to hold live-fire exercises nearby in a show of force.

Relations between self-ruling Taiwan and China have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen came to power almost two years ago, largely because she refuses to accept the "One China" formula governing relations.

Beijing regards the island as its territory -- to be reunited by force if necessary -- even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.

China's growing military is increasingly flexing its muscles and will hold live-fire drills next week in the Taiwan Strait -- the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland from Taiwan -- following weeks of naval manoeuvres in the area.

Tsai boarded the Kee Lung destroyer to supervise as troops practised defending against an attack on the northeastern port of Suao.

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#4 Fears of a U.S.-Russia conflict recede as Trump, Moscow and Macron dial back the rhetoric

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Slideshow by Business Insider

BEIRUT — Fears that a major war could be imminent eased across the Middle East on Thursday after a flurry of tweets and statements by world leaders that suggested that they are looking for ways to de-escalate the sky-high tensions of recent days.

U.S.-led military strikes in retaliation for the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against a Damascus suburb last weekend remained a distinct possibility, but there were indications that efforts to head off a global confrontation are gathering momentum.

In Moscow, the Kremlin sought to tamp down fears of a looming conflict with the United States by signaling for the first time in days that it might not carry out threats to retaliate against a U.S. strike.

“We still believe that it is very necessary to avoid any steps which can trigger an escalation in tensions in Syria,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “We believe that this could have a very destructive impact on the entire Syrian settlement.”

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#5 Is Trump Serious About Trade War? China’s Leaders Hunt for Answers

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BEIJING — In an elegantly furnished back room at a conference in eastern China in December, a member of the Chinese leadership asked American tech executives attending the event for help.

The official, Wang Huning, a Communist Party strategist who has spent much of his career sizing up the United States as a geopolitical rival, wanted to know whether President Trump was serious about a trade war with China — and whether they could serve as a channel of communication to the White House.

He has not been alone.

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#6 U.S. seeks to outshine China at Latam summit, without Trump

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© REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Participants attend the Americas Business Summit in Lima

Latin American leaders will gather in Lima, Peru, on Friday at a summit the United States hopes to use to counter China's rising influence in the region, despite U.S. President Donald Trump's last-minute decision not to attend.

The official theme of this year's Summit of the Americas, where heads of state in the Western Hemisphere will meet through Saturday, is corruption. Several countries attending also plan to condemn Venezuela's upcoming election.

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But U.S. and Chinese trade will loom large over talks as a heated dispute between the world's two biggest economies continues to fan fears of a trade war.

The tensions spilled over into Latin America this week, with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross disparaging Chinese trade in a speech in Lima and promising that Washington will not cede leadership in the region to "authoritarian states."

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#7 Mike Pompeo still opposes gay marriage. Now he’s about to be secretary of state.

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Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump's pick as the next secretary of state, reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage on Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He made the remarks after Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked Pompeo, who is currently the CIA director, whether he believed being gay is "a perversion."

"When I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry," Pompeo responded. "I stand by that."

"So do you not believe it is appropriate for two gay people to marry?" Booker asked.

"Senator, I continue to hold that view," Pompeo replied.

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#8 Biodiversity 101: Are Earth’s wild megafauna doomed?

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Pop quiz: How many species of big, land-dwelling animals are there in the world?

Count all the different kinds of big cats, bears, wolves, wild dogs and other carnivores weighing at least 15 kilos. Add large herbivores -- 100 kilos or more -- such as bison, zebra and deer, along with rhinos, elephants, large apes, giraffes, hippos, wild pigs, tapirs...

What's the final tally?

The answer, based on this widely used definition of terrestrial megafauna, is 101.

That modest number is sure to shrink to double digits, and could continue to diminish at an alarming rate, biologists warn.

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#9 Teen with full ride to 20 colleges requests public apology from Fox affiliate in order to air interview

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A teen accepted to 20 colleges offering him full financial aid wants journalists at a Fox affiliate to apologize for calling his decision to apply to the schools "obnoxious." 

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An anchor and contributor on Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., criticized Micheal Brown's decision to apply to 20 colleges in a segment airing April 3. 

Co-anchor Holly Morris and contributor Sarah Fraser called applying to that amount of schools "ridiculous." 

"It's a little ridiculous that this kid applied to 20 taking away a spot and basically waitlisting another kid," Fraser said on the show. 

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#10 Parkland paramedics delayed by chaos at school, new audio recordings reveal

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Students are released from a lockdown outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Feb. 14, 2018.

Students are released from a lockdown outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Feb. 14, 2018.

A law enforcement officer directs traffic outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Feb. 14, 2018.

Medical personnel tend to a victim outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. after reports of an active shooter on Feb. 14, 2018.

Fire Rescue personnel work the scene at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. 

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#11 The crisis in Syria, explained

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© Enes Diyab/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
An old man holds an injured child after the fifth convoy, carrying the ones evacuated from Eastern Ghouta besieged by Assad Regime and its supporters, arrived in Hama province, Syria on March 27…

The Syrian war has been a slowly unfolding catastrophe, one that has embroiled nearly the whole world. Here's a look at how it started, why it became so complicated and what might happen next.

How did the war in Syria start?

It's hard to remember now, but the unrest in Syria began on a hopeful note.

In March 2011, peaceful protests broke out around the country as part of the Arab Spring uprisings. Organizers called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to make democratic reforms, but his government responded with violence.

In response, some of the protesters teamed up with military defectors to form the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group that wanted to overthrow the government. By 2012, this armed struggle had devolved into a full-blown civil war.

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#12 China’s Xi attends massive naval display

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Speaking from an undisclosed location, Mr Xi said the need for a strong navy had "never been more pressing".

More than 10,000 naval officers, 76 fighter jets and a flotilla of 48 ships and submarines took part in the drill.

It came ahead of planned live-fire military drills by China in the narrow strait separating it from Taiwan on 18 April.

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#13 Senators propose legislation to protect the privacy of users’ online data after Facebook hearing

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Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) will introduce legislation to protect the privacy of users’ online data, the pair said today in a joint statement. Though a bill has not been drafted yet, the legislation would, among other things, give users recourse options if their data is breached, and the right to opt out of data tracking and collection.

The proposed legislation will address seven key points, the senators said:

“Consumers have the right to know if their personal information is being sold and they have the right to easily see what data has already been sold or distributed,” Klobuchar said in the statement. “The digital space can’t keep operating like the Wild Wild West at the expense of our privacy.”

Kennedy had one of the more colorful lines of questioning during Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on April 10th. “Mr. Zuckerberg, I come in peace,” he said at the time. “I don’t want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God I will. In fact, a lot of that depends on you. I’m a little disappointed in this hearing today, I just don’t feel like we’re connecting.”

Kennedy went on to bluntly say, “Your user agreement sucks. The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end. It’s not to inform your users about their rights. Now you know that, and I know that. I’m going to suggest to you that you go back home and rewrite it.”

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#14 WhatsApp Reassures User Privacy Amid Facebook Scandal

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© Provided by IBT US
WhatsApp has reassured users that their data is kept safe and private.

WhatsApp wants its users to know that their data on the freeware cross-platform and Voice over IP messaging service is safe and kept private. The company’s statement comes amid the controversy that Facebook is facing due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

WhatsApp posted a new FAQ on its WhatsApp for Business website on Wednesday to reiterate the end-to-end encryption of messages and calls made through its app, as first reported by MSPoweruser.

“We care about your privacy. All WhatsApp messages and calls are secured with end-to-end encryption,” the company wrote. “This ensures only you and the person you're communicating with can read your messages or listen to your calls, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.”

WhatsApp then went on to explain the limitations of the protection it provides users’ messages. “In all cases, WhatsApp will deliver your messages to a business end-to-end encrypted. It's important to remember, however, that when you contact a business, several people in that business might see your messages,“ WhatsApp stated. 

”In addition, some businesses using our enterprise solution may employ another company to manage their communications — for example, to store, read, or respond to your messages,” the company added. “The business you're communicating with has a responsibility to ensure that it handles your messages in accordance with its privacy policy.”

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#15 Why night owls are more likely to die early: People who prefer to go to bed late damage their health because it impacts their heart and metabolism

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Night owls - people who like to go to bed late and get up late - have a 10 per cent higher risk of dying than early birds, a study found.

Research based on 50,000 people in the UK found they had the higher chance of death over the six-and-a-half year period they were being studied.

It seems that living in a world geared to early risers damages the health of those who prefer moonlight.

And the switch to British Summer Time - pushing the clocks an hour forward in the Spring - makes things even worse for late risers, the scientists said.

Research based on 500,000 people found they had a higher chance of death over the six-and-a-half year period they were being studied 

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#16 Google to launch new Gmail design in the coming weeks

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© Provided by The Verge
Gmail for Android

Google is planning to launch a new design for its Gmail web interface soon.

In an email to G Suite administrators, obtained by The Verge, the company says the new design will include “several new features” that will also be made available to regular Gmail accounts. Google promises a “fresh, clean look for Gmail on the web,” with features like Smart Reply, the ability to snooze emails, and offline support.

Google isn’t revealing exactly what the new design for Gmail looks like, but the company did recently launch a new design for Google Calendar. The calendar was updated with modern icons, colors, and cleaner event boxes. Overall the design looked a lot more like the mobile app, and it’s reasonable to assume that Gmail itself will be updated in a similar way. Google did radically redesign Gmail for its separate Inbox app back in 2014, but the company has stuck to the original Gmail design so far for its web version.

Google’s Gmail redesign will be available in the coming weeks as an early access program for G Suite customers and personal Gmail accounts. Google is looking to test critical Chrome extensions, to ensure the new Gmail experience is compatible before it’s widely available.

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#17 As Clinton Camp Denied Reports of Criminal Inquiry, F.B.I. Was Investigating, Comey Says

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WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, confirms in his new book that the bureau had already begun a criminal investigation focused on Hillary Clinton’s handling of her email in 2015 when her campaign and its allies excoriated journalists for reporting that such an inquiry was being contemplated.

The New York Times reported in July 2015 that two inspectors general had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department recommending an investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton had mishandled sensitive information by using a private email server as secretary of state. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign complained vigorously to The Times, resulting in two corrections to the article.

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The corrections said that the inspectors general had made a “security referral” rather than a “criminal referral” and that the referral did not request that Mrs. Clinton specifically be investigated. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign called the article an “erroneous story” with “egregious” errors that misled voters into thinking that she was at risk of being investigated by the F.B.I. for possible criminal violations when the referral was a more routine security matter not focused on her in particular. Critics of the news media, including the public editor of The Times, agreed.

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#18 R.N.C. Official Who Agreed to Pay Playboy Model $1.6 Million Resigns

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A major donor with close ties to the White House resigned on Friday as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the revelation that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.

The deal was arranged in the final months of 2017 by President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen.

Under the terms of the deal, the Republican donor, Elliott Broidy, would pay the woman in installments over the course of two years, and she would agree to stay silent about their relationship, two people with knowledge of the arrangement told The New York Times. The deal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

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#19 Watchdog report: Ex-FBI deputy director misled investigators

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WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the fired FBI deputy director, misled investigators and his own boss about his role in a news media disclosure about Hillary Clinton just days before the 2016 presidential election and authorized the release of information to "advance his personal interests," according to a Justice Department watchdog report .

President Donald Trump, already furious over a forthcoming book from fired FBI Director James Comey, lashed out after the report's release by saying McCabe had "LIED! LIED! LIED!"

The inspector general report concludes that McCabe allowed FBI officials to disclose non-public information to a Wall Street Journal reporter for a story about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, violating agency rules, and then misled FBI officials when questioned about it. It also reveals starkly contradictory accounts from McCabe and Comey about how the conversations with the reporter had come to take place.

McCabe, who was fired last month just two days before his scheduled retirement, denied the report's allegations in a detailed rebuttal statement. He said that when he believed his answers to the inspector general were misunderstood, he went back and tried to correct them.

McCabe's statement noted that as deputy director he had full authority to authorize sharing information with the media and said he permitted subordinates to do so in this case to correct a false narrative that he had tried to stymie an FBI probe into the Clinton Foundation.

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#20 Trump Sees Inquiry Into Cohen as Greater Threat Than Mueller

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WASHINGTON — President Trump’s advisers have concluded that a wide-ranging corruption investigation into his personal lawyer poses a greater and more imminent threat to the president than even the special counsel’s investigation, according to several people close to Mr. Trump.

As his lawyers went to court in New York on Friday to try to block prosecutors from reading files that were seized from the personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, this week, Mr. Trump found himself increasingly isolated in mounting a response. He continued to struggle to hire a new criminal lawyer, and some of his own aides were reluctant to advise him about a response for fear of being dragged into a criminal investigation themselves.

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The raids on Mr. Cohen came as part of a monthslong federal investigation based in New York, court records show, and were sweeping in their breadth. In addition to searching his home, office and hotel room, F.B.I. agents seized material from Mr. Cohen’s cellphones, tablet, laptop and safe deposit box, according to people briefed on the warrants. Prosecutors revealed in court documents that they had already secretly obtained many of Mr. Cohen’s emails.

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