IT40 News for 07/04/2018 Top 40 News!

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#1 Trump pressed aides on Venezuela invasion, US official says

BOGOTA, Colombia — As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can't the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?

The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration. This account of the previously undisclosed conversation comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said.

In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship, according to the official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

© Getty Images

But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.

The idea, despite his aides' best attempts to shoot it down, would nonetheless persist in the president's head.

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#2 San Francisco’s homelessness and opioid crises drive away business

San Francisco’s spiraling homelessness and opioid crisis is starting to drive away business and tourists, and a $40million medical convention has cancelled after its attendees complained they were too scared to walk the streets alone.

DailyMail.com's shocking photos of San Francisco, on Tuesday, capture a city in turmoil; with homeless people passed out on the sidewalks, shooting up in the streets and begging for survival.

The issue has become so dire that Chicago-based organizers of a five-day, semi-annual medical convention, which attracts around 15,000 people and pumps $40 million into the local economy, have announced they are moving the event to Los Angeles.

They are blaming the appalling state of San Francisco's streets where open drug use and threatening behavior are now common.

Post-convention surveys also found the city's rocketing levels of homelessness and people suffering from serious mental illness on the streets, meant some members were afraid to leave their hotel. One board member was assaulted near Moscone Center last year.

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#3 Dershowitz unloads on NY socialist Dem, Martha’s Vineyard liberals

Poll finds 41 percent of Americans approve of the way Mueller is handling the Russia investigation; Alan Dershowitz reacts on 'Fox & Friends.'

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday he won’t let radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders steal the spirit of the Democratic Party and doubled-down on his attack on fellow liberals who “shunned” him at Martha's Vineyard.

“I won’t let the Democrats steal my party from me. I want to regain the center,” Dershowitz told WABC Radio’s “Curtis and Cosby” show, noting that he will remain a Democrat as “as long as there’s some chance the Democratic Party can return to normalcy.”

“I want to make sure that the radical Left, the woman who got elected in the Bronx and Queens to Congress on the Democratic ticket, that they and Sanders and others don’t represent the Democratic Party,” he continued, referring to socialist Ocasio-Cortez who pulled off a shock victory last week against incumbent Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley.

“I want a fight within the Democratic Party to restore it to the days when it was a great centrist party, when it united people rather than divided people,” he added.

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#4 ICE Officials Are Pressuring Separated Parents To Sign Deportation Forms

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are telling detained migrant parents that to be reunited with their children they must sign a voluntary deportation form, according to lawyers who spoke to HuffPost.

The paperwork, which HuffPost reviewed, gives migrants the option to be reunited with their children before leaving the U.S. or to be deported without them, and it is addressed to parents who have been given “final orders of removal” ― meaning they have been rejected from seeking asylum.

Read the form here:

But attorneys say that their clients who are still going through the asylum process have been pressured to sign the form and that ICE agents are misleading parents into believing that voluntary deportation is the only way to be reunited with their kids.

“We’re hearing that people were told [by immigration agents], ‘You don’t have the option to seek asylum and be reunited with your children,’” said Gracie Willis, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “You either have to option to be deported with your child or without your child.”

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#5 Poll: Fewer Dems are ‘extremely proud’ to be Americans this Fourth of July

A new poll has found that pride in the U.S. has declined among Democrats under President Trump.

According to the Gallup poll, just 32 percent of Democrats say they are "extremely proud" to be American, down from the 43 percent who said the same in 2017.

Confidence in the state of the country was already on the decline, even before Trump took office, according to the poll. In 2013, for example, 67 percent of Democrats were "extremely" or "very" proud to be American in that year, according to Gallup.

A new Gallup poll did find that Americans have been feeling better about their personal freedoms over the past year. According to the poll, in 2016, 75 percent of Americans felt satisfied with the freedom they had to choose what they do with their lives. In 2018, 87 percent felt more satisfied.

However, that number is still noticeably smaller than the percentage that felt happy with their personal freedom years ago. The same poll found that 91 percent of Americans in 2006 felt satisfied with their person freedoms.

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#6 Michael Cohen’s ‘Scared’ and Lonely Journey From Pitbull Lawyer to Potential ‘Snitch’

In the course of two short years, Michael Cohen has gone from one of Donald Trump’s most trusted lieutenants to the potential agent of existential political and legal problems for his former boss.

Those who have spoken to Cohen in recent weeks tell The Daily Beast that President Trump’s longtime fixer is “scared” of possible jail time. He’s also frustrated by the distance that those close to Trump have worked to put between him and the president. He fears being discarded entirely.

President Trump “doesn’t talk about Michael much anymore,” a senior West Wing official also noted. “Not that he did much before.”

Cohen increasingly believes that Trump will not have his back as the feds continue to treat him like a mafia lawyer, and continues to worry about being made a fall-guy in the investigations surrounding the president. These fears underscore a remarkable change in status for one of the few figures who was seen, at least publicly, as a fixture of Trumpland.

It was not so long ago that Cohen would loudly threaten reporters who wrote critically of Trump and dutifully facilitate hush money payments to a porn star who claimed she had an affair with Trump. He also falsely denied that marital rape is illegal, and bragged about how he “destroy[ed]” the life of a young “idiot” beauty queen—all in the name of Trump, for whom Cohen had claimed he would take a “bullet” or jump out of a building.

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#7 Teen taken at US border tells of ‘icebox’ cages with 60 girls

© Getty
SEATAC, WA - JUNE 09: Javier Tapia (left), age 5, and his brother, Charlie Tapia, age 7, from Seattle, look at a Federal Detention Center holding migrant women on June 9, 2018 in SeaTac, Washington. The boys, whose family is originally from Mexico, were here as part of a protest. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal visited the Federal Detention Center-SeaTac to meet with more than 100 asylum seekers, many of whom are women. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — A 15-year-old girl who was forcibly separated from her mother after fleeing to the U.S. from El Salvador described to a Washington State investigator how she was crammed into a windowless room with 60 other girls and deprived of proper sleep or food for three days.

The room was divided by wire fencing into three cages, with each one holding 20 separated girls — some as young as 3 years old, according to an affidavit filed late Monday in federal court in Seattle. The girls, who weren’t told when they’d see their parents again, called it the “icebox.”

“The place was freezing because they kept the air conditioner on all the time, and each child was given a mat and an aluminum blanket,” the investigator for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote. “The girls placed their mats in the floor very close to one another, since there was not enough space.”

The affidavit is part of a lawsuit by 17 states and the District of Columbia that seeks to block the child-separation policy on constitutional grounds. The states on Monday asked the court to order the government to begin quickly turning over evidence.

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#8 Rare US independence declaration found in UK archive

A rare parchment copy of the American Declaration of Independence has been found at a British archive among the papers of an aristocrat who supported the rebels, officials have said.

The manuscript was discovered at the West Sussex Record Office in the southern English city of Chichester by a team of researchers led by two Harvard University academics.

Tests supported the hypothesis that it was produced in the 1780s, West Sussex County Council said earlier this week -- just a few years after the declaration itself was issued in 1776.

The document "is the only other contemporary manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence on parchment apart from the signed copy at the National Archives in Washington DC," known as the Matlack Declaration, a council statement said earlier this week.

There are other printed parchment copies and handwritten copies on paper but the Sussex Declaration, as it has been dubbed, and the Matlack Declaration in Washington are the only two known ceremonial parchment copies of the declaration.

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#9 Poland Purges Supreme Court, and Protesters Take to Streets

WARSAW — Poland’s government carried out a sweeping purge of the Supreme Court on Tuesday night, eroding the judiciary’s independence, escalating a confrontation with the European Union over the rule of law and further dividing this nation. Tens of thousands took to the streets in protest.

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Poland was once a beacon for countries struggling to escape the yoke of the Soviet Union and embrace Western democracy. But it is now in league with neighboring nations, like Hungary, whose leaders have turned to authoritarian means to tighten their grip on power, presenting a grave challenge to a European Union already grappling with nationalist, populist and anti-immigrant movements.

The forced retirements of up to 27 of 72 Supreme Court justices, including the top judge, and the creation of a judicial disciplinary chamber were the latest in a series of steps by Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice Party to take over the justice system.

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#10 Parents of missing Navy sailor get text from his phone

HONOLULU -- The parents of a U.S. Navy sailor who's been missing since Sunday got a text from his phone Tuesday, saying, "I'm alive and I love you," reports CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV.

That's according to Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which also said he still hasn't been found.

Shaun Palmer, based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, failed to report for duty Sunday.

His mother said he was last seen outside a bar in Waikiki following an apparent altercation. 

The military filed a missing persons report with the Honolulu Police Department, but police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

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