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July 17, 2019

A protester armed with pictures of President Trump and Jeffrey Epstein with the words "CHILD RAPIST" disrupted Trump's Wednesday night rally in Greenville, North Carolina.

CNN reports that the man was "removed in a more aggressive manner than most protesters and pulled down behind a sign where he remained for a while as supporters took pictures." After the demonstrator was taken away with his hands behind his back, Trump said he was going "home now to mommy, and he gets reprimanded and that's the end."

Epstein, a financier, was arrested earlier this month and charged by prosecutors in New York with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. More than a decade ago, Epstein was accused of sexually abusing girls, but pleaded guilty to felony prostitution charges instead and received a lenient 13-month jail sentence.

In 2002, Trump told New York magazine, "I've known Jeff for 15 years, terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." After Epstein's arrest, Trump said he "knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him. I had a falling out with him. I haven't spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you." Earlier on Wednesday, MSNBC aired footage from NBC's archives showing Trump and Epstein in 1992, laughing at a party. Trump appears to point at a woman and say "she's hot," and is also seen grabbing another woman in attendance. Catherine Garcia

July 11, 2019

An Air Canada flight headed to Sydney from Vancouver experienced extreme turbulence on Thursday afternoon, leaving at least 35 people with minor injuries.

There were 269 passengers and 15 crew members on board the plane, which encountered "un-forecasted and sudden turbulence" when it was about two hours past Hawaii, an Air Canada spokeswoman said. Once the turbulence struck, people were slammed into the ceiling, with passenger Stephanie Beam telling The Associated Press one woman hit it with enough force that she broke the casing of an oxygen mask. Another passenger, Alex MacDonald, said the flight attendants were passing out food when the turbulence started, and "they hit the roof as well."

The plane was forced to turn around and land in Honolulu, where emergency responders were waiting. More than two dozen people were taken to hospitals, a Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman said, with injuries including bumps, bruises, neck pain, and cuts. Air Canada said it will cover hotel accommodations and food for the passengers as they work out a way to get them to Sydney. Catherine Garcia

June 25, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an address on Tuesday criticized President Trump's newly-imposed sanctions as "outrageous and idiotic" — and that's not all.

Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing what he called "hard-hitting" new sanctions on Iran following its shooting down of a U.S. drone, saying the sanctions would deny Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and others "access to key financial resources and support."

On Tuesday, Rouhani responded by saying the White House has become "mentally crippled," The Washington Post reports, also saying the administration is "afflicted by mental retardation," The Associated Press reports. The sanctions, Rouhani said, represent the Trump administration's "certain failure," and he asked, "You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks?"

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman additionally warned that the sanctions indicate "the permanent closure of the doors of diplomacy," the Post reports. White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, meanwhile, says that Trump has "held the door open to real negotiations" and that "all that Iran needs to do is walk through that door." Brendan Morrow

June 19, 2019

The Trump administration wants to do away with the Office of Personnel Management, and will furlough 150 workers if Congress tries to intervene, The Washington Post reports.

The agency manages the government's civilian workforce. The Trump administration says it is a troubled department that needs to be dismantled, and it wants Congress to kill the department by June 30. Congress isn't on board with the plan, more than a year in the making. An internal briefing document obtained by the Post shows that if Congress balks, employees will be sent home without pay on Oct. 1, and after 30 days, they could be laid off. More than 5,500 people work in the department, and the Post reports that dozens of workers have retired or quit in recent months because they're not sure what will happen come October.

The Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, released a report this week concluding that if the agency is shuttered, it would increase, not ease, a retirement claims backlog. The Trump administration wants to divide the agency among three other departments, and acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert told the Post that "a legislative solution would be the most straightforward answer, but we've made it very clear we can't wait without action." Weichert, three officials told the Post, has told staffers that she is "planning to play chicken with Congress." Catherine Garcia

June 10, 2019

A Customs and Border Patrol subcontractor holding travelers' personal information has suffered a data breach, CBP revealed Monday.

The leaked information included "license plate images and traveler images collected by CBP," which had been stored with the unnamed subcontractor, CBP said in a Monday press release. That subcontractor had "transferred copies" of those files to its own network, which was "subsequently compromised by a malicious cyber-attack," CBP wrote.

CBP was sure to point out that the subcontractor acted "in violation of CBP policies and without CBP's authorization or knowledge" and that none of CBP's own systems were "compromised," the press release said. None of that leaked information has appeared on the internet or dark net, it also said. Still, British technology news site The Register did report last month that CBP data stolen from the firm Perceptics was being offered for free on the dark web. The Monday statement doesn't name the subcontractor, but the press release file CBP sent to The Washington Post contained the word "Perceptics" in its title.

The breach comes as CBP continues to implement its "biometric entry-exit system," which involves using facial recognition technology to identify all people traveling in and out of the U.S., BuzzFeed News notes. The leaked database contained passport and visa photos used in making that recognition system work. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 28, 2019

Drinking tea isn't generally considered to be unhealthy. It's sometimes said to be calming or invigorating, and some even claim it has health benefits. But as one man's peculiar situation shows, health risks can come from the most unsuspecting of places.

An 84-year-old Canadian man was sent to the emergency department for an extreme case of high blood pressure, chest pain, and headache — all of which had begun just in the past week. And doctors determined that the likely cause for the suddenness of his symptoms was a homemade brew of licorice root tea that the man had been drinking daily for two weeks. The man, who has a history of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, Gizmodo reports, could have ended up in even worse condition if he'd kept drinking the tea for longer.

"Excessive amounts of some herbal products can have harmful side effects," said Jean-Pierre Falet, a neurologist at McGill University in Montreal. And licorice root, specifically, has been known to cause problems with blood pressure. The Food and Drug Administration even recommends that people over 40 limit their intake of licorice candy.

Thankfully, after the man stopped drinking his homemade tea, his symptoms faded and he was back to normal after two weeks. But his case was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday as a reminder to doctors to be aware of the dangers of eating — or drinking — too much licorice. Read more at Gizmodo. Shivani Ishwar

May 27, 2019

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) defended a Navy SEAL accused of stabbing a teenage militant and then posing for a photo with the body, telling constituents during a town hall on Saturday that while serving in the Marines, he also took a picture next to a dead combatant.

Hunter declared that "a lot of us have done the exact same thing," The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Prosecutors allege that the Navy SEAL, Edward Gallagher, killed the teen Islamic State fighter in Iraq in 2017, and also shot two Iraqi civilians and fired into crowds of people. He has pleaded not guilty; his lawyers claim he was just a tough platoon leader and angry SEALs lied about the incident to get back at him.

President Trump has said he is considering pardoning service members accused of war crimes, and Hunter said he thinks Gallagher should be pardoned, claiming the military justice system is "corrupt." Hunter and his wife, Margaret, are both facing corruption charges, accused of misusing campaign funds. Hunter was asked about his case during the town hall, but he refused to comment. Catherine Garcia

May 20, 2019

President Trump's trade war with China is about to go global.

Trump has spent pretty much his entire presidency trying to negotiate a trade deal with China, with both countries levying tit-for-tat tariffs all the while. And while those tariffs have mainly hurt American farmers so far, a new Morgan Stanley analysis published by Reuters suggests they could turn into a problem for the whole world.

After a brief hibernation, trade talks with China started up again earlier this month. And in the middle of those discussions, Trump upped a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports to 25 percent, leading China to, of course, retaliate. If that pattern continues, specifically "if talks stall, no deal is agreed upon, and the U.S. imposes 25 percent tariffs on the remaining circa $300 billion of imports from China," then "we see the global economy heading towards recession," a Morgan Stanley analyst wrote in a Monday memo. The Federal Reserve Board would then have to cut interest rates down to zero, the analyst predicted.

Back in the states, the Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates Trump's current tariffs translate to an average tax hike of $550 for each American family, Politico reports. Extending that tariff to $500 billion worth of goods could lead to a $2,200 tax spike for a family of three. That effectively erases the $800 average tax cut U.S. families saw under Trump's Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. Making matters even worse, companies including Walmart are warning that ongoing tariffs will just lead to higher consumer prices. Read more about the everyday negatives of Trump's tariffs at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

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