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No clear champ as Boris, Corbyn spar in UK debate…


LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked each other’s policies on Brexit, health care and the economy Tuesday in a televised election debate that likely failed to answer the question troubling many voters: Why should we trust you?

The two politicians hammered away at their rival’s weaknesses and sidestepped tricky questions about their own policies in the hourlong encounter, which was the first-ever head-to-head TV debate between a British prime minister and a chief challenger.

It was a chance for Corbyn to make up ground in opinion polls that show his Labour Party trailing Johnson’s Conservatives ahead of the Dec. 12 election. For Johnson, the matchup was an opportunity to shake off a wobbly campaign start that has seen the Conservatives thrown on the defensive by candidates’ gaffes and favoritism allegations involving Johnson’s relationship with an American businesswoman while he was London’s mayor.

Both men stuck to safe territory, with Corbyn touting Labour’s plans for big increases in public spending and Johnson trying to keep the focus on his promise to “get Brexit done.”

Speaking in front of a live audience at the studios of broadcaster ITV in Salford, in northwest England, the two men traded blows over Britain’s stalled departure from the European Union — the reason the election is being held. The U.K. is due to leave the bloc on Jan. 31, after failing to meet the Oct. 31 deadline to approve a divorce deal.

Johnson pushed to hold the election more than two years ahead of schedule in an effort to win a majority in the House of Commons that could pass his departure agreement with the EU. He blamed the opposition for “dither and delay, deadlock and division” and said a Conservative government would “end this national misery” and “break the deadlock.”

Corbyn said a Labour government would also settle the Brexit question by negotiating a new divorce deal before holding a new EU membership referendum within six months. A lifelong critic of the EU and lukewarm advocate of Britain’s membership in the bloc, Corbyn did not answer when asked repeatedly by Johnson whether he would support leaving or remaining in a new referendum.

The Labour leader, meanwhile, slammed Johnson’s claim that he would negotiate a new trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020 as a fantasy, saying such deals usually take years to complete.

“You’re not going to get it done in a few months, and you know that perfectly well,” Corbyn said.

The Labour leader also repeated his allegation that Johnson planned to offer chunks of Britain’s state-funded health system to American medical firms as part of future trade negotiations with the U.S.

Johnson branded that claim “an absolute invention.”

All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs in the election. Smaller parties in the race include the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, who want to cancel Brexit; the Scottish National Party, which seeks Scotland’s independence from the U.K.; the anti-EU Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage; and the environmentalist Greens.

The debate featured only two candidates after the High Court in London rejected a legal challenge from the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party over ITV’s decision to exclude their leaders from the debate. The court decided it was a matter of “editorial judgment’’ to limit the format to the leaders of Britain’s two largest political parties, one of whom will almost certainly be the country’s next prime minister.

Later in the campaign, the leaders of smaller parties will take part alongside Labour and the Conservatives in two seven-way debates, and Corbyn and Johnson are due to square off again in a BBC debate on Dec. 6.

The stakes are high for both Johnson and Corbyn as they try to win over a Brexit-weary electorate. Both are trying to overcome a mountain of mistrust.

Neither delivered the kind of performance to silence their critics.

Johnson — who shelved his customary bluster in favor of a more muted, serious approach — is under fire for failing to deliver on his often-repeated vow that Britain would leave the EU on Oct. 31.

He drew derisive laughter from the audience when he urged voters, “Look what I have said I’m going to do as a politician and look what I’ve delivered.”

Corbyn, a stolid socialist, is accused by critics of promoting high-tax policies and of failing to clamp down on anti-Semitism within his party. His refusal to say which side he would be on in a Brexit referendum was also met with laughter.

Pushed by moderator Julie Etchingham to pledge to tone down the angry rhetoric that has poisoned British politics since the country’s 2016 Brexit referendum, the two men awkwardly agreed and shook hands.

There was another awkward moment when they were asked about Prince Andrew’s friendship with American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew gave a televised interview last week in which he denied claims that he had sex with Virginia Giuffre, a woman who says she was trafficked by Epstein as a teenager.

Asked if the British monarchy was “fit for purpose,” Corbyn replied, “Needs a bit of improvement.” Johnson said “the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach.”

Both expressed sympathy for Epstein victims — something Prince Andrew failed to do in his interview.

Televised debates are a relatively new phenomenon in British elections — the first took place in 2010 — and they have the power to transform campaigns. A confident 2010 appearance by former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg sparked a wave of “Cleggmania” that helped to propel him into the deputy prime minister post in a coalition government with the Conservatives.

During Britain’s last election in 2017, then-Prime Minister Theresa May refused to take part in any TV debates. The decision reinforced the view that she was a weak campaigner, and the election turned out to be a debacle for her Conservative Party, which lost its majority in Parliament.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said Tuesday’s debate was “a pretty messy score draw, although Corbyn may just have snuck a win in the dying minutes.”

“Hardly two men at the top of their game, though,” he said.

___

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit



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Airlines expect to carry record 31.6M passengers over Thanksgiving…


The top industry group for U.S. airlines predicts that the Thanksgiving Day travel period will break records.

A record 31.6 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines globally over the upcoming period, according to Airlines for America. That total represents 3.7 percent more people from 2018 during the same travel period.

And Dec. 1 will be the busiest travel day ever for the airline industry, with 3.1 million people traveling that day.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is a typically busy travel day, but John Heimlich, Airlines for America vice president and chief economist, said in a call with reporters Tuesday that it is poised to be the busiest travel day “in the history of the United States airline industry.” 

“The popularity of air travel continues to soar this holiday season, as airlines and airports alike continue to invest billions of dollars into improving the quality of the experience and the efficiency of their operations,” Heimlich said.

On the day before Thanksgiving, 2.98 million passengers are expected to travel and, on the day after Thanksgiving, 2.96 million passengers are expected. 

But the holiday itself, Thanksgiving Day, is expected to be one of the lightest travel days of the year, with only 1.79 million passengers. In 2018, Thanksgiving Day was the fourth lightest day of the year, Heimlich said on Tuesday.



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Fed Adds $102 Billion to Financial System in Latest Repo Transactions…


The Federal Reserve Bank of New York added $102.44 billion in temporary liquidity to the financial system Tuesday.

The intervention came in two parts. One was via overnight repurchase agreements, or repos, that totaled $78.3 billion, and via a 14-day repo that totaled $24.14 billion. In both operations, eligible banks took less liquidity than the Fed offered.

Fed…



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BUST: Many Americans Over 65 Face Economic Insecurity…


(Bloomberg) — Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.

The majority of Americans living alone are at risk of not being able to pay for basic needs.

That’s according to new estimates of financial insecurity among Americans 65 and older from the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The Elder Index calculated by the university and other researchers tracks the income needed for older adults in good health. It shows that on average a single person without a mortgage requires $21,012 per year to pay for basic needs, or $31,800 per couple. Regional price variations change the estimates significantly.

The estimated budget covers basic needs such as housing and food but excludes vacations, restaurant meals or entertainment expenses. Regionally, the cost of living independently ranges from $21,504 for singles renting in Alabama to a high of $33,060 in the nation’s capital.

States in the Northeast comprise the majority of the 10 states with the largest elder economic insecurity rates. The costliest states also break down overwhelmingly as those that tend to vote Democratic, while the most affordable generally lean Republican.

Most older adults rely on Social Security as a key component of income, but on average more than half who live below the Elder Index rely on Social Security for at least 90% of their incomes.

“As an increasing number of Baby Boomers retire, we’ll see more and more Americans struggle to get by on just their Social Security checks,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, a Democrat and vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee, in emailed comments.

While the research highlights the economic security challenges for many older adults who live independently, the situation is likely even worse for those who aren’t in good health.

Almost one-fifth of Americans 65 and older are struggling with poor health, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in five reported “a lot of difficulty” and an additional four in 10 have “some difficulty” in at least one category including vision, hearing, mobility, communication, cognition and self-care. Such limitations likely add to expenses.

Read more: U.S. Health Report Shows Growing Despair Among Men

The CDC also found baby boomers are retiring in larger numbers and living longer. At age 75, men are projected to live an additional 11.3 years while the figure 13 years for women. Those estimates have risen from 8.8 years and 11.5 years since 1980.

(Adds a quote from Rep. Maloney of New York.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Tanzi in Washington at atanzi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah McGregor at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net, Jeff Kearns, Ben Holland

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Disease, defects and danger: The unhappy truth behind pet cloning…


Pet cloning has become more and more popular in recent years, with surging numbers of people paying thousands of pounds to have their adored cats and dogs cloned.

Celebrities have particularly widened the appeal of what was once considered an ethically-dubious science, with stars such as Barbara Streisand and fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg “recreating” their dogs.

But while it seems like the ideal solution to losing a pet, many experts are speaking out to warn unsuspecting animal-lovers of the perils of doing so.

One of the main problems with cloning pets is that they often turn out completely differently.

A number of owners who paid for the costly procedure have come forward in the last couple of years to reveal cloning has not lived up to what they thought it would be.

Barbara Streisand with Samantha, the dog that she had two clones made of

Huang Yu, from the city of Wenzhou, in China, paid $35,000 (£27,000) to have his cat Garlic cloned this year after being left utterly bereft when the feline passed away.

But when the new kitten – also named Garlic – was born in July to a surrogate mother in Beijing, Huang realised the two cats were completely different, not even sharing a physical resemblance.

Speaking about his experience to the New York Times, Huang admitted: “If I tell you I wasn’t disappointed, then I would be lying to you.”

Another case that bears striking similarities to this one is that of Ralph Fisher, who paid to have his tame bull Chance cloned.

And things seemed okay at first when the bull he decided to call Second Chance was born. For example, the clone ate the unusual way Ralph recognised from its predecessor – lifting his head and chewing rather than dipping his whole head in the feed bucket.

“I’ve never seen another animal do that,” Fisher said of this. “I thought it was the same animal. I would say we got him back.”

Pet cloning has become a big business

But it wasn’t long for the differences to begin emerging, including, most scarily, that Second Chance was not as tame as his parent clone and attacked Ralph twice.

Biotechnology expert Mark Westhusin, who was involved in the procedure that created Chance in 1999, explained: “People want to believe it is resurrection.

“It is in fact not resurrection. It’s just reproduction.”

And the problems don’t just stop there.

A cloned animal may also come with a whole host of health issues that were not present in the ‘original’.

The National Human Genome Research Institute, in Bethesda, US, has warned of the potential problems cloned creatures may have, including higher instances of disease.

“These include an increase in birth size and a variety of defects in vital organs, such as the liver, brain and heart,” it reported.

“Other consequences include premature ageing and problems with the immune system.”

Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996 and only lived half the average lifespan of a sheep

Although proof of this is harder to find with pet cloning still a rarity, there is some anecdotal evidence, such as how Dolly the Sheep lived just six years – half the average lifespan of a sheep.

But this has not stopped companies promising they can provide a perfectly-cloned copy of heartbroken pet-owners’ beloved companion.

One South Korean dog cloning service even boasts: “Let us be of aid to you and your family.

“With respect to the companions who have consoled our weary hearts and made the happy memories.

“How would it feel like to start again with your companion? It is now possible to make your dreams come true with biotechnology.”

Read More

Today’s Top Stories

Finally, there are the obvious very serious ethical concerns about cloning, such as how little this kind of cutting edge science can be properly overseen by governing bodies.

Medical ethicist Dr Ronald Munson previously went as far as to called cloning the “theatre of the absurd acted out by scientists”.

One of the main concerns he raised was how of hand cloning could get, having first made these comments in the 1990’s.

Cloning has certainly come along way since Dolly was born in 1996 – and it’ll undoubtedly go a lot further.



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GATEHOUSEGANNETT join, become largest newspaper chain…


NEW YORK (AP) — GateHouse closed its $1.1 billion takeover of USA Today publisher Gannett, becoming the country’s largest newspaper company by far and pledging significant cost cuts at a time when print publications are in precipitous decline.

The merger brings together about 260 daily papers, including the Arizona Republic, the Providence Journal and the Austin American-Statesman, as well as hundreds of weeklies.

In an interview with The Associated Press, executives of the combined company, which will keep the Gannett name, acknowledged there will be layoffs — the company has committed to cutting $300 million in annual costs.

Current Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert said front-line reporters are “the last place we want to touch” when it comes to job cuts. He cited “duplication of management” and potential excess costs in financial, printing and advertising divisions as opportunities to reduce costs, and said the company will further centralize editing and newspaper and web design functions.

Mike Reed, the media veteran who leads GateHouse’s parent company, will be CEO of the newly combined company. Bascobert, who has a background in e-commerce as well as media, will now serve as chief executive of the new company’s operating subsidiary.

“We believe we have a strategy that will result in …not just preserving local journalism, but letting local journalism thrive,” Reed said. “National journalism as well. And fortunately, we’re going to be able to impact at least 260 communities.”

The company expects growth in digital operations even as print advertising declines and traditional online ads continue to be dominated by Facebook and Google. The executives envision a revitalization of the classified advertising model on newspaper websites that could offer an alternative to Yelp in helping readers find local businesses

The new Gannett has set itself a challenging task in supporting local journalism by expanding a digital business involving marketing services and online subscriptions, as well as live events. Digital today makes up about a quarter of the two companies’ combined revenues.

Additionally, there’s a high-interest $1.8 billion loan to be paid back to private-equity firm Apollo. The stock price of GateHouse’s parent, New Media Investment Group, has also fallen 40% since it announced the Gannett acquisition, shaving about $265 million from its market value.

Bascobert declined to give an estimate on how many layoffs were coming. The two companies have about 25,000 employees, said a Gannett spokeswoman, down from 27,600 at the end of last year. The company has laid off some workers since then, although it has not specified where those job cuts landed or how many jobs were involved.

Gannett expects to slow its revenue decline. According to predictions in financial filings, the combined company’s revenue will drop 3.6% next year and less every subsequent year until 2023, when it will grow less than 1%. That would be a big turnaround: The old Gannett’s revenue fell 9.5% over the last nine months. Excluding the impact of acquisitions, GateHouse’s fell about 7%.

Reed said digital businesses will grow even as print advertising shrinks from 29% of total revenue in 2019 to 15% in 2022.



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Is America ready for gay president?


New York (AFP) – As young Democrat Pete Buttigieg emerges as a genuine contender in the 2020 White House race, his rise poses the question of whether America is ready for an openly gay president.

When Buttigieg announced in January that he was considering a presidential run, few had heard of the 37-year-old outside the small Indiana city of South Bend where he is mayor.

Today, he is in the small pack leading the Democratic race, regularly appearing on the campaign trail with husband Chasten Buttigieg — a junior high school teacher who now stands to become the first-ever US first gentleman.

“Mayor Pete” — as he likes to be known — has drawn a surge of fundraising, and over the weekend topped a poll in Iowa, which votes first in the Democratic nominating contest.

The latest national polls put the Afghanistan veteran fourth behind a trio of septuagenarians vastly more experienced than he is: fellow centrist former vice president Joe Biden, and the progressive senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Buttigieg claims to have revived South Bend, an industrial city of 100,000 residents, and wants to end the “horror show” that he says is the presidency of Donald Trump.

While Buttigieg does not dwell on his sexual orientation, he has spoken candidly about his decision to come out four years ago, and his engagement in 2017 to Chasten — with whom he hopes to start a family, perhaps even in the White House.

Unlike Europe where half a dozen countries have elected gay leaders since 2009, the barrier to LGBT presidential candidates, as well as women, remains unbroken in the United States.

Barack Obama, the first black man elected president in 2008, was preceded in the White House by 43 white males, none openly gay.

But in recent years and especially since the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, “the landscape for LGBTQ candidates has shifted dramatically,” said Annise Parker, president of the Victory Fund, an organization that supports gay candidates in the United States.

“When I was elected I was the first and only LGBT mayor in the top 100 (cities),” recalls Parker, who was mayor of Houston from 2010 to 2016.

“Now we have three (as well as) two governors, two US senators. The number of out politicians at the highest level is increasing very rapidly,” she added.

The first openly gay presidential candidate was Fred Karger, who sought the Republican nomination in 2012, although his candidacy never took off.

– ‘Integrity’ –

On its website, Victory Fund regularly updates a map of elected LBGTQ officials in the United States: the number currently stands at 762 across all levels of government and all states except South Dakota and Mississippi.

Recent national polls have suggested voters are more open to LGBTQ candidates.

In May, a Gallup poll found 76 percent of respondents said they would vote for a gay candidate, three times more than in 1978.

Among Democrats, who are often more concerned with minority rights, the share rose to 83 percent.

John Della Volpe, who studies voter behavior at the Harvard Institute of Politics, said most of the 2020 electorate, especially young voters, do not care about sexual orientation.

“The attributes that voters are looking for are integrity, vision, authenticity, life experience,” he told AFP. “The stakes are just too high to even focus on age, race, gender, sexual identity.”

In terms of integrity and authenticity, being openly gay is a “strength,” Volpe believes, adding that Buttigieg’s story about being “a young person struggling with their identity” rings true.

But reluctance remains.

A poll released last month found that 45 percent of those questioned thought America was not, or probably not ready for a gay president.

Interviews conducted in July with a sample of black Democratic voters in North Carolina found some were uncomfortable with Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, according to a campaign team memo leaked to the media.

Most, however, were able to overcome their reservations after hearing him speak in calm and measured tones and once he had reminded them he is a practicing Christian, the memo added.

In a hyper-polarized country where Democrats want the best candidate to unseat Trump, fears that Buttigieg’s sexual orientation could be a handicap may work against him.

T.J. Thran, 25, told AFP this month at a Buttigieg rally in New Hampshire he worries the candidate’s sexuality might turn off some working-class voters.

But LGBTQ activists say even if he doesn’t win the candidacy, his run will leave a lasting legacy.

“He is already breaking barriers,” said Parker.

“What he has been doing very well is showing how completely American he is and how completely transparent he is about his relationship with his husband.

“That is changing the landscape for everybody else who will be running after him,” she added.



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Prison guards charged for falsifying records…


Two correctional officers who were responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein in his New York jail cell on the night he killed himself have pleaded not guilty to charges they falsified records to cover up their failure to check on him.

Tova Noel, 31, and Michael Thomas, 41, appeared in a Manhattan court on Tuesday afternoon where they were arraigned on charges of falsifying records and conspiracy in relation to Epstein’s death. 

Noel and Thomas, who had both self-surrendered to the FBI earlier in the day, were supported by about a dozen correctional officers in the courtroom. 

The two officers were each released on $100,000 bond and ordered to surrender their firearms and travel documents. In an orchestrated plan, their fellow officers formed a protective blockade to help shield them from photographers as they were released and left the court.    

Around a dozen corrections officers who turned up in support of their two colleagues formed a protective blockade around the accused and covered their heads while shepherding them into waiting cars. 

They are accused of falling asleep and surfing the internet instead of checking on the millionaire pedophile in his cell just 15 feet away from them at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10.

After they discovered Epstein dead in his cell, Noel and Thomas allegedly told a supervisor they had ‘messed up’ and ‘didn’t do any checks’ in the hours before he killed himself. 

Scroll down for video 

Michael Thomas

Tova Noel

Tova Noel, 31, (right) and Michael Thomas, 41, (left) appeared in a Manhattan court on Tuesday afternoon where they were arraigned on charges of falsifying records and conspiracy in relation to Epstein’s death

The two officers were each released on $100,000 bond and ordered to surrender their firearms and travel documents. In an orchestrated plan, their fellow officers formed a protective blockade to help shield them from photographers as they were released and left the court

The two officers were each released on $100,000 bond and ordered to surrender their firearms and travel documents. In an orchestrated plan, their fellow officers formed a protective blockade to help shield them from photographers as they were released and left the court

Thomas, who had both self-surrendered to the FBI earlier in the day, is seen trying to hide his face in the back of a van outside the court room

Thomas, who had both self-surrendered to the FBI earlier in the day, is seen trying to hide his face in the back of a van outside the court room 

Noel’s attorney, Jason E. Foy, told reporters ahead of the court appearance that his client ‘shouldn’t be here’.

Foy took issue with the judge’s orders that the officers had to surrender their firearms, arguing his client had no history of violence, the crimes she is accused of are non-violent and ‘the world is crazy’. 

They were ordered not to have any contact with each other ahead of their next court appearance on November 25. 

They appeared in court after it was revealed that the FBI is looking into the potential that there was ‘criminal enterprise’ involved in his death.

Noel and Thomas’s indictment also claimed:  

  • They sat at their desks, browsed online and moved about the common area for a substantial portion of their shift instead of completing the required checks.
  • Noel and Thomas allegedly appeared to be asleep at their desks for about two hours.
  • Noel used her computer to search for furniture sales and benefit websites during her shift.
  • Thomas allegedly searched online for motorcycle sales and sports news briefly at 1am, 4am and 6am. 
  • The pair were only 15ft away from Epstein when he died.
  • They found him dead when they went to serve him breakfast at 6.30am. The last time they checked on him was at 10.30pm the night before. 
  • Noel allegedly told a supervisor: ‘We did not complete the 3am and 5am rounds’. 
  • Thomas added: ‘We messed up’ and ‘I messed up, she’s not to blame, we didn’t do any rounds’. 
The two federal Bureau of Prisons employees, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were charged on Tuesday with falsifying records and conspiracy in relation to Jeffrey Epstein's death

The two federal Bureau of Prisons employees, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were charged on Tuesday with falsifying records and conspiracy in relation to Jeffrey Epstein’s death 

Noel and Thomas, who were assigned to Epstein’s Special Housing Unit at the federal jail, are accused of failing to check on him every half-hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to claim they had.  

The two guards are accused of repeatedly signing false certifications saying that they had conducted multiple counts of inmates during their shift. The prisoners were not checked on for eight hours, according to the indictment. The guards discovered Epstein’s body at 6.30am.   

Noel, who has worked at the jail since 2016, was working an overtime shift and had been on duty for roughly 14 hours in the unit by the time Epstein’s body was found. 

Her colleague, Thomas, had worked at the jail since 2007. He was also working an overtime shift the night Epstein died.  

The two guards were required to jointly conduct institutional counts at 4pm, 10pm, 12am, 3am and 5am of the prisoners in the unit.

Both officers are required to walk the six levels of the unit to count and observe every inmate.

They then have to each fill in and sign a form with the date and time the counts were performed.

Around a dozen corrections officers who turned up in support of their two colleagues formed a protective blockade around the accused and covered their heads while shepherding them into waiting cars

Around a dozen corrections officers who turned up in support of their two colleagues formed a protective blockade around the accused and covered their heads while shepherding them into waiting cars

A scrum surrounds Noel and Thomas (not seen) as they leave the courtroom

A scrum surrounds Noel and Thomas (not seen) as they leave the courtroom 

The guards are expected to be charged in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan later on Tuesday over their alleged failure to check on the millionaire pedophile in his cell the night he took his own life. His body is pictured above being brought out by medical examiners

The guards are expected to be charged in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan later on Tuesday over their alleged failure to check on the millionaire pedophile in his cell the night he took his own life. His body is pictured above being brought out by medical examiners

The pending charges are the first in connection with Epstein's death after he took his own life in August at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (above) while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls

The pending charges are the first in connection with Epstein’s death after he took his own life in August at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (above) while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls

The slips are then collected and taken to the prison’s control center where officers double check them to make sure every inmate is accounted for.

In addition to the count, officers assigned to the unit Epstein was in are required to walk around every 30 minutes to ensure inmates are ‘alive and accounted for’, according to the indictment. They are also required to sign forms saying they carried out these 30-minute checks.

The procedures that should’ve been followed in Epstein’s jail unit:  

The two guards were required to jointly conduct institutional counts at 4pm, 10pm, 12am, 3am and 5am of the prisoners in the unit.

Both officers are required to walk the six levels of the unit to count and observe every inmate.

They then have to each fill in and sign a form with the date and time the counts were performed.

The slips are then collected and taken to the prison’s control center where officers double check them to make sure every inmate is accounted for. 

In addition to the count, officers assigned to the unit Epstein was in are required to walk around every 30 minutes to ensure inmates are ‘alive and accounted for’, according to the indictment. 

They are also required to sign forms saying they carried out these 30-minute checks. 

In total, the two guards were required to carry out five institutional counts. 

Prosecutors say surveillance video shows the officers did not conduct a single count despite them logging that they did.

They are also accused of falsely signing off that they had carried out more than 75 separate 30-minute checks.  

During their shift, Noel and Thomas were required to carry out five institutional counts. Prosecutors say surveillance video shows the pair did not conduct a single count despite them logging that they did.

Noel is accused of falsely signing off that they had carried out more than 75 separate 30-minute checks.

Surveillance video showed Epstein being taken to his cell by Noel at about 7.49pm after he met with his attorney, the indictment says.

Noel was filmed briefly walking up to the door leading to the tier where Epstein’s cell was at about 10pm.

‘This was the last time anyone, including any correctional officer, walked up to, let alone entered, the only entrance to the tier in which Epstein was housed until approximately 6.30am,’ the complaint says. 

Noel was charged with five counts of falsifying records about how Epstein was monitored, while Thomas was charged with three counts. Both also face a conspiracy charge. Each count carries a maximum five-year prison term.

The charges came as Bureau of Prisons’ director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer testified in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.  

‘The FBI is involved and they are looking at criminal enterprise,’ Sawyer said after being questioned as to how this could happen in such a high profile case. 

The charges are the first in connection with the 66-year-old’s death while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls.

The two officers were placed on administrative leave while the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general investigated the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death. The warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center was also reassigned. 

His autopsy report found his neck had been broken in several places, including the hyoid bone located near the Adam's apple. The city's medical examiner ruled Epstein's death a suicide but that didn't stop the conspiracy theories from swirling

His autopsy report found his neck had been broken in several places, including the hyoid bone located near the Adam’s apple. The city’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide but that didn’t stop the conspiracy theories from swirling

Epstein's autopsy report found his neck had been broken in several places, including the hyoid bone located near the Adam's apple

Epstein’s autopsy report found his neck had been broken in several places, including the hyoid bone located near the Adam’s apple

Epstein had been on suicide watch after he was found July 23 on his cell floor with bruises on his neck. He was taken off suicide watch about a week before his death, which meant he was less closely monitored but still supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.

The city’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide but that didn’t stop the conspiracy theories from swirling. 

Both Epstein’s brother and the lawyers who represented him in his criminal case have expressed doubts about the medical examiner’s conclusion. 

His autopsy report found his neck had been broken in several places, including the hyoid bone located near the Adam’s apple. 

Forensic experts said that breakages to that specific bone could occur when people hanged themselves but were more commonly seen in victims who had been strangled. 

A source close to Epstein told DailyMail.com that he appeared to be in good spirits in the days before his suicide.

His brother Mark recently said he could not think of a single reason why Epstein would have taken his own life. He called the financier’s death ‘suspicious’ and said he has seen no evidence to support the official ruling on his brother’s cause of death.   

A 31-year-old woman, who claims she was trafficked and sexually abused by Epstein when she was 15, spoke out publicly for the first time on Monday to announce that she is launching a lawsuit against against his estate

A 31-year-old woman, who claims she was trafficked and sexually abused by Epstein when she was 15, spoke out publicly for the first time on Monday to announce that she is launching a lawsuit against against his estate 

During a press conference in Los Angeles, the woman - only identified as Jane Doe 15 - was spotted wearing a bracelet that read: 'Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself'

During a press conference in Los Angeles, the woman – only identified as Jane Doe 15 – was spotted wearing a bracelet that read: ‘Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself’ 

Dr Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist hired by Epstein’s family to observe the autopsy, has claimed the injuries were more consistent with homicide by strangulation than suicide.

He claimed he hadn’t seen the same fractures in a suicidal hanging case in 50 years.  

Dr Baden previously said authorities could help clear things up by being more transparent about their findings in Epstein’s death.  

Epstein’s death ended the possibility of a trial that would have involved prominent figures, and it sparked widespread anger that he wouldn’t have to answer for the allegations. 

He had pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

Even with his death, federal prosecutors in New York have continued to investigate the allegations against Epstein. The Justice Department has vowed to aggressively investigate and bring charges against anyone who may have helped him.

There is also a related investigation in Paris, where accusers are complaining police haven’t done enough to track down potential witnesses.

A 31-year-old woman, who claims she was trafficked and sexually abused by Epstein when she was 15, spoke out publicly for the first time on Monday to announce that she is launching a lawsuit against against his estate.

During a press conference in Los Angeles, the woman – only identified as Jane Doe 15 – was spotted wearing a bracelet that read: ‘Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself’. 

‘Things that don’t hang themselves. Christmas ornaments, dry wall and Epstein’: Senator John Kennedy on the pedophile’s death 

Senator John Kennedy demanded that the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ‘tell the American people what happened’ surrounding the death of Jeffrey Epstein who killed himself while behind bars at one of the most secure jails in America. 

‘Christmas ornaments, drywall, and [Jeffrey] Epstein – name three things that don’t hang themselves. That’s what the American people think,’ Kennedy said, referring to the public’s skepticism that Epstein committed suicide. 

‘And they deserve some answers,’ the Louisiana Republican told Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, on Tuesday. 

For years, the federal Bureau of Prisons has been plagued by systematic failures, from massive staffing shortages to chronic violence. But the largest agency in the Justice Department has largely stayed out of the public view.

But the death of wealthy financier Epstein has cast a spotlight on the agency, which has also been besieged by serious misconduct in recent years. 

The issues at the Bureau of Prisons took center stage Tuesday as the agency’s new director, Hawk Sawyer, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Staffing shortages at the agency – it employs more than 35,000 people and has an annual budget that exceeds $7billion – are so severe that guards often work overtime day after day or are forced to work mandatory double shifts. 



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BUCHANAN: What's behind our world on fire?


When the wildfires of California broke out across the Golden State, many were the causes given.

Negligence by campers. Falling power lines. Arson. A dried-out land. Climate change. Failure to manage forests, prune trees and clear debris, leaving fuel for blazes ignited. Abnormally high winds spreading the flames. Too many fires for first responders to handle.

So, too, there appears to be a multiplicity of causes igniting and fueling the protests and riots sweeping capital cities across our world.

The year-long yellow vest protests in Paris, set off by fuel price hikes that were swiftly rescinded, seemed to grind down this weekend to several thousand anarchic and violent die-hards.

The riots in Chile were started to oppose a small hike in train and subway fares in a country with the highest per capita income and least inequality in all of Latin America. Yet the protesters have succeeded in forcing the elected government to capitulate and write a new constitution.

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Bolivia’s uprising was over an election stolen by longtime president Evo Morales, who fled to Mexico to be welcomed by the foreign minister.

Among the issues dividing Bolivians are economic inequality and tribalism – indigenous peoples living alongside a European-descended elite.

In Hong Kong, where protesters appear to be making a last stand in the city’s universities, the cause that first united them was a proposal to allow the city’s citizens to be extradited to China for trial.

While that proposal was withdrawn, the rioting has continued for half a year and now involves Molotov cocktails, slingshots, bows and arrows, and catapults to hurl bricks at police.

The latest demands include investigating and punishing police for excessive force, restoration of all liberties and freedoms Hong Kong enjoyed in the last years of British rule and the right to elect their own leaders.

If Hong Kong can resist mighty China for half a year, imagine what Taiwan, with three times Hong Kong’s population, significant military forces, and 100 miles of water between the island and mainland, could do to resist the rule of the party of Xi Jinping.

In Baghdad, the protests went violent early, and hundreds are now dead.

A primary cause of the rioters’ rage – Iranian influence in Iraqi politics that arose among the Shiite majority after George W. Bush overthrew the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein.

The Iranian-backed Shiite militia who helped stop the Islamic State group’s drive to Baghdad in the days of the caliphate are now less welcome. “Iranians, go home!” is a popular demand.

The recent violent protests inside Iran are rooted in both politics and economics. U.S. sanctions keep millions of barrels of Iran’s oil off world markets every day, causing surging deficits, exacerbating the plunging value of Iran’s currency and contributing to rising inflation.

The triggering event for the riots in Iran was a rise in the price of gas, which is still only a fraction of what Americans pay per gallon, but is deeply painful for working- and middle-class Iranians who are stretched to the limit.

The issues pulling continents, countries and capitals apart thus appear to be growing, enduring and, indeed, perhaps insoluble.

Consider. The economic issues propelling workers into the streets to protest inequalities of wealth and income are occurring at a time when our world has never been more prosperous.

The ethnic and racial clashes within and between nations seem increasingly beyond the capacity of democratic regimes to resolve peacefully.

As for matters of fundamental belief – political, ideological, religious – the divides here, too, seem to be deepening and widening.

India’s Hindu majority of 1 billion seeks suppression of its Muslim minority. Secular Chinese put Muslim Uighurs and Kazakhs in concentration camps by the thousands to root out their birth loyalties and convert them into Marxist nationalists. Han Chinese are moved into Tibet and Xinjiang to swamp indigenous populations.

In Hong Kong, the struggle is ideological and political, between believers in democracy and advocates of authoritarianism.

President Trump’s America wants to secure the Southern border against an ongoing invasion of Latin American and Third World people, who could soon create here a new majority that votes reliably Democratic.

Europe resists with growing alarm a decades-long invasion of the Old Continent by desperate people fleeing the failed states of Africa and the Mideast.

In Spain, a nationalist party, Vox, vaults to third place to resist a leftist regime in Madrid that is seen as too accommodating to Catalan secessionists and refugees from across the Mediterranean.

Americans are not at actual war with one another, but our divisions are as wide and deep as they have been since the 1960s, if not since the Civil War.

We have Republicans standing united against the impeachment and removal of a president they overwhelmingly elected – by a united Democratic Party dominated by implacable ideological adversaries.

Neither authoritarians nor the world’s democracies seem to have found a cure for the maladies that afflict our world’s unhappy citizens.

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In desert dunes, electro fans rave about Tunisia tourism…


Ong Jmal (Tunisie) (AFP) – Bass rhythms boom out across the Tunisian Sahara toward a herd of camels, lasers splash colours across the dunes and VIPs sip vodka in what was once a “Star Wars” movie set.

The Dunes Electronique music festival, launched in 2014, was revived last weekend on the set where US director George Lucas created the desert planet of Tatooine.

The festival marked a joyous and noisy comeback after a three-year silence following several deadly jihadist attacks in the North African country which also badly hit its tourism sector.

In a sign of the growing appeal of the remote Saharan region and its other-worldly landscapes, more than 20 international and local DJs and thousands of revellers converged on the desert site of Ong Jmal in southwest Tunisia for the two-day extravaganza.

“We had already visited Tunis, but this time we came all the way here for the festival,” said Leopold Poignant, a 22-year-old student from Paris who planned to also visit the nearby oasis town of Tozeur after the party.

He said they were drawn by DJs like Adam Port and Konstantin Sibold, “but we’ve also come for the experience. This is a Star Wars setting, and partying in the dunes is really something.”

The event was held around the circular constructions built 20 years ago as settings for the Star Wars space-opera.

Ong Jmal is the best known of several sites in Tunisia where Lucas shot scenes of the youth of his hero Luke Skywalker. Each year, tens of thousands of tourists walk through the sand-swept set taking selfies.

– Nomadic tents, campfires –

As music played non-stop for 30 hours, those not dancing were huddled in nomadic tents set up as “chill zones” or, given the very real night-time desert chill, around camp fires.

Most of the 5,000 revellers were Tunisians, some of whom had never visited the area before.

“I’m a city girl, I don’t like these traditional areas, but now there are many events in the south so I ended up coming,” said Zoubeida.

Army and police were deployed around the party site, located less than 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Algerian border.

The 2011 revolution which toppled longtime autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the jihadist attacks that killed dozens of tourists in 2015 dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s vital tourism sector.

Although the south was not directly targeted in the attacks, visits to the region have dwindled to mostly one-night outings from coastal resorts.

“The biggest number of tourists now are Russians, and they only buy water on their way to the desert,” said Nagga Ramzi, a shopkeeper with kohl-lined eyes.

“It’s hard. There’s nothing here but dates… and tourism.”

– Tourism revival –

Years after the attacks, large-scale tourism has returned to Tunisia and the south hosts a growing number of events.

A Saharan ultra-marathon, the Tozeur International Film Festival and a Sufi music festival called Rouhaniyet have all been launched.

Hotels are more often fully booked, and tourists are starting to stay a little longer.

Visitor numbers have grown continuously over the past three years, according to Tozeur’s tourism commissioner, Yasser Souf.

For January 1-October 30, the number has grown by 27 percent, compared to the same period of 2019.

Some hotels are reopening, smaller guest houses have multiplied and Thai luxury hotel group Anantara is launching a five-star palace at the end of December.

Salah Akkoun, a horse carriage driver, hopes tourists will patronise local businesses and learn to “take their time” in the desert.



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