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Pompeo: US Will Restrict Visas for Some Chinese Officials Over Tibet

The United States will restrict visas for some Chinese officials because China obstructs travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas by U.S. diplomats, journalists and tourists, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.”Today I am announcing visa restrictions on PRC government and Chinese Communist Party officials determined to be ‘substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas,'” Pompeo said in a statement, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
 

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Mary Trump’s Book Offers Scathing Portrayal of President

President Donald Trump’s niece offers a scathing portrayal of her uncle in a new book obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday that credits a “perfect storm of catastrophes” for exposing the president at his worst.  Mary L. Trump, a psychologist, writes that the  coronavirus pandemic, the possibility of an economic depression and deepening social divides have brought out the “worst effects” of Donald Trump’s pathologies, which were less evident when the country had a stable economy and the lack of serious crises. Those factors, along with “Donald’s penchant for division, and uncertainty about our country’s future have created a perfect storm of catastrophes that no one is less equipped than my uncle to manage,” she writes in Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.  Mary Trump is the daughter of Trump’s older brother, Fred Jr., who died after a struggle with alcoholism at age 42. FILE – Billionaire developer Donald Trump, right, waits with his brother Robert for a meeting in Atlantic City, N.J., March 29, 1990.In the book, Mary Trump makes several revelations, including alleging that the president paid a friend to take the SATs — a standardized test widely used for college admissions — in his place. She writes that his sister, Maryanne, had been doing his homework for him, but she couldn’t take his tests. Donald Trump worried that his grade point average, which put him far from the top of the class, would “scuttle his efforts to get accepted” into the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which he transferred to after two years at Fordham University in the Bronx. “To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him. That was much easier to pull off in the days before photo IDs and computerized records. Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well.” And she writes, in awe, of Trump’s ability to gain the support of prominent Christians and White Evangelicals, saying, “The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there. It’s mind boggling. He has no principles. None!” Mary Trump traces much of her pain to the death of her father, who died when she was 16, and her grandfather Fred’s penchant, as she describes it, to sow division in the family. “The atmosphere of division my grandfather created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everybody else. It’s wearing the country down, just as it did my father, changing us even as it leaves Donald unaltered,” she wrote. “It’s weakening our ability to be kind or believe in forgiveness, concepts that have never had any meaning for him.” Trump, who rarely admits regret, told The Washington Post last year that he regretted having tried to pressure his brother to join the family business — something Fred, who had long wanted to be a pilot, had no interest in doing. “It was just not his thing. … I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it. That would be the biggest mistake. … There was sort of a double pressure put on him,” Trump told the paper. Trump has also cited his brother’s struggle with alcohol as one of one of the reasons he doesn’t drink. Early publicationPublisher Simon & Schuster announced Monday that they would be publishing the book two weeks early, on July 14, citing “extraordinary interest.” The revised date came after a New York appellate court cleared the way for the book’s publication following a legal challenge. Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, had sued Mary Trump to block publication, arguing in legal papers that Mary Trump was subject to a 20-year-old agreement between family members that no one would publish accounts involving the core family members without their approval. A judge last week left in place a restraint that blocked Mary Trump and any agent of hers from distributing the book, but the court made clear it was not considering Simon & Schuster to be covered by the ruling. In the book, Mary Trump said she didn’t take her uncle’s run for the presidency seriously when he first ran. “‘He’s a clown,’ my aunt Maryanne said during one of our regular lunches at the time. ‘This will never happen.'” “I agreed,” Mary Trump wrote. She said she declined an invitation to attend her uncle’s election-night party in New York City four years ago, convinced she “wouldn’t be able to contain my euphoria when Clinton’s victory was announced.” Instead, she found herself wandering around her house a few hours after Trump’s victory was announced, fearful voters “had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family.” She writes that current challenges have weakened the president’s usual tools for shielding himself from blame. “His ability to control unfavorable situations by lying, spinning, and obfuscating has diminished to the point of impotence in the midst of the tragedies we are currently facing,” she writes. “His egregious and arguably intentional mishandling of the current catastrophe has led to a level of pushback and scrutiny that he’s never experienced before, increasing his belligerence and need for petty revenge as he withholds vital funding, personal protective equipment, and ventilators that your tax dollars have paid for from states whose governors don’t kiss his ass sufficiently,” Mary Trump wrote. White House reactionWhite House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of the book: “It’s ridiculous, absurd accusations that have absolutely no bearing in truth. I have yet to see the book, but it is a book of falsehoods.” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with Fox News that “there are too many books out there that are never fact checked,” adding, “I believe family matters should be family matters.” 

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Dutch Police Arrest 6 Men After Discovery of ‘Torture Chambers’

Dutch police announced Tuesday they arrested six men after discovering shipping containers that had been converted into a makeshift prison and sound-proofed “torture chamber.”  In their statement, officials said they discovered seven converted sea shipping containers in a warehouse in Wouwse Plantage, a small village in the southwestern part of the Netherlands, close to the border with Belgium.  Law enforcement authorities released video Tuesday showing a special police unit opening the shipping containers to reveal a specially rigged dentists’ chair, along with tools that included pliers, scalpels and handcuffs.  Police say the discoveries were originally made last month after investigating leads generated by data from encrypted telephones used by criminals that were cracked recently by French police. Detectives in Britain and the Netherlands have already arrested hundreds of suspects based on the encrypted messages.The police said they were tipped off by messages from an EncroChat phone that included photos of the container and dentist’s chair with belts attached to the arm and foot supports. They arrested six men June 22, on suspicion of crimes including planning kidnappings and serious assault.  The messages called the warehouse the “treatment room” and the “ebi,” a reference to a top security Dutch prison. Police said the messages also revealed identities of potential victims, who were warned and went into hiding.Dutch authorities said last week that their investigation, codenamed 26Lemont, based on millions of messages from the EncroChat phones, had led to the arrest of more than 100 suspects and the seizure of more than 8,000 kilograms of cocaine and 1,200 kilograms of crystal meth, as well as the dismantling of 19 synthetic drug labs and the seizure of dozens of firearms.
 

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Can Europeans Handle a Spike in COVID-19 Cases?

The United States is not the only country watching anxiously as coronavirus cases spike.Britain is poised to shutter individual towns in the event of a rise in confirmed cases. And the government has already locked down the English town of Leicester, where textile factories may be behind an alarming jump in infections, just as the rest of the country celebrated the easing of restrictions.Serbia reimposed a lockdown Friday as cases began to mount. Last month, neighboring Croatia reinstituted mandatory two-week self-isolation for travelers arriving from other Balkan countries. Bulgaria extended its state of emergency until July 15 and has made mask-wearing mandatory inside stores and public buildings.Deputy Migration Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos, right, greets the 25 unaccompanied refugee children as they prepare to board a plane to Lisbon, Portugal at Athens International Airport, July 7, 2020.Following new outbreaks, Portugal renewed coronavirus restrictions on the capital, Lisbon, and the Spanish government has moved quickly with restrictions on parts of northeast Spain to try to tamp down local spikes.Some government officials say the biggest problem is persuading the public to observe social distancing rules and wearing masks. The easing of lockdowns and the reopening of economies do not mean caution should be jettisoned, they say.  Underlining their appeals for people to remain cautious and vigilant is an exasperation with egregious recklessness, prompting officials in some countries to question whether their citizens have the discipline or sense of civic responsibility to be trusted.In Britain, police expressed their frustration with maskless crowds converging outside bars and restaurants in some towns, including in central London. Last Saturday, the first day that bars reopened in England after the coronavirus shutdown, police described the close-quarters drinking and shoulder-to-shoulder socializing as “absolute madness.”“A predictably busy night confirmed what we knew, alcohol and social distancing is not a good combination,” tweeted John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales.Sgt. Richard Cooke of the West Midlands police tweeted, “Just got home after a long shift, late shift peppered with pub fights, domestic violence & drunken, drugged up fools. If today was anything to go by the second wave won’t be long in the making!”People sit and drink, outside a pub on the south bank of river Thames, as the capital is set to reopen after the lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, in London, July 4, 2020.Rafal Liszewski, a store manager in the London district of Soho, told reporters that on Saturday, “Everything got out of control. And by 8 to 9 p.m., it was a proper street party, with people dancing and drinking. Barely anyone was wearing masks, and nobody respected social distancing,” he said. Liszewski added, “To be honest, with that many people on one street, it was physically impossible” (to social distance).Beaches have also seen swarms of people. In the English coastal town of Bournemouth, Mayor Vikki Slade said recently she was “absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches.”Britain has not been alone in seeing months of lockdown giving way to impromptu parties, illicit raves and illegal parties, hastily organized on social media and held in parks and industrial estates. In Portugal, a ban in Lisbon on gatherings of more than five people was instituted amid reports of illicit parties attracting thousands of young revelers. Portugal had been hailed as one of Europe’s coronavirus success stories. The government’s swift response was credited with keeping the country’s death toll to well under 2,000. But in recent weeks, cases have soared. Parties have proven fertile for the virus — 76 new cases were linked to a birthday celebration in The Algarve.“After doing everything right, we’re not going to ruin it now,” Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said, as he banned drinking in public places and prohibited restaurants from serving alcohol after 8 p.m. Germany, France and Spain have all been worried about block parties and raves.Visitors watch oil on canvas of 1807 entitled Le Sacre de Napoleon by Jacques Louis David, at the Louvre Museum, in Paris, July 6, 2020.The World Health Organization warned that around 30 European countries have reported new case surges in the past two weeks, and epidemiologists said the trajectory is alarming in 11 countries.Spanish officials, who recently fined Belgium’s Prince Joachim $11,700 after he broke the country’s quarantine rules to attend a party in southern Spain, fear that people will not be able to resist the allure of the country’s ingrained culture of summer fiestas — as hundreds did recently in a spontaneous gathering in the Menorcan city of Ciutadella to mark the day of local Saint Joan.Along with officials, infectious disease experts blame signs of a resurgence on the negligence of the public, with too many people ignoring orders to wear masks and keep their distance. But critics in several European countries fault officials, saying governments have been giving mixed signals in their eagerness to restart economies and end lockdowns, and have issued at times contradictory and confused instructions. They say governments seem to be positioning themselves to blame the public for a coronavirus resurgence.David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the British government, has criticized the lockdown easing as over-hasty. “We need to look at the fastest route out of COVID-19, and that is not the current route,” he said. 

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Deutsche Bank Agrees to $150 Million Settlement for Jeffrey Epstein Lapses 

Deutsche Bank AG agreed Tuesday to pay a $150 million penalty to settle “significant compliance failures” in its dealings with convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. 
 
The New York State Department of Financial Services said the bank did not properly monitor Epstein’s transactions, despite widespread public knowledge about his sexual misconduct.  FILE – Financier Jeffrey Epstein looks on during a bail hearing in his sex trafficking case, in this court sketch in New York, July 15, 2019.It said Deutsche Bank’s failure led to its processing of hundreds of Epstein’s transactions that should have been more closely scrutinized, including payments to victims and law firms representing him and his accomplices. 
 
The state regulator said Deutsche Bank also failed in its relationships with Danske Bank Estonia and FBME Bank by not properly monitoring their correspondent and clearing operations. 
 
The regulator said the penalty is the first regulatory enforcement action against Epstein, who committed suicide in jail last August after being arrested a month earlier on sex trafficking charges. 
 
Epstein, who socialized with President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, previously served more than a year in a Florida jail after pleading guilty in 2008 to soliciting sex from a minor.   Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell, in New York, July 2, 2020.Epstein’s longtime confidante, Ghislaine Maxwell, was transferred Monday to a New York City jail that is experiencing coronavirus and other problems as she is facing charges she recruited girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.      

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Appeals Court Deals 2nd Blow to Trump Asylum Policy 

A federal appeals court on Monday blocked a key U.S. policy to deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country without first seeking protection there, dealing it a second blow in less than a week. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling has no immediate impact because a judge appointed by President Donald Trump in Washington last week knocked down the policy on procedural grounds. The three-judge appeals panel in San Francisco found procedural errors as well as substantive reasons to block the policy while litigation continues. The panel said it does “virtually nothing” to prevent asylum-seekers from being sent to unsafe countries, a violation of international treaty obligations. The impact is also lessened by a pandemic-related measure imposed in March to quickly expel asylum-seekers. In May, the administration extended it indefinitely, relying on a little-known public health law to prevent the spread of disease.  The Justice and Homeland Security departments didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday. In response to last week’s decision, Homeland Security said it strongly disagreed and was considering options. The Supreme Court is unlikely to hear arguments before January if it takes the case.  The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Constitutional Rights and Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of immigrant advocacy and service groups. “The court recognized the grave danger facing asylum seekers and blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to make an end-run around asylum protections enacted by Congress,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. Judge William Fletcher, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, wrote the opinion. He was joined by Judge Richard Clifton, an appointee of George W. Bush, and Eric Miller, a Trump appointee who said the ruling should be much narrower in scope. 

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France’s New Government Takes Office at Tough Time 

France’s newly appointed government gets down to work this week facing big challenges, including coronavirus and the economic crisis — not to mention general elections in less than two years.
 
The new government takes office just over a week after President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the Move party fared poorly in the second round of local elections. France’s new prime minister Jean Castex arrives at the Elysee Palace for the weekly cabinet meeting, in Paris, July 7, 2020.Heading it is Prime Minister Jean Castex, a little known former mayor from the Pyrenees. He earned the title of “Mr. Deconfinement” after managing France’s emergence from the coronavirus lockdown.  He replaces the popular Edouard Philippe, a possible challenger to Macron in the next election.  “President Macron has one goal: to fight the recession, to transform the country, to be in a better shape than now for the next presidential election,” said Ulysse Gosset, a political commentator for France’s BFMTV.“The job of the new prime minister is to execute the orders from Macron,” added Gosset. “He has to deal with the crisis. And no more. Macron doesn’t want a prime minister who could be a competitor like former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was.”  
Making more waves is the new interior minister, Gerard Darmanin. At 35, he’s the youngest interior minister of France’s Fifth Republic. He takes over at a time when the police force is demoralized and faces allegations of racism and brutality.  Newly appointed French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin arrives to attend the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 7, 2020.Darmanin himself faces a preliminary investigation into a rape accusation, which Macron’s office says didn’t pose an obstacle to his appointment.  Police unions have offered a muted reaction to their new boss. But some feminists protested in front of the Elysee presidential palace.  New Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti is also controversial. He’s earned a reputation as a pugnacious lawyer defending Corsican nationalists, African politicians and Wikileaks founder Julien Assange. One judges union leader slammed his appointment as a “declaration of war” against the judiciary.  Macron’s reshuffled government faces heavy pressure to take environmental action after the Greens Party surged in municipal elections.Barbara Pompili, newly appointed French Minister for the Ecological Transition, arrives to attend the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 7, 2020.The new minister for ecological transition, Barbara Pompili, co-founded an environmental party, and was a former secretary of state for biodiversity. But she isn’t a big name, and she’ll face close scrutiny in how she handles emissions reduction and other green goals.  

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Russian Court Fines Coronavirus-Denying Rebel Monk

A Russian court on Tuesday fined a coronavirus-denying monk who has challenged Kremlin lockdown orders for spreading false information about the pandemic.The court in the Ural Mountains region ordered Father Sergiy to pay 90,000 rubles ($1,250). The 65-year-old monk, who has attracted nationwide attention by urging followers to disobey church leadership and ignore church closures during the pandemic, didn’t attend the court hearing.On Friday, a Russian Orthodox Church panel in Yekaterinburg ruled to defrock Father Sergiy for breaking monastic rules. He didn’t show up at the session and dismissed the verdict, urging his backers to come to defend the Sredneuralsk women’s monastery where he has holed up since last month.In Friday’s video posted by his supporters, Father Sergiy denounced President Vladimir Putin as a “traitor to the Motherland” serving a Satanic “world government” and dismissed Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill and other top clerics as “heretics” who must be “thrown out.”Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin wasn’t following developments regarding the rebel monk.  When contagion engulfed Russia, Father Sergiy declared the coronavirus non-existent and denounced government efforts to stem the outbreak as “Satan’s electronic camp.” The monk has described the vaccines being developed against COVID-19 as part of a global plot to control the masses via chips.He urged believers to disobey the closure of churches during the nationwide lockdown. Orthodox churches across Russia were closed on April 13 amid a quick rise in COVID-19 cases and were allowed to reopen in early June as authorities eased restrictions.The church banned the monk from ministry in April, but he has continued preaching and last month took charge of the monastery outside Yekaterinburg that he had founded years ago. Dozens of burly volunteers, including veterans of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, helped enforce his rules, while the prioress and several nuns have left.The police visited the monastery last month a day after Father Sergiy took over, but found no violations of public order. Facing stiff resistance by his supporters, church officials have appeared indecisive, lacking the means to enforce their ruling and evict the rebellious monk by force. 

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