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The EU is pissed Poland keeps ignoring the law

Poland’s President Andrejz Duda may have enjoyed a warm welcome at the White House — offering to name a military base after Trump certainly couldn’t have hurt. But back home he’s facing a decidedly chilly response from the European Union. The EU is considering to take away Poland’s voting rights. “I don’t have much good news for you,” Frans Timmermans, a deputy head of the EU’s executive European Commission, said Tuesday, after the commission’s second hearing on the state of law in Poland. “Between the first and the second hearing, the Commission’s concerns have increased. The situation in Poland has not improved.” The source of the stand-off: Duda’s controversial decision last year to lower the retirement age for judges from 70 to 65, a move the EU believes is designed to push aside unhelpful critics of his ruling Law and Justice Party. The European Commission accuses his government — which took power in 2015 — of undermining the fundamental values of the EU, arguing that aspects of its broad-ranging reform agenda might be incompatible with EU Law. Read: Poland just purged its supreme court — but the Chief Justice is refusing to stand down Polish Supreme Court President Malgorzata Gersdorf was one of the first to be forced to step down when Duda’s new retirement law came into effect in July. But she’s refused to acquiesce to the pressure and has continued showing up to work. She also referred the issue to Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice. Gersdorf told VICE News that Duda’s changes are dangerous because it effectively gives the government yet more power over...

Katie Hill ramps up campaign after primary win

NEWHALL, Calif. — Winning the Democratic primary for California’s 25th Congressional District has brought big changes to Katie Hill’s campaign. More money started rolling in almost as quickly as the ballots were counted. Most of the staff enjoyed new and improved titles. And the campaign quickly outgrew their primary office space and expanded into a larger home office and new satellite offices. “There’s definitely a sense of relief — this is when it gets fun,” says Graham Kelly, 29, Hill’s finance director. At the same time, Hill cautioned, [Republican incumbent] “Steve Knight still got more votes than the rest of the Democrats combined … this is going to be a tough fight.” And all that growth hasn’t come without a few growing pains. After campaigning for over a year-and-a-half, the process has started to take a toll on Hill, who is determined to maintain her authenticity. She made her staff cringe when she told VICE News about a breakdown she had in a meeting earlier the day. “I basically was like you guys need to do what I say and everything sucks about being a candidate … that was pretty much the gist of it.” Hill added that she’s “feeling increasingly managed and having a bit of a hard time with it,” later joking to her hairdresser that she sees her more often any other friends. And the campaign copes with a frightening development: Threats drive Hill to add an armed security guard at the new campaign headquarters and file for a temporary restraining order. She admits that she’s not the first person to have this happen to them,...

Women of Twitter are educating Trump with heartbreaking stories of #WhyIDidntReport

This week, California professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward and accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party in the 80s when they were in high school. Ford’s lawyers are still negotiating with the Senate Judiciary Committee on when, and in what manner, she will testify. Meanwhile, members of the Committee are speaking out on the allegations, either calling for an investigation or to proceed with the vote as planned. But one voice has been uncharacteristically muted: President Trump, who restricted his comments this week to complementing Kavanaugh, who he described as “a fine man, with an impeccable reputation.” But then on Friday morning he turned the fire on Ford herself, unleashing a Twitterstorm casting doubt on the alleged incident 36 years ago. “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” Trump tweeted. That hit a nerve, to put it mildly. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted out her own story, and why she didn’t report it decades ago. “I was sexually assaulted twice. Once as a teenager. I never filed a police report and it took me 30 years to tell my parents,” she wrote. Then thousands of women, and some men, started sharing their stories in hopes of enlightening the president under the hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport, which became a No. 1 trending topic on Twitter on Friday, with more than 275,000 tweets. Women recounted stories from when they were under 10, and often from people they...

Navy sailors on ships are the most likely to be sexually assaulted in the military, new report finds

Service members assigned to Navy ships face a far higher risk of being sexual assaulted than other service members assigned to other military installations, a new report commissioned by the Pentagon has found. The report, conducted by RAND Corporation and released Friday, is one of the first of its kind in ranking military installations by the likelihood of sexual assault but doesn’t explicitly say which branch of the military is the most at risk overall. The study relied on responses from more than 170,000 active-duty service members across military bases in the United States and abroad. As the report notes, the data comes from 2014, and, among other caveats, there’s no guarantee that the trends found from back then forecast the reality four years on. Navy women were at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted at Naval Support Activity Charleston in South Carolina. The report estimates that in 2014, 17 percent of female sailors assigned to NSA Charleston were sexually assaulted, according to the study. That’s more than one in six, the authors wrote. The report ranks highest-risk installations and lowest-risk installations for each branch. In the Navy, there’s a clear trend that the ships are the majority of the highest-risk installations. “Of the 15 highest-risk installations for Navy women, 13 are ships or clusters of ships, including eight of the 10 aircraft carriers,” the report stated. “Our model estimates that more than 10 percent of all women experienced a sexual assault at each of these high-risk installations over a one-year period, and more than 15 percent of all women were assaulted at two of them.” The findings...

Alligators, dead chickens, and E. coli: This is what lurks in the Florence floodwaters

There’s reports of alligators walking in the streets and poisonous snakes slithering in the sludge, but the biggest threat from the Florence floodwaters is largely invisible: chemical and bacterial contamination. As people start to return to their flood-damaged homes, state health departments have been issuing guidelines for dealing with a variety of threats. On Thursday, for example, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture urged farmers and homeowners to look out for spilled or leaked pesticides and fertilizers, offering citizens advice on how to deal with them. “Anything that people typically sprayed onto the landscape will get into the floodwater,” said Dr. Michael Mallin, an aquatic ecologist at the University of North Carolina. “Pesticides, herbicides, cleaning materials, and things like fuel will be mixed in there.” The Department of Health and Human Services is also urging residents to update tetanus vaccines, and avoid contact with floodwaters. That’s because, according to OSHA, the floodwater can contain infectious organisms like E. coli, salmonella, and shigella, hepatitis A, and agents of typhoid, paratyphoid, and tetanus. Pools of standing or stagnant water also make an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and other mosquito-borne diseases. HOG WASTE Hurricane Florence bore down on the densest area of hog farming in the U.S. — which also has some of the laxest regulations surrounding the storage of hog waste, including urine, feces, blood, and even dead piglets. The waste is stored in open-air pits where the solids sink to the bottom and the liquid is later sprayed onto surrounding fields, and the flooding released millions of gallons of this untreated...

China’s hip-hop answer to “American Idol” is huge — even though rap was banned in China

BEIJING — It might be a few decades late, but hip-hop is huge in China. There’s just one hitch: none of this should be happening. It’s all thanks to a show called “The Rap of China.” Imagine American Idol, except full of rappers, and everyone is Chinese, and you’ll get the general idea. It’s slick, it’s dramatic, and a bit goofy. It’s also massively popular, pulling in 3 billion views on IQiyi, China’s answer to Netflix. It’s only in its first season, but the show has already pushed a few rappers into superstardom. All this, despite a January order from the Chinese government, which banned hip-hop from being shown on TV. And yet, somehow, “The Rap of China” is still on the air — and in its second season. VICE News went to a live taping in Beijing to find out how an entertainment company is building a fortune on a genre that wasn’t supposed to popular — and to see how local rappers are keeping both audiences and censors happy. This segment originally aired Sept. 20, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO. Source: Vice News RSS...

Rod Rosenstein wanted to wear a wire and discussed invoking 25th Amendment on Trump, reports New York Times

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire to secretly record President Trump, and raised the possibility of forcibly removing the president through the 25th Amendment, The New York Times reported Friday. The bombshell story cited unnamed people saying Rosenstein considered taping Trump in the White House in the aftermath of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Rosenstein proposed these such moves because he was alarmed by the chaos consuming the presidency in the early days that followed Comey’s firing, according to the Times. The Times cited unnamed people who “were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by FBI officials.” Rosenstein broadly denied the allegations. The Times highlights a few key moments in the days after Comey was unceremoniously fired by the president : Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. None of Rosenstein’s proposals apparently came to fruition. Rosenstein told Andrew McCabe, who succeeded Comey as acting FBI Director, that he thought he could convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Chief of Staff John Kelly to get behind an effort to remove Trump using the 25th Amendment, a measure that sets of a complex process for kicking a president out of office. McCabe reportedly wrote memos that documented Rosenstein’s actions and comments. In a statement, McCabe’s lawyer confirmed the existence of memos, and said McCabe has no idea how journalists could have gotten them. Rosenstein was reportedly caught off guard when Trump very publicly used a memo the deputy attorney general had written as...

Watch the most outrageous questions senators asked Anita Hill in 1991

As Christine Blasey Ford prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly assaulting her at a party in the ’80s, Washington watchers are looking back for context to the 1991 hearings where Anita Hill testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her in the workplace. Hill accused her then-boss of making sexual remarks at work and pressuring her to go out with him. The queasy-making spectacle of white male senators questioning Hill — after an FBI investigation — triggered a wave of women running for office that culminated in 1992’s “Year of the Woman,” while Thomas went on to be confirmed. Now we’re in the #MeToo era, with a Supreme Court nominee accused of attempted rape at a house party when he and the alleged victim, Ford, were teens. Ford has been reluctant to appear in public to talk about something she’s spent most of her life trying to forget, and has gone into hiding with her family to preserve her safety, after receiving death threats. But she’s now agreeing to testify next week, under certain conditions. To get a sense of what hearings could look like, we cut down five hours of Anita Hill’s testimony, including questions lobbed by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Joe Biden (D-Del.), Alan Simpson (R-WY), Howard Heflin (R-AL). Here’s a selection of real questions and comments made during the hearing: Specter: “You testified this morning that the most embarrassing question involved — and this is not too bad — women’s large breasts.” Heflin: “Are you a scorned woman? Do you have a militant attitude relative...

Trump’s not so sure about releasing those Russia docs he didn’t read after all

President Trump blithely admitted to never having read the secret documents he’d ordered to be released this week, over the objections of career national security officials. But on Friday, he appeared to concede that his Department of Justice might have a point about the potential dangers of publicly airing classified documents in full, unredacted form. Trump tweeted Friday morning that after meeting with the top brass at Justice, the department’s Inspector General would review the documents prior to their release. The docs in question are 21 selected pages of a court application for an order to monitor Trump ex-campaign aide, Carter Page, along with FBI interviews and text message transcripts of a handful of Trump’s most-criticized former officials, including ex-FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Trump had ordered all those documents released forthwith on Monday in what observers called a naked attempt to undermine the validity of the investigation now being led by special counsel Robert Mueller. READ: Trump hasn’t read the classified documents he wants to release about the Russia probe Trump himself seemed to acknowledge the possibility that the disclosures could impede the Russia probe in his tweets. He noted that the Justice officials he’d spoken to had warned him about “a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe.” Mueller and his team are investigating Russian attempts to tip the 2016 campaign in Trump’s favor — and whether the Trump camp pitched in to help Moscow with that effort. According to Politico, Trump may be backing down on releasing the documents altogether. Trump’s allies in Congress and on Fox News have suggested that...

New Jersey sheriff who earned $12M from ICE faces calls to resign over racist remarks

A New Jersey sheriff caught on tape making racist and homophobic remarks is refusing the governor’s call to resign. Michael Saudino has been the sheriff of Bergen County, New Jersey, for eight years, and has come under fire recently for filling the county jail with undocumented immigrants in coordination with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On the recording obtained by WNYC, Saudino questioned the sexual orientation of the state’s lieutenant governor because she is unmarried, said the state’s attorney general’s “turban” is the reason he got elected (he’s the first Sikh attorney general in the country), and said the governor’s criminal justice reform ideas would “let the blacks come in, do whatever the fuck they want.” The conversation was recorded hours after Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s inauguration speech in January in which Murphy called for legalizing marijuana. Murphy and Gurbir Grewal, the state’s attorney general, are now calling for Saudino to resign. “Without question, the comments made on that recording are appalling, and anyone using racist, homophobic and hateful language is unfit for public office,” Murphy said in a statement Thursday. “New Jersey and Bergen County deserve better,” Grewal said in a statement. Bergen County is the largest county in New Jersey and went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Hispanics make up 20 percent of the county’s population, Asians 17 percent, and blacks 7 percent, according to the U.S. Census. Saudino was elected in 2010 as a Republican, switched parties to run as a Democrat in 2016, and is up for re-election next year. This year, Saudino packed the county’s jail with undocumented immigrants, many non-criminals, earning...

Twitch has been banned in China and no one knows why

Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming service for gamers, has been banned in China with its official app removed from Apple’s local app store — and no one knows why. Access to Twitch, which lets users watch and broadcast games, was shut off in China on Thursday, after days of users complaining about patchy connections to the service. While no official statement has been released by Beijing to explain why Twitch has been blocked, the company itself confirmed to VICE News on Friday that its service is no longer available in China. China’s government operates a comprehensive online censorship system to stop citizens from accessing information that it deems unsavory, as well as silencing opposing voices. As has become normal practice after the Chinese government decides to block an online service, Twitch’s official app has been pulled from Apple’s Chinese app store. Apple did not respond to a question about why the app was removed. Twitch has become hugely popular in China in recent months among esports fans who wanted to watch their compatriots compete in the Asian Games in Jakarta. It was the first time the event featured competitive gaming, and fans were disappointed that Chinese state-run television did not cover the matches. At the time it was pulled, the iOS app was the third-most-popular free app in the App Store. Blocking Western internet services without warning is nothing new for Beijing, especially when those services are seen as getting popular. The fact Twitch’s servers are based outside of China would also be a cause of concern for the government, as it would not have nearly as much control over...

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was ordered to take a psychiatric evaluation. She’s freaking out.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is no stranger to the bruising insults of political life. But even she seems taken aback by the latest affront: a court order requiring her to take a psychiatric evaluation. Le Pen, who is facing charges for circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity,” said Thursday she would defy the order, which she branded part of an effort by the government to discredit her movement. “It’s crazy,” the leader of the populist, anti-immigration party National Rally wrote on Twitter, attaching a copy of the court order. “This regime is really starting to be frightening.” “I thought I had been through it all: well, no!” she wrote. “For having condemned Daesh [ISIS] horrors in tweets, the ‘justice system’ is putting me through psychiatric tests! Just how far will they go?” The 50-year-old leader was charged with circulating violent messages that could be viewed by minors after she tweeted out pictures of ISIS propaganda killings in December 2015, including the murder of U.S. journalist James Foley and a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage. Le Pen had tweeted the images, provoking an uproar on social media, in the weeks following the 2015 Paris attacks, after a French journalist likened her anti-immigration party to the Sunni terror group. If convicted, Le Pen — who lost to Emmanuel Macron in the second-round of last year’s presidential election — faces up to three years in prison and a fine of $87,000. Read: Italy’s far-right party compared a black politician to a monkey. Now, it’s suing her for calling it racist....

Kavanaugh's accuser has some demands before she testifies — and Republicans aren't happy

In the days since Christine Blasey Ford came forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, an informal Congressional investigation has devolved into a fierce political back-and-forth, presidential tweetstorm, and even death threats. And it’s far from resolved. With certain conditions, Ford’s willing to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee — a panel of 17 men and four women — next week to testify about the assault, which allegedly happened in the 1980s at a high school party. Ford said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and tried to remove her clothes. But she’s not going to appear before the committee on Monday to talk about those allegations like Republicans had hoped, according to conditions set by her lawyers. Ford had initially requested an FBI investigation before agreeing to testify. But Republicans have said the Senate Judiciary Committee is conducting its own investigation, so there’s no need for the FBI to get involved. On Thursday night, Ford’s lawyers called members of the committee to lay out their list of ground rules, according to Politico. Her lawyers want the hearing on Thursday, instead of Monday, and for Kavanaugh to appear first. Ford doesn’t want to be questioned by outside counsel and might not want more than one camera in the room, sources told POLITICO. She also wants her security assured and might request U.S. Capitol Police detail, and would like Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend and alleged witness, to testify. In exchange, she’s willing to testify publicly. It’s not clear whether the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, will agree to her conditions. During an interview on...

Trump administration gears up for more secret cyberoffensives like "Glowing Symphony"

It sounded like something new and bold when National Security Adviser John Bolton announced to the world Thursday that Donald Trump had eased restrictions on “offensive cyber operations.” But experts say it’s more like an incremental step in the expanding digital realm where the U.S. has been actively attacking adversaries for years. The latest evidence came Friday morning when the Times of London published a report about an offensive campaign conducted by U.K. intelligence to counteract the online efforts of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The secret cyber operation was known as Glowing Symphony and was a joint partnership with the U.S. and other Western allies, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Times. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) coordinated the effort, which saw operatives jam signals and obstruct the terrorists’ ability to send and receive electronic communications. The campaign also saw GCHQ spread discord by spreading fake news in an effort to sow confusion among Islamic State’s supporters. They also sought to intercept ISIS cash transactions. “Glowing Symphony” is the type of campaign the Trump administration wants to conduct more of. “Our hands are not tied as they were in the Obama administration,” Bolton said during a news briefing to unveil a new national cyberstrategy. He positioned the strategy as a new way to “create structures of deterrence that will demonstrate to adversaries that the cost of their engaging in operations against us is higher than they want to bear.” But a former cybersecurity adviser for Barack Obama says the new National Cyber Strategy simply builds on what previous administrations have been doing for years. “Today’s release...

Michael Cohen accidentally boasted on Twitter about giving Mueller “critical information”

Social media is a fickle beast. A few thumb taps, and your life can go haywire. Just ask President Trump’s former attorney turned dangerous enemy, Michael Cohen. Cohen shocked Twitter late Thursday when he accidentally congratulated himself for “providing critical information” to the special counsel, which is probing Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Cohen praised himself, bizarrely in the third person, just minutes after a bombshell ABC News report dropped saying Cohen had already spent hours dishing to Robert Mueller’s investigators about the Trump campaign’s ties to Moscow and Trump’s business involvement with Russian interests. Cohen soon deleted the tweet, and his lawyer and spokesman, Lanny Davis, jumped to clear the whole thing up. READ: Michael Cohen has already spent hours talking to Mueller’s team, report says Davis said he had meant to tweet the congratulatory message himself, then ask Cohen to retweet him to Cohen’s bigger following, but accidentally sent his intended tweet as a text message to Cohen, first. Cohen, apparently thinking he was just listening to his lawyer, dutifully tweeted out the message. In August, Cohen pled guilty to eight counts of finance-related crimes, including two counts relating to campaign-finance violations that Cohen said he committed at the direction of Trump. Cohen said he’d helped orchestrate hush-money payments to women who’d claimed to have had sexual relationships with Trump. Observers have said Cohen’s testimony could prove highly damaging to Trump. Cohen is likely intimately familiar with the inner workings of both Trump’s company and presidential campaign, thanks to his decade of service at Trump’s side. Trump has since fired back, excoriating Cohen on...

At least 100 dead and hundreds more missing after ferry capsized in Tanzania

More than 100 bodies have been retrieved from Lake Victoria, Tanzania, after an overcrowded ferry capsized, Tanzanian state radio reported Friday. Hundreds are still feared missing, and the death toll is only expected to rise. Officials estimate that more than 400 people may have been onboard the ferry, the MV Nyerere, which was only licensed to carry 100 passengers. The vessel capsized Thursday afternoon only a few meters from the dock on Ukerewe, the largest island in Lake Victoria. John Mongella, commissioner for the Mwanza region, told the Associated Press that the death toll could rise as search and rescue operations resumed Friday. The exact numbers of those on board aren’t known, officials said, because the crew and equipment that recorded that data were lost in the capsize. But according to reports, the ferry was particularly crowded because of a trading day at a local market. About 40 survivors were saved from the water Thursday before rescue operations were halted due to poor light, officials said Friday. At daybreak, emergency workers resumed their operations searching for survivors and recovering bodies from the lake. Tanzanian President John Magufuli urged local residents to remain calm, as they anxiously waited for news of missing loved ones. The Nyerere sinking is just the latest in a series of high-casualty nautical disasters that have struck Tanzania, and overcrowding has often played a role. At least 145 people drowned in the Indian Ocean when a packed ferry sank en route to the island of Zanzibar in 2012; a year earlier, nearly 200 were killed off Zanzibar’s coast. Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, was also the...

Russia warns U.S. it is “playing with fire” over latest sanctions against China

China and Russia are teaming up against Washington with a stern warning: Remove the sanctions, or else. Beijing and Moscow have both hit out at the White House over sanctions imposed against China for buying Russian fighter jets, warning that Washington was “playing with fire” and would “bear the consequences” if the decision was not reversed. On Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced it would be adding a Chinese military organization and its leader to the Blocked Person List for completing “significant transactions” with Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport. The transactions in question were the purchases of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles. “We strongly call on the U.S. to remedy the mistake and cancel the sanctions. Otherwise, the U.S. has to bear the consequences,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Friday. Over in Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the U.S. was “playing with fire” by punishing China. “It would be good for them to remember there is such a concept as global stability which they are thoughtlessly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russian-American ties,” Ryabkov said. For years Russia viewed China suspiciously and was wary of selling them military hardware, but in recent years, the two superpowers have come closer together, culminating earlier this month when Chinese forces took part in giant Russian war games for the first time. China has been developing its own homegrown military hardware but still likes to purchase more advanced weaponry — particularly aircraft — from Russia. The U.S. says China’s purchase is in contravention of sanctions it has placed on Russia over its actions in Ukraine...

Trump says if Kavanaugh's accuser was really assaulted she would have reported it to police

At around 6 a.m. Friday in Las Vegas, things started getting pretty wild at the Trump International Hotel and Casino. But the gambling this time was by the president of the United States, placing his bets on attacking a woman who says she was sexually assaulted. Trump, who spent the night in Vegas after hosting a rally the night before, fired off a series of tweets challenging the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychologist who says she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a party when they were high school students. It was Trump’s first direct attack on Ford since her accusations were made public, landing just as new reports indicated the relief Senate and White House aides were feeling at his “measured” response to the allegations. “Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left-wing politicians who don’t want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay,” Trump tweeted. “Facts don’t matter. I go through this with them every single day in D.C.” Trump followed up a few minutes later, calling out Ford by name and saying that if she had really been attacked by a teenage classmate as she claimed, she would have reported it to police. “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” Trump tweeted. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time,...