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LeBron James Named Male Athlete Of The Decade By The Associated Press




He left Cleveland for Miami, finally became a champion, went back to his beloved northeast Ohio, delivered on another title promise, then left for the Los Angeles Lakers and the next challenge. He played in eight straight finals. No NBA player won more games or more MVP awards over the last 10 years than he did. He started a school. He married his high school sweetheart.
“That’s all?” LeBron James asked, feigning disbelief.
No, that’s not all. Those were just some highlights of the last 10 years. There were many more, as the man called “King” spent the last decade reigning over all others — with no signs of slowing down.
James is The Associated Press male athlete of the decade, adding his name to a list that includes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Palmer. He was a runaway winner in a vote of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, easily outpacing runner-up Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
“You add another 10 years of learning and adversity, pitfalls, good, great, bad, and any smart person who wants to grow will learn from all those experiences,” James, who turns 35 Monday, told the AP. “A decade ago, I just turned 25. I’m about to be 35 and I’m just in a better (place) in my life and have a better understanding of what I want to get out of life.”
Usain Bolt of Jamaica was third for dominating the sprints at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, soccer superstar Lionel Messi was fourth and Michael Phelps — the U.S. swimmer who retired as history’s most decorated Olympian with 28 medals, 23 gold — was fifth. 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea via Getty Images

LeBron James goes for a basket in the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on December 25, 2019.

James was revealed as the winner Sunday, one day after Serena Williams was announced as the AP’s female athlete of the decade. In his 17th season, he’s on pace to lead the league in assists for the first time while remaining among the NBA’s scoring leaders.
“When LeBron James is involved,” Denver coach Michael Malone said, “I’m never surprised.”
Including playoffs, no one in the NBA scored more points than James in the last 10 years. He started the decade 124th on the league’s all-time scoring list. He’s now about to pass Kobe Bryant for No. 3. No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are within reach.
Is Abdul-Jabbar in his sights? Is catching him the new decade’s goal?
“I would be lying if I said I don’t see it,” James said. “Obviously I’m not trying to say, ‘OK, well if I play this amount of time, if I average this’ … I’m not doing that because I’ve never done that with my career. I’ve always just kind of let it happen. Whatever happens, happens. But I see it. I do see it.”
His work ethic, even now, makes even those closest to him marvel.
Here’s a typical day this past summer for James, who remains obsessed with working even though fame and fortune found him long ago: He’d wake up at 3 a.m. and be at the Warner Bros. lot by 3:45 — where a weight room and court, built just for him, were waiting. He’d be lifting by 4 a.m., getting shots up by 5:30 and be ready to start another day of shooting the remake of “Space Jam” that he has been planning for years by 7 a.m.
“That’s who he is,” said Mike Mancias, one of the longest-tenured and most trusted members of James’ inner circle, tasked for more than 15 years with keeping James fit. “He does whatever it takes when it comes to fulfilling his commitments to everything — especially his game and his craft.”
The 2010s for James started with “The Decision,” the widely criticized televised announcement of his choice to leave Cleveland for Miami. (Lost in the hubbub: The show raised more than $2.5 million for charity.) He was with the Heat for four years, went to the NBA Finals all four times with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, finally won the title in 2012 — “it’s about damn time,” he said at the trophy celebration — and led the way in a Game 7 win over San Antonio to go back-to-back the following year.
“He grew immensely here as a leader,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He impacted winning as much as with his leadership as he did with his talent. I think that was the most important thing he learned with us. And he’s been able to take that to different franchises and continue using that as a template.”
Cleveland was devastated when he left. It forgave him. James returned home in 2014, took Cleveland to four consecutive finals, then led the Cavaliers to the 2016 title and came up with one of the biggest plays of his life by pulling off a chase-down block of Golden State’s Andre Iguodala in the final seconds of Game 7 of that series.
And in 2018, he was off to LA.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images

James, Savannah James, LeBron James Jr., Bryce Maximus James and Zhuri James attend the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘Smallfoot’ in September 2018 in Westwood, California.

Going Hollywood made so much sense — he’s making movies, has a production company, has a program called “The Shop” as part of his ‘Uninterrupted’ platform featuring an array of guests from Drake to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed a bill on the show that will allow college athletes to get paid for the use of their likeness and sign endorsement deals.
“There’s a lot of moments from this decade that would be up there, winning the two Miami championships, winning a championship in Cleveland, the chase-down block,” James said. “But the best moment? Definitely marrying Savannah. That would be No. 1.”
James and longtime partner Savannah Brinson got married six years ago. They already had two sons — both are very good basketball players already — and added a daughter in 2014.
James also spent most of the last decade as a lightning rod for critics.
He used his voice often on social matters, speaking out after the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and campaigning for Hillary Clinton. He supported Colin Kaepernick’s methods of protesting police brutality and racial injustice. Most recently, he was criticized by many — including top U.S. lawmakers — for his remarks after Houston general manager Daryl Morey sparked a massive rift between the NBA and China by sending out a tweet supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
“I don’t live in regret,” James said. “There’s no moment in this last decade that I wish I could have back. If a situation was bad or you feel like you could have done better, then I learned from it.”
He doesn’t know how much longer he’ll play. He laments missing time with his children. His “I Promise” school that opened in 2018 in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, has been an immediate success story, and he wants to see that enterprise continue growing.
Some love him. Some don’t. He doesn’t mind.
“When you believe in your calling or you believe in yourself, then it doesn’t matter what other people say or how other people feel,” James said. “And if you allow that to stop you or deter you from your mission, then you don’t get anywhere.”
And in the 2010s, nothing deterred James.

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U.S. Army Bans Soldiers From Using TikTok




The U.S. Army has banned soldiers from using TikTok over concerns the popular social media video app presents a security threat.
Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Robin Ochoa told Military.com Monday the Chinese app “is considered a cyber threat” and as such won’t be allowed on government phones.
The ban marks a sharp reversal for military brass who had been using TikTok in tandem with other social media apps to successfully boost recruiting efforts. 
The Army’s decision follows similar action by the U.S. Navy earlier this month. Senior leaders there ordered the removal of TikTok from government-issued phones as part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats.”
A Navy spokesman told Reuters at the time that widely used social media apps are generally permitted on government smartphones, but specific programs the government deems to be security threats are banned. 
In October, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) requested a thorough review of the app by the intelligence community, expressing concern the China-owned content platform might present a national security risk. 
In a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, the two mention concerns TikTok’s corporate owner, ByteDance, could be compelled to turn over sensitive user data to the Chinese government, where there’s no legal mechanism to fight the request.
The senators also raised issues of government censorship as reasons to be wary of the app, in addition to concerns about Chinese interference in U.S. elections:

Questions have also been raised regarding the potential for censorship or manipulation of certain content. TikTok reportedly censors materials deemed politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including content related to the recent Hong Kong protests, as well as references to Tiananmen Square, Tibetan and Taiwanese independence, and the treatment of Uighurs. The platform is also a potential target of foreign influence campaigns like those carried out during the 2016 election on U.S.-based social media platforms.  

TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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China Convicts 3 Researchers Involved In Gene-Edited Babies




BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese scientist who set off an ethical debate with claims that he had made the world’s first genetically edited babies was sentenced Monday to three years in prison because of his research, state media said.
He Jiankui, who was convicted of practicing medicine without a license, was also fined 3 million yuan ($430,000) by a court in the southern city of Shenzhen, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. Two other researchers involved in the project received lesser sentences and fines.
The verdict said the three defendants had not obtained qualification as doctors, pursued fame and profits, deliberately violated Chinese regulations on scientific research and crossed an ethical line in both scientific research and medicine, according to Xinhua. It also said they had fabricated ethical review documents.
The court said the researchers were involved in the births of three gene-edited babies to two women, confirming reports of a third baby. It said all three pleaded guilty during the trial, which Xinhua reported was closed to the public because of privacy concerns.
He, the lead researcher, shocked the scientific world when he announced in November 2018 that he had altered the embryos of twin girls who had been born the same month. He described his work in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.
The announcement sparked a global debate over the ethics of gene editing. He said he had used a tool called CRISPR to try to disable a gene that allows the AIDS virus to enter a cell, in a bid to give the girls the ability to resist the infection. The identity of the girls has not been released, and it isn’t clear if the experiment succeeded.
VIDEO: He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who claimed to have created the world’s first genetically-edited babies, had presented his work at an international summit on genome editing pic.twitter.com/DXRRJILW0a— AFP news agency (@AFP) December 30, 2019

The CRISPR tool has been tested elsewhere in adults to treat diseases, but many in the scientific community denounced He’s work as medically unnecessary and unethical, because any genetic changes could be passed down to future generations. The U.S. forbids editing embryos except for lab research.
He, who is known as “JK,” told the AP in 2018 that he felt a strong responsibility to make an example, and that society would decide whether to allow the practice to go forward. He disappeared from public view shortly after he announced his research at a conference in Hong Kong 13 months ago, apparently detained by authorities, initially in an apartment in Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong province that borders Hong Kong.
It wasn’t clear if the three-year prison term includes any of the time he has already spent in Chinese custody.
A Chinese scientist said the sentence should have been harsher to deter others. Kehkooi Kee, a Tsinghua University researcher who conducts gene-editing research on stem cells, also said that He should be held responsible for any fallout from the experiment on the lives of the babies and their families.
Dr. William Hurlbut, a Stanford University bioethicist whose advice He sought for more than a year before his experiment, said he felt sorry for the scientist, his wife and two young daughters.
“I warned him things could end this way, but it was just too late,” Hurlbut wrote in an email to the AP and to the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, and gene-editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Sad story — everyone lost in this (JK, his family, his colleagues, and his country), but the one gain is that the world is awakened to the seriousness of our advancing genetic technologies,” Hurlbut wrote.
He studied in the U.S. before setting up a lab at the Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen. The verdict accused him of colluding with Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, who worked at medical institutes in the same province.
Zhang was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million yuan, Xinhua said. Qin received an 18-month prison sentence, but with a two-year reprieve, and a 500,000 yuan fine.

Associated Press Chief Medical Writer Marilyn Marchione in Baltimore and researchers Shanshan Wang and Yu Bing in Beijing and Fu Ting in Bangkok contributed to this report.

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7 Numbers Show How Dire Climate Change Got This Decade




In the words of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg: “People are already suffering and dying from the climate and ecological emergency, and it will continue to get worse.”
In the past decade, the climate crisis, and its fatal consequences, deepened further, as temperatures rose around the globe, ice caps melted, sea levels rose and record-breaking hurricanes, floods and wildfires devastated communities across the U.S.
The United Nations released report after report detailing the heightening emergency of human-caused global warming and warning world leaders to take dramatic and swift action to avert catastrophe.
Here are seven figures that show just how dire the climate situation grew this decade alone.
The past five years were the hottest ever recorded on the planet

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cracks appear in the dried-out bed of a forest lake in Germany on Aug. 6, 2019. The NOAA said July was the hottest month on Earth since records began in 1880.

Globally, the past five years, from 2014 through 2018, all had record-breaking temperatures, with reports from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showing the hottest year ever as 2016, followed by 2017, 2015, 2018 and 2014.
These recent peak temperatures followed decades of warming around the globe. Higher temperatures are linked to a range of dangerous natural disasters ― including extreme floods, hurricanes and deadly wildfires ― and deaths. Since 2016 alone, at least 50% of coral reefs in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef ― the largest coral reef in the world ― have died amid the rising heat. Humans aren’t far behind: A study published in January found that more than a quarter-million people may die each year as a result of climate change in the decades to come.
While reports for 2019 won’t be released until early next year, this year has already experienced several record-breaking months. This June, July and September were the hottest June, July and September ever recorded on Earth.
Four of the five largest wildfires in California history happened this decade

Handout/Reuters

An aerial photo of the devastation left behind from wildfires in Northern California, Oct. 9, 2017.

Wildfires worsened in California in recent years, with hotter temperatures and dry conditions often combining with high winds to create a longer fire season with more destructive blazes. Scientists linked the worsening fires across the Western U.S. to climate change.
Among the five largest wildfires in the fire-prone state, four happened this decade alone. The largest ever in the state, the Mendocino complex fire of July 2018, blazed through nearly half a million acres.
What’s more, seven of the 10 most destructive fires in California occurred since 2015; and the deadliest ever fire in state history took place in 2018: the Camp fire, which killed 85 people and burned down nearly the entire town of Paradise. 
“I’ve been in the fire service for over 30 years, and I’m horrified at what I’ve seen,” Cal Fire officer Jerry Fernandez told HuffPost in October 2017 amid the Tubbs fire in Napa and Sonoma, which killed 22 people and turned block after block of houses in Santa Rosa to ash.
Six Category 5 hurricanes tore through the Atlantic region in the past four years

AFP Contributor via Getty Images

People walk in a flooded street next to damaged houses in Puerto Rico on Sept. 21, 2017, after Hurricane Maria hit.

The scientific community — including experts at the NOAA — has long warned that man-made climate change influences extreme weather events. Scientists found that climate change has likely increased the intensity of hurricanes, particularly in the North Atlantic region, albeit not the frequency of the storms.

When Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern Bahamas earlier this year as a Category 5 storm, it decimated entire communities and flooded 70% of Grand Bahama, an island of some 50,000 people. It also became the sixth Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic region in the past four years ― along with record-breaking Hurricane Lorenzo in September; Hurricane Michael in 2018; Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, which killed thousands in Puerto Rico; and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, one of the strongest, longest-lasting hurricanes of its kind on record.
And Category 5 hurricanes are not the only ones that wreak havoc on communities. Hurricane Harvey, which landed in 2017 as a Category 4, broke the continental U.S. rainfall record, dumping more than 50 inches of rain in parts of Texas and killing more than 80 people. Scientists said climate change made the storm worse, with rain associated with the lethal storm at least 15% stronger due to global warming.
The previous decade of the 2000s also saw a high number of Category 5 storms, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, this decade had the most consecutive years of Category 5 hurricanes, with the catastrophic-sized storms hitting each of the past four years.
Arctic sea ice cover dropped about 13% this decade

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This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019, photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in Iceland.

Ice sheets are melting and glaciers are shrinking in “unprecedented” ways, according to a 2019 report from the U.N. A widespread shrinking of the cryosphere ― or the frozen parts of the planet ― has left large stretches of land uncovered by ice for the first time in millennia. And sea level rise is accelerating dramatically as all that ice melts.
Since 1979, when satellite observations first began, Arctic sea ice cover, measured every September, has dropped by about 13% each decade, per the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Late this summer, the Arctic reached its second-lowest sea-ice coverage on record, per the NOAA.
In August, officials in Iceland held a funeral for a glacier that melted away amid rising temperatures.
Researchers with the IPCC warned that coastal communities were the most vulnerable to many “climate-related hazards, including tropical cyclones, extreme sea levels and flooding, marine heatwaves, sea ice loss and permafrost thaw.” Around 680 million people currently live in areas that would be impacted by such hazards, which the U.N. noted often have the least capacity to deal with climate change.
Floods with a 0.1% chance of happening in any given year became a frequent occurrence

Spencer Platt via Getty Images

A truck drives through high water on a street as Orange, Texas, slowly moves toward recovery almost a week after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey on Sept. 6, 2017.

With more heat in the atmosphere came more rainfall, and with more rainfall came more floods. But these weren’t just any floods; they were torrents so enormous that they were classified as having only a 1-in-1,000 chance of happening in any given year ― forcing the scientific community to reconsider what they call these increasingly frequent events.
Flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey was one of those “1,000 year” events, meaning there was only a 0.1% chance of such a deluge striking in 2017 based on the century of flood data researchers have to work off of.
The likelihood of such flooding was hard for people to grasp given how many other “1,000 year” floods had already occurred in recent years. Back in September 2016, when five of those floods had already hit the U.S. that year, experts pondered whether rapidly rising global temperatures had rendered the current flood-prediction model useless.
“We may, in other words, already have shifted so far into a new climate regime that probabilities have been turned on their head,” Scott Weaver, a senior climate scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, wrote at the time.
Studies at the start of the decade more or less predicted the phenomenon. In 2012, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University found that by around the year 2100, what we called “100 year” floods ― ones that have a 1% chance of occurring in any given year ― would need to be reclassified as 1-in-20-year or even 1-in-3-year events.

There were more than 100 “billion dollar” climate disasters, double from the decade before

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This Oct. 31, 2012, aerial photo shows destruction in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey.

A HuffPost analysis of federal data on the costliest droughts, floods, storms, cyclones and fires in the U.S. this decade offered a grim look at how expensive it became for the country to continue with business as usual.
In the last 10 years, the U.S. experienced at least 115 climate and weather disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each, according to data from the NOAA that runs through Oct. 8 of this year.
That’s nearly double the number of such events that took place in the U.S. during the previous decade, when the NOAA tallied 59 events that caused at least $1 billion in damage. There were 52 such events in the 1990s and 28 in the 1980s. That’s as far back as the NOAA’s data ― which is adjusted for inflation ― goes.
Of the five most expensive billion-dollar events in the NOAA’s records, four took place this decade. The most expensive disaster of the 2010s was Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which caused an estimated $130 billion in damages. It’s followed by Hurricane Maria at $93 billion, Hurricane Sandy at $73 billion and Hurricane Irma at $52 billion.
The devastating California wildfires in 2017 and 2018 were also the two most expensive disasters of their kind from the last four decades. The 2018 fires ― which include the one that burned Paradise, California, to the ground ― totaled $24 billion in damage, while the 2017 fires that scorched the state’s wine country caused $19 billion worth of destruction.
Meanwhile, we pumped a record 40.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air in 2019

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this Nov. 28, 2019, photo, smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in central China’s Shanxi Province.

Global carbon emissions quadrupled since 1960. After emissions steadied from about 2014 to 2016, they then rose again in 2017 and have been climbing since.
Carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018 and then again this year ― when scientists estimated that countries worldwide spewed more than 40.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air. The rise was spurred in part by increased output in China and India, per a study from researchers for the annual Global Carbon Budget.
This bleak news came amid a series of reports released this year urging a dramatic cutback of carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
We’re ending this decade on track to warm a catastrophic 3.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Climate activists participate in a student-led climate change march in Los Angeles on Nov. 1, 2019.

Like pretty much every other climate report from this decade, an emissions assessment the U.N. released at the end of 2019 came with a dire warning. According to a study of the so-called emissions gap ― a marker of the difference between the amount of planet-heating gases countries have agreed to cut and where the current projections are headed ― global temperatures are on pace to rise as much as 3.2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. That’s more than double what scientists project is enough warming to cause irreversible damage to the planet.
To change that fate, the next 10 years will be crucial. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last fall that humanity has just under a decade to get climate change under control. But as grim as the report is, it reaffirms that making such sweeping changes ― however unprecedented such a drastic adjustment may be ― is still possible.

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Russia Says It Has Developed A New Weapon That Can Fly 27 Times The Speed Of Sound




MOSCOW (AP) — A new intercontinental weapon that can fly 27 times the speed of sound became operational Friday, Russia’s defense minister reported to President Vladimir Putin, bolstering the country’s nuclear strike capability.
Putin has described the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle as a technological breakthrough comparable to the 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite. The new Russian weapon and a similar system being developed by China have troubled the United States, which has pondered defense strategies.
The Avangard is launched atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, but unlike a regular missile warhead that follows a predictable path after separation it can make sharp maneuvers in the atmosphere en route to target, making it much harder to intercept.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin that the first missile unit equipped with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle entered combat duty.
“I congratulate you on this landmark event for the military and the entire nation,” Shoigu said later during a conference call with top military leaders.
The Strategic Missile Forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said during the call that the Avangard was put on duty with a unit in the Orenburg region in the southern Ural Mountains.
Putin unveiled the Avangard among other prospective weapons systems in his state-of-the-nation address in March 2018, noting that its ability to make sharp maneuvers on its way to a target will render missile defense useless.
“It heads to target like a meteorite, like a fireball,” he said at the time.
The Russian leader noted that Avangard is designed using new composite materials to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 Celsius (3,632 Fahrenheit) resulting from a flight through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.
The military said the Avangard is capable of flying 27 times faster than the speed of sound. It carries a nuclear weapon of up to 2 megatons.
Putin has said Russia had to develop the Avangard and other prospective weapons systems because of U.S. efforts to develop a missile defense system that he claimed could erode Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Moscow has scoffed at U.S. claims that its missile shield isn’t intended to counter Russia’s massive missile arsenals.
Earlier this week, Putin emphasized that Russia is the only country armed with hypersonic weapons. He noted that for the first time Russia is leading the world in developing an entire new class of weapons, unlike in the past when it was catching up with the U.S.
In December 2018, the Avangard was launched from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Urals and successfully hit a practice target on the Kura shooting range on Kamchatka, 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) away.
Russian media reports indicated that the Avangard will first be mounted on Soviet-built RS-18B intercontinental ballistic missiles, code-named SS-19 by NATO. It is expected to be fitted to the prospective Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile after it becomes operational.
The Defense Ministry said last month it demonstrated the Avangard to a team of U.S. inspectors as part of transparency measures under the New Start nuclear arms treaty with the U.S.
The Russian military previously had commissioned another hypersonic weapon of a smaller range.
The Kinzhal (Dagger), which is carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, entered service with the Russian air force last year. Putin has said the missile flies 10 times faster than the speed of sound, has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) and can carry a nuclear or a conventional warhead. The military said it is capable of hitting both land targets and navy ships.
China has tested its own hypersonic glide vehicle, believed to be capable of traveling at least five times the speed of sound. It displayed the weapon called Dong Feng 17, or DF-17, at a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese state.
U.S. officials have talked about putting a layer of sensors in space to more quickly detect enemy missiles, particularly the hypersonic weapons. The administration also plans to study the idea of basing interceptors in space, so the U.S. can strike incoming enemy missiles during the first minutes of flight when the booster engines are still burning.
The Pentagon also has been working on the development of hypersonic weapons in recent years, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in August that he believes “it’s probably a matter of a couple of years” before the U.S. has one. He has called it a priority as the military works to develop new long-range fire capabilities.

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Trump Retweets Meme That Jesus Likes Him Better Than Obama. Critics Raise Holy Hell.




The two-year-old message from a Trump fan called the president “heaven sent.” Trump responded during another wild night of Twitter rants from Mar-a-Lago with a retweet and a “Thank you!” The tweet included a meme of none other than “Jesus Christ” carrying luggage and apparently returning to America (did he have to cross a border to get there?). “Obama kicked me out,” says “Jesus.” “Trump invited me back.”Trump is focused just now on boosted his bona fides with evangelicals following a scathing editorial earlier this month in Christianity Today. The publication, founded by Billy Graham, called for Trump’s removal from office for his “profoundly immoral” abuse of his office for personal and political gain. The editorial also lashed Trump’s “blackened moral record,” including “lies and slanders” and “immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud.”Is He bringing us your tax returns in that luggage? Straight from heaven to your impeachment trial? Awesome!— Dr Faustus knew (@carmmann) December 28, 2019

Looks like that Jesus would be held in a cage at the border under this Admin.A foreign fella wearing a dress!!! No entry.— Andrea (Mraz) Sutton (@AndiSutton1) December 28, 2019

Umm…you don’t really have much of a track record of welcoming brown-skinned refugees.— Seth Kibel (@SethKibelMusic) December 28, 2019

Who would Jesus steal from their parents and lock in a cage?— Sue 🇺🇸🌎♻️🌳🔬🔭❄🌊 (@wasukasa) December 28, 2019

What part of Donald Trump’s past would Jesus be more proud of? Lust? (Stormy) Pride? (Too many to count) Greed? (Duh!) Envy? (He can’t stop comparing himself to Obama) Wrath (Again Duh!)— According 2 Briggs (@World2Briggs) December 28, 2019

Obama kicked him out and trump invited him back? Hmmm,I’ll take who is Putin for 1,000 Alex?— G (@giancarloqui1) December 28, 2019

You don’t believe in God, you think you are a god.RESIGN. Or testify, under oath.— Expectingachg (@expectingachg) December 28, 2019

Jesus said “they will know you are my disciples by your love”. I see no love for humanity in Donald trump. I see no godliness or any Christ likeness. And now he s using Jesus to manipulate the masses. Lord, help us.— Vee Beth herreras 🥄🕊🐑🦁 (@veelighted7) December 28, 2019

Donnie is the farthest thing from Christianity possible. And to politicize the image of Jesus is disgusting.— Gary Reddick (@GaryReddick) December 28, 2019

Is that supposed to be “Jesus”? Jumping over a bunch of other things, how did you invite him back? With your racism? Homophobia? Xenophobia? Misogyny? Bullying? Refusal to protect people from gun violence? Greed? Adultory? Lying?— Barry Soper (@BarryJSoper) December 28, 2019

Trump #IMPOTUS 3 Year Career Biggest Blunders Top 10:10 NATO Laughter9 Bone Saw Saudis8 UN Laughter7 Impeached6 Caging Kids5 China Trade War4 Kim Jong Un Love Letters3 Helsinki Hostage Summit (Putin)2 Betray Kurds (Turkey/Syria/Russia)1 Release The Transcript (Ukraine) pic.twitter.com/0AKO6EGuy7— Tomi T Ahonen (@tomiahonen) December 28, 2019

Jesus Christ! And I’m not talking about you trump.— Debra K McKee (@DebraKMcKee1) December 28, 2019

This is shameful.And divisive.Not exactly a Christian perspective.— Ann DT 🌊 (@AnnDelTredici) December 28, 2019

In my opinion if Trump was sent by Heaven then God has either one heck of a sense of humor or he is really pissed off with the people who have to deal with him here.— Robin King (@rwitchcraft) December 28, 2019

Why would Obama kick Daniel Day-Lewis out???Sometimes the right-wing makes no sense.— KevinlyFather 🇺🇲🇨🇦🇲🇼🇸🇿 (@KevinlyFather) December 28, 2019





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Typhoon Phanfone Claims Dozens Of Lives In Philippines




MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A strong typhoon that barreled through the central Philippines left at least 28 dead and 12 missing, and forced thousands to flee their homes, devastating Christmas celebrations in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Typhoon Phanfone stranded many people in sea and airports at the peak of holiday travel, set off landslides, flooded low-lying villages, destroyed houses, downed trees and electrical poles and knocked out power in entire provinces. One disaster response officer described the battered coastal town of Batad in Iloilo province as a “ghost town” on Christmas Day.
“You can’t see anybody because there was a total blackout, you can’t hear anything. The town looked like a ghost town,” Cindy Ferrer of the regional Office of the Civil Defense said by phone.

BOBBIE ALOTA via Getty Images

Residents walk past a house damaged during Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019

The storm weakened as it blew into the South China Sea with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour and gusts of 93 mph, after lashing island after island with fierce winds and pounding rain on Christmas Day, the weather agency said.
Most of the deaths reported by police and local officials were due to drowning, falling trees and accidental electrocution.
A father, his three children and another relative were among those missing in hard-hit Iloilo province after a swollen river inundated their shanty.

ALREN BERONIO via Getty Images

Rescuers carry a body, believed to be one of several fishermen who went missing at the height of Typhoon Phanfone.

The typhoon slammed into Eastern Samar province on Christmas Eve and then plowed across the archipelago’s central region on Christmas, slamming into seven coastal towns and island provinces without losing power.
Provincial officials, army troops, police and volunteers spent Christmas away from home to tend to thousands of displaced residents in town gymnasiums and schools turned into emergency shelters. Many more people spent Christmas Eve, traditionally a time for family reunions, in bus terminals.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

An outrigger boat destroyed by the storm in Ormoc City, central Philippines. The typhoon left over a dozen dead and many homeless. 

More than 25,000 people were stranded in sea ports across the central region and outlying provinces after the coast guard prohibited ferries and cargo ships from venturing into dangerously choppy waters. Dozens of international and domestic flights to and from the region were canceled, including to popular beach and surfing resorts.
About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions often occur, making the country of more than 100 million people one of the world’s most disaster prone.

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Debris from floods caused by Typhoon Phanfone surround a damaged house in Balasan Town, Iloilo province, central Philippines.

Phanfone, a Laotian word for animal, traveled along a path similar to that of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record, which left more than 7,300 people dead and missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million people in the central Philippines in 2013.

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State Officials Will Be At The Core Of 2020 Election Security




SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) — Inside a hotel ballroom near the nation’s capital, a U.S. Army officer with battlefield experience told 120 state and local election officials that they may have more in common with military strategists than they might think.
These government officials are on the front lines of a different kind of battlefield — one in which they are helping to defend American democracy by ensuring free and fair elections.
“Everyone in this room is part of a bigger effort, and it’s only together arewe going to get through this,” the officer said.
That officer and other past and present national security leaders had a message to convey to officials from 24 states gathered for a recent training held by a Harvard-affiliated democracy project: They are the linchpins in efforts to defend U.S. elections from an attack by Russia, China or other foreign threats, and developing a military mindset will help them protect the integrity of the vote.
The need for such training reflects how elections security worries have heightened in the aftermath of the 2016 election, when Russian military agents targeted voting systems across the country as part of a multi-pronged effort to influence the presidential election. Until then, the job of local election officials could have been described as akin to a wedding planner who keeps track of who will be showing up on Election Day and ensures all the equipment and supplies are in place.
Now, these officials are on the front lines. The federal government will be on high alert, gathering intelligence and scanning systems for suspicious cyber activity as they look to defend the nation’s elections. Meanwhile, it will be the state and county officials who will be on the ground charged with identifying and dealing with any hostile acts.
“It’s another level of war,” said Jesse Salinas, the chief elections official in Yolo County, California, who attended the training. “You only attack things that you feel are a threat to you, and our democracy is a threat to a lot of these nation-states that are getting involved trying to undermine it. We have to fight back, and we have to prepare.”
Salinas brought four of his employees with him to the training, which was part of the Defending Digital Democracy project based at the Belfer Center forScience and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. The group has been working actively with former and current military, national security, political and communications experts — many of whom dedicate their time after work and on weekends — to develop training and manuals for state and local election officials. Those involved with leading the training asked for anonymity because of their sensitive positions.
The project’s latest playbook focuses on bringing military best practices to running Election Day operations, encouraging state and local election officials to adopt a “battle staff” command structure with clear responsibilities and standard operating procedures for dealing with minor issues. The project is also providing officials with a free state-of-the-art incident tracking system.
Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Belfer Center and a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who served as chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter in the Obama administration, told the group gathered for the training that it “shouldn’t be lost on you that this is a very military-like model.”
“Let’s be honest about it,” Rosenbach said. “If democracy is under attack and you guys are the ones at the pointy end of the spear, why shouldn’t we train that way? Why shouldn’t we try to give you the help that comes with that model and try to build you up and do all we can?”
Instructors stressed the need for election officials to be on the lookout for efforts to disrupt the vote and ensure that communications are flowing up from counties to the state, down from states to the counties, as well as up and down to the federal government and across states.
Piecing together seemingly disparate actions happening in real-time across geographical locations will allow the nation to defend itself, said Robby Mook, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2016. Mook co-founded the Defending Digital Democracy project with Matt Rhoades, Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager.
“Find a way to input data in a consistent, efficient and reliable way to ensure you know what is going on and prevent things from falling through the cracks,” Mook told the election officials. “You got to rise above just putting out fires.”
At the training were officials from California, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, West Virginia and other states. In one exercise, election officials were paired up as either a state or county under an Election Day scenario, charged with logging incidents and trying to piece together what turned out to be four different coordinated campaigns to disrupt voting.
“One of the big takeaways was just how the lack of one piece of information moving up from the counties to the state or moving from the states to counties, if either of those things don’t happen, it can have a significant impact,” said Stephen Trout, elections director for Oregon.
Trout said he would move quickly to acquire, customize and implement the incident tracking system, which would be an upgrade from the paper process currently in use. Dave Tackett, chief information officer for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, said he will recommend some structuring changes at his state operations center, including bringing key personnel into the room and incorporating elements of the incident tracking system like mapping and the ability to assign people to specific incidents.
“Events like today are helping us zero in on how to structure ourselves better, how to really think in a different mindset so that we can carry out all the different tasks that have to be done with elections,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Elections. “(It’s) the importance of communications, the importance of having standard operating procedures in place so all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed ahead of time and you are prepared for the unknown.”

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Christmas Typhoon Leaves 20 Dead In Philippines




MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A strong typhoon that barreled through the central Philippines left at least 20 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes, devastating Christmas celebrations in the predominantly Catholic country.
Typhoon Phanfone stranded many people in sea and airports at the peak of holiday travel, set off landslides, flooded low-lying villages, destroyed houses, downed trees and electrical poles and knocked out power in entire provinces. One disaster response officer described the battered coastal town of Batad in Iloilo province as a “ghost town” on Christmas Day. 
“You can’t see anybody because there was a total blackout, you can’t hear anything. The town looked like a ghost town,” Cindy Ferrer of the regional Office of the Civil Defense said by phone.
The storm weakened slightly on Thursday as it blew into the South China Sea with sustained winds of 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour and gusts of 150 kph (93 mph) after lashing island after island with fierce winds and pounding rain on Christmas Day, the weather agency said.
Most of the 20 deaths reported by national police and local officials were due to drowning, falling trees and accidental electrocution.
A father, his three children and another relative were among those missing in hard-hit Iloilo province after a swollen river inundated their shanty, officials said.
The typhoon slammed into Eastern Samar province on Christmas Eve and then plowed across the archipelago’s central region on Christmas, slamming into seven coastal towns and island provinces without losing power, government forecasters said.
Provincial officials, army troops, police and volunteers spent Christmas away from home to tend to thousands of displaced residents in town gymnasiums and schools turned into emergency shelters. Many more people spent Christmas Eve, traditionally a time for family reunions, in bus terminals.
More than 25,000 people were stranded in sea ports across the central region and outlying provinces after the coast guard prohibited ferries and cargo ships from venturing into dangerously choppy waters. Dozens of international and domestic flights to and from the region were canceled, including to popular beach and surfing resorts.
About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions often occur, making the country of more than 100 million people one of the world’s most disaster prone.
Phanfone, a Laotian word for animal, traveled along a path similar to that of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record, which left more than 7,300 people dead and missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million people in the central Philippines in 2013.

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‘It Doesn’t Matter If It’s Christmas’: Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activists Keep Up Protests




HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong anti-government protesters marched through Christmas-decorated shopping centers on Wednesday, chanting pro-democracy slogans and forcing one mall to close early, as police fired tear gas to disperse crowds gathering on nearby streets.
The protests have turned more confrontational over the festive season, though earlier in December they had been largely peaceful after pro-democracy candidates overwhelmingly won district council elections.
Despite the embarrassing results, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leaders have made no new concessions.
“Confrontation is expected, it doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas,” said Chan, a 28-year-old restaurant worker who was part of a crowd which exchanged insults with police outside a shopping center in the Mong Kok district.
“I’m disappointed the government still didn’t respond to any of our … demands. We continue to come out even if we don’t have much hope,” said Chan, who only gave his surname.
Riot police patrolled several neighborhoods while tourists and shoppers, many wearing Santa hats or reindeer antlers, strolled past.
There were no major clashes, but with impromptu crowds forming to shout expletives at the unpopular officers, who have been accused of using excessive force, police briefly fired tear gas in Mong Kok, a popular protest area.
Police describe their reaction to the unrest as restrained.
Hundreds of protesters, dressed in black and wearing face masks, descended on shopping malls around the Chinese-ruled city, shouting popular slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times!”
Police arrested several people in a shopping mall in the Sha Tin district after pepper-spraying them. The mall closed early.
CHRISTMAS ‘RUINED’
Baton-wielding police fired tear gas on Tuesday at thousands of protesters who barricaded roads and trashed a Starbucks cafe and an HSBC branch.
The city’s leader Carrie Lam said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that many Hong Kongers and tourists were disappointed that their “Christmas Eve celebrations have been ruined”.
“Such illegal acts have not only dampened the festive mood but also adversely affected local businesses.”
The Hospital Authority said 25 people had been injured overnight, including one man who fell from the second to first floor of a shopping mall as he tried to escape the police.
HSBC has become embroiled in a controversy involving a recent police crackdown on a fund-raising platform supporting protesters. HSBC denied any connection between the crackdown and its closure of an account linked to the group, but remains the target of protester rage.
Starbucks has been targeted after the daughter of the founder of Maxim’s Caterers, which owns the local franchise, publicly condemned the protesters.
DINNER WITH STRANGERS
The protests started more than six months ago against a now-withdrawn bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China where courts are controlled by the Communist Party.
They have since evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement, with demonstrators angry at what they perceive as increased meddling by Beijing in the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China denies interfering, saying it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula put in place at that time and blaming foreign forces for fomenting unrest.
While protesters have repeatedly vandalized businesses they believed to have ties with pro-Beijing figures, they deliberately supported those which have offered them shelter from tear gas or free water during hot summer marches.
One eatery in the Tsim Sha Tsui tourist area organized a Christmas dinner for protesters, with hundreds queuing outside for a free plate of noodles or fried chicken.
“It’s my first time going to a buffet with strangers, but we share the same goals … so it feels like a meaningful way to spend Christmas,” said private tutor Kenny, 46, who was eating outside the diner.

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