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Enlarge this image Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption toggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a stern warning for President Trump on Sunday: Do not try to retaliate against the intelligence community official whose anonymous complaint helped spur the impeachment inquiry. "I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower," Pelosi said in an interview on CBS's Face the Nation. "I told the president, you're in my wheelhouse when you come after the whistleblower." Pelosi's comments follow Trump's repeated calls for the whistleblower's name to be exposed. Trump claimed on Friday that "everybody knows" who the whistleblower is, calling the person's identity "no great secret." But it is not clear that Trump truly knows who filed a complaint about his July 25 call with the president of Ukraine where he pressed for the country to open investigations into the Biden family and a disproven theory about 2016 election meddling by Ukraine. The whistleblower wrote that Trump's actions raised national security concerns and constituted an abuse of power. Trump and some of his Republican supporters have ramped up their attacks on the whistleblower's credibility as House impeachment investigators continue to call witnesses to testify for nationally televised hearings into the president's conduct. Lawyers representing the whistleblower say respecting the individual's anonymity is important to their client's safety, as well as ensuring that future whistleblowers will not have to fear intimidation in response to reporting government abuse. Pelosi told CBS that the process that allows whistleblowers to come forward anonymously should not be undermined. "This is really important, especially when it comes to intelligence, that someone who would be courageous enough to point out truth to power," she said. Federal law allows the whistleblower to remain anonymous, but it is not expressly a crime for the president to unmask the person. Legal experts have said that if Trump outs the individual, it could prompt an article of impeachment. Pelosi did not elaborate on what exactly the House's response would be if Trump decides to do so. Conservative media has named someone thought to be the whistleblower and attempted to portray the person as a political enemy of the president. But the reports are speculative, since there has been no official confirmation of the whistleblower's identity. The whistleblower's legal team has sent a cease and desist letter to the White House Counsel, warning that the president should stop calling for the whistleblower to be publicly revealed. "Let me be clear: Should any harm befall any suspected named whistleblower or their family, the blame will rest squarely with your client," wrote attorney Andrew Bakaj. House Democrats say the person's testimony is no longer integral to the impeachment investigation since the whistleblower's complaint has been largely corroborated by other witnesses. Still, the whistleblower agreed to answer written questions from Republicans under oath, but the offer has not been accepted. Democrats say Trump tried to bribe the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, by conditioning $391 million in military assistance that was already approved by Congress on Ukraine announcing investigations that would politically benefit Trump. The White House released the aid after Congress learned about the whistleblower complaint. Republicans appearing on Sunday talk shows argued that since the money was eventually delivered to Ukraine without the country launching political investigations, there was nothing wrong with the now infamous July 25 phone call. "Most importantly, the Ukrainians did nothing to, as far as investigations goes, to get the aid release," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on CBS. "So there was never this quid pro quo that the Democrats all promise existed before President Trump released the phone call." Eight witnesses are expected to testify this week, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Vindman, a key witness in the inquiry, was listening in on Trump's July 25 call and in closed-door testimony said he was so alarmed by the president's behavior that he rushed to report it to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the NSC. Sondland is also an [...]
Sun, Nov 17, 2019
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS
Enlarge this image Australian airline Qantas is exploring new nonstop flights that would be the world's longest — but 19-plus hours on a plane can be taxing for those on board. Qantas hide caption toggle caption Qantas Passengers on board Qantas flight 7879 took off from London early Thursday morning and arrived in Sydney a bit after noon on Friday — 19 hours and 19 minutes in the air. So how do you keep people on board from going crazy — or getting deep-vein thrombosis — while they're cooped up that long? The Australian airline's approach on the 11,000 mile flight was to design the meals and lighting carefully, get passengers out of their seats, and focus on the remarkable: two sunrises in one day. In addition to Sydney, Qantas is exploring a number of new nonstop flight routes that would be longer than any currently operating, including from New York and London to Melbourne and Brisbane. And so, the 52 people on board – largely employees of the airline, along with some journalists – were guinea pigs. Last month, Qantas landed the first nonstop commercial airline flight from New York to Sydney. That flight took 19 hours, 16 minutes. The carrier says that flight saved passengers three hours over the normal routing, which includes a stop. Replay yesterday's record-breaking non-stop flight from @HeathrowAirport to @SydneyAirport by @Qantas as part of their #ProjectSunrise test flights. And learn more about what happens aboard the test flights. https://t.co/pCazPpvn6P #QF7879 pic.twitter.com/LJKD7TDygD— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) November 15, 2019 Jet-lag researchers at the University of Sydney put into practice a number of strategies on the flight related to light, food, and exercise. To help the body to adjust to the time difference, light in the cabin was correlated to Sydney time as soon as the flight took off. So though the plane took off at 6 a.m. in London, dinner was served and the lights were soon turned down. Meals were designed to produce specific effects. Dinner was a carb-heavy steak sandwich, easy on the spice, intended to lull passengers to sleep. Drinks were offered, too — on the previous nonstop test flight between New York and Sydney, 38% of passengers said they drank alcohol to hasten sleep (though alcohol can be especially dehydrating on such extended flights). Enlarge this image A carb-heavy dinner is designed to be soporific. Qantas hide caption toggle caption Qantas And passengers were guided to exercise: walking in a circuit around the plane and doing stretches. That part was made easier than on a typical flight, since the plane was mostly empty. To test the flight's impact and measure efforts to make it less taxing, test passengers wore activity monitors, kept logs of [...]
Sun, Nov 17, 2019
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS
Enlarge this image Sri Lanka's former Defense Secretary and presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa leaves a polling station after casting his vote in Embuldeniya, on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka on Saturday. Eranga Jayawardena/AP hide caption toggle caption Eranga Jayawardena/AP Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former defense secretary and intelligence officer accused of committing human rights violations, has won Sri Lanka's closely fought presidential elections. His main opponent, Sajith Premadasa of the ruling United National Party (UNP), conceded defeat on Sunday, saying he will "honor the decision of the people." Rajapaksa, 70, led the Sri Lankan Armed Forces during the end of the country's decades-long civil war, while his older brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was president. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces defeated the Tamil Tigers, ending the violent conflict in 2009 — and were also accused of rape, torture and the abduction of thousands of people. Rajapaksa's win signals the return to power for the controversial family, hailed by many for ending the civil war, but also remembered for brutal acts against minorities and dissidents. The former defense secretary won with more than 52% of the nearly 16 million possible votes, according to final results released Sunday by Sri Lanka's election commission. He defeated Premadasa by about 10 percentage points. All Island Final Result : 2019 Presidential Election 🗳️🇱🇰 pic.twitter.com/JoAnEtzE6Z— Azzam Ameen (@AzzamAmeen) November 17, 2019 "As we usher in a new journey for Sri Lanka, we must remember that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey," Rajapaksa wrote on Twitter. "Let us rejoice peacefully, with dignity and discipline in the same manner in which we campaigned." As we usher in a new journey for Sri Lanka, we must remember that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey. Let us rejoice peacefully, with dignity and discipline in the same manner in which we campaigned. pic.twitter.com/tXqLrdH3Qv— Gotabaya Rajapaksa (@GotabayaR) November 17, 2019 Rajapaksa campaigned heavily on a platform of national security, especially focused on the threat of Islamist terrorism after suicide bombers killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds more in the country on Easter Sunday this year. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attacks, which threw the fragile sense of peace in the nation into a tailspin and caused an angry backlash against Muslims. The president-elect faces several human rights lawsuits, stemming from his time as defense secretary, which threatened his run for presidency. When asked about the allegations against him last month by reporters in the capital, Colombo, Rajapaksa dismissed them with a laugh. "You are talking all the time about the past. Ask [about] the future!" he said. "I am trying to become the president of the future Sri Lanka! We can move on." But for many in Sri Lanka's ethnic minorities, moving on is not an option. Ahead of this weekend's election, NPR's Lauren Frayer talked to several Tamil mothers whose children are still missing after security forces led by Rajapaksa took them away before the end of the civil war more than a decade ago. Tens of thousands of people disappeared during the 26-year civil war, and more than 100,000 people died. No one has ever been held accountable for the extrajudicial killings, although many in the minority groups hold Rajapaksa responsible, and fear what Sri Lanka will become under his rule. But, Frayer writes, the Buddhist majority in the country tends to see Rajapaksa in a completely different light: "When Sri Lankans think of a leader who eradicates his enemies, many think — for better or worse — of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. To many of the country's Sinhala Buddhists, he's a war hero who led government forces to victory in the civil war. A Rajapaksa campaign video features scenes of Buddhist temples — and lots of soldiers with guns. "The memories are still fresh of what happened during the period when he was defense secretary. There was a lot of impunity and disappearances," says Jehan Perera, executive director of Sri Lanka's nongovernmental National Peace Council, in Colombo. "But for many in the majority, security — and also pride in one's nation — trumps other matters." Early on Sunday, [...]
Sun, Nov 17, 2019
Source: Headlines -NPR Category: TOP NEWS