Bill pay service doxo released its 2023 United States of Bill Pay: State by State Bill Pay Market Report this week, which breaks down comparative household costs across the country.
The report focused on the ten most common household bill categories:
- Auto loan
- Utilities (electric, gas, water & sewer, and waste & recycling)
- Auto insurance
- Cable, internet and phone
- Health insurance
- Mobile phone
- Alarm and security
- Life insurance
Doxo found that the average U.S. household spends $2,046 monthly and $24,557 annually on these costs. It ranked the most and least expensive states for Americans to live in based on average spending per month on actual household bill payments.
No. 1 most expensive U.S. state based on monthly costs: Hawaii
Hawaii residents spend $3,070 each month — 50% above the national average of $2,046 — which makes it the No. 1 most expensive U.S. state based on the cost of household bills.
The doxo report found that the average monthly bill for a mortgage in Hawaii is $2,247, while the average rent is $1,856.
In CNBC’s 2022 America’s Top States for Business study, Hawaii ranked as the most expensive state to live in based on an index of prices for a range of goods and services. Located on the island of O’ahu, Kailua is the most expensive city in the state.
Top 10 most expensive U.S. states based on monthly costs
- New Jersey
- New York
California is the second most expensive state to live in based on the average cost of monthly expenses.
According to the doxo report, the average cost of bills in California is $2,838 per month, which is 38.7% above the national average and 40% of the average household income. The highest monthly bill for residents of California is the mortgage, which averages $2,402. For those who rent, the average is $1,762 a month.
The city that ranked as the most expensive in California is San Ramon, located 34 miles east of San Francisco. The average monthly bill cost for San Ramon is $4,390.
According to Niche, San Ramon is in the top 10 best suburbs to raise a family in California thanks to its above-average schools and below-average violent and property crime rates.
No. 1 least expensive state based on monthly costs: West Virginia
On the other end of the spectrum — and the United States — West Virginia ranked as the least expensive state based on household bills.
The average cost of bills in West Virginia is $1,530 per month, 25.2% below the national average.
According to the doxo report, the average mortgage in the state is $879, while the average monthly rent is $785.
Located in the Appalachian region, West Virginia is most known for its rolling terrain, which earned it the nickname of the Mountain State. West Virginia offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hiking, whitewater rafting and skiing.
Top 10 least expensive states based on monthly costs
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The state that ranked as the second least expensive based on household bills is Mississippi. The average monthly bills cost in the state is $1,616, 21.1% below the national average.
The average monthly mortgage is $1,032, while the average monthly rent is $843. The most expensive city in the state is Madison, which is 13 miles north of the state capital, Jackson.
Mississippi is most known for being a leader in the agriculture and forestry industries. According to the U.S. News and World Report, the state produces much of the country’s farm-raised catfish and is also a top producer of sweet potatoes, cotton and pulpwood.
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NATO Chief on Ukraine War: ‘Be Prepared for Bad News’
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned there could be bad news coming out about Ukraine, as fears grow of a stalemate with Russia and allies such as the U.S. debate whether to send more aid to the country.
“Wars develop in phases. We have to support Ukraine in both good and bad times. We should also be prepared for bad news,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with German broadcaster ARD on Saturday, according to Politico Europe.
Stoltenberg said Ukraine’s small victories are important in ending the war, despite Ukraine’s recent counter-offensive not resulting in major headway. However, Ukrainian troops secured a victory last month by pushing Russian forces back on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
“These are big victories even though they haven’t been able to move the front line,” Stoltenberg said.
The NATO chief also urged allies to continue sending support to Ukraine in the interview.
“The more we support the Ukraine, the faster the war will end,” he said.
Stoltenberg’s comments come just as the White House issued a warning Monday saying it will run out of funds to provide weapons to Ukraine in its fight against Russia without congressional action by the end of the year. Additional aid for Ukraine has hit a wall in the House, while Senate Republicans are looking to tie support for Kyiv with border security changes.
“We are out of money to support Ukraine in this fight. This isn’t a next year problem,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young wrote in a letter addressed to Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).
“The time to help a democratic Ukraine fight against Russian aggression is right now. It is time for Congress to act.”
The Biden administration outlined a roughly $106 billion national security supplemental funding request in October that included money for Israel in its war against the militant group Hamas and Ukraine. It also included investments in the Indo-Pacific, funding humanitarian aid and border security measures.
This also comes as some Ukrainian officials have warned that the war has come to a “stalemate.” Ukraine’s commander in chief, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, said in an interview last month that only a significant technological breakthrough could help move the war forward.
Biden Got Recurring $1,380 Payment from Hunter’s Firm Starting in 2018
President Biden received a recurring payment of $1,380 from his son Hunter’s law firm beginning in late 2018 shortly after a bank money laundering officer warned that the same account was receiving millions of dollars in Chinese government-linked funds without “any services rendered.”
A bank order shows that Owasco PC set up a “monthly” transfer to then-former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., with a voided check for the future president included in the documentation, which was released Monday by the House Oversight Committee.
A source told The Post that at least three recurring payments were made — on Sept. 17, Oct. 15 and Nov. 15, 2018 — totaling $4,140 to the elder Biden from Owasco PC, according to the bank records of the firm.
“President Biden and his family must be held accountable for this blatant corruption,” Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said in a video release.
“Today, the House Oversight Committee is releasing subpoenaed bank records that show Hunter Biden’s business entity, Owasco PC, made direct monthly payments to Joe Biden. This wasn’t a payment from Hunter Biden’s personal account but an account for his corporation that received payments from China and other shady corners of the world,” Comer said.
“At this moment, Hunter Biden is under an investigation by the Department of Justice for using Owasco PC for tax evasion and other serious crimes. And based on whistleblower testimony, we know the Justice Department made a concerted effort to prevent investigators from asking questions about Joe Biden. I wonder why?”
Earlier that year, a January 2019 email from assistant Katie Dodge to Hunter Biden annotated various expenses including “Ford Raptor — Reimbursement to JRB — $1380.”
The provenance of the funds is unclear, however, and additional records show that Hunter Biden was knee-deep in two of his most controversial business relationships at the time, with Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings and CEFC China Energy.
The evidence emerged as House Republicans prepare to question first brother James Biden on Wednesday and Hunter next week about the president’s role in his family’s dealings in countries such as China and Ukraine — with a possible floor vote to authorize the ongoing impeachment inquiry this month.
While a presidential candidate, Joe Biden denied that he ever discussed business with his relatives, but evidence has since shown that he met with his relatives’ associates from both the Burisma and CEFC ventures.
Documents from the first son’s abandoned laptop show that Burisma board adviser Vadym Pozharskyi sought “bank reference” information on Sept. 14, 2018 — one day before the initial transfer to Joe Biden was sought. However, the transaction was not executed for another two days, apparently due to a later-than-expected form submission.
Joe Biden met Pozharskyi at an April 17, 2015, dinner at DC’s Café Milano. An unproven FBI informant tip said that Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky claimed in 2016 he was “coerced” into paying $10 million in bribes to the Bidens for their assistance in ousting prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
Hunter also was on the tail end of disbursing millions of dollars received from CEFC China Energy — one of two major Biden family dealings with Chinese government-linked firms.
On June 26, 2018 — less than three months before Joe Biden began to receive the monthly transfers — an internal Bank Secrecy Act expert warned colleagues that the institution should reconsider its relationship with Hunter as a result of Owasco PC seeming to receive Chinese funds without “any services rendered.”
CEFC transferred $5 million to another Biden family-linked entity, Hudson West III, in August 2017 after Hunter warned a China-based associate of his father’s wrath if a business deal was aborted. Much of the large transfer later went to Hunter’s Owasco PC.
Prior bank records released by the Oversight Committee indicate that Joe Biden received payments of $40,000 and $200,000 from his brother James, who also was involved in the CEFC venture and other foreign-focused enterprises.
Comer alleged that the $40,000 transferred to Joe Biden’s bank account on Sept 3, 2017, was from “laundered” Chinese funds.
James Biden paid Joe Biden $200,000 on March 1, 2018 — the same day that James received a $200,000 transfer from troubled rural hospital company Americore after pledging to use his political connections to secure a Middle Eastern investor, according to bankruptcy filings.
The White House says there’s evidence that both transfers were loan repayments, but Republicans argue they have not seen loan agreement documents and note that the funds distributed to James came from a law firm, rather than Joe Biden himself, further clouding the picture.
Doug Burgum Drops Out of 2024 Presidential Race
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum dropped his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Monday after repeatedly polling in the single digits and failing to qualify for the third and fourth GOP debates.
Burgum is the latest candidate to drop out of the race, following former South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Rep. Will Hurd and businessperson Perry Johnson.
In his statement, Burgum criticized the Republican National Committee’s “clubhouse debate requirements” that kept him from qualifying for November and December debates.
“The RNC’s mission is to win elections. It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary,” he said in a statement.
“This effort to nationalize the primary system is unhealthy for the future of the party, especially for a party that proclaims to value leadership from outside of Washington,” he continued in the statement.
Burgum ran a mostly self-funded campaign, thanks to his prior career as a software entrepreneur. Burgum’s company, Great Plains Software, sold in 2001 to Microsoft for $1.1 billion.
Burgum contributed over $12 million from his personal fortune to his campaign, according to campaign filings, including on television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. He saw $19.2 million in total ad support from his campaign and the Best of America PAC as of September, according to analysis from AdImpact. The campaign itself spent an additional $6 million on advertising.
The two-term governor made it to the debate stage twice, gaining some name recognition when he became the first candidate to offer $20 gift cards to those who contributed $1 to his campaign in an effort to hit the RNC’s qualifying rules that candidates must reach 40,000 individual donors.
The strategy eventually helped him land a spot in the first two Republican debates in August and, but he saw an eventful lead-up to the match when he injured his leg in a pickup basketball game the day before. Burgum ultimately took the stage wearing a boot and stood for the two-hour debate, though he only got about eight minutes of airtime.
In an attempt to make it to the second debate, the Best of America PAC launched a $4 million national TV ad campaign. Burgum qualified for the second debate at the last minute but later complained about not getting enough talking time after moderator Dana Perino shut him down for interrupting another candidate.
He again offered gift cards to those who donated to his campaign in an attempt to reach the debate stage for a third time, to no avail. The governor has criticized the RNC’s presidential debate participation threshold as “clubhouse rules.”
Burgum, 67, launched his campaign in June with goals to help fix the economy and speak less on culture issues but struggled to gain steam in both national and early nominating state polls. An October Morning Consult poll found that only 1 percent of likely Republican primary voters surveyed supported him. And an October NBC/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll found that of likely Republican caucus-goers, 3 percent supported Burgum.
Burgum is used to not being a household name. Burgum first ran for governor in 2016, winning in a major upset when he defeated North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem by more than 20 points. Prior to being governor, Burgum had never held a public office.
While in office, Burgum has cut taxes, rolled back transgender rights and signed a law banning almost all abortions in the state. As a candidate, Burgum said he would not sign a nationwide ban on abortion.
LA Homeowner Guns Down Burglar After Four Men Break Into His House — Police Arrest Him
A Los Angeles homeowner was taken into custody early Wednesday after killing a home invasion suspect while a grandmother and toddler were in the house.
KTLA reported that police were alerted to a “hot prowl” at a home in the 11400 block of Swinton Avenue in Granada Hills around 5 a.m. Saturday morning. A “hot prowl” is a law enforcement term for a burglary in progress when the homeowner is present.
The LAPD revealed that “three or four” males broke into the house before the homeowner turned the tables on them and opened fire.
On December 2, 2023, around 5:00 a.m., officers responded to a burglary radio call on the 11400 block of Swinton Avenue. The officers preliminary investigation determined that approximately 3 to 4 males in their 20s entered the home with the intent to burglarize the location.
— LAPD PIO (@LAPDPIO) December 2, 2023
One of the would-be robbers was struck by the gunfire and died at the scene. The other three suspects fled the scene to an unknown location.
The LAPD suspects an additional suspect was injured during the incident after finding “a trail of blood.”
But the heroic homeowner’s actions did not go unpunished. Video footage at the scene shows the hero being handcuffed following the incident. It is not known at this point whether he has been charged.
🚨LA homeowner opens fire after four armed men broke in to burglarize his home, killing one. The homeowner was taken in for questioning but it is not clear if he has been charged
A homeowner shot and killed a home invasion suspect in Los Angeles early Saturday morning while a… pic.twitter.com/UIutPDFa92
— Unlimited L’s (@unlimited_ls) December 4, 2023
This is far from the first time Los Angeles has acted outrageously against a gun-wielding homeowner. The Gateway Pundit reported last month that a father who defended his family and home from intruders had his gun permit revoked for allegedly yelling at the police when they visited his home.
Pat Walsh, one of the hero’s neighbors, revealed to KTLA that there have been burglaries “every day” and residents are “fed up.”
We’ve been having burglaries every day in this neighborhood. So, I’m not surprised at all.
It’s been a real problem. Residents here are fed up.
Another neighbor fully supported the man’s actions in defending his home and expressed hope this could stop the robberies.
The suspects messed with the wrong homeowner, so hopefully this will stop them.
It makes me feel good that people are able to protect their homes and stop these guys.
The Los Angeles Police Department is asking individuals to contact them with information regarding the incident.
Teen’s ISIS-Inspired Terror Attack on Las Vegas Foiled by FBI
A teenager promised “lone wolf operations in Las Vegas” in support of ISIS before his alleged terror plot was foiled, according to law enforcement.
“Peace be upon all brothers who see this. I am here to announce that I will be starting lone wolf operations in Las Vegas against the enemies of Allah,” the suspect allegedly wrote in a Nov. 28 social media post.
“I ask you to make Dua for victory. I am a supporter of the Islamic State, and I will make sure the Zionists in this city know it.”
That was allegedly posted on Tuesday. By Friday, the 16-year-old suspect was arrested, and federal agents found components to build an explosive device and terrorist propaganda, Dori Koren, deputy chief Homeland Security and Special Operations Division, said.
The social media post also included the ISIS flag and words in Arabic, Koren said during Friday’s press conference.
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department counter-terrorism division quickly mobilized and identified the suspect and his location “within hours” of the post, Koren said.
Law enforcement – including SWAT teams – executed several warrants to foil the alleged plot, and take the suspect into custody, Koren said.
“It’s important to note that we believe this is an isolated threat that we were able to quickly mitigate,” Koren said. “There’s no indication at this time that there are additional threats to our community.”
They recovered a handmade ISIS flag, headband and patches; ISIS and Al Qaeda propaganda; guidance for conducting a terrorist attack; and, self-portraits of the suspect surrounded by ISIS propaganda, he said.
Even more troubling was the recovery of components to build improvised explosive devices, bomb-making recipes and instructions, Koren said.
The suspect was not identified because he is a minor, but he was charged with terroristic threats, attempt to further an act of terrorism, providing material support to a terrorist organization and five counts of possession of explosive components.
All the charges are felonies, and the case will be prosecuted by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in Nevada.
The investigation remains ongoing, and more information about the case will be released in the coming weeks, he said.
UK Nuke Site Hacked by Russia, China
The UK’s most hazardous nuclear site, Sellafield, has been hacked into by cyber groups closely linked to Russia and China, the Guardian can reveal.
The astonishing disclosure and its potential effects have been consistently covered up by senior staff at the vast nuclear waste and decommissioning site, the investigation has found.
The Guardian has discovered that the authorities do not know exactly when the IT systems were first compromised. But sources said breaches were first detected as far back as 2015, when experts realised sleeper malware – software that can lurk and be used to spy or attack systems – had been embedded in Sellafield’s computer networks.
It is still not known if the malware has been eradicated. It may mean some of Sellafield’s most sensitive activities, such as moving radioactive waste, monitoring for leaks of dangerous material and checking for fires, have been compromised.
Sources suggest it is likely foreign hackers have accessed the highest echelons of confidential material at the site, which sprawls across 6 sq km (2 sq miles) on the Cumbrian coast and is one of the most hazardous in the world.
The full extent of any data loss and any ongoing risks to systems was made harder to quantify by Sellafield’s failure to alert nuclear regulators for several years, sources said.
The revelations have emerged in Nuclear Leaks, a year-long Guardian investigation into cyber hacking, radioactive contamination and toxic workplace culture at Sellafield.
The site has the largest store of plutonium on the planet and is a sprawling rubbish dump for nuclear waste from weapons programmes and decades of atomic power generation.
Guarded by armed police, it also holds emergency planning documents to be used should the UK come under foreign attack or face disaster. Built more than 70 years ago and formerly known as Windscale, it made plutonium for nuclear weapons during the cold war and has taken in radioactive waste from other countries, including Italy and Sweden.
The Guardian can also disclose that Sellafield, which has more than 11,000 staff, was last year placed into a form of “special measures” for consistent failings on cybersecurity, according to sources at the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the security services.
The watchdog is also believed to be preparing to prosecute individuals there for cyber failings.
The ONR confirmed Sellafield is failing to meet its cyber standards but declined to comment on the breaches, or claims of a “cover up”.
A spokesperson said: “Some specific matters are subject to ongoing investigations, so we are unable to comment further at this time.”
In a statement, Sellafield also declined to comment about its failure to tell regulators, instead focusing on the improvements it says it has made in recent years.
Labour’s shadow secretary of state for energy security and net zero, Ed Miliband, said it was a “very concerning report about one of our most sensitive pieces of energy infrastructure”.
“It raises allegations that must be treated with the utmost seriousness by government,” he said.
“The government has a responsibility to say when it first knew of these allegations, what action it and the regulator took and to provide assurances about the protection of our national security.”
The problem of insecure servers at Sellafield was nicknamed Voldemort after the Harry Potter villain, according to a government official familiar with the ONR investigation and IT failings at the site, because it was so sensitive and dangerous. It involved highly sensitive data that could be exploited by Britain’s enemies. Sellafield’s server network was characterised by the official as “fundamentally insecure”.
The scale of the problem was only revealed when staff at an external site found that they could access Sellafield’s servers and reported it to the ONR, according to an insider at the watchdog.
Other concerns include external contractors being able to plug memory sticks into the system while unsupervised.
In one highly embarrassing incident last July, login details and passwords for secure IT systems were inadvertently broadcast on national TV by the BBC One nature series Countryfile, after crews were invited into the secure site for a piece on rural communities and the nuclear industry.
The ONR has prepared a notice of prosecution for Sellafield on cybersecurity – a form of enforcement action it can only take if it believes there is “sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction”.
Cyber problems have been known by senior figures at the nuclear site for at least a decade, according to a report dated from 2012, seen by the Guardian, which warned there were “critical security vulnerabilities” that needed to be addressed urgently.
It found that security resources at the time were “not adequate to police the internal threat [from staff] … let alone react to a significant increase in external threat”.
More than a decade later, staff at Sellafield, regulators and sources within the intelligence community believe systems at the vast nuclear waste dump are still not fit for purpose. They also believe that there was a deliberate effort by senior leaders to conceal the scale of the problems posed by cybersecurity problems at the site from security officials tasked with testing the UK’s vulnerability to attack in recent years. This is the subject of potential prosecution.
Security officials are also concerned that the ONR has been slow to share its intelligence on cyber failings at Sellafield because they indicate that its own scrutiny has been ineffective for more than a decade.
The latest annual report from the ONR stated that “improvements are required” from Sellafield and other sites in order to address cybersecurity risks. It also confirmed that the site was in “significantly enhanced attention” for this activity.
The ONR said it had found cybersecurity “shortfalls” during its inspections and noted that it had taken “enforcement action” as a result.
Such is the scale of cybersecurity concern, some officials believe entire new systems should be urgently built at Sellafield’s nearby emergency control centre – a separate secure facility.
Among the highly sensitive documents stored at Sellafield are disaster manuals, plans that guide people through emergency nuclear protocols and what to do during a foreign attack on the UK.
These documents include some of the learnings from a variety of sensitive operations, including Exercise Reassure in 2005 – and the regular Oscar exercises – which were aimed at testing the UK’s ability to handle a nuclear disaster in Cumbria.
The ONR was so concerned by the fact that external sites could access Sellafield’s servers, and an apparent cover-up by staff, that it interviewed teams under caution. The Sellafield board held an inquiry into the problem in 2013 and the ONR warned that it would require more transparency on IT security.
Cyber-attack and cyber espionage by Russia and China are among the biggest threats to the UK, according to security officials. The most recent National Risk Register, an official document that outlines the key hazards the UK could face, includes a cyber-attack on civil nuclear infrastructure.
Attackers from hostile states have targeted allies in the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing community in recent years. The US has been attacked, with its government agencies, including its energy department, targeted via file-transfer software in June this year.
The UK’s cyber wing of GCHQ, which has offices in central London and is part of the domestic intelligence network with headquarters in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, has warned of a heightened risk of cyber-attack on critical national infrastructure from Russia and China.
Growing government concern over Chinese involvement in UK critical national infrastructure has resulted in the Chinese state-owned energy company CGN being removed from the Sizewell C nuclear project in Suffolk and Huawei products being stripped from the heart of the telecommunications network in recent years.
That has reversed a spell of close Anglo-Sino relations, which culminated in the then prime minister, David Cameron, hailing a “golden era” between the countries and drinking beer with the Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, in a Buckinghamshire pub in 2015.
Rishi Sunak’s government has championed expanding the country’s nuclear industry after the energy crisis, picking up where his predecessor Boris Johnson left off. Earlier this year, the then energy secretary, Grant Shapps, launched Great British Nuclear, a body designed to provide new nuclear power plants. A generation of new nuclear projects will ultimately require an expansion of Britain’s decommissioning activities.
Nuclear decommissioning, a large share of which is done at Sellafield, is one of the biggest drains on the UK government’s annual business department budget. The site costs about £2.5bn a year to operate. Decommissioning is such a huge, long-term bill that it was examined as a “fiscal risk” to the UK’s economic health by the spending watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility. It is estimated it could cost as much as £263bn to manage the legacy of the UK’s nuclear energy and weaponry industries.
This figure shifts wildly depending on how future cashflow is calculated, and the OBR has warned that the long-term costs of Sellafield could vary by as much as minus 50% to plus 300%.
A Sellafield spokesperson said: “We take cybersecurity extremely seriously at Sellafield. All of our systems and servers have multiple layers of protection.
“Critical networks that enable us to operate safely are isolated from our general IT network, meaning an attack on our IT system would not penetrate these.
“Over the past 10 years we have evolved to meet the challenges of the modern world, including a greater focus on cybersecurity.
“We’re working closely with our regulator. As a result of the progress we’ve made, we have an agreed route to step down from ‘significantly enhanced’ regulation.”
An ONR spokesperson said: “Sellafield Ltd is currently not meeting the high standards that we require in cybersecurity, which is why we have placed them under significantly enhanced attention.
“Some specific matters are subject to ongoing investigations, so we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Prior to publication, Sellafield and the ONR declined to answer a number of specific questions or say if Sellafield networks had been compromised by groups linked to Russia and China. Following publication, they said they had no records to suggest Sellafield’s networks had been successfully attacked by state actors in the way the Guardian described.
A spokesperson from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “We expect the highest standards of safety and security as former nuclear sites are dismantled, and the regulator is clear that public safety is not compromised at Sellafield.
“Many of the issues raised are historical and the regulator has for some time been working with Sellafield to ensure necessary improvements are implemented. We are expecting regular updates on how this progresses.”
Report: Microsoft Inked Deals with Communist Party Propaganda Outlets
Microsoft helped Chinese state-run media outlets disseminate propaganda as part of previously unreported partnership agreements, documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show.
The nation’s second largest corporation signed collaboration deals with state-run Chinese media outlets including China Daily and People’s Daily, the latter of which is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese government. Summaries of the deal state Microsoft would provide China Daily with technology that lets the paper target potential readers and gave the People’s Daily access to an artificial intelligence bot specially designed to be controlled and censored by the Chinese Communist Party.
The deals have not been widely reported outside of China, nor have the financial terms been disclosed. A spokeswoman for Microsoft said both agreements “expired years ago and were not renewed.” But experts say the fact that Microsoft inked the deals at all is a major win for the Chinese Communist Party.
“These are major propaganda outlets that publish outright falsehoods attacking the ideas of democracy, attacking the very concepts that undergird our society, and yet an American company is working to spread this,” said Geoffrey Cain, policy director at the Tech Integrity Project, which fights Chinese Communist Party influence in American tech companies. “The purpose of all this is to show the Chinese Communist Party that it’s firmly on the side of China and the Chinese system,” Cain added.
Both the China Daily and the People’s Daily are widely considered propaganda tools for the Chinese Communist Party. China Daily is published by the party’s Central Propaganda Department. The State Department in 2020 determined the People’s Daily’s parent company was “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by the Chinese government. In an announcement for the designation, then-secretary of state Mike Pompeo referred to the paper as one of the “mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Microsoft struck the agreement with China Daily in September 2016, according to a news release from the outlet. China Daily said Microsoft would provide technology to help enable the outlet to target and profile users and establish the “Media Smart Cloud Innovation Technology Laboratory.”
The mission of the “Media Smart Cloud Innovation Technology Laboratory” is unclear, although it appears related to the Chinese New Media Laboratory. A Chinese media scholar wrote in 2019 that the Chinese New Media Laboratory “provides data support for research on [China’s] international communication effects.”
The announcement of the deal was met with fanfare in Beijing, where executives from Microsoft and China Daily came together for a signing ceremony and photo op.
A senior Microsoft executive in China said at the time that it was “an honor to launch a strategic cooperation with China Daily,” which Microsoft hoped would bring about “the success of the digital transformation of China’s media industry through integration and innovation.”
“In today’s world of deeply integrated media development, new technologies, new methods, and new applications, China Daily must take content construction as the foundation, support it with advanced technology, and use continuous innovation to strengthen itself,” China Daily’s deputy editor in chief said.
The largest English-language Chinese news outlet in the world, China Daily regularly pushes pro-Beijing talking points and stories critical of the United States. The paper has taken positions critical of the U.S.-Israel relationship and called Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine a result of Washington’s “animosity towards Russia.”
“Microsoft isn’t immune from these sorts of arrangements just because they’re an American company,” said Jake Denton, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation’s Tech Policy Center. “It’s kind of an angel deal with the devil scenario. Microsoft loves the idea of access to the Asia market but it comes with a catch. In this case, it’s helping the Chinese government’s propaganda campaigns.”
Microsoft extended its services to the People’s Daily with a similar partnership launched in June 2018, according to a release from the paper. As part of the agreement, Microsoft embedded its artificial intelligence chatbot Xiaoice into the People’s Daily English edition. The paper said Microsoft’s artificial intelligence bot would give English-speaking readers a “window” into understanding China.
Unlike Azure, the Microsoft artificial intelligence chatbot offered to companies in the West, Xiaoice’s responses are all approved by the Chinese government. China censored Xiaoice after the bot generated criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party. Microsoft spun Xiaoice off as an independent entity in 2020 but still holds shares in the company.
“Microsoft does not want to anger the Chinese Communist Party and access those 1.2 billion potential consumers,” said Cain, author of The Perfect Police State, an exploration of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance regime. “Microsoft has made huge inroads in the Chinese government over the last two decades. That takes a lot of political posturing to win over Chinese Communist Party officials.”
Since the 1990s, Microsoft has entered into dozens of partnerships or cooperative agreements with various Chinese government entities, records show. The firm opened Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing in 1998, its largest research lab outside of the United States.
Microsoft has roughly 9,000 employees in China and says it wants to surpass 10,000 employees by the end of the year. An executive wrote on the Chinese app WeChat last year that Microsoft hopes to “deepen the fertile ground for scientific research … [and] help to cultivate digital talents and join hands with Chinese innovation to go global.”
Efforts to “cultivate” Chinese talent include the “Great Wall Project,” which was first established in 2002 in conjunction with China’s Ministry of Education. A 2008 press release from the Chinese government said the goal was to train “a total of 50,000 information technology teachers.” Microsoft, the statement said, would “provide support to 1,000 innovative classrooms designated by the Ministry of Education.”
There is virtually no evidence Microsoft will reconsider its sprawling business relationships in China any time soon. In 2021, Microsoft China president Joe Bao called the country the “most dynamic and innovative place in the world.”
“Every country in the world is looking to China as a role model for how to emerge from a pandemic today,” Bao said.
“Tomboy” Who Regretted Gender Transition Breaks Down Crying
A 24-year-old girl, who was a “tomboy” as a child until transitioning into a trans-male, says she is reclaiming her femininity after undergoing medical and surgical sex change interventions – including taking testosterone and removing her breasts – in Stockholm, Sweden.
Nikita Teran is a TikTok influencer, who currently identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community. She has taken to the platform to share her story about finding her true gender after previously identifying as transgender. She told Fox News Digital in an interview that she wishes her treating doctors would have asked more questions to uncover the comorbid psychological issues Teran experienced at the time.
At two points during the interview, Teran broke down. The first time, she discussed a point in her teenage years when her father left the family. She was devastated, and around that same time she began to experience gender dysphoric symptoms. During the second time, Teran described the challenging experience with complications from her breast removal surgery – a double mastectomy.
“Prior to that, I was struggling with the things that were happening at my home. I would probably call it something like depression,” Teran said. She added that she was treated at a psychiatric clinic for issues.
“Before getting in touch with the gender clinic, I was at another unit for children with mental health issues. So I was there first and I thought I would get some type of help. I wasn’t there for gender dysphoria, I was at that unit for mental health issues. They sort of didn’t know what to do with me,” she said.
“When I came to the trans unit. I was very open with my father and my family and I think I was crying every meeting I had with them when talking about my father. But still, they didn’t see any red flags for that,” she said. “I wish they would have stopped me. I wish they would have seen the red flags and realized that this might be gender dysphoria caused by trauma or things like that.”
Gender dysphoria, formerly called Gender Identity Disorder, describes a condition in which a person has a persistent unease with one’s biological sex, causing psychological disturbances and/or distress.
Teran began to experience dysphoria in her mid-teens, went to the clinic at 17, began testosterone at 18 and had her double mastectomy at 19.
“I was really scared. I was really nervous. I never had surgery before [but]… I just wanted to get this done and live my life,” she said.
Teran said she had to get rushed in for emergency surgery mere hours after the initial surgery.
“After my initial surgery, I was feeling very sick, and they noticed that there was something wrong with me,” she said. “I don’t remember what the condition was. I think it was like bleeding inside. [My chest] was very, very large with blood. So that same night I had to be rushed into the emergency room for another surgery.”
“Having to go through that second surgery was just very scary,” she said.
Then, the recovery aspect was also tough. “I wasn’t allowed to work. I was mostly laying at home.”
After recovering from surgery, Teran described a time when she felt like “one of the boys,” when she was living her “tomboy dreams.” But then, around the age 20, she started to explore her sexuality, and that raised questions about what she thought was her gender identity.
“But as time went by and as more, I explored myself and my body with other people, I started feeling weird about it. It started feeling like why am I okay with this? And questions like that started running through my mind.”
Teran also developed side effects from testosterone – vaginal atrophy – and was recommended by her doctor to stop it.
According to Drexel University College of Medicine, “Transmasculine people on testosterone may experience atrophic vaginitis. It is thought to be due to the suppressive effects of testosterone on estrogen, leading to an estrogen-deprived state that appears to be similar to the experience of many post-menopausal cis women.”
“It was very surprising to me because once you start taking testosterone, they kind of go through with you what to expect. And I knew about the main things like voice and body hair, facial hair. And the hairline receding. I had no idea what [atrophic vaginitis] was. I was running around to different doctors who didn’t know anything about trans patients. And it was a very, very just a very confusing and scary time for me because I didn’t know what was happening with my body.”
Teran, now detransitioned, said that she has now dropped out of her master’s program until she figures out next steps for her future.
“I was doing a master’s in physics, but I was struggling because I was living as male in university. I wasn’t comfortable living as female there. So it kind of resulted in me isolating myself. I had no friends and the courses were so difficult and it’s so difficult navigating when you’re by yourself,” she said. “So I did drop out like a few weeks ago. I feel like I need to start over somewhere new.”
U.S. Warship Attacked in Red Sea
Pentagon officials have confirmed that an American warship and multiple commercial vessels were attacked in the Red Sea on Sunday, with Houthi rebels in Yemen taking credit for the attacks.
In a statement, the Pentagon said, “We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available.”
According to NPR, the USS Carney is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the attack could be a potential escalation of maritime attacks in connection to the war between Israel and Hamas.
The outlet says that Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen have been using drones and missiles to target Israel, along with increasing attacks on ships in the Red Sea.
A rebel spokesman said they would be releasing an “important” statement shortly.
The Houthi rebels control the northern part of Yemen, and according to the Associated Press, have long called for the destruction of Israel at their rallies.
After the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, the group has launched more than six drone and missile attacks in south Israel but did little damage.
The Iranian-backed organization has vowed to continue attacking the country until “Israeli aggressions stop.” They have also been increasingly targeting ships in the Red Sea as the Israel-Hamas war continues.
In November, Houthis stole a transport ship that was tied to Israel and continued to hold the vessel in Hodeida, per NPR.
Last week, a Houthi missile landed near a US ship after it helped an Israeli ship that was being attacked by rebels.
NPR reports that the Houthis had not directly targeted Americans for quite some time, further raising the stakes.
US Ambassador, Longtime Diplomat Arrested in Miami, Charged with Spying for Castro’s Cuba
A former American diplomat who served as a U.S. ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and accused of secretly serving as an agent of Cuba’s government, according to The Associated Press.
Officials say Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested in Miami on Friday on a criminal complaint.
According to sources, more details about the case are expected to be made public at a court appearance Monday.
One of the two people who came forward with the complaint said the Justice Department case accuses Rocha of working to promote the Cuban government’s interests.
Federal law requires people doing the political bidding of a foreign government or entity inside the U.S. to register with the Justice Department, which in recent years has stepped up its criminal enforcement of illicit foreign lobbying.
According to records, Rocha’s 25-year diplomatic career was spent under both Democratic and Republican administrations, with the majority of it being in Latin America during the Cold War.
Rocha also served in Italy, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and worked as a Latin America expert for the National Security Council.
Rocha’s wife, Karla Wittkop Rocha, declined to comment when contacted by the AP.
“I don’t need to talk to you,” she said before hanging up.
Supreme Court Take on Tax Code
A case that could punch holes in the federal tax code heads to the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The court will hear arguments in Moore v. U.S., which challenges a piece of the 2017 tax law that imposed a one-time levy on profits that companies had accumulated outside the U.S. But its implications could reach much further, providing the justices an opportunity to define what Congress can tax under the Constitution—and what it can’t.
The case, brought by a Washington state couple seeking a $14,729 refund, raises a seemingly simple question: Must income be “realized,” or received, before it can be taxed?
Charles and Kathleen Moore argue that when the law passed, they hadn’t realized income from their investment in an India-based company and thus couldn’t be taxed. Some conservative groups have backed them, seeing a chance to block future Congresses from taxing wealth or unrealized capital gains. A broad ruling for the Moores could create a constitutional bar against some popular Democratic proposals to tax the superrich.
Tax lawyers and the government say a sweeping ruling could also upend many longstanding rules affecting partnerships, multinational companies and bond investors. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who helped write the 2017 tax law, warned in September that the case could damage a third of the tax code.
If the Moores win, investors and companies could demand billions of dollars in refunds tied to the 2017 law. And a loss for the government could prompt a wave of lawsuits over other tax-code provisions, according to lawyers.
“It’s hard to see how this is going to turn out well,” said David Rosenbloom, a tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale. “They really are opening up a can of worms.”
The Moore case stems from a piece of the 2017 tax law written by Republicans and signed by President Donald Trump. The provision itself was relatively uncontroversial.
Before then, U.S. companies paid foreign taxes on foreign profits but could defer any U.S. taxes until they brought earnings back home. Republicans switched to a system with a minimum annual U.S. tax on foreign profits and tax-free repatriation.
In that transition, to deal with 30 years of profits companies had accumulated overseas that hadn’t faced U.S. taxation, Congress imposed a one-time levy.
The bulk of the estimated $338 billion in revenue that change generated is being paid by large companies such as Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft. But the tax also applied to some individuals, including those who owned more than 10% of a foreign corporation.
That group includes the Moores, who had invested in KisanKraft, a friend’s company in India. The couple, backed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other conservative groups, sued for a refund. They say that they hadn’t realized any of KisanKraft’s profits, so the one-time tax wasn’t within Congress’s 16th Amendment power to tax income.
Lower courts disagreed, saying income doesn’t have to be received to be taxed. The pair appealed to the Supreme Court, which will decide what the Constitution says about taxing income.
What is ‘income’?
The Constitution, as ratified, gave Congress broad national taxing power. But it required that any “direct taxes,” such as per-capita taxes, be apportioned among the states by population.
After the Civil War, Congress sought to impose an individual income tax, but the Supreme Court ruled in 1895 that such a move was an unconstitutional direct tax. A response was the 16th Amendment, which says “income, from whatever source derived,” can be taxed without apportionment. That led to the modern federal income tax.
The 1913 amendment doesn’t specify what “income” means, nor does it say income must be realized.
The government contends that plenty of tax-code provisions already don’t require Americans to see income hit their bank accounts. That includes rules governing the taxation of futures contracts and bonds with original-issue discounts.
Tax lawyers point to other examples. Since the 1960s, significant U.S. investors in foreign companies have faced taxes on those corporations’ passive income, even if the Americans didn’t get money directly. That is a way of keeping U.S. taxpayers from dodging taxes by stashing assets in foreign corporations.
Partners are taxed on partnerships’ annual profits, even if they don’t get a check for their portion. Some people who renounce their citizenship owe taxes as if they sold assets. Certain securities dealers can pay income taxes on changes in asset value. Even basic accrual accounting—booking income before it is literally received—could be considered a form of unrealized income. Recent minimum taxes on large U.S. corporations or international income could also be in jeopardy.
Some think-tank estimates tally the potential revenue impact of a sweeping ruling in favor of the Moores in the trillions.
“A holding that the realization rule is constitutionally required could well cause massive parts of the current tax system to become invalidated,” said David Schizer, a Columbia law professor.
The Moores argue that the 2017 tax is unique because it reaches back to capture years of accumulated earnings. The problem, their lawyers contend, is that taxes fell on whoever owned assets when the law was passed, not people who actually earned or received income.
New Zealand Police Arrest COVID Vaccine Whistleblower
Police have arrested a man in connection with a mass privacy breach of Covid-19 vaccination data.
It comes after Te Whatu Ora- Health New Zealand launched an employment investigation, accusing a health sector worker of spreading misinformation using government data about Covid-19 vaccines.
A 56-year-old man was arrested this afternoon in relation to the “unauthorised disclosure and misuse of data”, police said.
He is charged with accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes and will appear in Wellington District Court tomorrow.
“As the case is before the court, police cannot comment further,” police said.
A man believed to be a Te Whatu Ora staff member was interviewed on a New Zealand theory site last week. He claimed he developed a database for the vaccine rollout and quoted from that work.
Former TV presenter Liz Gunn took to X, formerly Twitter, this afternoon to report police surrounded the “whistleblower’s” house at 2.15pm and that an arrest was imminent.
Earlier tonight, the ministry said the staff member had no clinical background or expert vaccine knowledge, and there was no evidence vaccination was responsible for “excess mortality in New Zealand”.
It’s alleged an individual downloaded a large amount of vaccine-related information, Te Whatu Ora chief executive Margie Apa said.
“The data, as published on an overseas site, appears to have been anonymised. Analysis of the released data is ongoing, but work so far has not found any National Health Index Numbers or personally identifiable information.”
Apa said an injunction had been used to have information taken down from an overseas website and cyber security specialists are continuing to scan extensively for any other places where the information may appear.
“We sought and were granted an injunction through the Employment Relations Authority that prevents any publication of the data to ensure that we can take all steps to protect the privacy of individuals.”
An employment investigation was also underway and the person was no longer at work, Apa said.
“The individual has worked in the health system for a number of years. He was authorised to access data as part of his work and was locked out of our systems as soon as we became aware of the unauthorised use,” Apa said.
He had been employed since the inception of Te Whatu Ora last year.
She said the organisation took data security very seriously. It was “extremely disappointed at this gross breach of trust” and the alleged spreading of harmful misinformation.
“We can assure the public that we are doing everything we can to respond to this incident and to safeguard their information.”
She said a thorough investigation is under way.
“What this individual is trying to claim about vaccines is completely wrong and ill-informed, and their comments demonstrate this. The person has no clinical background or expert vaccine knowledge and appears to be trying to spread misinformation,” Apa said.
“Vaccination is safe and effective, and everyone should keep up to date with their shots to protect themselves, whānau and their communities.”
She said there was no evidence whatsoever that vaccination is responsible for excess mortality in New Zealand.
“We have had a team working through the weekend to respond to this incident and are working closely with other agencies, including the National Cyber Security Centre, police, Department of Internal Affairs and Office of the Privacy Commissioner,” Apa said.
“We have also been offering advice and support to some individual pharmacies and vaccination sites that were identified in an early video published in relation to the unauthorised disclosure and misuse of data.”
Baby and 3 Adults Killed, Teen Injured in Dallas Shooting
Police in Dallas, Texas, are investigating after a shooting left four people, including a baby, dead.
The Dallas Police Department said it was investigating a shooting that happened around 4:20 p.m. local time in the 9700 block of Royce Drive.
The department said three adults died at the scene, and a 15-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy were taken to a hospital. The boy later died.
Police said the teen girl was in stable condition.
There was no suspect in custody as of around 9:30 p.m. ET.
Four people, including a one-year-old boy, are dead after a shooting in the 9700 block of Royce Dr.
A 15-year-old girl remains hospitalized.
A suspect is not in custody, per @DallasPD.
— Katy Blakey (@KatyBlakeyNBC5) December 4, 2023
The Sickening Horrors Endured by Hamas’ Hostages
They stumbled through the darkness of the hurriedly-dug tunnels underneath Gaza City, wondering if they’d ever see their loved ones again.
Elderly women, young mothers and frightened children were taken and used as gambling chips to further the cause of a terror group that killed 1,300 Israelis on October 7, the single deadliest day in the Jewish nation’s history.
For weeks, they were starved, beaten, drugged, branded and made to watch footage of Hamas terrorists invading their homeland with weapons pointed to their heads, until the moment was right for the terror group.
In exchange for four days of precarious ceasefire, the release of 150 Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons, and the permission for at least 200 aid trucks to enter Gaza each day, Hamas promised to release at least 50 prisoners it had taken in the midst of chaos and spilled blood.
The deal was open-ended, and allowed for additional days of ceasefire to be agreed in exchange for additional hostages.
Hamas, desperate for a brief respite from the war that has already killed at least 15,000 of its civilians in Gaza, according to figures deemed trustworthy by the UN, made the most of the extensions, releasing a total of 105 hostages as of this weekend.
Just over 100, hailing from all corners of the globe, remain in the dark, musty tunnels beneath Gaza, as Israel and Hamas once again hurl fire and brimstone at each other, eight weeks into the deadliest war between the two in decades.
The families of those who are still held by Hamas are terrified for their safety and wellbeing, both mental and physical.
The testimonies of those who have already been released is doing little to abate these fears.
Relatives of recently-released hostages who have taken care of them in the days and weeks since their release have slowly begun revealing to the world just how badly they were treated by Hamas.
Yagil and Or Yaakov, aged 12 and 16 respectively, were handed back to their families last Monday, after being captured along with their father Yair Yaakov and his partner Meirav Tal, both of who are still thought to be in captivity, from their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz.
Their uncle, Yaniv, revealed that the two young boys were branded to make sure they were identifiable if they ran away.
‘Hamas took the leg of each child and stuck it in on a motorcycle tail pipe to make a mark in case they escape, so they could find them,’ he said this week.
‘They were drugged, they were treated so bad, but at least they are with us.’
The terrorists treated Mia Schem, a young 21-year-old taken from the Nova festival, with a little more care.
Her aunt, Vivian Hadar, revealed that a veterinarian operated on her badly injured hand, which was shot while she was raving with her friends on October 7.
She said that the treatment was a bodge job, and has stayed very quiet about her weeks underground.
‘She isn’t telling much,’ Hadar said, adding that the moment relatives started asking questions, ‘we saw that it was very hard for her.’
It’s not clear whether this lack of resources was real or artificial to weaken the hostages. But other survivors have revealed that they subsisted on paltry meals for weeks as they were held.
An aunt of Abigal Idan, an American-Israeli citizen who was taken hostage after she was orphaned during Hamas’ incursion, and who turned 4 a few days before being released, said her young niece shared just one piece of pita bread with some za’aatar, a Middle Eastern spice mix, with four other captives each day.
She and the four other captives she was with did not bathe once during their 50 days as hostages, and were kept in a series of above-ground flats.
As a result of a lack of washing, Abigail developed a significant case of lice, and her head was shorn off.
‘She was covered in it. It took quite an effort to help her get rid of some of it the first night,’ her aunt told the New York Times.
Even as they held back food, water and news from the hostages, Hamas made them act out propaganda that benefited its image.
Danielle Aloni, who was held along with her six-year-old daughter Emily, reportedly penned a letter that was published by Hamas while she was a hostage that claimed they were both fine and being treated well.
She praised the terrorists for their ‘extraordinary humanity’ towards her daughter.
‘Kids shouldn’t be in prison, but thanks to you and other kind people we met along the way… My daughter considered herself a queen in Gaza,’ the letter, which was published in Hebrew and Arabic, read.
It is not clear if Danielle wrote the note of her own free will, or if she was forced to pen the gushing tribute – which also said she would ‘always be captive to gratitude’ because her daughter did not leave captivity with ‘psychological shock.’
Her family quickly rebuked the letter, with one of her cousins’ writing shortly after the letter was published: ‘Hamas just published more propaganda of my family.’
Danielle later said in an interview: ‘Our girl saw things that children at this age or any age should not see.
‘It was a horror movie.’
Other parents of hostages agreed with Danielle in saying that children should not have been subjected the horrors that lay waiting for them beneath Gaza.
Thomas Hand, the father of Emily, who turned nine as she was held by Hamas, stunned the world when he said he was glad his daughter was dead, and not in the hands of the terror group.
But his world was changed when Israeli officials told him their intelligence was wrong, and that she was alive.
Emily and her friend Rotem Shoshani, 13, were kept above ground in a home in northern Gaza, in comparatively luxury.
But that would’ve done little to make up for the horrors seen at Kibbutz Be’eri, the site of the worst settlement massacre, where at least 130 people were slaughtered in their homes.
Sickening photos of the aftermath of the Be’eri kibbutz massacre revealed that Israeli civilians were killed in their bedrooms in the first hours of Hamas’ surprise attack.
Almost all of the photos, passed on to MailOnline by the Israeli Embassy in London, were too graphic to share publicly, and depicted several dead bodies strewn across a small room in the community of around 1,000 people near the border with Gaza.
The photos were some of the clearest representations of exactly what happened in the settlement.
On top of the horrors the young pair witnessed in their homes, Emily saw a man get shot to death while she was held in Gaza, her sister Natali Hand revealed.
Natali added that the pair were left despondent, as they were not told of their releases until the last moment.
71-Year-Old Yoga Guru Arrested in France for Allegedly Running International Sex Cult
A 71-year-old Romanian Tantric yoga guru and 14 others have been charged in France for crimes involving an alleged international sex cult.
Gregorian Bivolaru has been charged with human trafficking, sequestration or arbitrary detention of numerous people along with rape, and “abusing the weakness of a group” via psychological or physical subjection.
Bivolaru is also accused of being involved in the kidnapping of 26 women who were seeking spiritual guidance.
The guru founded the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA), which ran many yoga schools. It was later renamed the Atman Yoga Federation, which it currently operates under.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has interrogated the 15 people and ordered six to be held on Friday, including Bivolaru. The other nine have been freed under judicial surveillance.
The Daily Mail reports:
MISA, which became known as ATMAN after its expansion beyond Romania, taught tantric yoga with the aim of ‘conditioning victims to accept sexual relations via mental manipulation techniques which sought to eliminate any notion of consent’, the source said earlier this week.
Several women, of different nationalities, said they had been victims of the MISA organisation and its leader, the source added.
Women were encouraged to accept sexual relations with the group’s leader and ‘to agree to participate in fee-paying pornographic practices in France and abroad’.
The organization is believed to have hundreds of followers in France.
Paris prosecutors launched an investigation into the group in July,
“To escape legal proceedings in Romania, Bivolaru fled to Sweden, where he obtained political asylum in 2006, changing his name to Magnus Aurolsson. He disappeared for several years after a Romanian court condemned him in absentia to six years in prison in 2013,” the Daily Mail reports. “France arrested him in early 2016 and handed him over to Romania but he again vanished before French police detained him earlier this week.”
Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation issued an international arrest warrant for Bivolaru in 2017, for alleged aggravated human trafficking.
MISA has called the accusations about the group and Bivolaru “absurd.” They claim that the guru has been “the target since the 1990s of media campaigns seeking to discredit him.”
Abducted Idaho Infant Found Dead with “Naked” Father, Wanted for Wife’s Murder, Wandering Around Nearby
An abducted baby was found dead in the woods of Idaho Saturday — after his father was spotted walking naked and delirious nearby, police said.
Police found the body of 10-month-old Zeke Best about 24 miles east of Idaho Falls after a hunter called to report a man in a sleeping bag on the side of the road.
The man — identified as the infant’s father, suspected killer Jeremy Albert Best — was “naked and making odd statements,” the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office said.
Law enforcement had been searching for the pair since Thursday night when Best, 48, allegedly killed his wife, 38-year-old Kali Jean Randall inside their home just hours after he underwent a psychological evaluation.
Best was apprehended by police around noon Thursday for strolling through a local general store without any clothes, according to cops.
The nude man was seen bizarrely slouching on the store counter next to the cash register and grabbing a cigarette before he was carried out of the building, surveillance footage obtained by EastIdahoNews.com shows.
He was taken by ambulance to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where he underwent testing for medical and mental health concerns, the Bonneville Sheriff’s Department said.
After being released that day, Best allegedly returned home to kill his wife and kidnap his child.
Police issued an Amber Alert naming Best as an “armed and very dangerous homicide and kidnapping suspect,” the Teton County Sheriff’s Office said.
Best’s black SUV was found around 9:15 a.m. Saturday down an embankment in the area where he was discovered by hunters.
Zeke was pronounced dead at the scene, but police did not say where his body was found or identify his manner of death.
After being treated by medics, Best was taken into custody on an arrest warrant issued in connection with Randall’s death.
“Allahu Akbar”: Paris Attack Near Eiffel Tower Leaves One Dead and Two Injured
A tourist has been stabbed to death while a British man is reportedly among two others badly injured after a knifeman screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ launched a frenzied attack in central Paris last night.
Witnesses reported hearing people screaming for ‘help’ as they ran away from the hammer and knife-wielding man.
One victim, a tourist with dual German and Filipino nationality, was slashed in the back and shoulder by the attacker last night. The man, who had not been named, was found in cardiorespiratory arrest before he passed away.
The second victim of the attack was British, and was out walking with his wife when Armand R. attacked him from behind.
‘The family were on the Avenue President Kennedy when they were set upon,’ said an investigating source, who added: ‘A hammer was used to hit the man over the head.’
The Englishman was rushed to hospital, where his condition was later described as ‘stable’. A third victim was also badly hurt in a hammer attack, said the source.
Sources said the arrested man was ‘immobilised with an electric stun gun’ as he ran up the Avenue du Parc de Passy – as French prime minister Elisabeth Borne vowed: ‘We will not give in to terrorism. Never.’
The bloodbath happened on the Grenelle quay, close to the Eiffel Tower in the 15th arrondissement of the French capital.
Joseph S., 37 years old, a supermarket manager who asked not to give his last name, was sat in a bar when he heard screams and people shouting ‘help, help’ as they ran.
A man wielding an object attacked a man who had fallen down, and within 10 minutes the police arrived, he told AFP.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said the attacker is French and was born in 1997, and has been arrested in an investigation into murder and attempted murder. The anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has been put in charge of an investigation.
The suspect had already been sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 for planning another attack, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin revealed.
‘A man attacked a couple who were foreign tourists. A German tourist who was born in the Philippines died from the stabbing,’ he said.
A taxi driver who witnessed the scene intervened, Darmanin said. The attacker then crossed the Seine attacking others and injuring one with a hammer, while police chased in pursuit.
‘He had threatened them very violently… he will now have to answer for his actions before justice,’ Darmanin said.
The attacker was reportedly known to police for ‘radical Islamism’. He was on an ‘S-File’ which means he should have been under surveillance, after telling people that he wanted to die as a martyr.
A police source said that the attacker was known for psychiatric disorders and had said he could not stand Muslims being killed in the world. It’s understood he was upset about the situation in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.
In 2016, he was arrested by the French national security agency before carrying out an attack.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin confirmed last night that one person died and another was injured. The minister wrote on X: ‘The police have just courageously arrested an assailant attacking passersby in Paris, around the Quai de Grenelle.
‘One deceased person and one injured person treated by the Paris fire brigade. Please avoid the area.’
French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said he was sending his condolences to the family of a German killed in a ‘terror attack’ in Paris.
The suspected attacker was ‘quickly’ arrested and justice should now be done ‘in the name of the French people’, he wrote on X.
Transport Minister Clement Beaune said that Paris was ‘in mourning’. He wrote on X: ‘Thoughts and solidarity with the families and loved ones of the victims. Thank you to our security and emergency forces for their rapid and decisive intervention.’
The attacker was arrested soon afterwards, and is currently in custody and facing a possible murder charge.
Officers said there was no early indication as to the motive of the stabbing, but it follows a series of bomb, gun and knife attacks carried out by Islamic State and al-Qaeda operatives in France, dating back to early 2015 – many of whom have shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ while carrying out their crimes.
The deadliest single terrorist attack ever in the country came in November 2015 when 130 people were killed in Paris.
Suicide bombers pledging allegiance to ISIS targeted the Stade de France, cafes, restaurants and the Bataclan music venue, where 90 died.
Earlier in the year, two Paris-born gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda broke into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, leaving 17 people dead inside and three outside.
In July 2016, 86 people were called and more than 400 injured when a 19 tonne truck was deliberately driven into crowds on the seafront promenade at Nice, which is just 20 miles from Cannes.
The terrorist turned out to be a Tunisian immigrant who was shot dead by police.
During the same month, two Isis terrorists murdered an 86-year-old Catholic priest during a church service in Normandy.
And in October 2020, three people were stabbed to death by a Tunisian immigrant in the Notre Dame basilica in Nice.
There have also been frequent knife attacks on the forces of law and order, leading to the deaths of serving police.
Saturday night’s incident in central Paris occurred less than eight months before the French capital hosts the Olympic Games and could raise questions about security at the global sporting event.
Paris plans an unprecedented opening ceremony on the Seine river that may draw as many as 600,000 spectators.
Suspect in Custody in Killings of 3 Homeless Men in Los Angeles
Los Angeles police announced Saturday that a suspect has been identified in connection with the killings of three homeless men this week.
The suspect, Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, was already in custody after having been arrested in the killing of a county employee earlier in the week.
Powell was arrested Thursday and accused of shooting and killing a San Dimas, California, father of two during a follow-home robbery Tuesday.
Police Chief Michel Moore said Saturday that police were able to match Powell’s car, seen in security video from the killing Tuesday, to the car they had identified as being driven by the suspect believed to be responsible for killing the three homeless people.
A handgun found in that car also matched the weapon used in the killings of the three homeless people, police said.
Moore said the case has a “striking set of circumstances that is puzzling.”
Powell was arrested early Thursday in Beverly Hills on charges of murder and robbery after detectives and Beverly Hills police identified the vehicle used in the killing Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. The Beverly Hills police were then able to arrest the suspect at a traffic stop after they matched his license plate to that of the car used in the killing Tuesday.
“The next objective is to put this guy away at minimum forever, because he doesn’t deserve to be out on the street,” Luna said.
Police had been searching for the gunman responsible for killing three sleeping homeless people in Los Angeles this week before they connected Powell to the crimes.
Police had believed that the same person was responsible for all three deaths.
The three separate attacks took place in the early hours of Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, Moore said Friday.
All three victims are men. They were all asleep in open areas — like alleys or sidewalks — when they were shot and killed, Moore said.
One of the men was killed “brutally and ruthlessly” while he was sleeping on a couch, Moore said, and another was killed as he was leaned against a wall in a manner he described as “chilling.”
The third was fatally shot as he slept on a sidewalk, police said.
A motive had not been established.
All three killings happened in different places in two large areas of Los Angeles that are not frequented by large numbers of homeless people, Moore said.
Mayor Karen Bass cautioned Friday that no homeless person should sleep alone and said the city would open emergency shelters to house homeless people for the time being.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said an emergency shelter will be available for homeless people Saturday night.
Bass said at the news conference Friday: “Our message to the unhoused community is clear: Do not sleep alone tonight. Seek shelter, seek services, stay together.”
Powell was jailed Thursday in the death of Nicholas Simbolon, 42, who was found dead in his garage in San Dimas on Tuesday night.
Luna said Thursday that it appeared the shooter followed Simbolon 12 miles from an electric vehicle charging station to his home. He robbed Simbolon of “some personal belongings” before he shot him and fled, Luna said.
Simbolon was a county employee for seven years. He had worked as a business systems analyst for the superior court and in 2019 joined the IT staff of the chief executive’s office as a principal systems analyst, officials said.
“He was a prolific developer who had recently completed an innovative IT system to process our county’s budget process,” Kathyrn Barger, a member of the county Board of Supervisors, said in a statement read at a news conference Thursday announcing Powell’s arrest. “His coworkers describe him as kind, gentle and hardworking person.”
Officials did not announce any charges for Powell on Saturday.
Police ask anyone with information about the suspect, including other crimes he may have committed, to come forward. He was described as a convicted felon who had “violence in his background.”
“We want to make sure that anybody who may have been a victim of this individual that they come forward and notify your own police department,” Luna said.
Swing-State Muslim Leaders Launch Campaign to “Abandon” Biden in 2024
Muslim leaders from several swing states on Saturday descended on Dearborn, Michigan, to launch a national campaign against the reelection of President Joe Biden — a response to his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Organizers from Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania are calling the campaign #AbandonBiden, vowing to ensure that Biden is a one-term president. These leaders have run separate pressure campaigns in their respective states, members of the coalition said, but they felt now was the time to coordinate their response ahead of the 2024 election.
“We’re looking into finding ways to build a mechanism of coordination between all the swing states so that we’re constantly working together to ensure that Muslim Americans will come out in all of these states, and that Mr. Biden will lose each and every one of them,” said Hassan Abdel Salam, a professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the #AbandonBiden National Coalition during a press conference Saturday. “Right behind me, what Mr. Biden should see is 111 electoral votes. And he won last time with 74.”
It’s unclear how expansive or successful the campaign will be, but its creation speaks to the mounting political pressure facing Biden amid the conflict in the Middle East. For nearly two months, Muslim and Arab leaders have pushed the president to call for a cease-fire, and now, with more than 15,000 dead in Gaza, this new coalition is dialing up the pressure.
The bubbling anger among Arab and Muslim Americans could threaten Biden’s chances of reelection in many of the swing states in 2024, all of which contain key pockets of Arab American and Muslim American voting blocs.
“We are not powerless as American Muslims. We are powerful. We don’t only have the money, but we have the actual votes. And we will use that vote to save this nation from itself,” said Jaylani Hussein, a member of the coalition. He’s also the executive director of CAIR-MINNESOTA, though the organization is not involved in the #AbandonBiden campaign.
The growing Muslim American population is roughly 3.45 million people, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2020, roughly 59 percent of Arab Americans supported Biden, according to the Arab American Institute, but recent polling suggests this support has continued to deteriorate.
The leaders said Saturday they are not voting for Donald Trump next year, though they recognized that their effort to rally support against Biden could elevate the former president. They said they’ll continue to have discussions as a community about which candidate to throw their support behind as the primaries rapidly approach.
“We’re not supporting Trump,” Hussein said. “We’re not going to make the same mistake of thinking about President Biden the way we thought. We don’t have two options. We have many options, and we’re going to exercise that.”
The political challenge facing Biden has only intensified as progressive-minded Democrats ramp up calls for a cease-fire. The U.S. has been working to secure the release of more hostages, and Biden has said he’s urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to focus on reducing the number of casualties while trying to eliminate Hamas.
Several administration officials say the recent deal to release several hostages is evidence their strategy toward the war is working, but pleas for Biden to go further and call for a cease-fire have only grown louder.
“This is a dangerous president for Americans,” Hussein said during Saturday’s press conference. “And for those who are watching at home, you want your sons to be sent to another war that we know will never end? No. Most Americans agree with us that a ceasefire and bringing peace is the right action.”
Harrowing Videos Capture Moment Massive Earthquake Hits Philippines
Videos capturing the moment a powerful earthquake struck the Philippines on Saturday have made their way across social media.
The earthquake struck at 10:37 p.m. local time on Saturday off the coast of the southern Philippines island of Mindanao and was measured at a depth of 20 miles.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) gave a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 while the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it measured 6.9, according to the Associated Press. Although there are no immediate reports of damage or casualties, authorities previously issued a tsunami warning.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially said that based on the magnitude and location, it expected tsunami waves to hit the southern Philippines and parts of Indonesia, Palau and Malaysia. However, the center later dropped its tsunami warning.
The Philippines experiences regular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean.
Since the earthquake, many have taken to X, formerly Twitter, to share the horrifying moment the earthquake struck.
X account World Global News shared a series of videos showing the impact of the earthquake from different points of view.
In one video from a hotel room, a bathtub full of water can be seen spilling out onto the floor.
“Footage from a hotel room during 7.6 magnitude of earthquake in Phillipines [sic],” World Global News wrote.
— World News Global (@WorldNewsGb) December 2, 2023
In another video, people can be seen running as the earthquake hits.
“Another footage from the phillipines [sic] amid huge 7.6 magnitude of earthquake hit the Country,” World Global News wrote on X.
— World News Global (@WorldNewsGb) December 2, 2023
In a third video posted by World News Global, people can be seen taking cover as they were having drinks at a restaurant.
“Video footage captures the intense 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Surigao Del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines, triggering tsunami warnings,” World Global News wrote.
Video footage captures the intense 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Surigao Del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines, triggering tsunami warnings. #EarthquakePH #earthquake #Phillipines pic.twitter.com/eKnSIfqjwx
— World News Global (@WorldNewsGb) December 2, 2023
X user Internationalism also shared a video showing horrifying moments of the earthquake as people are seen running and taking cover in a building as its ceiling seemingly starts to fall.
“Earthquake in Philippines…7.7Magnitude..Tsunami warning,” Internationalism wrote.
— INTERNATIONALISM (@KHOBOR18) December 2, 2023
In addition to the videos, pictures posted on Hinatuan government’s Facebook account show residents fleeing to higher ground as Teresito Bacolcol, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told the AP that his agency advised residents along the coast of southern Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to immediately evacuate to higher ground or move farther inland.
Just last month on November 17, eight people were confirmed dead after a 6.7 offshore earthquake struck in the southern Philippines.
According to Reuters, two people missing in a landslide after the earthquake, which struck deep off Mindanao island, were confirmed dead, the Office of Civil Defense said. While the other deaths were from Sarangani province and in South Cotabato and Davao Occidental province. As a result, 13 people were injured from the tremor and more than 50 houses and other buildings were damaged.
In October 2019, the Philippines had been struck by an earthquake that left multiple dead. The earthquake measured 6.8 magnitude on the Richter scale, with its epicenter located around 50 miles southwest of the city of Davao in Mindanao, according to the USGS.
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