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Japan quake makes 2011 costliest disaster year

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Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in March are set to make 2011 the costliest year on record for natural disasters, German insurance giant Munich Re said on Tuesday.

Total economic losses for the first six months alone were $265 billion, easily exceeding the $220 billion recorded for the whole of 2005, previously the most expensive year to date, Munich Re said.

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The total loss amount was more than five times higher than the average of the past 10 years. Losses to insurance firms were some $60 billion, nearly five times the average since 2001.

The 9.0-magnitude quake on March 11, the strongest ever registered in Japan, caused losses of 210 billion euros and killed 15,500 people, making it the costliest natural catastrophe on record.

“It is very rare for such an extreme accumulation of natural hazard events to be encountered as in the first half-year,” Munich Re, the world’s top reinsurer, said in a statement.

First-half losses are generally lower than second-half losses, which are often affected by hurricanes in the North Atlantic and typhoons in the Northwest Pacific, it added.

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The total number of loss-relevant natural events in the first six months of 2011 was 355, somewhat below the average for the previous 10 years of 390.

The next costliest natural disaster in the first half of 2011 was a severe earthquake that shook Christchurch, New Zealand, in February, causing $20 billion in losses, Munich Re said.

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‘Hard to overstate’ how badly Taylor’s testimony damaged Trump: Ex-federal prosecutor

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On Wednesday, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote for Politico Magazine that the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor was devastating for President Donald Trump — and that if he keeps trying to deny wrongdoing, it will only get worse and maybe even force Senate Republicans' hand against him.

"It’s hard to overstate how much damage the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor inflicted on President Donald Trump’s defense in the ongoing impeachment inquiry," wrote Mariotti. "On its face, Taylor’s testimony Tuesday established the quid pro quo that Trump has denied for weeks. But more importantly, Taylor’s detailed notes of the 'highly irregular' policy-making that he witnessed over the summer provide a roadmap to future testimony that could be even more harmful. Republicans have already begun to retreat from their 'no quid pro quo' line, but they will have to keep retreating because Taylor has almost single-handedly decimated the few witnesses who have provided some testimony that is favorable to Trump."

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‘How much did you get for your soul?’ Internet dogpiles Lindsey Graham after he walks back criticism of SCIF raid

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On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared to have reached the limit of his capacity to defend his own party when a gang of House Republicans raided a sensitive, compartmented information facility where an impeachment hearing was taking place and illegally bringing in recording equipment. Initially Graham criticized the Republicans behind the stunt, calling it "nuts."

Later, however, he changed his mind and decided the demonstration was fine with him, offering this explanation:

CORRECTION:

I was initially told House GOP took the SCIF by force – basically like a GOP version of Occupy Wall Street.

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‘We lost New Mexico to Mexico’: Internet breaks into hysterics over Trump wanting to build border wall on Colorado

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The president of the United States indicated he accidentally forgot where the state of Colorado was during his speech to an energy conference of fracking companies Wednesday.

Trump told the audience he was building a "wall" in Colorado, which is the state just north of New Mexico. If Trump was referring to his U.S.-Mexico border wall, it's the southern New Mexico border on which he intends to build the wall.

It prompted many to wonder if the president whipped out his fact-changing Sharpie yet again.

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