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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.

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.

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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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George Conway reveals how Mary Trump’s book and the Supreme Court prove the ‘walls are closing in’ on the president

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Republican lawyer and "Lincoln Project" co-founder, George Conway, wrote in a Washington Post column Thursday that there are a lot of commonalities in Mary Trump's forthcoming tell-all book and the Supreme Court decision passed down in President Donald Trump's case with New York prosecutor Cy Vance.

Mary Trump, who is a clinical psychologist, delivers "professional judgments about the president's indisputable narcissism and, perhaps, sociopathy dovetail with those that other experts have reached before," wrote Conway. "Yet it's not the possible diagnoses that give Mary Trump's book its punch. It's the factual detail — detail that only a family member could provide."

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Tennessee Republican says he hasn’t ‘really studied’ whether the Civil War was about slavery

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On Thursday, The Tennessean's Natalie Allison reported that Tennessee state Rep. Mike Sparks, who makes a habit of complaining that "young people" and "journalists" don't bother to study history, could not answer a basic question about what the Civil War was fought over.

"Was the Civil War about slavery?" asked a reporter.

"I haven't really studied it," said Sparks.

"You said you know history!" said another reporter.

"I just think we need to all study history," said Sparks, still not answering the question. "There's different contexts."

This comes during a debate over whether to remove a bust of Confederate general and suspected Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. Another lawmaker, state Sen. Joey Hensley, defended Forrest, arguing that "3,000 Blacks attended his funeral" — a common but unproven claim of Confederate sympathizers.

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Law professor schools Trump’s legal team on why their Supreme Court arguments failed

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Fordham Law Professor Jed Sugerman noted on Twitter, that Thursday's Supreme Court ruling should be a "teachable moment" for the lawyers at the Mazars firm, which fought the disclosure of President Donald Trump's financial information.

During the oral arguments with the High Court about the New York case, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow argued that as president Trump was above the law.

"In both cases, petitioners contended that the subpoenas lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and violated the separation of powers," the Supreme Court said in the decision. "The President did not, however, argue that any of the requested records were protected by executive privilege."

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