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Hong Kong customs seize four tons of smuggled ivory

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Hong Kong customs officers seized almost four tonnes of ivory worth about $3.4 million, hidden in shipments from Kenya and Tanzania, officials said Saturday.

The 1,209 pieces of raw ivory tusk and a small number of ivory ornaments were discovered in two containers marked “plastic scrap” and “roscoco beans”, shipped to Hong Kong earlier this week, a customs official said.

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The smuggled ivory, weighing 3.81 tonnes (8,400 pounds) — Hong Kong’s largest ever seizure — was found hidden among bags of plastic scraps and beans by customs officers acting on a tip-off from counterparts in mainland China.

“The total seizure is worth about HK$26.7 million ($3.4 million),” the Hong Kong customs department said, adding that it will step up efforts with mainland Chinese authorities to combat transnational smuggling activities.

Mainland Chinese authorities arrested seven individuals, including a Hong Kong resident, in relation to the seizure, public broadcaster RTHK said.

Under Hong Kong law, anyone found guilty of importing unmanifested cargo into the southern Chinese city — a major shipping hub — faces imprisonment of up to seven years and a maximum fine of HK$2 million.

In addition, those guilty of importing, exporting or possessing an endangered species for commercial purposes face up to two years in jail and a maximum HK$5 million fine, customs officials said.

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The international trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

However, a rise in the illegal trade in ivory has been fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks are used in traditional medicines and to make ornaments.

Africa is home to an estimated 472,000 elephants whose survival is threatened by poaching, illegal game hunting and habitat loss.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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‘Moscow Mitch’ blunder means Donald Trump can never be vindicated: Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe

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Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for violating a legal principle that has existed for over 1,000 -- and his move means that President Donald Trump can never be vindicated during impeachment.

Tribe, who has taught at Harvard Law School for 50 years and argued 36 cases before the United States Supreme Court, has been advising Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats during the impeachment inquiry. He was interviewed on Friday by MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber.

Tribe said, "what it looks like is that the majority leader is going to conduct this trial as though he's a member of the defense team," Tribe said. "You know, it's an ancient principle, centuries-old -- actually over a millennium old -- that you can't be a judge on your own case and effectively, to allow Donald Trump to call the shots, violates that principle."

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Democrats ‘are being more republican than Republicans’ in Judiciary Committee memo: Post columnist

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A Washington Post editorial is singing the praises of the Judiciary Committee's memo about the impeachment charges President Donald Trump is facing. The memo, titled “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment” details the fundamental principles of the Constitution the founders outlined to guarantee the country wouldn't fall at the hands of corruption.

"The memo is remarkably originalist. Regardless of what happens with the impeachment, we are getting a much-needed civics lesson," The Post explained.

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Victim of Stephen Miller policy was murdered and dismembered — his body was found in 2 suitcases

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Controversial White House advisor Stephen Miller has pushed President Donald Trump to enact harsh immigration policies, which are getting more attention after a grisly murder.

"A 35-year-old man from El Salvador returned to Mexico under a controversial Trump administration program was brutally murdered in Tijuana while waiting for an outcome to his U.S. asylum case, according to his family’s attorney,'" The Sand Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday. "During a seven-month period, the man and his family repeatedly told U.S. officials — including a San Diego immigration court judge, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and border agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection — that they were not safe in Tijuana, the lawyer said."

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