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Ukraine rebel leader claims Flight MH17 was filled with already-dead bodies

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A pro-Russian rebel separatist in Ukraine claimed Saturday that most of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 were dead before the plane was shot down.

According to the Associated Press, rebel commander Igor Girkin said on the Russkaya Vesna website that witnesses to the crash have informed him that “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh” when they fell from the sky. He also claimed that many of them had been drained of blood and stank of decomposition because they had been dead for days.

Many Putin allies — including news network Russia Today — have tried to offset the blame for the deaths of all 298 passengers and crew by blaming Ukraine, but Girkin’s assertion is the first to suggest that no one was actually killed in the incident.

Preliminary investigation of the crash indicates that the jet was shot from the sky with a sophisticated surface-to-air anti-aircraft weapon. Both President Barack Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power have said that it is highly unlikely that separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine could have shot down the plane without a great deal of assistance from Russia.

Girkin, who also goes by the name Strelkov, said that he has yet to confirm the assertion, but that Ukrainian officials are “capable of any baseness.”

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At the scene, he said, large amounts of blood serum and medications were found. Girkin may or may not have realized that the plane was carrying approximately 100 doctors, researchers and experts on HIV-AIDS who were bound for an international conference in Malaysia.

If the rebel leader’s assertion sounds like a plot twist from a particularly far-fetched spy film, that’s because it was. In an episode of the U.K. TV series “Sherlock,” an airplane loaded with corpses was brought down from the sky in order to convince a group of saboteurs that their encryption codes had not been cracked by the government.

Where Girkin believes the Ukrainian government obtained nearly 300 corpses is unclear, let alone how officials managed to dress the bodies and provide them with passports and travel information.

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The real problem wasn’t the racism — it was the Trump taking ‘the Lord’s name in vain’ twice: supporter

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President Donald Trump was widely condemned after supporters at a campaign rally in West Virginia turned his racist "go back" message into a "Send Her Back" chant against one of a woman of color in Congress.

One Trump supporter in West Virginia also criticized the speech, but not for the racist targeting of Rep. Ilhan Omar.

State Senator Paul Hardesty, a Democrat, wrote to the White House to complain about Trump's use of the word "goddamn."

The letter was republished by the Montgomery-Herald.

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2020 Election

Here’s how Trump hopes to recreate his 2016 presidential win — and how Democrats can send him packing

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Writing for CNN on Saturday, election forecaster Harry Enten explained how President Donald Trump's recent, racist behavior lies in his desire to recreate the same electoral conditions that gave him a victory in 2016 in the presidential election next year.

"The Trump strategy is pretty simple: 1. Drive up the unfavorable ratings of his Democratic rival as he did in 2016 in order to compensate for his own low ratings. 2. Bank on an electoral college/popular vote split as he did in 2016. 3. Use a campaign of racial resentment to drive up turnout even more among groups favorable toward the President," wrote Enten. As he noted, Democrats have excellent odds to flip back Michigan and Pennsylvania, but they will have to work harder to win back any of the other states Trump flipped from the 2012 Obama camp — in particular Wisconsin, which was the closest state after those two.

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American, Italian and Russian blast off for ISS

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US, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA's Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.

A NASA TV commentator hailed a "textbook launch" minutes after blastoff in "sweltering" weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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