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Mayor of Virginia city targeted by anti-Semitic tweets after criticizing marchers

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The mayor of the Virginia college town of Charlottesville was the target of anti-Semitic tweets on Sunday after speaking out against white nationalists who converged on a local park carrying blazing torches the night before.

Mayor Mike Signer said two protests led on Saturday by Richard Spencer, a leader of the “alt-right” movement, came on the same day the city held its annual Festival of Cultures event, which celebrates diversity in the home of the University of Virginia.

“You’re seeing anti-Semitism in these crazy tweets I’m getting and you’re seeing a display of torches at night, which is reminiscent of the KKK,” Signer, who is Jewish, said in a phone interview. “They’re sort of a last gasp of the bigotry that this country has systematically overcome.”

Signer issued a statement on Saturday criticizing the torch-carrying marchers as either “profoundly ignorant” or aiming to instill fear.

“I smell Jew,” posted an anonymous Twitter user with the handle “Great Patriot Trump.” “If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long.”

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The protesters converged on Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee Park, where a statue of the Confederate general that the city council voted to remove is located. The city also voted to remove a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, located in another park. Both changes have been put on hold amid ongoing litigation.

The Charlottesville protests were the latest of several in the U.S. South in recent months over the removal of statues celebrating leaders of the Confederacy, the slave-holding group of states that broke with the North in the early 1860s, prompting the 1861-1865 Civil War.

Spencer, an avowed white nationalist, is credited by some with coining the term “alt-right” to describe online and social media communities on the far right that include white supremacists.

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Trump, as president-elect, condemned an alt-right conference in Washington in November organized by Spencer where some attendees gave Nazi salutes and yelled “Hail Trump!” after a speech about white nationalism.

At the Saturday afternoon rally, Spencer led chants of “You will not replace us.”

Later that night, he tweeted a photo of himself holding a burning tiki torch, his face illuminated with the hashtag “torchlight.”

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The Charlottesville Daily Progress reported that chanters also cried: “Russia is our friend,” and “Blood and soil.”

Spencer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. The torchlight protest lasted only about 10 minutes, when police arrived on the scene after violence erupted, the newspaper said.

Charlottesville police did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Signer said officers would be investigating to see whether any laws were broken.

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In recent years, a string of Southern states have moved Confederate-era monuments to museums, an effort that intensified after a white supremacist killed nine blacks in a South Carolina church in June 2015.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney)


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Trump: Iran claim to break up CIA network ‘totally false’

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US President Donald Trump on Monday denied Iran's claim that it dismantled a CIA spy ring and arrested 17 suspects with alleged links to the US intelligence agency.

"The report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth," Trump tweeted.

"Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do."

"Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!" Trump added.

Earlier Monday a top Iranian counter-intelligence official told local reporters that the 17 suspects were all Iranians working in "sensitive centers" and the private sector who had acted independently of each other.

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Trump’s Commerce Dept plagued by low morale and ‘disarray’ as chief Wilbur Ross falls asleep in meetings: report

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For months, there has been speculation in Washington, D.C. that Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the Trump Administration, is on his way out. Reports that Ross falls asleep in meetings don’t exactly instill confidence in his leadership. And Politico’s Daniel Lippman, in a troubling report, describes the Commerce Department as being in a state of chaos and disorganization.

Lippman reports that according to his sources, the 81-year-old Ross “spends much of his time at the White House” in order to “retain President Donald Trump’s favor.” And the Commerce Department is suffering, Lippman observes, because of Ross’ “penchant for managing upward at the expense of his staff.”

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When radioactive wastes aren’t radioactive wastes

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The U.S. Department of Energy wants to redefine what constitutes high-level radioactive waste, cutting corners on the disposal of some of the most dangerous and long-lasting waste byproduct on earth—reprocessed spent fuel from the nuclear defense program.

The agency announced in October 2018 plans for its reinterpretation of high-level radioactive waste (HLW), as defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982, with plans to classify waste by its hazard level and not its origin. By using the idea of a reinterpretation of a definition, the DOE may be able to circumvent Congressional oversight. And in its regulatory filing, the DOE, citing the NWPA and Atomic Energy Act of 1954, said it has the authority to “interpret” what materials are classified as high-level waste based on their radiological characteristics. That is not quite true, as Congress specifically defined high-level radioactive waste in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and any reinterpretation of that definition should trigger a Congressional response.

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