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China angered by theft of Terracotta Warrior’s thumb

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The theft of a thumb of an ancient Terracotta Warrior statue on display in the US incited a wave of criticism on Chinese social media Tuesday, following China’s calls to “severely punish” the thief.

Michael Rohana, 24, has been arrested over the theft during an after hours “ugly sweater party” just before Christmas at the Franklin Institute in Pennsylvania where 10 of the figures are on display.

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According to an arrest affidavit filed by an FBI agent, Rohana snuck into the closed exhibit and snapped a selfie with the warrior, worth $4.5 million.

Rohana then appeared to break off the statue’s left thumb and pocket it before leaving the event with friends.

The museum noticed its disappearance weeks later on January 8. The FBI agent tracked Rohana back to his home in Bear, Delaware, where the young man admitted to having stashed the thumb in a desk drawer.

He was arrested for theft of a major artwork from a museum, concealment of a major stolen artwork, and the interstate transportation of stolen property, but released on a $15,000 bail, according to court documents seen by AFP.

Built around 209 BC to stand guard over the tomb of the first emperor, the 8,000-strong Terracotta Army is one of China’s most important archaeological discoveries, and considered a symbol of ancient Chinese artistic and military sophistication.

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A major tourist attraction in Xian, capital of the northern province of Shaanxi, it has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987.

“We call on the US side to severely punish the person who committed such a damaging act of vandalism and theft of humanity’s cultural heritage,” the director of the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relic Exchange Centre told the Beijing Youth Daily Sunday.

Two experts would be sent to the US to help with repairs, the director said, adding that they had begun the process of claiming compensation for damages.

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News of the damage sparked strong criticism on Chinese social media, with many comments nationalistic in tone.

“Whoever agreed to use our ancestor’s funerary objects to curry favour with foreigners should be the one ‘severely punished’ first,” wrote one user.

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“If they don’t understand that our statue is precious why would we lend it to the US in the first place?” another asked.

But a few were more circumspect in their disapproval, recalling China’s destruction of its own heritage.

“Who will be held responsible for all the cultural relics destroyed in the Cultural Revolution?” a user wrote, referring to the tumultuous period in the 1960s and 70s when countless artifacts were defaced or destroyed as China tried to rid itself of the influence of traditional culture.

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Devin Nunes’ hometown paper flooded with letters from disgusted out-of-towners

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The Frenso Bee, which hails from the San Joaquin Valley where California GOP Congressman Devin Nunes is from, published a series of letters from people around the country who watched his performance in this week's impeachment hearings. The letters all had one thing in common: a notable "absence of pro-Nunes sentiment," which the Fresno Bee's Marek Warszawski said was not intentional on his part.

"Angry people tend to send letters, not those who are pleased," he writes.

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WATCH: Lindsey Graham flees Iraq War vet who politely asks to talk about Trump’s conduct

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Friday was filmed running away from a war veteran who tried to talk with him about President Donald Trump's impeachable conduct.

In a video posted by progressive veterans organization Common Defense, a man who identifies himself as an Iraq War veteran from Louisiana calmly walks up to Graham and tells the senator that he believes that he's being treated unfairly by the media.

"I believe that you honestly believe in our democracy as I do," the man tells him.

"I do," Graham replies.

"I came here to D.C. because I'm a Marine, I went to Iraq, and I believe, as I believe that you do, that President Trump is not acting in accordance to his oath," the veteran continued. "The oath that you took and I did to defend the Constitution."

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2020 Election

‘The Senate’s in play’: Reeling GOP faces collapse into minority status as Trump drags party down

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According to a report in Rolling Stone, there is a very good chance that the Democrats could take control of the Senate after the 2020 election as the impeachment of Donald Trump casts a cloud over the Republican Party.

The report -- by longtime political observer Tim Dickinson -- states, "the fight to wrest the Senate from Republican control — and oust Mitch McConnell as majority leader — is arguably just as important" as the battle to force Trump from office.

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