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American citizen convicted in mass trial dies in Egyptian jail

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The United States on Monday confirmed the death of Egyptian-American Moustafa Kassem in a prison in Egypt where he had been in custody since 2013, and vowed to continue raising concerns over Cairo’s human rights record.

Egypt’s state prosecutor said Kassem died in a Cairo hospital on Monday, saying in a statement an autopsy had been ordered to determine the cause of death. The prosecutor said Kassem had been transferred on Sunday from a jail hospital to the Cairo university hospital.

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Kassem, who had been on a liquid-only hunger strike to protest his conviction, stopped taking liquids last Thursday, rights group Pretrial Rights International said in a statement. The group, which said it was representing Kassem and his family, also said that Kassem died on Monday in a hospital.

“I am deeply saddened to learn today the death of U.S.  citizen Moustafa Kassem who’d been imprisoned in Egypt,” the U.S. assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, David Schenker, told a State Department briefing.

“His death in custody was needless, tragic and avoidable,” Schenker said. “I will continue to raise our serious concerns over human rights and Americans detained in Egypt at every opportunity.”

Kassem was sentenced to prison in September 2018, along with dozens others, over a 2013 sit-in that ended with security forces killing hundreds of protesters. The sentencing, which included jail terms for more than 600 others, concluded a mass trial of people accused of murder and inciting violence during the pro-Muslim Brotherhood protest at Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo.

Washington is Cairo’s closest Western ally and one of its top aid donors.

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Rights activists say President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has overseen an unprecedented crackdown on freedoms in Egypt since he took power in 2014. Sisi and his backers say the measures are needed to keep Egypt stable and to counter threats from Islamist militants.

Rabaa square was the single most deadly incident in unrest that followed the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Egypt’s longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

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Internet celebrates Joy Reid taking MSNBC nighttime anchor slot

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Joy Reid will be the new anchor for MSNBC's 7 PM hour starting July 20, and the internet is celebrating. The veteran journalist has been an MSNBC anchor, host, political correspondent, analyst, and commentator for over six years.

Last month The Wall Street Journal reported Reid was in negotiations with the cable news network for the 7 PM slot, calling her "combative and inquisitive and not afraid to challenge guests." Thursday morning The New York Times announced Reid will take over the slot once held by Chris Matthews.

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2020 Election

Biden beats Trump to the punch with massive ‘Buy American’ spending package — and GOP allies are fuming

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Some of President Donald Trump's "economic nationalist" allies are furious that Joe Biden beat the White House to the punch with a "Buy American" policy push.

The president's former chief strategist Steve Bannon told the Washington Post's Jeff Stein that Biden's $300 billion domestic spending proposal was "very smart," and said the likely Democratic nominee had scored a win.

"The campaign and White House have been caught flat-footed," Bannon said. "Biden has very smart people around him, particularly on the economic side."

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2020 Election

Fox News pundit: Tax returns ruling against Trump is ‘a win for him’ and ‘will help the president’

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Fox News pundit Katie Pavlich argued on Thursday that a Supreme Court ruling which opened the door for prosecutors to obtain Donald Trump's tax returns is actually "a win" for the president.

Pavlich made the remarks after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can request the president's tax records in a public corruption case.

"I think it's a win and a little bit of a loss for President Trump," Pavlich explained. "In the sense that he will now have to deal with a number of these issues and other presidents in the future will as well, whether they are valid requests for information or not and whether they are being made for political for reasons or for valid criminal investigations."

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