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Cristobal forms in Gulf of Mexico as season’s third tropical storm

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Tropical Storm Cristobal’s formation in the Gulf of Mexico marks a new record as the earliest that the Atlantic hurricane season has seen its third named disturbance, US meteorologists said Tuesday.

The storm is producing maximum sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour with some stronger gusts, as it swirls about 140 miles from the Mexican city of Campeche on the Yucatan peninsula, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

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The agency predicted the storm would move slowly, remaining in the southern Bay of Campeche until Wednesday evening.

A Tropical Storm Warning was issued from Campeche to Veracruz.

Cristobal was expected to move further into the Gulf of Mexico, though it is too early to predict whether it might hit the southeastern coast of the United States.

“Some strengthening is possible during the next day or so,” the NHC said.

The storm system was originally known as Tropical Storm Amanda when it formed as the season’s first storm in the Pacific, leaving at least 18 people dead as it crossed over Central America before being renamed as Cristobal in the Gulf.

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The last time a third named tropical storm formed so early in the season was 2016, when Colin formed on June 5, three days later than Cristobal, University of Colorado meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said on Twitter.

Records for such measurements began in 1851.

This year’s previous Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha already formed weeks before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

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US meteorologists have warned that this year is expected to be more active than most.


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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