Paris (AFP) - The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 900,000 since the respiratory disease first appeared in China last year, according to an AFP tally.As the fatalities climbed, US President Donald Trump admitted he had tried to minimise the seriousness of the Covid-19 threat at the start of the pandemic, in audio recordings released Wednesday from interviews with veteran journalist Bob Woodward."I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, according to a CNN preview of the book "Rage", due to be published this month."I still like playing it down,...
On Thursday, writing for Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson profiled how the far-right paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, best known for recruiting current and former police and law enforcement, are also recruiting another kind of person: Media professionals.
"When joining a right-wing militia, most members brag about their military credentials, tactical training, or prowess with firearms. But a select group of members in the hacked Oath Keeper rolls touted a very different skillset — pledging to be information warriors for the extremist group," said the report. "These Oath Keepers signed up pitching past affiliations with the Washington Post, USA Today, Tampa Tribune as well as local television news and newspaper outlets from New Jersey to Kansas to Arizona. Still others offered experience in film and radio production or pledged to serve the Oath Keepers on the public affairs front, helping to market the militia to the masses."
Among those recruited by the group, noted Dickinson, were a New York man who "spent 10 years as a TV news reporter," a Virginia man who boasted of his “Ph.D. and 28 years’ experience in opinion and marketing research and strategy,” and a man who bragged, "I have a masters degree in radio, television, and film production and worked for… years in the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service producing television programs.”
These media experts, who were exposed in a recent hack of the Oath Keepers' membership database, can do PR work to “create an image that is cool, competent, and appealing to potential members — and then blast it out to a far larger audience than if they were trying to recruit in person," according to Alex Friedfield of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.
The Oath Keepers, who have been involved in a number of armed anti-government standoffs in recent years including the Bundy Ranch incident, more recently participated in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Many of its members are now facing federal charges and turning on each other to try to secure plea deals.
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The fraud trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has unearthed her written daily schedule in which she makes a series of bizarre proclamations about her diet and her communications style.
The schedule was admitted into evidence at Holmes's trial this week and it begins with her waking up at 4 a.m. with instructions to "rise and thank God."
A couple of hours later, Holmes would pray for ten minutes before having a breakfast consisting of a banana and whey.
Odder then the schedule itself, however, were Holmes's notes to herself to seemingly remind herself of how to behave throughout her day.
"I am never a minute late," she wrote. "I show no excitement calm, direct, pointed... ALL ABOUT BUSINESS."
Other Holmes notes made claims such as "I know the outcome of every encounter" and "I am fully present."
Holmes was indicted in 2018 on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for her role in allegedly promoting a false product as CEO of Theranos.
See the whole schedule below.
On Thursday, CNN reported that a 13-year-old boy in Douglas County, Georgia who was making and selling so-called "ghost guns" fatally shot his 14-year-old sister while firing at a pair of thieves trying to rip off his operation.
"Two people had come to the family's home in Douglasville, about 20 miles west of Atlanta, on November 27 to purchase a gun that the 13-year-old made, Douglas County Sheriff Tim Pounds said in a news conference livestreamed by CNN affiliate WGCL Wednesday," reported Dakin Andone. "But instead of buying the firearm, the pair stole the gun from the 13-year-old and fled the scene, the sheriff told reporters. The boy then shot at them as they were leaving, Pounds said, but instead struck his 14-year-old sister, who was identified by the sheriff's office as Kyra Scott. Investigators believe the weapon he used was one that he had made."
According to the report, "Authorities have arrested Kyra's 13-year-old brother and 19-year-old Yusef Jabryil McArthur El -- one of the two people who had come to buy the homemade gun."
The 13-year-old brother admitted to shooting his sister, while Yusef is being charged with felony murder — the killing of someone during the commission of an inherently dangerous crime.
"Ghost guns" are firearms made at home with readily available materials. They range from crude "zip guns," to guns built from kits sold online, to more sophisticated designs built on 3D printers — and are nearly impossible to trace in conventional ways because of their lack of a serial number and, sometimes, of metal components.
Some jurisdictions, like the city of Los Angeles, have sought to pass laws outlawing the possession or sale of ghost guns in recent years. The State Department also waged a multi-year legal battle with Defense Distributed, a company that sells 3D printer designs for guns.