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White supremacists cheer Trump's evolving response to Charlottesville

White supremacists cheer Trump's evolving response to CharlottesvillePresident Trump?s comments about violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend have been condemned by Democrats, Republicans, business leaders and even athletes. ?I think he?s speaking to the fact that a nation should respect its heritage, its identity, its heroes, and we shouldn?t engage in antiwhite multicultural political correctness,? Matthew Heimbach told Yahoo News on Thursday. Heimbach was scheduled to speak at the event, which attracted supporters from white supremacist, ?alt-right? and neo-Nazi groups.



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Spain hunts suspect over Barcelona carnage

Spain hunts suspect over Barcelona carnageSpanish police on Saturday hunted for a Moroccan man suspected of carrying out one of two terror attacks that killed 14 people, injured 120 more and plunged the country into shock and grief. Two days after the assaults that struck Barcelona and the nearby seaside town of Cambrils, Spaniards put on a defiant front while mourning the victims, with crowds out in force to greet King Felipe and Queen Letizia as they arrived to pay hommage to those killed in the attacks. Slogans like "Las Ramblas is crying but alive" were seen on shop windows, while taxis drove down in a convoy, sounding their horns and with "We're not afraid" plastered on their windows.



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No Human Remains Found In Search For Natalee Holloway: Prosecutor

No Human Remains Found In Search For Natalee Holloway: ProsecutorDave Holloway, father of missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, said on national television this week that he found human bones in Aruba, where his daughter vanished a dozen years ago, and submitted them for DNA testing.



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Pakistan holds state funeral for German nun who fought leprosy

Pakistan holds state funeral for German nun who fought leprosyPakistani soldiers on Saturday carried the flag-draped coffin of German-born Catholic nun Ruth Pfau to a state funeral where she was honored after devoting her life to eradicating leprosy in the country. Widely known as Pakistan's Mother Teresa, Pfau died last week in the southern city of Karachi at age 87. Mourners paid their last respects as Pfau's coffin was carried to the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre that she founded before being taken on to St. Patrick's Cathedral for the official service.



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Chinese traders furious after crackdown on N. Korean imports

Chinese traders furious after crackdown on N. Korean importsBEIJING (AP) ? Furious Chinese businesspeople said Friday that Beijing's decision to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korean seafood imports would hobble the economy of an entire northeastern city, sparking a rare public protest earlier this week after the surprise move suddenly choked off border trade.



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Father jumps car over open drawbridge in terrifying stunt to save family

Father jumps car over open drawbridge in terrifying stunt to save familyA father drove his car over an opening drawbridge in a death-defying stunt to avoid plunging into the water below. Terence Naphys was crossing New Jersey's Middle Thorofare Bridge with his family when its steel ramp began to lift beneath them. Mr Naphys was reportedly already near the centre of the bridge and was forced to accelerate his Toyota RAV 4 to jump the 6ft gap out of fear the car would fall 65ft into the deep bay below.



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Staff Change on Mueller Team Raises Questions

Staff Change on Mueller Team Raises QuestionsRachel Maddow pursues reporting on the departure of former FBI counter-espionage chief Peter Strzok from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Trump Russia investigation team, questioning the reason and what it might mean for Mueller's effort.



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One Tweet Perfectly Captures Why America Doesn't Need Confederate Statues

One Tweet Perfectly Captures Why America Doesn't Need Confederate StatuesA tweet about Confederate statues is resonating with hundreds of thousands of people. Jamil Smith, a Los Angeles-based writer who has contributed to The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Daily Beast, had a great response to those who believe the removal of Confederate statues will ?erase? history.



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Neo-Nazis love media attention. But ignoring them isn't an option | Bob Garfield

Neo-Nazis love media attention. But ignoring them isn't an option | Bob GarfieldThere is a genuine conflict of two public interests: the collateral damage of publicity versus the right to know. First there was the violence Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, where crowds of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists and assorted alt-right mouthbreathers were televised chanting racist and antisemitic slogans and roughing up counter-protesters, culminating in the death of one woman. Yep, some of the finest neo-Nazis this great country has to offer.



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Several people stabbed in Finnish city of Turku

Several people stabbed in Finnish city of TurkuSeveral people were stabbed in an knife attack in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday but it was not immediately clear if this was a militant action or had some other motive. The Turun Sanomat newspaper reported that at least one person was killed in the attack. Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat said eight people had been taken to hospital following the stabbings, some of them are in critical condition.



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From Barcelona to Charlottesville: How Trump's responses differed

From Barcelona to Charlottesville: How Trump's responses differedIn the aftermath of the attacks in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday and Charlottesville, Va., five days earlier, President Trump offered very different reactions.



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'One of the Most Difficult Scenes.' 3 Kids Found Killed Inside Suburban Home

'One of the Most Difficult Scenes.' 3 Kids Found Killed Inside Suburban Home'One of the most difficult scenes'



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Grace Mugabe absent from S.Africa summit as assault claim lingers

Grace Mugabe absent from S.Africa summit as assault claim lingersZimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe failed to appear Saturday at a summit in South Africa attended by her husband, an event overshadowed by her effort to obtain diplomatic immunity over assault allegations. The wife of President Robert Mugabe has not been seen since being accused of attacking a 20-year-old model with a electrical extension cord last weekend in a Johannesburg hotel where the couple's two sons were staying. The alleged assault is a political headache for South Africa and Zimbabwe, close neighbours with deep economic and historical ties.



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German writer critical of Turkey's Erdogan arrested in Spain

German writer critical of Turkey's Erdogan arrested in SpainBy Thomas Escritt BERLIN (Reuters) - German-Turkish author Dogan Akhanli was arrested in Spain on Saturday after Turkey issued an Interpol warrant for the writer, a critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, fanning an already fierce row between the NATO allies. The arrest of the German national in Granada was part of a "targeted hunt against critics of the Turkish government living abroad in Europe," Akhanli's lawyer Ilias Uyar told magazine Der Spiegel, which first reported Akhanli's detention. Any country can issue an Interpol "red notice", but extradition by Spain would only follow if Ankara could convince Spanish courts it had a real case against him.



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Chicago activist loses US citizenship, will be deported

Chicago activist loses US citizenship, will be deportedAn activist known for helping Arab women in the Chicago area lost her U.S. citizenship Thursday and will be deported for failing to disclose convictions for bombings in Jerusalem decades ago.



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Wildfire leads to more evacuations in Montana

Wildfire leads to more evacuations in MontanaHELENA, Mont. (AP) ? A month-old wildfire flared up in western Montana, forcing the evacuation of hundreds more homes and devouring another large chunk of forest as the drought-stricken state struggles with one of its worst wildfire seasons in years.



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The Clever Way High School Boys Protested Their School's Sexist Dress Code

The Clever Way High School Boys Protested Their School's Sexist Dress CodeStudents from San Benito High School in Hollister, California, are protesting their school?s sexist dress code in a pretty awesome way.



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Girl found 'brutally murdered' at home after texting mother about someone knocking at door

Girl found 'brutally murdered' at home after texting mother about someone knocking at doorYhoana Arteaga was found bludgeoned to death in her family's mobile home with her clothing "in disarray", police said. There was no evidence of forced entry to the trailer in Nashville, Tennessee. The girl had suffered blunt force trauma to her body, police spokesman Don Aaron told a press conference.



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US Nazi supporters move to Russian social media after Facebook ban

US Nazi supporters move to Russian social media after Facebook banFollowing violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, Facebook began taking down all positive mentions of an article by the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, attacking the woman who was killed protesting the rally. But while the site has been banned from Facebook, far-right users continued to post on a Daily Stormer group on VK, Russia's most popular social network. ?Cloudflare just dropped us,? the Daily Stormer VK group posted on Wednesday, referring to the Internet security company that protects sites from cyber attacks. ?We'll have to build an alternative.? White nationalists and far-right activists from Western countries have increasingly been moving to VK, also known as VKontakte, where they don't face the same censorship as on social media like Facebook. Charlottesville far-right protest Of the 97 major neo-Nazi, white nationalist and racist skinhead organisations on the Southern Poverty Law Centre's list of US hate groups, The Telegraph found VK groups matching at least nine of them, with members that appeared to be American. There were also more than 50 VK groups named after the Ku Klux Klan, although many of them appear to be run by Russian fans. According to the news site Meduza, more than 100 nationalist groups on VK have members from the United States, Germany, Sweden and other Western countries. Membership on the most popular of these groups numbers in the thousands. A far-right user who identified himself as Henry from Houston told Meduza that moving from Facebook to VK was becoming a ?trend? among nationalists trying to avoid censorship. He's started two VK groups already with a total membership of 550. ?You can't even write a post about Adolph Hitler? on Facebook, he complained. In contrast, on the Daily Stormer page and other VK groups, users have continued merrily posting racist slurs and threats. Dropped by its US domain registrar, the Daily Stormer also tried to relaunch its website under a Russian domain name, but this too was soon suspended. Asked about VK's apparent lack of censorship, a spokesman said the social network is ?against calls for atrocities and violence? and deletes materials that include them. Russian authorities have been increasingly fining and even imprisoning social media users under a vague law against extremism, but many of these people have been convicted for criticising Russia's intervention in Ukraine. Law enforcement here most likely wouldn't be able to bring Americans to court on similar charges, however.



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Boy, 7, From Australia Is Missing After Barcelona Van Attack

Boy, 7, From Australia Is Missing After Barcelona Van AttackJulian Alessandro Cadman is missing after he was separated from his mom, who was seriously injured in Thursday's terrorist attack.



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USS Fitzgerald's Leadership Removed Over Poor Seamanship

USS Fitzgerald's Leadership Removed Over Poor SeamanshipThis is not the first time U.S. Navy took a strict action against the leadership for acting inappropriately in a particular situation.



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Did outing Charlottesville's white supremacists just make them more committed?

Did outing Charlottesville's white supremacists just make them more committed?The ?Unite the Right? rally on Saturday morning in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the first time 27-year-old Nigel Krofta attended a white nationalist event. He?s been active in the movement online, but last weekend he stepped out from behind his keyboard and stood clutching a billy club alongside the neo-Nazis, white nationalists, Klansmen, and other so-called alt-right marchers.  That day, Krofta met James Alex Fields Jr., who allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters just a few hours later, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. After the bloodshed, a photo of the two men, published by the New York Times, found its way to Twitter, where Krofta was identified by name?along with his hometown and the contact information for his employer. He was labeled an ?area Nazi? by a journalist in Charleston, South Carolina, not far from Krofta?s home in Ridgeville. SEE ALSO: How you can take action against white supremacy after Charlottesville On Monday, Krofta said he started to receive threats. He was also promptly fired from his job as a welder. ?My employer was being called with threats on their business and persons and they responded by discharging me,? the now-former metalworker told Mashable. ?My actions and beliefs are mine and I do not want anyone to be hurt or harmed for being associated with me.? I talked to the Ridgeville man, also a white supremacist, shown next to accused murderer James Fields at rally. https://t.co/YKv5zUWscY ? Michael Majchrowicz (@mjmajchrowicz) August 14, 2017 For online activists seeking to identify the marchers at Saturday?s rally, this seems like mission accomplished: A participant faced real-world consequences, outside the confines of the white nationalist movement, where having Nazi sympathies makes you a pariah. But, while activists hope the threat of shame (and unemployment) will deter racists from joining future marches, their actions could have unintended consequences: pushing neo-Nazis out of the shadows could just force them to double down.Krofta is one of multiple marchers outed by online activists: In California, Cole White reportedly resigned from his job at a hotdog restaurant after his bosses caught wind of his involvement in Charlottesville over the weekend. In Nevada, 20-year-old University of Nevada at Reno student Peter Cvjetanovic got so much publicity he went on a local news program to explain that he is ?not the angry racist they see in that photo.? The photo to which he?s referring shows Cvjetanovic?and his Hitler-esque hairstyle?carrying a torch and screeching alongside other white nationalists the night before Saturday?s deadly rally. In Fargo, North Dakota, the shame of seeing his son marching with known bigots prompted a father to pen a lengthy op-ed for a local newspaper essentially disowning his racist son. ?I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son?s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions,? he wrote. UPDATE: Cole White, the first person I exposed, no longer has a job ???? #GoodNightColeWhite #ExposeTheAltRight #Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/sqxSXboKw6 ? Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 13, 2017 The outing of racists has been met with fanfare. The Twitter page @YesYoureARacist, dedicated to shining a light on bigoted behavior, had 60,000 followers on Saturday morning?now, it has 400,000. Identifying racists has been the goal of civil rights organizations for years, with the idea that it will create problems for them in their personal and professional lives. As Southern Poverty Law Center researcher Ryan Lenz says in the documentary Welcome to Leith about the attempted neo-Nazi takeover of a small North Dakota town, ?If you wanna be a Nazi, you can be a Nazi. But I?m gonna make sure the world knows you?re a Nazi.?Logan Smith, who founded the YesYoureARacist feed, put it similarly: "Ever since the days of the KKK burning crosses in people's yards, they depend on people remaining silent," Smith told NPR.  "And no matter the risk, I'm not going away." White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" march toward Emancipation Park in CharlottesvilleImage: Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesYet, there?s a problem. In a world where the President of the United States says there were ?very fine people? on ?both sides? of Saturday?s rally, people might not care whether people know they?re aligned with white supremacists, according to several demonstrators at the rally who railed against Jews, ?faggots," and other groups. In fact, according to some, being exposed is only emboldening a movement they feel has essentially been endorsed by the president of the United States. ?All we're doing is massively, massively growing,? David Duke, the infamous former Ku Klux Klan leader who was at the rally in Charlottesville, told Mashable. Donald Trump mentioned Duke by name during a press conference on Tuesday where he defended the ?good people? on the right who demonstrated in Charlottesville. Duke made headlines during last year?s presidential election when he endorsed Trump. It took the president nearly a week to disavow the endorsement of a notorious white supremacist?who is perhaps the most well-known white supremacist of the last 30 years and whom Trump initially claimed to know nothing about. ?I?ve gotten 15 million Twitter impressions [since the rally in Charlottesville] and 90 percent have been positive,? Duke continued, adding that, ?the Antifa [anti-fascist activists] might think they?re making some gains on us [by outing white nationalists] but they're not...people see through it now. They see what?s going on. They have the Internet. They saw what happened [in Charlottesville]. We weren't there for violence. We were there to make our point.?For white nationalists, Duke's mission was accomplished. Those I spoke with expressed few regrets about what happened in Charlottesville, though many claimed to not support violence. (This claim is belied by the events, which left one woman dead and dozens wounded. The governor of Virginia described the white nationalists as more heavily armed than the police.)  Outing a guy like Duke, or Richard Spencer?the de-facto leader of the ?alt-right? movement?is pointless; their names are synonymous with white supremacy and a simple Google search will reveal who they are. But for people like Nigel Krofta, who stepped into the world of white nationalism and ended up unemployed and publicly dubbed a Nazi, the consequences could be more severe.Krofta, at least, doesn?t care. In fact, he says, it?s only strengthened his resolve. Asked if he considered the potential consequences of demonstrating with a group of white nationalists before Saturday, Krofta said, ?Of course I did. However, it was a risk I was willing to take and I have no regrets.?Krofta said his experience in Charlottesville?and the fallout from his activities?has only encouraged him to do more. He said he plans on joining a formal white nationalist group and to continue attending rallies. For the next one, he said, he and his ?alt-right? cronies will be ?better prepared.??I feel vindicated,? he said. ?[Getting exposed] strengthened my resolve.? He added, ?I have my own plans...I hope I do inspire more to be more active.? White nationalist demonstrators surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville.Image: AP/REX/ShutterstockThe gloating and positive spin on what happened in Charlottesville is not unexpected, says Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League?s Center on Extremism, who tracks white nationalist groups like the ?alt-right? and the National Socialist Movement, the country?s primary neo-Nazi organization.?Duke, Spencer and others will surely try to leverage this moment to double-down on their fantasies of creating a white civil rights movement,? Segal said. He added, ?Generally, the people who show up to rallies have already taken the leap [into unabashed white nationalism]...there are some unintended consequences to [publicly name them] that can backfire. White supremacists generally don?t miss an opportunity to portray themselves as the victims.?That?s exactly what happened. People like Duke and Spencer have spent the last few days playing the victim on social media and beyond. President Trump appears to be paying attention to the plight of the poor white nationalists, as evidenced by that insane press conference on Tuesday, in which Trump repeatedly emphasized that both sides had done wrong.Krofta also doesn?t have much faith in the identification tactics of the ?alt-right?s? opposition in terms of keeping people from upcoming rallies. While he concedes that people may be ?afraid to show [once they] realize that all it takes is one photo to ruin their life,? he?s quick to add that he doesn?t fall into that camp. ?My life has not been ruined,? he said.Efforts to identify participants could still deter some. On Aug. 19, a group of ?free speech activists? with tentacles in the ?alt-right? sphere are planning a rally in Boston. After the chaos in Virginia, speakers began to pull out of the event in fear of being publicly linked to the ?alt-right.? The group has publicly disavowed the rally in Charlottesville and insists that their organization is in no way affiliated with people like Duke or Spencer. But the rally is still a target for Antifa activists, who believe it?s an extension of what happened in Charlottesville. "Yes, there is concern of doxxing and spreading of false information about people to cost them their careers," an unidentified administrator of the group?s Facebook page said. ?In fact, one of our members lost his job due to this defamation already.? The rally in Boston is scheduled to go forth as of this writing, despite rumors that it had been canceled.For Krofta, his new-found infamy has only pushed him further into the world of white nationalism. As for his new buddy, alleged killer James Fields Jr., Krofta said he doesn?t think his actions were premeditated. But he declined to condemn the alleged murder. Rather, Krofta excused it.?I think people have to understand that the protesters had every street blocked and we were surrounded,? he said. ?They also had the parking garage blocked and surrounded. [He] was most likely looking for a way out of there.?He added, ?[Fields] did not have any plans to [slam his car through a crowd of people] to my knowledge...that is a very expensive car.? If you?re looking for direct ways to take action after the Charlottesville violence, we?ve identified five things you can do right now .



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Children in conflict zones vulnerable to killing, rape: UN draft

Children in conflict zones vulnerable to killing, rape: UN draftChildren are particularly vulnerable in the conflicts raging around the globe, according to a draft UN report that specifically pointed the finger of blame in Yemen at the Saudi-led coalition. The draft of an annual UN report on the impact of armed conflict on children lists the countries and entities accused of recruiting child soldiers and using children as weapons of war. "I am highly concerned by the scale and severity of the grave violations that were committed against children in 2016, which included alarming levels of killing and maiming, recruitment and use and denial of humanitarian access," Secretary General Antonio Guterres says in the draft seen by AFP.



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Lebanese army, Hezbollah announce offensives against Islamic State on Syrian border

Lebanese army, Hezbollah announce offensives against Islamic State on Syrian borderBy Tom Perry and Angus McDowall BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Lebanese army launched an offensive on Saturday against an Islamic State enclave on the northeastern border with Syria, as the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah announced an assault on the militants from the Syrian side of the frontier. The Lebanese army operation got underway at 5 a.m. (0200 GMT), targeting Islamic State positions near the town of Ras Baalbek with rockets, artillery and helicopters, a Lebanese security source said.



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Underwater devices look for Army helicopter crew off Hawaii

Underwater devices look for Army helicopter crew off HawaiiHONOLULU (AP) ? Army officials have spent days sifting through chunks of Black Hawk helicopter debris in turbulent Pacific waters off Hawaii but have yet to see any signs of life in their search for five soldiers missing since the aircraft crashed during nighttime training on Tuesday.



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Twitter Blasts Ex-Google Employee Who Says Being Conservative Is Like Being Gay In The '50s

Twitter Blasts Ex-Google Employee Who Says Being Conservative Is Like Being Gay In The '50sEx-Google employee James Damore made quite a disturbing false equivalency when he compared being a conservative at the tech company to being gay in the 1950s.



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Dashcam video shows white cop punching black man during stop

Dashcam video shows white cop punching black man during stopCLEVELAND (AP) ? A dashcam video of a traffic stop that led to a white police officer with a history of disciplinary issues repeatedly punching a black man and hitting his head on pavement appears to show a different sequence of events than police had originally described.



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Muslims fear anti-Islam backlash in tolerant Barcelona

Muslims fear anti-Islam backlash in tolerant BarcelonaPrayer time is approaching but Raja Miah, an imam at a tiny mosque in the heart of Barcelona does not expect a big turnout. Since the twin attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils claimed by the Islamic State group, the Muslim community in central Barcelona's neighbourhood of Raval fears an anti-Islam backlash. "People are very scared," said Miah, 23, as he sat in a small room at the mosque in Raval as a small group of children in an adjoining room studied the Koran.



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Donald Trump Jr: US investigators 'examining President's son's meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer'

Donald Trump Jr: US investigators 'examining President's son's meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer'A team of special prosecutors appointed to examine the alleged link between Donald Trump?s election campaign and Moscow are reportedly focusing their efforts on the President?s son. The prosecutors, led by Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI, are now trying to find out Mr Trump Jr?s motives in attending the meeting, according to Buzzfeed News, which cited a source close to the investigation. Ms Veselnitskaya is alleged to have links to the Russian government but has denied wielding any influence.



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White Supremacists Are Using Genetic Ancestry Tests For A Creepy Purpose

White Supremacists Are Using Genetic Ancestry Tests For A Creepy PurposeIt?s a marketing trope often repeated in viral, feel-good commercials for genetic ancestry tests: If we only knew just how related we all were, even distantly, then prejudice and racism would cease to exist.



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Five suspected terrorists shot dead by police in Cambrils, Spain

Five suspected terrorists shot dead by police in Cambrils, SpainSpanish police shot dead five would-be attackers after confronting them early on Friday in Cambrils, south of Barcelona where hours earlier a suspected Islamist militant drove a van into crowds, killing 13 people.



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Boston 'free speech' rally abandoned by right-wing demonstrators outnumbered by 15,000 counter-protesters

Boston 'free speech' rally abandoned by right-wing demonstrators outnumbered by 15,000 counter-protestersAs the official start time of the contentious ?Free Speech Rally? in Boston approached, the winner in the battle of words between organisers and counter demonstrators had already been determined. If hateful speech aimed at Jewish people or minorities was chanted at Boston Common park, it was not audible at one of the largest rallies being held just one week after the deadly demonstrations in Charleston, Virginia, where neo-Nazis marched bearing torches, and where one woman was killed. Instead, an estimated 15,000 counter protesters dominated the air with anti-Nazi and anti-fascist chants.



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Glitch Or Promo? Amazon Echo Dot Is Free Right Now

Glitch Or Promo? Amazon Echo Dot Is Free Right NowThe Amazon Echo Dot is free on Amazon at checkout thanks to an apparently unlisted "Audible Promo" offer.



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Tribes hope for renewal in solar eclipse; not all will watch

Tribes hope for renewal in solar eclipse; not all will watchFLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) ? While much of the country gawks at the solar eclipse, Bobbieann Baldwin will be inside with her children, shades drawn.



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The Manual Car Is About More Than Shifting Gears

The Manual Car Is About More Than Shifting GearsWhy you should care about turn signals.



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How Tough Mudder and its 'adult obstacle courses' became a £100m business

How Tough Mudder and its 'adult obstacle courses' became a £100m businessOne Sunday morning, Will Dean informed his girlfriend Katie: ?I am going to electrocute thousands of people.? Unfazed, she continued reading her newspaper. But the Sheffield-born founder of Tough Mudder ? the now-globally successful obstacle course series which comes to Gloucestershire?s Badminton Estate this weekend ? was devilishly serious. ?I started calling engineering companies, saying: ?Hello, we?re Tough Mudder, we want to shock people with electricity,?? explains Dean, 36, who launched his first ?weekend obstacle course for adults? in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in May 2010, after studying a MBA at Harvard Business School. ?You?d get a pause and then the line would go dead. People thought they were being pranked.? In the Tough Mudder innovations lab, human guinea pigs spend their mornings running through hay bales and dipping their extremities in buckets of ice The obstacle called Electroshock Therapy, which involves running through wires fizzing with 10,000 volts (triple the sting of your average electric fence), is now the event?s signature challenge. ?As CEO, I have a unique role in all this because I am also the majority shareholder. People said: ?Will, we can?t do this.? I was saying: ?Yes, we can. We can have a board meeting and get it approved in two seconds. Look, it just happened??? Dean spent five years working as a UK counter-terrorism officer in the Middle East and Afghanistan until, stifled by bureaucracy, he sought entrepreneurial fulfilment. His Harvard tutors called his business plan ?optimistic?. At the inaugural edition, he prayed for 500 customers and got 4,500. There are now 130 annual Tough Mudder events in 11 countries with 3 million entrants worldwide so far. This weekend?s clientele have paid up to £139 to take on a 10- to 12-mile course littered with tunnels, nets, walls, fire, ice and mud. The company?s annual revenues now exceed $100m. Mud Run Electroshock Wire Caught on Neck 00:27 Obstacles are conjured up at an ?Innovation Lab? in Pennsylvania where human guinea pigs spend their mornings running through hay bales and dipping their extremities in buckets of ice. Cry Baby, an obstacle which requires people to crawl through eye-watering smoke, was tested by spraying staff with homemade tear gas. Spider Box (a pit full of tarantulas) and Acid Rain (a container of floating acid bubbles) didn?t make the cut. ?The Innovation Lab is as crazy as it sounds,? says Dean. ?I joke that you will never get a Nobel Prize unless you test it on yourself. We start by saying: let?s think of the unthinkable. We finish by saying: now we have to make this work in Dubai, Germany and Mexico and get several thousand people of all shapes and sizes through in one hour. It is a strange remit.? Splashdown: a Tough Mudder comptetitor comes to grief Credit: Ben Birchall /PA Obstacle races have become wildly popular, with 5 million people in 40 countries taking part in events each year. Tough Mudder attracts a mix of couples, families, friends, work colleagues, students and executives. ?The mud is a leveller,? says Dean. But why pay money to endure manufactured suffering? Dean believes the trend may be in part a reaction to our risk-averse society, with desk-bound workers seeking raw experiences to share on social media and in pub chats. But he insists the benefits are real. ?I believe in challenging oneself to take on new things and I believe that is the secret to developing confidence. In a funny way, running through electric wires gives people the confidence to take on other challenges and changes in their life.? Tough Mudder's latest obstacles 01:05 He says Tough Mudder?s fun values have helped them outsmart rivals like Spartan Race, launched by Joe De Sena, a former Wall Street trader, in 2007. Miss an obstacle at Spartan Race and you have to do 30 burpees. At ToughMudder, nobody cares. Spartan Race times and ranks all contestants (accountability is the real secret to better health, insists De Sena), but Dean refuses, haunted by a 2008 triathlon when time-conscious athletes wouldn?t stop to help him unjam the zip of his wetsuit. ?My belief came from me saying: I would do this. My friends would do this. I genuinely believe there is a market for a race that is not a race.? There are now 130 annual Tough Mudder events in 11 countries, with 3 million entrants worldwide so far Credit:  Andrew Crowley Dean now lives in New York with his lawyer wife Katie and their one-year-old daughter, Isobel. He still tackles the courses himself and joins in ?Breakfast Club? workouts at the company?s Brooklyn HQ. His events deliberately inspire this same sense of community ? what he calls his ?tribe?. He hates seeing runners plodding side-by-side on gym treadmills and never speaking. His event forces you to seek help from strangers to scale walls and nets. ?Tough Mudder gives you a sense of personal accomplishment, a sense of a team and being a part of something bigger than yourself, and hopefully a sense of fun.? He is not surprised it has proven popular in the UK. ?More than any other culture, we believe in not taking ourselves too seriously. In our school sports, we have second and third teams. No American would play in that. It would be an embarrassment. You do get differences around the world. Germans ask six times more customer service questions. Australians sign up last-minute. But it?s a bit like kids and ice cream ? it?s universal in its appeal.? Tough Mudder - are you tough enough? Next month, Dean is publishing a new business book, It Takes a Tribe, which analyses the social psychology, corporate theory and personal stories behind his success. It also documents the fierce battles that shaped the company. Dean and De Sena used to fly provocative advertising banners over each other?s events. De Sena once declared in an interview: ?There?s not a person on this planet I despise more than Will Dean.? They have since bonded over lunch, but the rivalry bubbles away. ?I have a lot of respect for Joe De Sena, as much as I tease him. I have said before when asked if we have anything in common: yes, we both wake up every morning and the first thing we think about is Tough Mudder. But I do think the rival philosophy has meant we ended up creating two companies which superficially may seem similar, but are very different.? ?Tough Mudder gives you a sense of personal accomplishment, a sense of a team and being a part of something bigger than yourself," says founder Will Dean Credit: Andrew Crowley More troubling was the multimillion dollar lawsuit Dean faced in 2010. Billy Wilson, a former soldier who launched Tough Guy, an obstacle course in Wolverhampton in 1987, had granted Dean access to his company information for his Harvard studies and then accused him of stealing his idea. Dean countersued for defamation. After a vitriolic battle, the pair agreed a confidential settlement in 2011, with Dean reportedly paying $725,000. ?There is only so much I can say, but one thing I can say is that we had to literally quadruple our pace. We weren?t just fighting for the survival of the company. Suddenly everything was on the line: personal bankruptcy, reputation. It was incredibly stressful. But it is part of the narrative now. I don?t think we would be as ambitious were it not for that experience.? The Four Phases | Chris Hall's Tough Mudder Workout Prep Aware of the perennial need to innovate, Dean has in recent years added events like Mini-Mudder (for kids) and World?s Toughest Mudder (a 24-hour elite event). He has signed television deals with CBS and Sky Sports, and he is now launching Tough Mudder boot camps around the UK, offering high-intensity, 45-minute group workouts. ?There are a few things in society right now which are worrying,? he explains. ?Obesity and diabetes rates are up, loneliness is up, people spend more time on social media and less time with friends. It all comes back to our mission to grow a global tribe. The boot camps are the local community hub and the event is the pilgrimage when the tribe comes together. I don?t pretend we are curing cancer. But I do think in our own small way we are making the world a better place.? For event details, go to toughmudder.co.uk. Jeep has launched a limited edition Tough Mudder Renegade: jeep.co.uk/tough-mudder



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