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3 bin Laden family members among 4 dead in UK crash
Plane crashes at auto festival in UK
Police in Cheshire, England, said they are responding to reports of a plane crash at CarFest, a car and music festival.
Possible MH370 debris now at lab
Debris believed to be from a Boeing 777 arrived in France on Saturday, where investigators will use sophisticated technology to determine whether it's linked to the long-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
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Kerry: Malaysian efforts to address trafficking must ‘redouble’
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman during the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting at Myanmar International Convention Centre in Naypyitaw on August 9, 2014. Malaysia, among other countries in the area, has been highlighted as a hot spot for human trafficking. Photo by Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry will push Malaysia to redouble its efforts against human trafficking during an upcoming visit for regional security talks, a senior State Department official said Friday.
Kerry’s visit, starting Wednesday, comes a week after the department faced a storm of protest for lifting Malaysia off its trafficking blacklist. U.S. lawmakers and human rights activists say the decision was intended to smooth the way for a trade agreement among 12 Pacific rim nations, including Malaysia.
The official said Malaysia needs to do much more, expanding prosecutions and meeting standards laid out in U.S. anti-trafficking legislation. The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the department.
Like neighboring Thailand, Malaysia has faced international criticism over its treatment of millions of migrants from poorer countries, and over the plight of stateless Rohingya Muslims trafficked from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard overcrowded boats. Dozens of graves as well as pens likely used as cages for Rohingya have been found in abandoned jungle camps on both sides of the Thai-Malaysian border.
Kerry is visiting Malaysia for annual security talks between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its international partners. Those talks are expected to focus on China’s island-building in the disputed South China Sea, which has rattled China’s neighbors and strained relations between Washington and Beijing.
Kerry, who starts his travels in the Mideast, will also visit Singapore and Vietnam.
The U.S. official said Kerry, while in Malaysia, will steer clear of the domestic political scandal that has embroiled Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is facing allegations that some $700 million from a state investment fund went into his personal bank accounts. He says he has never used state money for personal gain.
Najib recently fired the attorney general who had been investigating him and a deputy who has been among his most prominent critics.
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Once in a blue moon: See photos of Friday’s lunar rarity around the world
A blue moon, which refers to the second of two full moons appearing in the same calendar month, was seen Friday night for the first time since 2012.
While most years have 12 full moons, this year has 13. Don’t let the name fool you, though. Most blue moons are pale gray, resembling a moon on any other night, but on truly rare occasions blue-colored moons can appear, usually after volcanic eruptions.
The phenomenon happens every two years on average, according to NASA, and the next one isn’t due until 2018. Here are photos of the lunar event from around the world.
The Blue Moon is seen next to the Statue of Liberty in New York July 31, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.
A cyclist rides his mountain bike as the Blue Moon, rises in a park in Rome, Italy, July 31, 2015. Photo by Max Rossi/Reuters.
The Blue Moon is seen over Loosely Row, near Princes Risborough, southeast England, July 31, 2015. Photo by Eddie Keogh/Reuters.
The blue moon rises over people gathered on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.
The Eurotunnel terminal is illuminated by the blue moon on July 31, 2015 in Folkestone, England. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.
The post Once in a blue moon: See photos of Friday’s lunar rarity around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Just 60 donors gave one-third of all money raised so far for 2016
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 23, 2015. New York hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer gave $11 million to a group backing Cruz’s bid for the White House, one example of donations of a million dollars or more that accounts for about one-third of the money raised for the 2016 cycle. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters
WASHINGTON — It took Ted Cruz three months to raise $10 million for his campaign for president, a springtime sprint of $1,000-per-plate dinners, hundreds of handshakes and a stream of emails asking supporters to chip in a few bucks.
One check, from one donor, topped those results.
New York hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer’s $11 million gift to a group backing the Texas Republican’s White House bid put him atop a tiny group of millionaires and billionaires whose contributions already dwarf those made by the tens of thousands of people who have given to their favorite presidential candidate.
An Associated Press analysis of fundraising reports filed with federal regulators through Friday found that nearly 60 donations of a million dollars or more accounted for about a third of the more than $380 million brought in so far for the 2016 presidential election. Donors who gave at least $100,000 account for about half of all donations so far to candidates’ presidential committees and the super PACs that support them.
The review covered contributions to outside groups that can accept checks of any size, known as super PACs, and to the formal campaigns, which are limited to accepting no more than $2,700 per donor. The tally includes donations from individuals, corporations and other organizations reflected in data filed with the Federal Election Commission as of Friday, the deadline for super PACs to report for the first six months of the year.
That concentration of money from a small group of wealthy donors builds on a trend that began in 2012, the first presidential contest after a series of court rulings and regulatory steps that created the super PAC. They can openly support candidates but may not directly coordinate their actions with their campaigns.
“We have never seen an election like this, in which the wealthiest people in America are dominating the financing of the presidential election and as a consequence are creating enormous debts and obligations from the candidates who are receiving this financial support,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington-based group that wants to limit money in politics.
Others see an upside to the rainmakers.
“Big money gives us more competitive elections by helping many more candidates spread their message,” said David Keating, director of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for fewer campaign finance limits.
For any number of reasons, these donors are willing to give so generously. Some may have a business that stands to gain from an executive branch that changes how an industry is regulated, while others hope for plum administration assignments, such as a diplomatic post overseas or a cabinet position.
Many say their contributions, which the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized as equivalent to free speech, merely reflect their intense belief in a particular candidate – and in the political system in general.
“I’d think that the fact that I’m willing to spend money in the public square rather than buying myself a toy would be considered a good thing,” said Scott Banister, a Silicon Valley investor who gave $1.2 million to a super PAC helping Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in the Republican presidential race.
“The voters still, at the end of the day, make the decision,” he said. “You can spend $1 billion trying to tell the voters to vote for a set of ideas they don’t like, and they will still vote against the candidate.”
For Florida developer Al Hoffman, financial support of the state’s former governor, Jeb Bush, is personal. A longtime friend and political contributor to the Bush family, he gave $1 million to Bush’s super PAC, contributing to its record-setting haul of $103 million in the first six months of the year.
Hoffman was ambassador to Portugal during former President George W. Bush’s second term. He said he sometimes offered Bush advice during his time as Florida’s governor, but doesn’t expect to influence a Jeb Bush administration. “I’d just like to see one,” he said.
While the existence of high-dollar donors is more pronounced on the Republican side, they’re also among those giving to the super PAC backing Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Seven donors of at least a million dollars accounted for almost half of the total collected by Priorities USA Action. Entertainment mogul Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, led with a $2 million gift, and hedge-fund billionaire George Soros, historically one of the Democratic Party’s biggest givers, donated $1 million.
But no one has capitalized on the new era of big money like Bush. After announcing plans to explore a presidential run in December, Bush embarked on a nearly seven-day-a-week travel schedule to raise money for his Right to Rise super PAC.
Bush navigated limits on how candidates can raise money for super PACs by playing coy about his intentions. Now that he is officially a candidate, he has left Right to Rise in the hands of his trusted strategist and friend, Mike Murphy.
He’s not alone in the use of super PACs to fuel a presidential run.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are too new to the presidential contest, announcing only weeks ago, to have filed any reports about their campaigns’ finances. Yet super PACs that sprang up months ago to support them show their efforts will be financially viable: A group backing Christie raised $11 million, while two supporting Walker brought in $26 million.
Such totals put them well ahead of Paul, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum – who all began their presidential campaigns in the spring.
Cruz’s super PACs, meanwhile, didn’t just get the $11 million from Mercer. They also received a $10 million donation from Toby Neugebauer, an energy investor in Texas, while the Texas-based Wilks family pooled together a $15 million gift.
Super PACs will spend as campaigns do, investing in polling and data sets, hiring employees in key states and buying pricey television and digital advertising, direct mailings and phone calls to voters. Their money will be important in early primary states, but also would allow those with deep-pocket backers to campaign beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.
“There are a handful of billionaires that are making viable individuals whose campaigns never would have gotten off the ground,” said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, which wants to tighten limits on money in politics. “Some of these candidates will go much deeper into the primaries than they otherwise could, thanks only to this kind of money.”
This report was written by Julie Bykowicz and Jack Gillum of the Associated Press
Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver and Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
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