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For the Trump administration, appointing board members may be an effective and little-noticed means of weakening a federal apparatus it fundamentally distrusts. His board appointments, many of which may outlast his presidency, could serve an internal Republican resistance to a future Democratic administration.
A woman awaiting trial for allegedly killing a former Arkansas state senator was hit with new charges Tuesday after she promised fellow inmates she would give them “gold and silver” to murder the victim’s ex-husband and his new wife, prosecutors said. Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, who pleaded not guilty to several charges in the June murder of former State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, was slapped with two counts of soliciting to commit murder and two counts of solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence in connection with the elaborate plot she allegedly tried to orchestrate from prison.The former campaign staffer for Collins-Smith has been behind bars since June 14—10 days after the 57-year-old Republican was found fatally stabbed and wrapped in a blanket under a tarp at the end of her Pocahontas, Arkansas, driveway. Former Arkansas State Senator’s Shooting Death Investigated as ‘Homicide’Authorities at the time said O’Donnell was caught on video removing Collins-Smith’s home surveillance cameras on May 28, 2019—the last day the politician was seen alive—but have not elaborated on the details of the murder due to a gag order. O’Donnell, 49, faces the death penalty on the original murder charges and is being held without bond in Jackson County. “These newest charges further cement in our minds that the police have arrested the right person. Rebecca O’Donnell’s threats are being treated very seriously but have not deterred our faith in what we are committed to: justice for Linda,” the family of Collins-Smith said in a Wednesday statement to The Daily Beast. “Thank you all for your continued support, prayers and well wishes.”According to several jailhouse informants, O’Donnell allegedly tried to hire two fellow inmates to stage a murder-suicide at the home of the lawmaker’s ex, former state Judge Phil Smith, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the Jackson County Circuit Court on Tuesday. During a Nov. 7 interview, one of the inmates told an Arkansas State Police special agent that O’Donnell wanted her to “shoot or hang Mr. Smith” and include a “suicide note” that the 49-year-old had handwritten, the affidavit states. The same inmate was then told to pack a bag to make it seem like his new wife “was in the process of leaving him,” the affidavit states.Prosecutors allege O’Donnell told other inmates that “Phil Smith needed to be killed” so that “charges would be dropped off her.” In exchange for the hits, the inmates were told they could take a bag of “gold and silver” from Smith’s home—which investigators said had been appraised to be worth between $20,000 and $30,000 during his divorce.O’Donnell, in addition to working on Collins-Smith’s campaign, had served as a witness in the couple’s acrimonious divorce, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.They Were Hired to Murder a Man’s Ex-Wife, But Accidentally Killed Her Sister: SheriffThe former campaign staffer also allegedly tried to enlist the inmates to go to Randolph County Jail to blow up her 2005 Honda Civic so she could “destroy any evidence” that could be used in her murder trial because “police had planted stuff in her truck,” the affidavit states. On top of that, she allegedly asked two inmates to kill a judge and prosecutor connected to her murder case.The prosecutor, Henry Boyce, was taken off the case in December without citing a reason. “My family’s faith in Becky is unwavering. We cannot imagine the evidence will actually substantiate these allegations. The allegations defy believability. I won’t even comment on the informant’s extensive criminal history but instead will wait to see if the state produces credible evidence at trial,” Tim Loggains, O’Donnell’s fiancé, said a statement. One inmate told police that while she never considered killing Smith, she was worried “a more gullible” inmate might. The three other inmates who reported O’Donnell also stated they refused the murder requests.Maryland Millionaire Daniel Beckwitt Found Guilty of Murder in 2017 Death of Man Who Helped Dig Bunker TunnelsO’Donnell’s defense attorney, Lee Short, denied the allegations in a statement to ABC News, casting doubt on the inmates’ credibility, insisting they had an incentive to offer information for a reduced punishment. Short did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.“It’s not surprising at all—inmates do it all the time,” Short said. “In high-profile cases, especially homicides, people tend to seek opportunities to improve their situations by giving statements against people.”Collins-Smith was first elected to the state senate in 2014 but lost her re-election bid in 2018. Prior to her time in the Senate, the lawmaker served in the statehouse of representatives from 2011 to 2013. While she was elected as a Democrat, Collins-Smith switched parties just months after taking office, citing a change in “ideals.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Guatemalan police accompanied by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents swept up the majority of a group of some 300 migrants Thursday, loaded them on buses and took them back to the Honduran border, effectively dashing their plans to travel together in a “caravan” with hopes of reaching the United States. Praying and singing songs, the group of 300 migrants — adults, teens and young children — had set out from a shelter in Entre Rios under rainy skies before dawn and walked about six hours before stopping in the town of Morales to eat and rest. There they were challenged by police who asked for their entry documents, and nearly all had crossed into Guatemala irregularly and didn’t have such documentation.
People in a number of countries, mostly in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, will see their incomes stagnate or decline this year, the United Nations said on Thursday. A decade after the financial crisis, the global economy remains sluggish, and trade and geopolitical tensions could further derail recovery, the U.N. said. The world economy expanded by just 2.3% last year, its slowest pace in a decade, and could grow by 2.5% in 2020 if downside risks are kept at bay, it said in a report.
(Bloomberg) -- The violent protests and political upheaval that marked 2019 and challenged governments from Hong Kong to Chile is set to stay and is now the “new normal,” according to a global risk firm.Verisk Maplecroft, which advises corporate clients on political risk around the world, said in a new report released Thursday that it predicts “continued turmoil in 2020” as administrations around the world continue to be surprised by demonstrators and ill-prepared to address the underlying social grievances that spur them.“We all need to buckle up for 2020,” said Miha Hribernik, the Singapore-based head of Asia risk insight for Verisk Maplecroft. “The rage that caught many governments off-guard last year isn’t going anywhere and we’d all better adapt.”Many governments were caught by surprise by the scale and ferocity of the protests and ended up attempting to crackdown on the movements, deploying what human rights group have said were arbitrary arrests and indiscriminate violence. That response has ended up further radicalizing protesters and provoking more violent demonstrations, Verisk Maplecroft said in its Political Risk Outlook 2020.Rising UnrestOf the countries seeing significantly more angry protests than usual, some of the steepest increases on firm’s unrest index were in Chile and Hong Kong. Chile rose from 91st place to 6th on the index as simmering social strife transformed Latin America’s richest and most stable nation into a focal point of chaotic protests that caused some $2 billion of property damages and killed more than two dozen people.Hong Kong similarly rose from 117th to 26th after seven months of pro-democracy street protests, the firm said. Although prompted by a since-withdrawn bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, Verisk Maplecroft added that the “root cause of discontent has been the rollback of civil and political rights since 1997.”India and Iraq, which have both seen determined protests recently, ranked much lower on the list of worsening hot spots because they began last year with heightened levels of unrest. In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi now faces the most significant challenge to his rule since being first being elected in 2014, as protesters take to the streets criticizing his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party for its anti-Muslim policies.Many governments have “reacted with a combination of repression and limited concessions” which achieved little because resilient protest movements have adapted rapidly to police tactics, Hribernik said.“During 2019, governments worldwidescrambled to find an effective response to protests,” he said. “We don’t see much changing during 2020, and January has so far borne this out -- protesters have continued to turn out in their thousands in Iran, Iraq, India, Chile, Hong Kong and Lebanon -- to name just a few places.”To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at email@example.com;Hannah Dormido in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at email@example.com, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
It's unclear whether they'll throw the cases out.
Hearings into whether a Huawei executive can be extradited to the United States will begin on January 20 in Vancouver, in a case with potential repercussions for ties between the US, China and Canada. Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained in the Canadian city on a US warrant in late 2018. Founded by former People's Liberation Army (PLA) engineer Ren in 1987, Huawei has grown into one of the world's biggest technology firms.
The Navy previously confirmed it was treating objects that baffled pilots in Department of Defense videos as UFOs.
If you blink you might miss it
Donald Trump threatened the UK with a 25 per cent tariff on its cars unless the British government officially accused Iran of breaking the 2015 nuclear deal, it has been reported.The secret threat last week, first reported by The Washington Post, which cited unnamed European officials, would have seen the tariff imposed on all European automobile imports to the US unless Britain, France and Germany agreed to the ultimatum.