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Nation & World Briefs


Friday, October 12, 2018
GOP, home to Trump and Tea Party, decries Dems’ mob rule

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are forecasting nightmarish Democratic “mob rule” to amp up GOP voters for next month’s critical midterm elections, flipping the script from complaints that it’s Trump and the Tea Party movement who’ve boosted rowdy and divisive tactics to dangerous levels.

Less than a month from voting in which GOP control of Congress is dangling precariously, Republicans are linking comments and actions by Democratic politicians, raucous protesters opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and even a gunman who shot targeted GOP lawmakers. The message to Republican voters: Democrats are employing radical tactics that are only growing worse.

It’s not unusual for Republicans and Democrats alike to sharpen their rhetoric as elections draw near in hopes of drawing loyal voters to the polls. But the GOP shift to disparaging descriptions of their opponents as unruly and sinister is a marked change from their messaging before the Kavanaugh battle, when they’d hoped to focus on the strong economy and the mammoth tax cut they pushed through Congress last December.

Both parties have detected a surge in engagement among GOP and conservative voters since the nation’s attention was grabbed by the confirmation battle over Kavanaugh, including allegations of sexual misconduct that he denied. While no one knows if that energy will last until Election Day, Democratic voters driven by an animus toward Trump until now were far more motivated.

Saudi crown prince’s carefully managed rise hides dark side

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In a kingdom once ruled by an ever-aging rotation of elderly monarchs, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands out as the youthful face of a youthful nation. But behind the carefully calibrated public-relations campaign pushing images of the smiling prince meeting with the world’s top leaders and business executives lurks a darker side.

Last year, at age 31, Mohammed became the kingdom’s crown prince, next in line to the throne now held by his octogenarian father, King Salman. While pushing for women to drive, he has overseen the arrest of women’s rights activists. While calling for foreign investment, he has imprisoned businessmen, royals and others in a crackdown on corruption that soon resembled a shakedown of the kingdom’s most powerful people.

As Saudi defense minister from the age of 29, he pursued a war in Yemen against Shiite rebels that began a month after he took the helm and wears on today.

What the crown prince chooses next likely will affect the world’s largest oil producer for decades to come. And as the disappearance and feared death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul may show, the young prince will brook no dissent in reshaping the kingdom in his image.

Facebook says it purged more than 800 spam accounts, pages

NEW YORK — Facebook said it has purged more than 800 U.S. pages and accounts for spamming users with politically-tinged garbage links and clickbait just weeks ahead of the U.S. midterm elections.

The banned accounts and Facebook sites exhibited “coordinated inauthentic behavior” such as working together to make the pages appear more popular than they actually are. This, Facebook said, was designed to mislead users about who they are and what they’re doing.

The social network said these accounts spread “sensational political content” designed to drive people to ad-laden websites outside Facebook. In the past, such spammers have often focused on celebrity gossip, weight loss remedies and fake iPhones.

Pages Facebook removed fell on both sides on the political spectrum, Facebook said, although it declined to say if there were more on the right or the left. The removed pages included the conservative “Nation in Distress” and the left-wing “Snowflakes,” among others with names such as “Reasonable People Unite,” “The Resistance” and “Right Wing News.”

Facebook said it doesn’t look at the content of the posts and photos that the accounts are spreading, but rather, the “behavior” of the pages — such as whether they are using fake accounts or sending spam — when deciding whether to remove them.

Swimmer Lochte counseled for alcohol use

Ryan Lochte is undergoing counseling for alcohol use, but the 12-time Olympic medalist is not in a treatment facility and is training in his bid to make the 2020 Tokyo Games, the swimmer’s lawyer said Thursday.

The decision to pursue counseling has nothing to do with incidents in California and Florida last week, attorney Jeff Ostrow told The Associated Press. Asked if Lochte plans to give up alcohol, he said, “Ryan will make that decision.”

Ostrow said the 34-year-old swimmer wants his family and fans to be proud of him, and he doesn’t want to repeat the “poor decisions” that have plagued him in recent years.

Growing up female, across the globe

CAIRO — As the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child, women’s rights activists point to progress on a wide array of issues but say more needs to be done to protect girls from child marriage, sexual assault and other forms of exploitation.

Experts say girls in their first decade are better positioned for success than their mothers and grandmothers were, thanks to advances in health care and nutrition, and wider access to education. But they say more must be done to keep adolescent and teenage girls in school, and to protect them from violence, unintended pregnancies and forced marriage, which remains common in much of the developing world.

“Poverty, violence, and cultural traditions oppress millions of girls in every part of the world,” said Stephanie Sinclair, a visual journalist who founded “Too Young To Wed,” which campaigns to protect girls’ rights and end child marriage, while offering services to survivors. “It is still a global struggle to have girls valued for more than their bodies — for just their sexuality, fertility and labor.”

The U.N. children’s agency says 12 million girls under the age of 18 will marry this year, and 21 million between the aged of 15 and 19 will get pregnant.

From Associated Press