Philippine President Duterte Fears CIA Assassination, Blames U.S. for ISIS Presence

In the wake of a recent Daesh (ISIS) attack that claimed one of his country’s cities, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed concern that the U.S. may be seeking to destabilize the country, even suggesting that the U.S. could attempt to assassinate him. This comes ahead of the Philippines attempting to stray away from US influence.
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Theresa May Pushing For UK Intervention in Syria Following Manchester Attack

The UK is ramping up its military preparedness following the deadly Manchester bombing earlier this week. The actions being taken by the country’s government, coupled with sensational media coverage of the attack and the deployment of 5,000 troops to the streets of Britain, indicate that the UK may be gearing up for war beyond its borders. Continue reading

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Mt. reporter: I was vertical one moment, horizontal the next

The reporter who says he was body-slammed by a Montana congressional candidate described the sudden confrontation on Thursday: “I went from being vertical one moment to being horizontal the next.”

Greg Gianforte, a Republican running in a special election Thursday for an open House seat, was charged overnight with misdemeanor assault after the altercation with Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian who had asked him a question about health care.

Jacobs told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he “never touched or came close to Gianforte.”

“It became, you know, something that turned on a dime into sort of the type of brief encounter I never expected to have with a politician, and one that’s very disappointing for what it means for the press,” Jacobs said.

The Gianforte campaign blamed Jacobs for “aggressive behavior.” But an audio file provided by Jacobs backs up his account of what happened, as do witness accounts from other journalists.

A Fox News team said they saw Gianforte grab Jacobs “by the neck with both hands” and slam him into the ground.

They said they “watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.”

Jacobs didn’t say whether he was punched when asked on “GMA” about that account. But he said he “was on the ground at the point, so it was a little bit sudden.”

Alexis Levinson, a reporter for BuzzFeed who said she had a partial view of the altercation, told CNN’s “New Day” that she saw “feet fly in the air” from a nearby office.

“The door to the room was about half open, so I couldn’t see the whole thing,” she said. “I heard the crash. I saw his feet fly in a way that someone’s feet can fly only when they’re ending up on the ground.”

Gianforte is the running for the House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, who was named President Trump’s interior secretary.

Montana newspapers pull support after alleged assault

Three Montana newspapers have abruptly yanked their support for Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte over allegations he assaulted a reporter.

Gianforte is facing a misdemeanor assault charge after he allegedly body slammed a reporter for the Guardian on Wednesday night. Montana’s special House election takes place Thursday.

During the day on Wednesday, Gianforte took to Twitter to celebrate his endorsements from the Missoulian, the Billings Gazette and the Independent Record.

But by early Thursday, the papers had all switched to a very different message: Gianforte is not the person they want representing Montana in Congress.

Missoulian: ‘He lacks the experience, brains and abilities’

Less than two weeks ago, Montana’s Missoulian newspaper endorsed Gianforte, saying he “has the education, experience, brains and abilities to be successful in Congress.”

But the paper did a 180 after his altercation with Jacobs.

“He showed Wednesday night that he lacks the experience, brains and abilities to effectively represent Montana in any elected office,” the paper said in an editorial.

“There is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives,” it said.

Billings Gazette: ‘We simply cannot trust him’

The editorial board of the Billings Gazette had some doubts but decided to support Gianforte just days before the election.

“While we have serious concerns about many of Gianforte’s positions on important topics like healthcare, education, and guns, we believe he is the best candidate in the race to represent Montana’s interests in Congress,” it said.

That changed Wednesday night.

“We’re at a loss for words,” the Gazette said in an editorial condemning the candidate’s actions.

“We believe that you cannot love America, love the Constitution, talk about the importance of a free press and then pummel a reporter,” the editorial board said.

Independent Record: ‘We cannot condone that kind of violence’

The Independent Record endorsed Gianforte earlier this month, saying he was the “best” of the candidates under consideration “even though we are not 100 percent supportive of his views.”

“We believe Gianforte’s ideology most closely matches the views of the majority of Montanans,” it said.

But the newspaper withdrew its cautious support for him on Wednesday night, replacing it with sharp criticism.

“Democracy cannot exist without a free press, and both concepts are under attack” by Gianforte, the paper warned.

“We are also sick and tired — of Gianforte’s incessant attacks on the free press,” it continued. “In the past, he has encouraged his supporters to boycott certain newspapers, singled out a reporter in a room to point out that he was outnumbered, and even made a joke out of the notion of choking a news writer, and these are not things we can continue to brush off.”

CNN has reached to Gianforte’s campaign for comment on the newspapers’ latest comments about him.

As of early Thursday morning, the endorsements from the three papers were still posted on his campaign’s website.

British police, army respond to Manchester alert

The Latest on the investigation into the Manchester concert bombing. (all times local):

11:05 p.m.

British police say officers and the army are responding to an incident at a college in Trafford, a district near Manchester.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed reports that an army bomb disposal team was at the scene Thursday. The force said it was too early to say whether the alert is linked to its investigation into the Manchester bomb attack.

It said several roads were closed and officers were “currently assessing the situation.”

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10:30 a.m.

Police arrested two more people and were on Thursday searching a new site in Manchester suspected of links to the bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert, as British authorities complained bitterly about investigation leaks by U.S. officials.

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to raise the issue of the leaks with President Donald Trump in Brussels later. British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb used in the attack were published in the New York Times.

British security and law enforcement officials were reviewing whether other sensitive information involving the investigation should be shared, according to one official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.

The official added that the intelligence sharing agreement between Britain and the United States is built on trust and that leaks jeopardize active investigations.

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9:30 a.m.

Greater Manchester Police have released a statement condemning U.S. intelligence leaks on the Manchester bombing on behalf of the National Counter-Terrorism Policing units. The note suggested a severe rupture in trust between Britain and the United States, who have traditionally shared intelligence at the highest levels.

“When the trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their family,” the group said.

“This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”

Police and security services are also upset that the name of bomber Salman Abedi was apparently leaked by U.S. officials and published while police in Britain were withholding the name for what they said were reasons of operational security.

When the name of the bomber was allegedly released by U.S. officials, raids were underway both in Manchester and in Libya where the bomber’s father lives.

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8 a.m.

British police are rushing to uncover the network thought to have helped Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi in the attack on the Ariana Grande concert.

Greater Manchester Police say two men were arrested overnight Thursday in Manchester and in the Withington area south of the city. Officers also raided a property in the city’s Moss Side neighborhood early Thursday and carried out a controlled explosion.

Eight men have now been detained in Britain connection with Monday’s attack. Those include Abedi’s brother Ismail, his father Ramadan Abedi told The Associated Press. A woman was arrested late Wednesday but was later released without charge.

The senior Abedi denied that his son Salman had links to militants, telling the AP in an interview “we don’t believe in killing innocents” before being taken into custody in Libya, along with another son, Hashim.

Abedi died in Monday’s blast the Grande concert. Grande has cancelled concerts scheduled for Thursday and Friday in London, and in several other sites in Europe.

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Dodds and Katz reported from London.

Landslide piles onto California’s infrastructure woes

It’s been a brutal year so far for California’s infrastructure.

Swinging from a five-year drought to massive rainfall has pummeled the state’s structures and roads. Damage to the state highway system is estimated to exceed $1 billion, according to the California Department of Transportation’s estimates.

Here’s what lies in ruins: portions of Pacific Coast Highway buried under landslides, a disintegrated spillway and a cracked bridge.

Mud Creek landslide- Pacific Coast Highway

Repair cost: Unknown

A monster of a landslide buried a quarter-mile section of the scenic coastal highway in California’s Big Sur region.

More than a million tons of rock and dirt fell Saturday onto the Pacific Coast Highway, the main artery running through Big Sur. The section is about 60 miles south of Monterey.

The Mud Creek landslide covered the road, also known as State Route 1, in a 35-40 feet deep layer of dirt for about 1,500 feet. There were no injuries as the highway had been closed at that spot — almost continuously since January — because of landslides caused by unusually heavy rainfall.

The latest slide is the largest by far, and authorities said they don’t know when it can be cleared.

Caltrans listed at least 10 landslide sites in need of repair on State Route 1 in Monterey County with estimates reaching $55 million. This sum excludes the latest landslide.

Oroville Dam

Repair cost: more than $274 million

Under heavy rainfall, the primary spillway that handles the overflow at the Oroville Dam eroded and formed a hole almost the size of a football field.

As the damaged spillway along with the backup channel struggled to handle the influx of water earlier this year, authorities feared that Lake Oroville was on the verge of overflow, threatening communities downstream. About 188,000 residents of Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties were evacuated in February. They returned to their homes four days later.

The concrete primary spillway remains splintered as crews have begun repairs.

California is borrowing up to $500 million to pay for repairs. The state hasn’t given an estimate for how much the project will cost, according to Capital Public Radio. In April, the Trump administration approved $274 million in federal funding for repairs.

Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge

Cost: estimated $26.5 million

The bridge cracked after heavy rains caused a landslide that damaged one of its main support columns.

After closing the bridge in February, crews demolished the structure to make room for a new steel plate girder bridge. The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge connects drivers to Big Sur, and serves a popular tourist route on Pacific Coast Highway.

Caltrans estimates that the new bridge will be ready in September.