Survivors Of Manchester Attack Speak Out

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October 20, 2017

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Ring Purchased At Garage Sale May Be Worth Almost Half A Million Dollars

Shopping at garage sales can be hit or miss, but one lucky customer is cashing in on a major find. 

Sotheby?s will auction off a sparkly cocktail ring a woman bought at a car boot sale in 1980s England next month with a starting bid of £250,000 (roughly $325,000). She had thought for decades that it was costume jewelry and wore it without a care in the world, revealed the owner, who declined to be named publicly, the auction house said this week.

The woman had purchased the piece for £10 at a garage sale at West Middlesex University Hospital in Isleworth in west London, according to Sotheby?s. She decided in recent months to have the ring appraised after a jeweler said the stone could be real. 

Sotheby?s Jewelry in London confirmed the stone?s authenticity ? a 19th century 26.27-carat, cushion-shaped white diamond. The auction house added that the stone has a color grade of I and an impressive clarity grade of VVS2. The ring could go for as much as £350,000 (about $450,000).

?We confirmed that it was indeed a diamond. We got it tested with the Gemological Institute of America … and that then dictated the price,? said Sotheby?s Jessica Wyndham, who heads the auction house?s jewelry department.

In the interview in the video above, Wyndham added that it was understandable the owner did not know the ring held a real diamond. 

?It was in an antique style mount, so it was quite heavy,? she said. ?It is mounted in silver around the top and when silver becomes tarnished it becomes quite black. And that mixed with the cut of the stone probably would have meant that it didn?t sparkle very much, and if it was all dirty, you just wouldn?t think that was real.?

The ring will hit auction on June 7.

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October 17, 2017

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Suspected Drunk Driver Crashes Car Into Sheriff’s New Anti-DUI Vehicle

He got the message, but apparently only once it was too late.

Police in northwest Florida say they charged a man with Driving Under the Influence after he crashed his car into a sheriff?s office vehicle that was being used to warn motorists against drink driving.

Citrus County Sheriff?s Office said Paul Wilkins, 63, struck the cones at a traffic control point in Crystal River at 10 p.m. Saturday night.

He then slammed his car into a patrol car, pushing it 30 feet into another cruiser which was emblazoned with the slogan ?a cop or a cab, you decide? ? the rear of which was made to look like a taxi.

?The irony!? the office wrote on Facebook.

Florida Highway Patrol officers arrested Wilkins. Deputies later transported him in the same anti-DUI vehicle to Citrus County Detention Facility.

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October 16, 2017

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Trump Reportedly Asked Intel Chiefs To Publicly Deny Russia Ties

Another account of President Donald Trump attempting to push back on the investigation of his campaign?s ties to the Russian government emerged Monday evening, as The Washington Post reported that the president asked two top intelligence officials to deny any evidence of collusion. 

According to the report, Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to publicly deny that there is any evidence of connections between Trump?s team and Russia. Those requests reportedly came in late March, after then-FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his bureau was looking into the Trump campaign?s ties to Russia.

Coats and Rogers reportedly rejected the requests.

The Post also said that White House officials sought to influence Comey directly:

In addition to the requests to Coats and Rogers, senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump?s former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials said the White House appeared uncertain about its power to influence the FBI.

?Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?? one official said of the line of questioning from the White House.

?The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals,? a White House spokesperson said in a statement emailed to HuffPost in response to the Post article. ?The president will continue to focus on his agenda that he was elected to pursue by the American people.?

Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the report raised ?troubling? possibilities:

The Post?s article is the latest in a series of revelations indicating that Trump and his associates have sought to intervene in the FBI?s Russia probe. 

The cascade of news began May 9, when Trump fired Comey, at first citing his conduct during the investigation of Hillary Clinton?s private email server. Trump later said he considered the Russia investigation while weighing Comey?s future at the Justice Department. 

One week later, multiple news outlets reported that Trump had asked Comey during a private meeting on Feb. 14 to stop the investigation of Flynn, whom Trump had fired the day before.

?I hope you can let this go,? the president said to Comey, according to notes Comey reportedly wrote soon after the meeting.

That revelation sparked concern on both sides of the aisle, and some Democrats raised the possibility that the president?s request could constitute obstruction of justice.  

On Thursday, the Justice Department announced it was appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. Trump attacked the appointment on Twitter, calling the investigation ?the single greatest witch hunt? in U.S. political history. 

And on Friday, the The New York Times reported that Trump had described Comey as a ?nut job? to Russian officials visiting the White House earlier this month, telling them that firing the FBI director eased ?great pressure? on the Russia investigation.

The same day, The Washington Post reported that the FBI is also investigating a current White House official in connection with the Russia probe, in addition to several former campaign officials.

Amid all this, Trump and the White House have denied any wrongdoing and have argued the investigation is detrimental to the country.

?I believe it hurts our country terribly because it shows we?re a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country,? Trump said Thursday. ?And we have very important things to be doing right now, whether it?s trade deals, whether it?s military, whether it?s stopping nuclear ? all of the things that we discussed today. And I think this shows a very divided country.?

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October 10, 2017

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Nicki Minaj Has Been Donating Money To An Indian Village For Years

Earlier this month, a generous-feeling Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to say that she wanted to help some hardworking students pay off their tuition bills.

Minaj ended up not only making good on her promise, but also later announcing that she had decided to create an ?official charity? to help other deserving college students pay off their loans. 

Perhaps hoping to keep the momentum going, the hip-hop superstar revealed another bit of her charitable side over the weekend. In two Instagram posts, Minaj said that she?s been giving money to Pastor Lydia Sloley for years to help pay for a computer center, a reading program, a tailoring institute and two water wells in a small village in India.

?I?m so proud of our sisters in India,? she wrote alongside one image. ?God is so good. Their desire was to have water wells & places where they can worship, places where they can learn technology, computers, reading, etc. We?re just getting started. These women are us and we are them!?

In a video accompanying one of the two posts, a man can be heard thanking Pastor Sloley for the funding she provided (with Minaj?s help) to build the water well. The pastor has created partnerships with two churches in India, hoping she ?empowers women to start their own businesses,? according to her website.

?This is the kind of thing that makes me feel the most proud,? wrote Minaj.

She then added, ?We complain about the most ridiculous little things when some [people] don?t even have clean water. Blessings to India. Our work is far from done.?

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October 6, 2017

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Neil Gorsuch Shows His Hand On Money In Politics As Court Turns Down Big Case

WASHINGTON ? Newly minted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch showed his hand Monday on where he will likely stand on cases that would increase the amount of power held by large political donors.

As the Supreme Court declined to hear a major campaign finance case that could have led to the lifting of campaign contribution limits to political parties, Gorsuch joined Justice Clarence Thomas in an unwritten dissent. That means Gorsuch and Thomas wanted the court to hear the case, and likely wanted to vote to overturn yet another limit on big money in politics.

The case, Republican Party of Louisiana v. Federal Election Commission, challenged contribution limits placed on state-level political parties by the 2002 McCain-Feingold reform law. These are the limits on ?soft money,? unlimited contributions to the parties for supposedly non-electoral activities, imposed in the wake of scandals related to both how the money was raised and how it was spent.

Gorsuch?s decision to join Thomas, a noted opponent of campaign finance restriction with a written record opposed to all campaign contribution limits and some disclosure rules, suggests that he, too, will be an outspoken critic of restrictions on money in politics.

During his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch refused to answer questions about his views on this subject ? as he did with nearly every other topic presented to him.

Rick Hasen, election law professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote of Gorsuch?s dissenting vote: ?He was not shy at all ? not only about being willing to wade into this very controversial area, but about announcing publicly his vote to hear the case (something he did not need to do). It could well be that he will be as conservative as Justice Thomas is in these cases.?

The conservative Supreme Court majority that came into being after Justice Sandra Day O?Connor retired from the bench has struck down numerous campaign money limitations. It struck down a key pillar of the McCain-Feingold law in its 2010 Citizens United decision by allowing independent spending by corporations and unions. In the 2014 McCutcheon case, the conservative majority killed limits on the aggregate amount a single donor can give in a two-year election cycle.

In McCutcheon, Chief Justice John Roberts hinted that he might want to reconsider the court?s ruling upholding the McCain-Feingold soft money restrictions. Roberts wrote that the ?gratitude? members of a party may feel toward donors to their particular political party ?stems from the basic nature of the party system.? Roberts then cast doubt that these contributions could be viewed as an opportunity for ?quid pro quo corruption,? the only justification the conservative majority allows for restrictions on campaign money.

This was the third time conservative lawyer Jim Bopp has brought a challenge to the McCain-Feingold ?soft money? ban to the Supreme Court. In his first attempt, the court declined to take the case, although three justices dissented. The parties involved in the second challenge dropped their case before the court could decide whether to take it up.

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October 3, 2017

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