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Paul Manafort To Be Sentenced On March 13th

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Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort will be sentenced for the first time on March 13, a federal judge in Washington who approved his guilty plea said Monday.

The court date sets up one of the highest anticipated bookends of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

RELATED: Judge considers gag order in Roger Stone case

Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were the targets of the first criminal indictment to come from Mueller’s unit in October 2017. Since then, Manafort has been the only defendant to go to trial — and was thought to be both a top target of the prosecutors and, later, potentially a star witness in the investigation. His case led prosecutors and the general public through months of unexpected developments during the probe, including, ultimately, the accusation that he had lied after agreeing to cooperate.

Those lies allegedly involved his attempts to cover up communications with a longtime Russian colleague and with Trump administration officials from 2016 on after Mueller asked about them late last year. Manafort says he did not intentionally lie during the interviews.He initially had been set to learn his first prison sentence this week, until his alleged lying derailed that plan.

At the March 13 hearing, Manafort will be sentenced on the two charges he pleaded guilty to — conspiracy and witness tampering — as part of his admission that he had orchestrated a vast lobbying and money laundering criminal scheme.

The judge overseeing his case, Amy Berman Jackson, is currently deciding whether Manafort breached his plea deal with the Special Counsel’s Office by allegedly lying to investigators during his cooperation interviews and grand jury testimony.

At a later date that isn’t yet set, Manafort will be sentenced by a separate federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia for eight financial crimes for which he was convicted at trial last summer.

It’s not yet known how much prison time in total Manafort will face or how much prosecutors will seek. His crimes combined could keep the 69-year-old Manafort in prison for well more than a decade.

He has been in jail since June 2018 following his witness tampering allegation.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/04/politics/paul-manafort-sentencing-schedule-russia-investigation/index.html

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Four U.S Troops Killed In Kabul Airport Attack

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4 U.S. soldiers have been killed and three others wounded in attacks on Kabul airport.

A U.S. official says several Marines were killed and a number of other American military were wounded Thursday in an attack on Kabul’s airport.

U.S. officials have said that information is still coming in and they are trying to determine exact numbers of casualties.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing military operations.

The Pentagon would not say what troops were involved but acknowledged that “a number of U.S. service members were killed.”

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Amazon’s palm print recognition raises concern among U.S. senators

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Three U.S. senators, including Democrat Amy Klobuchar who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, wrote a letter to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) to express concern about its palm print recognition system, Klobuchar’s office said Friday.

Amazon began rolling out biometric technology at its Whole Foods stores around Seattle in April, letting shoppers pay for items with a scan of their palm. The system, called Amazon One, lets customers link a credit card to their palm print.  read more 

Klobuchar, who was joined by Senators Bill Cassidy, a Republican, and Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, expressed concern in the letter dated Thursday about both privacy and competition related to Amazon One.

“Our concerns about user privacy are heightened by evidence that Amazon shared voice data with third-party contractors and allegations that Amazon has violated biometric privacy laws,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

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WHO seeks to take political heat out of virus origins debate

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The World Health Organization said on Friday it was setting up a new group to trace the origins of the coronavirus, seeking to end what it called “political point scoring” that had hampered investigations.

The inability of the WHO to say where and how the virus began spreading has fuelled tensions among its members, particularly between China, where COVID-19 cases were first identified in Wuhan in late 2019, and the United States.

The WHO called for all governments to cooperate to accelerate studies into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and “to depoliticise the situation”.

It specified that a new advisory group called the International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens would support “the rapid undertaking” of further studies.

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