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Former Kashmir chief minister released after 14-month detention



Mehbooba Mufti, 61, was detained following the government’s revocation of the region’s autonomy in August 2019.

A prominent Kashmiri politician detained by Indian authorities for nearly 14 months following the revocation of the region’s autonomy last year has been released, her daughter said.

Mehbooba Mufti, 61, a former chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir, was among several leaders arrested under the country’s Public Safety Act (PSA) after the federal government in August 2019 abrogated Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

“As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, I’d like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough times. I owe a debt of gratitude to you all,” her daughter wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Mufti’s release comes after her daughter Iltija Mufti filed a habeas corpus petition at the Supreme Court challenging her mother’s detention under the PSA.

The case is scheduled to come up for a hearing on Thursday.

“There is a sense of huge relief,” Iltija Mufti told NDTV when asked about relinquishing control of her mother’s social media account, “Twitter is a toxic place. Glad I will not be on it any more. My mother will finally use her own Twitter handle. It felt abnormal to use hers.”

“But a lot of young people are still languishing in jail. [The detention was a] complete travesty of justice [and] other families are still suffering,” she added.

Critics accuse the government of using the PSA – a law that allows detention without trial for up to two years – to crack down on dissidents, including activists who rallied against the stripping of the Muslim-majority region of its autonomy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said at the time that ending Kashmir’s special status was necessary for closer integration of the Muslim majority territory into the rest of India.

The government imposed a communication blackout with mobile phones, internet links and landlines down and detained scores of people including Mufti to prevent large-scale protests from erupting over the loss of autonomy for Indian-administered Kashmir.

Arrested alongside Mufti was former chief minister of the state Omar Abdullah as well as Ali Mohammad Sagar and Sartaj Madni, two regional party leaders.

Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah – also a former chief minister of the state – were released earlier this year.


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Gold rises on renewed US stimulus hope, while dollar falls



Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,910.56 an ounce at 3:37pm, New York time, after falling as much as 0.5 percent.

Gold rose on renewed optimism for a preelection aid package in the U.S., while the dollar fell to a one-week low.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a bill for a compromise stimulus package is being written as she awaits a key phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber would take up a comprehensive coronavirus package if an accord is struck. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index headed for the third straight decline.

Pelosi said in a Bloomberg Television interview that while there are areas where more work is required to get a compromise, she was pleased with the Trump administration’s latest position on coronavirus testing and tracing. The two sides are also “in range” on other health care provisions, she said.

“The market will no doubt follow the talks in Washington very closely,” Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said in a note. “Gold could profit in the event of a deal because the U.S. dollar would presumably be in less demand then and would probably depreciate.”

Spot gold rose 0.3% to $1,910.56 an ounce at 3:37 p.m. New York time after falling as much as 0.5%. Gold futures for December delivery on the Comex rose 0.2% to settle at $1,915.40.

The dollar index dropped as much as 0.4% to the lowest since Oct. 13.

Spot silver climbed 1.5%, while platinum and palladium gained.

The passing of Tuesday’s deadline may have a short-term impact on gold, but “overall the market looks a bit stale, with the outcome and the impact of the U.S. election being an even bigger headache,” according to Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S.

The price of the metal held in a narrow range this month amid the fraught Washington talks with investors waiting on the result of the election to provide direction. A Democrat victory should spur a rally for gold on bets for a larger stimulus for the economy, Phillip Futures Pte. said Tuesday in a note.

Talks between Britain and the European Union over a post-Brexit trade deal are mired in a stalemate after a call between the two sides’ chief negotiators concluded without a breakthrough.


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Renegade Sheriffs Say They Might Not Enforce Ban on Guns at Michigan Polling Places



Renegade Michigan sheriffs are saying they won’t enforce a ban on guns in polling stations, even after the feds busted an armed militia plot to kidnap the state’s Democratic governor.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued a directive last week banning open carry at the polls on Nov. 3 amid growing concerns about armed voter intimidation and in response to a foiled militia plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

But within days of Benson’s directive, gun rights groups and some right-wing sheriffs said it was unnecessary and that they would ensure safety at the polls in their own way. To them, the freedom to openly carry a firearm while voting holds symbolic, historical significance. To others, the presence of guns at polling stations are an uneasy and unnecessary addition that has the potential to thwart the democratic process. 

Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy put out a Facebook video where he said he wasn’t encouraging people to open carry, but if they did, he wasn’t going to arrest them unless they were actively involved in “voter intimidation.”

“As much as an Amendment guy as I am, as much as a freedom guy as I am, sometimes just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea,” Murphy said. “However, if you are gonna open carry, go in, get your ballot, fill in your bubbles, and get out and go home. Don’t make an issue of it. Just do your thing and get outta there.”

“I wouldn’t say I would or would not enforce [the directive],” Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich told VICE News. “If people are disorderly, they’re gonna be in trouble. I’ll ask them not to be. If people are disruptive to the voting process, same thing.”

At least three sheriffs including Murphy won’t commit to enforcing the directive, and they’re joined by a handful of local clerks in their opposition to the ban. One county GOP group called the directive “yet another brazenly unconstitutional overreach” from Democratic state leaders. The Michigan Association of Police Chiefs has also weighed in, saying that officers feel “uncomfortable trying to enforce something they clearly don’t have the authority to enforce.” 

Anticipating pushback from conservative counties, Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office would dispatch Michigan State Police to areas where officials suspected county sheriffs would not enforce the ban or other voter intimidation statutes. 

The sheriffs who voiced opposition to the ban are part of the growing, nationwide “Constitutional Sheriff” movement, which posits that the office of the sheriff has higher authority than state and federal office. In recent years, adherents of the movement have vowed not to enforce gun laws (which spurred the Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement), COVID-19 restrictions, and federal land use regulations. 

The movement has been criticized for espousing language and ideas that are closely related to the self-styled militia movement. 

The often cozy relationship between law enforcement and armed anti-government extremists has become increasingly scrutinized in recent months. Police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, thanked some armed, self-styled militiamen for being on the scene only hours before one of them shot and killed two protesters, and the police chief in Newport News, Virginia, gave chocolate milk and a PA system to an anti-government “Boogaloo Boi” who was staging a protest outside police headquarters. 

The relationship in Michigan was spotlighted when Sheriff Dar Leaf of Barry County made remarks that appeared to defend the men who were allegedly plotting to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. Leaf had also appeared alongside some of the men at an anti-lockdown rally at the Capitol in Lansing earlier this year.

“What concerns me… are the loose associations at all with law enforcement,” Michigan AG Nessel said in an interview with MSNBC after the kidnapping plot arrests last week. “I have a hard time as a law enforcement official seeing how any law enforcement officials could support these groups or want to intermingle with them or participate in events, but I’m telling you this is what we’ve actually seen.” 

In addition to the pushback from local law enforcement, Open Carry Michigan Inc., a gun rights advocacy organization, is preparing to sue the state. The group’s president, Joey Roberts, told VICE News that their board of directors voted this week to pursue litigation, but he was unable to give a timetable for when it would be filed.

Asked whether bringing a gun to the polls is really worth fighting for, Roberts replied, “We have a fundamental right to self-protection, and we don’t feel that simply going to the polls, you should have to give up that right to exercise another right.”

Michigan isn’t the only state where officials are on high alert for possible voter intimidation. Ten states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas), plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, have laws explicitly banning guns and other weapons from polling places. But intense polarization and a surge in paramilitary activity across the country has led to widespread concerns about possible violence on Election Day. Paranoia and conspiracies about “voter fraud” have recently rippled from the fringes into the mainstream.

During the Sept. 29 debate, President Donald Trump urged supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.” Since then, a network of his supporters dubbed “Trump’s Army” have pledged to station themselves at the polls. 

After Trump’s remarks, experts at Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection published a fact sheet on voter intimidation, state laws on guns at polling places, and laws about “unauthorized private militia groups.”


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How America could lose its allies



More than 70 years ago the United States redesigned what an alliance could be used for. For centuries, countries allied with each other in order to fight and win specific wars. But after the devastation of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, the US needed help preventing another from starting.

In the span of just a few years, it joined a collective alliance with 11 other countries, called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and signed several alliances with countries in Asia. These agreements obliged the US to protect these countries — but it also gave them an unprecedented number of partners around the world.

This system largely proved to be a success. A third world war never happened, and the US won the Cold War. But in the past decade, the US and its allies have been drifting apart, and many believe the system needs an update. The question is what to do about them.

Watch the video above to learn about the US alliance system and what the 2020 Presidential candidates plan to do about it.

This video is the sixth in our series on the 2020 election. We aren’t covering the horse race; instead, we want to explain the stakes of the election through the issues that matter the most to you. To do that, we want to know what you think the US presidential candidates should be talking about. Tell us here: http://vox.com/ElectionVideos.

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