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Trump team makes suspicious effort to swing the election with purported Hunter Biden emails

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It’s October in a year when President Donald Trump is running for reelection — and, as if on cue, the mysteriously obtained private emails of someone close to his opponent have been leaked.

The leaker in this case is President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who provided a copy of a hard drive that contains photos and purported emails of Joe Biden’s son Hunter to the New York Post.

It’s not clear whether the supposed emails, which involve Hunter and the Ukrainian gas company he worked for, Burisma, are authentic. What’s even less clear is how they ended up making their way to Giuliani — and whether illegality or foreign interference might have been involved. During the 2016 campaign, Russian intelligence officers hacked Democrats’ emails and provided them to WikiLeaks, and the release of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails occurred in the final weeks before Election Day.

But Hunter Biden has long been central to Trump’s reelection strategy. In fact, Trump was impeached last year due to his and Giuliani’s efforts to drum up a scandal related to the Bidens and Burisma. So now, less than three weeks before the election and with Trump trailing in polls, Giuliani appears to be picking up where he left off.

The story of where this hard drive came from is extremely strange

Considering what happened in 2016, one question that has naturally arisen here is: Was Hunter Biden’s information hacked or stolen and then provided to Giuliani?

The New York Post tells a convoluted story to explain how Giuliani got the emails — a story that raises far more questions than it answers.

It all started, according to the Post, in April 2019, when an unidentified man went to a computer repair shop, to drop off a water-damaged laptop with a “Beau Biden Foundation” sticker (a charitable foundation started in memory of Hunter’s late brother).

The shop owner (who was interviewed by the Post as an anonymous source) claims the man never returned to reclaim the laptop. But he says he recovered data from it and, lo and behold, he discovered there were emails and photos related to Hunter Biden.

The shop owner claims he told the federal government about it, and they seized the laptop and hard drive in December 2019. But he claims he copied the hard drive first and provided it to Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello.

Months later, somehow, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon (who was indicted on fraud charges in August) learned of the hard drive and told the Post. Finally, Giuliani provided the hard drive to the New York Post last Sunday, after having apparently kept it under wraps for about 10 months.

This is a curious tale. Even if we take it at face value, it is unclear who dropped off the laptop (with the conveniently identifying sticker) during the very month conservative media started covering Burisma. It’s also unclear why that person never reclaimed it, why Hunter Biden’s information was on it, why the shop owner would hand it over to Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, and what the interest of the federal government was.

Giuliani has also spent months working with Andrii Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian parliament whom the US Treasury Department recently sanctioned as a Russian agent waging a “covert influence campaign” to affect the US election (by releasing information about purported Biden wrongdoing). Additionally, Burisma was reportedly hacked late last year and a security firm attributed that hack to the Russian military. So there are many reasons to question what actually happened here.

It’s unclear whether the emails are authentic and what they mean

Evidently there were some photos of Hunter Biden on the hard drive (the New York Post has published them), and the reporters claim an explicit video of Hunter is on there as well.

But that does not necessarily mean the emails on the hard drive are authentic and unaltered. It would certainly be possible for a nefarious actor to fabricate or alter some documents among a trove of largely accurate ones. (Indeed, the Post story does not mention any effort to authenticate the emails.)

Then there’s the larger problem that, even if the emails are authentic, bits from them can be selectively chosen and spun out of context to make misleading claims.

Trump’s team has spread the unfounded conspiracy theory that Joe Biden forced out Ukraine’s prosecutor general Viktor Shokin to protect Burisma and his son from an investigation. This theory makes little sense, as it was the consensus position of the US government and Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund to oust Shokin due to his corruption and ineffectiveness. But Trump’s aim is to paint Biden as corrupt, in a repeat of his 2016 strategy against Hillary Clinton.

Now, the Post is touting one purported email from Burisma adviser Vadym Pozharskyi as a scandalous “smoking gun.” In the purported email, Pozharskyi thanks Hunter for “inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent some time together,” and proposes meeting that day. But there’s no confirmation the meeting with then-Vice President Biden happened or, if it did, that the two men discussed Shokin. (A Biden campaign spokesperson told Politico that they reviewed the VP’s official schedules and that “no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”)

Hunter has had drug use issues in the past, and he took lucrative jobs for foreign companies or clients that he appeared not to be qualified for. But there’s been a history of misleading information and outright misinformation pushed about him — often involving Giuliani and Bannon, both of whom were involved in this as well. So supposed bombshell revelations from questionable sources in the days before the election should be viewed with a great deal of skepticism.


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China-made Tesla electric cars to start selling in Europe

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US-based electric carmaker says it will start shipping its entry-level Model 3 from Shanghai factory to more than 10 European countries this month.

Tesla Inc. will start exporting Model 3 sedans made at its gigafactory on the outskirts of Shanghai to Europe later this month, seeking to boost sales in one of the fastest-growing electric-car markets.

The car will be shipped to more than 10 countries, including Germany, France and Switzerland, the automaker said in a statement sent via WeChat on Monday. The company’s Shanghai factory — its first outside the U.S. — opened for local deliveries at the start of this year.

“We hope to serve global customers as a global factory,” Tesla’s manufacturing director of the Shanghai site, Song Gang, said in an interview with local reporters. “The export of China-built Tesla models is a key step in the global layout.”

The Shanghai factory has helped Tesla expand in China, and the company has said it has capacity to produce 200,000 vehicles a year at the site. Monthly registrations of locally made Teslas have been in the 11,000 range for several months, falling to 10,881 in September, according to data from state-backed China Automotive Information Net.

The variant Tesla will initially export to Europe is the standard Model 3. It has a driving range of 468 kilometers (291 miles) on one charge, and it costs about $40,300 in China before local subsidies. This month, Tesla lowered the price of the model in China, a move that was enabled by it starting to use cheaper batteries from local supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., people with knowledge of the matter said.

Sales of electric vehicles in Europe are growing at such a pace that the continent looks increasingly likely to outpace China in the near future, London-based automotive research firm Jato Dynamics said this month. Tesla is in the process of setting up a factory and an engineering-and-design center near Berlin, its first in Europe.

The California-based company also said it is committed to expanding its investment in China. It plans to double its production capability, the reach of its sales and service network, charging infrastructure facilities, and employment in the country.

People familiar with the matter said last month that Tesla plans to ship cars made in Shanghai to other countries in Asia and Europe, shifting its strategy for the plant to largely focus on supplying the Chinese market. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in 2019 that the facility would only make lower-priced versions of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover for the Greater China region, and predicted there would be enough local demand to potentially necessitate several factories in the country.

China-built Model 3s for delivery outside the country likely will start mass production in the fourth quarter, the people said last month, adding that the markets targeted included Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe.

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Indian actor quits Sri Lanka cricket legend’s biopic after uproar

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Vijay Sethupathi withdraws from the project after cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan warns him of backlash from Tamils over Sri Lankan civil war.

A popular actor who was set to star as Sri Lanka’s legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in a biopic withdrew from the project on Monday after the cricketer warned he could face a backlash from India’s Tamils.

Tamil politicians in India accuse Muralitharan, who retired from Test cricket in 2010, of betraying fellow Tamils in his country during a civil war that ended in 2009.

Vijay Sethupathi, 42, had been under pressure in his southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to drop the role in 800 – named after the world record number of Test wickets Muralitharan took in his celebrated career.

“I don’t want one of the finest actors in Tamil Nadu to face any kind of trouble, hence I request him to drop out of the project,” Muralitharan, 48, wrote in a letter tweeted by the actor.

“There should be no obstacles for Sethupathi in the future because of this movie.”

Sethupathi wrote alongside the image of the letter: “Thank you and goodbye.”

India’s regional Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) party, which opposes the Sinhalese-led government in Sri Lanka, demanded Sethupathi reject the role, saying Muralitharan sided with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who as president defeated the separatist Tamil Tiger uprising.

Fans also slammed the actor on social media, using the hashtag #shameonVijaySethupathi.

But several Tamil actors also came out in support of Muralitharan and Sethupati.

“[Muralitharan] is a very important topic and that film is a complex idea because Murali is one of those Indian Tamils … who were marginalised,” actor Prakash Belawadi told India Today TV.

Belawadi was referring to the two kinds of Tamils in Sri Lanka: the indigenous Eelam Tamils and the “estate Tamils” who were taken there as plantation workers by the British colonisers 200 years ago. The “estate Tamils” faced discrimination even from the native Tamils.

“Murali is a great example of somebody who has emerged from this class,” Belawadi said.

What’s the uproar about?

The enmity dates back to 2013 when Muralitharan told then-British Prime Minister David Cameron that he may have been “misled” about the human rights situation by Tamil women who complained to him about disappearances during the war.

Muralitharan, who is currently working as a bowling coach with Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad for the continuing tournament in the United Arab Emirates, had said that his remarks about Sri Lanka’s ethnic war were “misunderstood”.

Muralitharan added in the letter that he hoped a new lead would be announced soon.

“I accepted this biopic because I thought the movie will inspire and provide confidence to aspiring young cricketers,” he wrote.

A source close to Muralitharan said in Colombo: “The movie project will go on without Vijay. Producers are already discussing ways to proceed.”

The United Nations and international rights groups have accused Sri Lankan forces of killing at least 40,000 minority Tamils in the final campaign against the Tigers.

The government has denied it killed civilians.

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Archaeologists unearth ‘huge number’ of sealed Egyptian sarcophagi

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered another large cache of unopened sarcophagi in Saqqara, adding to the trove of almost 60 coffins recently recovered from the ancient necropolis.

Although full details are yet to be announced, authorities said in a statement that “a huge number” of wooden sarcophagi had been unearthed. The country’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said on Instagram that the find amounted to “dozens” of coffins, adding that they have been “sealed since ancient times.”

The collection of sarcophagi, stored in three newly discovered burial shafts, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Colored and gilded statues were also found in the tombs, a government press release said.

On Monday, El-Enany and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly visited the site alongside secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Waziri. Photos released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities show the trio being lowered into a shaft before inspecting painted coffins and a variety of other objects.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany pictured on site.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany pictured on site. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities via AP

Vast necropolis

Monday’s announcement marks the latest in a string of discoveries at Saqqara, a necropolis about 20 miles south of Cairo. The vast burial ground once served the royal capital of Memphis, and the site is also home to Egypt’s oldest surviving pyramid.
In September, archaeologists at Saqqara discovered almost 30 closed coffins in one of three burial shafts measuring 10 to 12 meters (33 to 39 feet) deep. At a press conference earlier this month, the ministry said the discovery brought the total number found inside the tombs to 59.
The collection of sarcophagi, announced on Monday, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years.

The collection of sarcophagi, announced on Monday, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Officials said they believe the coffins contain senior statesmen and priests from the 26th dynasty, which ruled Egypt from 664 B.C. to 525 B.C.

The ministry said that further details of this month’s discovery will be announced at a press conference at the site in “the next few weeks.” Its announcement also revealed that Prime Minister Madbouly had produced a video in which he thanked the ministry and “expressed his great pride in the unique Egyptian civilization.”

Egypt’s new one-billion dollar museum

Although it is not yet confirmed what will happen to the newly discovered sarcophagi, some of those found earlier this year are set to go on display at the soon-to-open Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. Upon its opening, the 5.2-million-square-foot structure will become the world’s largest museum devoted to a single civilization.

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