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Election monitors allege Putin referendum saw unprecedented ballot fraud
iStock/malerapaso By: PATRICK REEVELL, ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Data scientists and independent election observers have claimed statistical analysis suggests there was massive falsification of votes in a referendum this week that overwhelming approved constitutional changes to grant Russian President Vladimir Putin the right to extend his rule until 2036.The week-long referendum on a package of constitutional amendments that "reset" Putin's term limits concluded in Russia on Wednesday with a result hailed by the Kremlin as a "triumph." The official tally showed 77.92% of voters backing the amendments and 21.27% against, with a turnout of 65%.Those numbers are significantly above...
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Here's what it means for Russia if Putin rules until 2036
iStock/malerapaso By: PATRICK REEVELL, ABC News (NEW YORK) -- The Kremlin this week won a referendum on constitutional changes allowing President Vladimir Putin potentially to extend his rule until 2036, a vote that critics and election monitors have denounced as rigged.The vote produced an overwhelming result in favor of a package of amendments -- officially 77.9% supporting, 21.3% against -- that the Kremlin hailed it as a "triumphant referendum of confidence" in Putin.Russia's Central Elections Commission and Interior ministry have said voting occurred without any serious violations.But independent election monitors claimed the process included unprecedented fraud, with authorities throwing out...
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After 13 tons of human hair products seized, US warns about importing from Xinjiang, China
Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks By Victor Ordonez and Conor Finnegan, ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Several branches of the U.S. government on Wednesday warned private companies against using supply chains tied to forced labor camps in China's Xinjiang province. The advisory was issued shortly after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) authorities in Newark, New Jersey, seized about $800,000 worth imported goods from China.Xinjiang, China, is where an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are facing an alleged expansive campaign of repression, including forced sterilization, destruction of religious sites and mass "re-education" camps.The shipments seized...
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Santiago Manuin, tireless defender of the Amazon rainforest, succumbs to COVID-19
Neil Giardino/ABC News By NEIL GIARDINO, ABC NEWS(NEW YORK) -- Santiago Manuin, one of the most celebrated defenders of Peru's Amazon rainforest and the leader of the Awajún tribe, whose vast and besieged territory spans the country's mountainous northern region along the Ecuador border, died on Wednesday of COVID-19. He was 63.Manuin devoted his life to defending his tribe and their ancestral land, which in recent decades had endured illegal gold mining and logging, persistent threats linked to narco-trafficking and state-sanctioned oil and gas operations.In a 2019 interview with ABC News, Manuin described the significance of his tribe's territory and...
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Navy videos spark renewed interest in UFOs from enthusiasts, Congress
To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science By LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- This year's World UFO Day comes at a time of heightened interest in the decades-long search to solve the mystery of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) thanks to the Navy's recent declassification of videos that show what it called "unexplained aerial phenomena." But it's not just UFO enthusiasts who are excited. Congress also wants to see what the Pentagon and the nation's intelligence agencies know about UFOs, not because extraterrestrials are involved, but because of concerns they might represent advanced technological threats from foreign adversaries.The Navy...
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Putin granted right to extend rule till 2036 in overwhelming referendum result
MaxOzerov/iStock By PATRICK REEVELL, ABC NEWS(MOSCOW) -- The Kremlin appears to have obtained an overwhelming vote in favor of Russia constitutional changes that will allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036, according to early results in a national referendum that concluded today.The result on Wednesday in the weeklong referendum came as little surprise amid a massive campaign by authorities to push Russians to vote and widespread concerns about pressure on voters and manipulation.It opens the way for Putin, who has ruled Russia since 1999 -- only interrupted between 2008 and 2012 when Dmitry Medvedev was the...
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Potentially serious swine flu identified in China not imminent threat: Experts
LilliDay/iStock By DR. HASSAL LEE, ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Amid the sprawling coronavirus pandemic, scientists around the world also have been keeping a close watch on another potentially dangerous virus: swine flu.Through close surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs from 2011 to 2018 in China, experts have discovered a potentially pandemic-causing virus predominant in swine populations since at least 2016.So far, many experts, including America's leading infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said that while it's important to keep a close eye on it, the virus is not "an immediate threat."Other scientists have chimed in, urging the public not...
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FCC designates Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE as 'posing a national security threat'
Fotonen/iStock By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC NEWS(WASHINGTON) -- Citing its close ties to the Chinese Communist Party, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally designated Chinese telecom giant Huawei as "posing a national security threat."The FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau slapped the same designation on fellow Chinese firm ZTE Corporation, barring the FCC's $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund -- a subsidy for wireless carriers in rural America -- from being used to purchase any equipment from either Huawei or ZTE Corporation.The companies have been blacklisted by the FCC in recent years, as critics have claimed their equipment could be...
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Ghosts laid to rest as Cairo's 109-year-old Baron Empain Palace opens for visitors
Keladawy /iStock By Hatem Maher, ABC News (CAIRO) -- Mysteries and superstitious tales surrounding an Indian-style mansion in an upscale Cairo district have finally been put to bed as the 109-year-old palace opened to visitors for the first time on Tuesday following an $11 million restoration project.Named after the millionaire Belgian industrialist who was its original owner, the neglected Baron Empain Palace was rumored to be home to ghosts, with occasional tales of lights flashing inside.Also common were rumors of hidden tunnels and a rotating tower that offered a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and allowed the palace to...
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Counterfeiters sold 'cheap wines' with expensive labels: Europol
Silberkorn/iStock By Kelly McCarthy, ABC News(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) -- Wine drinkers are often aware of the markup to enjoy a glass or bottle at bars and restaurants, but European law enforcement successfully sniffed out a bad batch of bottles that were being passed off as premium labels and sold for over $1,000 a pop.Europol announced Tuesday that it took down a network of wine counterfeiters who took empty bottles of premium Italian wines, refilled them with "cheap wines from different origins" that had been purchased online or at hard discount stores, resealed the bottles with fake capsules and passed off...
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Beijing tightens screws on Hong Kong as contentious new law goes into effect on handover anniversary
Igor Ilnitckii/iStock By KARSON YIU and BRITT CLENNETT, ABC News(HONG KONG) -- In early June, Zhang Xiaoming, one of the top Chinese official in charge of Beijing's Hong Kong portfolio called for Hong Kong people to return home to the motherland for a second time after a year of anti-government protests.In essence he was calling for a symbolic "Second Handover."So on the eve of the former British Colony's 23rd anniversary of its return to China, a contentious new national security law Beijing unilaterally drafted for Hong Kong passed through China's top lawmaking body Tuesday morning by unanimous decision.China's Xinhua News...
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China's mass sterilization on Muslim minorities could amount to genocide: Report
yorkfoto/iStock By CONOR FINNEGAN and VICTOR ORDONEZ, ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Chinese government has deployed a mass sterilization campaign against Muslim ethnic minorities in the country's western provinces, according to a new report, which argues the tactics could amount to genocide.China's treatment of Uighurs, the Muslim ethnic group that has historically lived in China's westernmost province, known as Xinjiang, has come under increased scrutiny in the last couple years, as the Chinese government ramped up what it casts as a "re-education" campaign that uses mass detention camps. Those camps are used as a form of threat and punishment, with...
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