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Planned Parenthood to Defy Trump Abortion Referral Rule

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Federally funded family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood, are defying the Trump administration’s ban on referring women for abortions, drawing a line against what they say amounts to keeping patients in the dark about legitimate health care options.

“We are not going to comply with a regulation that would require health care providers to not give full information to their patients,” Jacqueline Ayers, the group’s top lobbyist, said in an interview Tuesday. “We believe as a health care provider it is wrong to withhold health care information from patients.”

The fallout from the confrontation between the Trump administration and the clinics remains to be seen, but groups like the American Medical Association have been warning that many low-income women could lose access to basic services like contraception. Planned Parenthood’s announcement came on a day when it also replaced its president, although it’s unclear if there was any connection.

The Department of Health and Human Services formally notified the clinics Monday that it will begin enforcing the new regulation banning abortion referrals, along with a requirement that clinics maintain separate finances from facilities that provide abortions. The rule is being challenged in federal court, but the administration says there is currently no legal obstacle to enforcing it.

It’s part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to remake government policy on reproductive health.

In a statement, HHS did not address Planned Parenthood’s decision, but said the agency is committed to working with clinics so they can comply with the new rules. While abortion referrals are prohibited, HHS noted that clinicians can still offer neutral “nondirective counseling” on abortion.

With about 400 affiliated clinics, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider in the federal family planning program for low-income women, known as Title X. The program does not pay for abortions, but until now clinics had been able to refer women for the procedure. Planned Parenthood clinics have long been a target for religious and social conservatives closely allied with the administration because the clinics separately provide abortions.

Emergency funding

Planned Parenthood acted after its Illinois affiliate and an independent provider, Maine Family Planning, announced they were dropping out of the federal program. Planned Parenthood also abruptly announced the departure of its president, physician Leana Wen, who cited “philosophical differences” in a letter to the staff. Political organizer Alexis McGill Johnson was named as acting president.

FILE – Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen speaks during a protest against abortion bans outside the Supreme Court in Washington, May 21, 2019. Wen, who became the president in November 2018, was forced out of her job July 16, 2019.

Ayers said Tuesday that Planned Parenthood clinics will stop accepting federal money and tap emergency funding as they press Congress and the courts to reverse the administration’s ban. She said she’s not sure how long that backup funding will last.

The federal family planning program serves about 4 million women annually through independent clinics. Taxpayers provide about $260 million a year in grants to clinics. But that money by law cannot be used pay for abortions.

Court cases

The family planning rule is being challenged around the country in court cases that have yet to resolve the core issues involved. However, a nationwide preliminary injunction that had blocked the administration was recently set aside, allowing HHS to begin enforcing the rule.

Other administration regulations tangled up in court would allow employers to opt out of offering free birth control to female workers on the basis of religious or moral objections and would grant health care professionals wider leeway to opt out of procedures that offend their religious or moral scruples.

Abortion opponents welcomed the Trump administration’s action.

The religious conservative Family Research Council said in a statement the rule would “draw a bright line between abortion and family planning programs” and cheered the news that clinics that had been longtime participants are dropping out. That’s “freeing up funding opportunities for clinics that do not promote or perform abortions,” the statement said.

Social conservatives are a bulwark of President Donald Trump’s political base.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the woman.

Another requirement of the Trump administration’s rule, to take effect next year, would bar clinics and abortion providers from sharing physical space.

Abortion rate

The AMA is among the professional groups opposed to the administration’s policy, saying it could affect low-income women’s access to basic medical care, including birth control, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Religious conservatives see the regulation as a means to end what they call an indirect taxpayer subsidy of abortion providers.

Although abortion remains politically divisive, the U.S. abortion rate has dropped significantly, from about 29 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 1980 to about 15 per 1,000 in 2014. Better contraception, fewer unintended pregnancies and state restrictions may have played a role, according to a recent scientific report. Polls show most Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

The Trump administration’s policy echoes a Reagan-era regulation that barred clinics from even discussing abortion with women. It never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled it was appropriate.

The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule took effect requiring “nondirective” counseling to include a full range of options for women. The Trump administration is now rolling back the Clinton requirement.

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Lebanon’s Hariri Signals Reservations Over IMF Proposals

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Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday signaled reservations about International Monetary Fund (IMF) proposals for Lebanon which he said included floating the Lebanese pound, which has been pegged at its current level for more than two decades.

Hariri was speaking on the first day of a three-day parliamentary session that is expected to approve a state budget that aims to slash the deficit, as a step towards putting Lebanese state finances on a sustainable path.

Lebanon has one of the heaviest public debt burdens in the world. The state’s main expenditures are the public sector wage bill, paying interest on its debt, and subsidising the loss-making state power company.

The government aims to slash the deficit through measures including a 3% point increase in tax on interest and a plan to issue low-interest treasury bonds.

Hariri was responding to criticism from MP George Adwan of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Party who noted reservations expressed by a recent IMF mission to Lebanon.

The IMF mission, in the concluding statement of an Article IV mission, said earlier this month that buying the proposed low-interest debt would worsen the central bank’s balance sheet and undermine its credibility.

It also said there should also not be any pressure on private banks to purchase the low-interest debt.

Addressing the plan to issue low interest bonds, Hariri said that he, the finance minister and the central bank had agreed “this matter would be conducted in a voluntary way by banks.”

“I know the IMF has some reservations, but also if we want to adopt everything the IMF does … (well then it also) proposes that we leave the Lebanese pound to float, that it go up and down as it wants,” said Hariri, asking whether this is what the Lebanese Forces wanted.

The LF is part of his cabinet, but plans to abstain from voting for the budget, saying it does not go far enough with reforms.

The IMF had also requested an increase of fuel excise in addition to an increase in VAT, Hariri said.

“I want to say that we always negotiate with the IMF in a way where we work for the interest of Lebanon, the interest of the Lebanese pound,” Hariri said.

The IMF, in its statement, said Lebanon should adopt revenue measures that include raising value-added tax (VAT) and increasing fuel excises as well as efforts to increase tax compliance.

It said the draft budget together with a plan to reform the power sector were “very welcome first steps on a long road.” But it said the 2019 budget deficit would likely be well above the government’s target of 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP).

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US Imposes Sanctions on Myanmar Military Commander over Rohingya Abuses

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The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions on the Myanmar military’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders over extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims, barring them from entry to the United States.

The steps, which also covered Min Aung Hlaing’s deputy, Soe Win, and two other senior commanders and their families, are the strongest the United States has taken in response to massacres of minority Rohingyas in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

FILE – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 25, 2019.

“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement in making the announcement.

Pompeo said a recent disclosure that Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of soldiers convicted of extrajudicial killings at the village of Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in 2017 was “one egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership.”

“The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days,” Pompeo said.

The Inn Din massacre was uncovered by two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released May 6.

The U.S. announcement came on the first day of an international ministerial conference on religious freedom hosted by Pompeo at the State Department that was attended by Rohingya representatives.

Rohingya from Myanmar walk past rice fields after crossing the border into Bangladesh near Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf area, Sept. 1, 2017.

A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. U.N. investigators have said that Myanmar’s operation included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson and was executed with “genocidal intent.”

A United Nations investigator said this month that Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes.

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На Миколаївщині знайшли тіло кандидата в народні депутати з вогнепальним пораненням – поліція

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У місті Первомайськ на Миколаївщині знайшли тіло кандидата в народні депутати з вогнепальним пораненням, повідомила поліція регіону. Тіло 56-річного чоловіка було в боксі його підприємства. За даними місцевих ЗМІ, мова йде про кандидата в народні депутати Василя Мосякіна, який балотувався у 132 виборчому окрузі від партії «Опозиційний блок».

Головна версія правоохоронців – самогубство. Поряд із тілом загиблого була мисливська рушниця. За попередніми даними, кандидат у народні депутати вистрелив собі в груди.

Поліція відкрила кримінальне провадження за статтею 115 (умисне вбивство), «як того вимагає процедура в подібних випадках». 

Дострокові вибори народних депутатів відбудуться 21 липня.

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Генеральна прокуратура викликає Портнова на допит

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Генеральна прокуратура України викликає Андрія Портнова, колишнього заступника голови Адміністрації президента Віктора Януковича, на допит у справі про розстріли під час подій Євромайдану.

Допит має відбутися об 11:00 19 липня. Портнов у цьому кримінальному провадженні має статус свідка.

Справа відкрита «за фактами злочинного перешкоджання проведенню зборів та мітингів у період листопада 2013 року – лютого 2014 року на майдані Незалежності в Києві, перевищення службових повноважень працівниками правоохоронних органів при застосуванні фізичної сили та спеціальних засобів до громадян, які реалізовували своє конституційне право на мирні зібрання та мітинги на вулицях центральної частини Києва, що спричинило тяжкі наслідки, організації умисних убивств протестувальників та інших фактів злочинної протидії протестним акціям».

19 травня Портнов повідомив, що повернувся в Україну після більш ніж 5 років життя за кордоном. У період з 2010 до 2014 року він був заступником голови Адміністрації президента Віктора Януковича.

5 березня 2014 року Євросоюз заморозив на один рік активи 18 колишніх українських високопосадовців, яких підозрюють у незаконному заволодінні державною власністю. Під санкції потрапив також Портнов. Через рік Європейський союз виключив із санкційного списку чотирьох колишніх українських високопосадовців, зокрема і Портнова.

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Поліція: депутат замовив смс-розсилку для дискредитації «Голосу» на користь партії ЄС

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На Львівщині депутат сільської ради замовив СМС-розсилку для дискредитації партії «Голос» Святослава Вакарчука на користь «Європейської солідарності» Петра Порошенка, повідомив начальник департаменту кіберполіції Національної поліції України Сергій Демедюк. У відповідь партія ЄС заявила, що кіберполіція «грубо втручається у виборчий процес».

Демедюк заявив, що упродовж 15 липня до поліції почали надходити повідомлення від жителів Львівщини про масову розсилку СМС-повідомлень. У них йшлося, що «Голос» не проходить п’ятивідсотковий бар’єр на виборах, а тому «людей провокували не голосувати за вказану партію», розповіли поліцейські.

«У рамках досудового розслідування працівники кіберполіції встановили, що фактично особа, яка використовує СМС-розсилку з альфа-іменем Peremoga, є одним із депутатів сільрад Львівської області. У вигляді фізичної особи-підприємця він оформив СМС-розсилку з одним із операторів мобільного зв’язку у кількості від 5 до 25 тисяч упродовж місяця», – повідомив Демедюк.

Очільник кіберполіції наголосив, що окрім контрагітації, порушник використовував СМС-розсилку задля агітації за політичну партію «Європейська солідарність».

Поліція відкрила кримінальне провадження за статтею 157 Кримінального кодексу України (перешкоджання здійсненню виборчого права або права брати участь у референдумі, роботі виборчої комісії або комісії з референдуму чи діяльності офіційного спостерігача).

Партія «Європейська солідарність» заявила, що обурена «політично заангажованими» діями департаменту кіберполіції Нацполіції України.

«Очевидно, це перший прецедент в історії українських виборів, коли відкривається кримінальне провадження за розсилку СМС-повідомлень, у яких містилася навіть не власна думка, а лише посилання на соцопитування Київського міжнародного інституту соціології (КМІС) про те, що партія «Голос» нібито не долає прохідний бар’єр», – заявили в «Європейській солідарності» і звинуватили кіберполіцію у «грубому втручанні у виборчий процес».

Партія також наголосила, що «розбереться з індивідуальної ініціативою» депутата сільської ради.

Дострокові вибори народних депутатів відбудуться 21 липня.

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Рада безпеки ООН на засіданні ввечері обговорить український мовний закон

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Це, вже вдруге, ініціювала Росія. 16 липня набрав чинності закон «Про забезпечення функціонування української мови як державної»

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Терміни для зміни місця голосування завершені – встигли понад 233 тисячі громадян

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Місце голосування на позачергових виборах до парламенту тимчасово змінили 233 347 громадян, вказує Державний реєстр виборців.

Згідно з повідомленням, найбільше українців скористалися такою можливістю, що діяла до 15 липня, в Донецькій області (понад 29 тисяч) та в Києві (понад 26 тисяч).

Позачергові вибори до Верховної Ради заплановані на 21 липня.


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Undersea Quake Near Indonesia’s Bali Causes Panic, Minor Damage

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An undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck south of Indonesia’s Bali on Tuesday, the European earthquake monitoring agency EMSC said, causing minor damage and prompting residents and visitors on the tourist island to briefly flee buildings.

There were no reports of casualties and no tsunami warning issued by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center or the Indonesian quake monitoring agency.

The epicenter was 102 km (62 miles) southwest of the island capital Denpasar and was 100 km (60 miles) deep, the EMSC said.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7.

One resident said people in Denpasar ran out of their boarding house in pajamas after feeling the quake.

A Twitter user with the handle Indounik in the city of Ubud on Bali said the quake was “strong enough to make me adopt the drop, cover & hold approach recommended to survive a quake.”

Another Twitter user, Marc van Voorst, described the quake as feeling like “a heavy truck or train passing by at close range.” He said there was no panic, even though his hotel in the Uluwatu area shook quite a bit.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency distributed a photograph of damage at the Lokanatha temple in Denpasar, showing smashed masonry lying on the ground. Bali is a predominantly Hindu enclave in overwhelmingly Muslim Indonesia.

Lius Winarto, a sales administrator at the Mercure Hotel Nusa Dua, said by telephone a small part of the building’s roof had been damaged.

“We felt the quake quite strongly…but thankfully no one was hurt and there was only minor damage,” he said. “Everything has gone back to normal now.”

There was also minor damage at a school, a house and a temple in different areas on the southern side of Bali, according to online portal Balipost.com.

The quake could also be felt in other cities on the neighboring islands of Lombok and Java, Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency said in a statement.

A roof of a mosque in the city of Banyuwangi in East Java also partially collapsed, another photo from the disaster mitigation agency showed.

The transport ministry said Bali airport was operating normally.

Indonesia suffers frequent earthquakes, sometimes causing tsunamis, because it lies on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire.

Its Moluccas islands were hit by a powerful 7.2 quake on Sunday that killed at least two people and prompted hundreds to flee their homes.

The most devastating tremor in recent Indonesian history was on Dec. 26, 2004, when a magnitude 9.5 quake triggered a tsunami that killed around 226,000 people along the shorelines of the Indian Ocean, including more than 126,000 in Indonesia.

A tsunami also hit the city of Palu in Sulawesi last year, killing thousands.

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«Всім бажаю гарного настрою» – службовець часів Януковича виграв ще один суд щодо зняття з виборів

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Верховний суд України підтвердив рішення апеляційної інстанції про незаконність постанови Центральної виборчої комісії, яка скасувала реєстрацію ексзаступника генпрокурора Рената Кузьміна часів президентства Віктора Януковича кандидатом у народні депутати. Про це сам Кузьмін повідомив на сторінці у Facebook.

«Іменем України Верховний суд підтвердив законність скасування Шостим апеляційним адміністративним судом незаконне зняття з реєстрації кандидатом в народні депутати за списками «Опозиційною платформи – За життя». Всім бажаю гарного настрою», – написав Кузьмін.

Він прикріпив до допису копії рішення суду. Водночас сам Верховний суд наразі рішення не оприлюднив.

12 липня Шостий апеляційний адміністративний суд Києва визнав незаконною постанову ЦВК про скасування реєстрації Кузьміна кандидатом у народні депутати.

5 липня Центральна виборча комісія скасувала реєстрацію Кузьміна як кандидата в народні депутати за списком партії «Опозиційна платформа – За життя». У відомстві пояснили, що отримали від СБУ інформацію про те, що Кузьмін не проживав в Україні протягом п’яти років до виборів. Це, згідно з законодавством, є умовою для участі у парламентських виборах.

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EU Slaps Sanctions on Turkey Over Gas Drilling Off Cyprus

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European Union foreign ministers on Monday turned up the pressure on Turkey after approving an initial batch of sanctions against the country over its drilling for gas in waters where EU member Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. 

The ministers said in a statement that in light of Turkey’s “continued and new illegal drilling activities,” they were suspending talks on an air transport agreement and would call on the European Investment Bank to “review” it’s lending to the country.

They also backed a proposal by the EU’s executive branch to reduce financial assistance to Turkey for next year. The ministers warned that additional “targeted measures” were being worked on to penalize Turkey, which started negotiations to join the EU in 2005.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu issued his own warning last week that his country would step up drilling activities off Cyprus if the EU moved ahead with sanctions. 

Two Turkish vessels escorted by warships are drilling for gas on either end of ethnically divided Cyprus.

The EU ministers repeated the “serious immediate negative impact” that Turkey’s illegal actions are having on EU-Turkey relations and called on Ankara to respect Cyprus’ sovereign rights in line with international law.

They also welcomed the Cypriot government’s invitation to Turkey to negotiate the borders of their respective exclusive economic zones and continental shelf.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a state and claims 44% of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone as its own, according to Cyprus government officials. Turkish Cypriots in the east Mediterranean island nation’s breakaway north claim another 25%.

Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece. A Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is recognized only by Turkey, which keeps more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway north. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but only the internationally recognized south enjoys full membership benefits. 

Turkey contends that it’s protecting its rights and those of Turkish Cypriots to the area’s hydrocarbon deposits. Cypriot officials, however, accuse Turkey of using the minority Turkish Cypriots in order to pursue its goal of exerting control over the eastern Mediterranean region.

The Cypriot government says it will take legal action against any oil and gas companies supporting Turkish vessels in any repeat attempt to drill for gas. Cyprus has already issued around 20 international arrest warrants against three international companies assisting one of the two Turkish vessels now drilling 42 miles (68 kilometers) off the island’s west coast.

The Cyprus government has licensed energy companies including ExxonMobil, France’s Total and Italy’s Eni to carry out gas drilling in blocks, or areas, off the island’s southern coastline. At least three significant gas deposits have so far been discovered there.  

Meanwhile, Cyprus’ Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will chair a meeting of political leaders Tuesday to discuss a renewed proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa AKinci to establish a joint committee with Greek Cypriots on managing offshore gas drilling activities.

Akinci has repeatedly called for the creation of such a committee that he says would give his community a say in how newly found gas deposits off Cyprus’ southern coast are managed and future proceeds are divvied up. A similar proposal was made by Akinci’s predecessor Dervis Eroglu in 2011. 

The Cypriot government says energy discussions with Turkish Cypriots should be part of overarching reunification talks, adding that Turkish Cypriot rights to the island’s energy reserves are assured. The government says future gas proceeds that will flow into an established hydrocarbons fund will be shared equitably after a peace deal is signed.

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Democrat Beto O’Rourke Trails Democratic Rivals in Cash Contest

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Former Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke raised a lackluster $3.6 million for his struggling presidential campaign in the second quarter of the year, his campaign said on Monday.

The fundraising haul was a warning sign for the Texas politician and a stark drop in campaign cash after he raised more than $9 million in two weeks the previous period.

O’Rourke, who entered the race after gaining national prominence in his failed 2018 bid for the U.S. Senate from Texas, has failed to gain traction in opinion polls.

Some two dozen Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. The crowded nominating contest will require candidates to spend millions of dollars to be competitive.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker reported on Monday he raised $4.5 million in the three months ended June 30.

Booker’s haul, nearly a quarter of it raised in the four days after his strong appearance in the party’s first debate last month, lagged those of other Democratic contenders, including front-runner Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who each raised more than $20 million.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders raised $18 million in the second quarter.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren brought in $19 million and spent $11 million, according to the report her campaign filed on Monday to the Federal Election Commission.

Senator Amy Klobuchar raked in just under $4 million.

Senator Kamala Harris, who has traded places with Warren as voters’ third and fourth choices in recent polling, said last week her campaign had raised $12 million.

By comparison, Trump and the Republican National Committee said they raised $108 million for Trump’s re-election campaign.

Trump made the unprecedented move to file for re-election the day he took office on Jan. 20, 2017, allowing him to spend the past two years building his re-election operation.

Candidates are required under federal law to disclose their donors and campaign expenses. The latest reports cover the second quarter of the year, which ended on June 30.

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Codebreaker Alan Turing To Be Face of New British Banknote

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Codebreaker and computing pioneer Alan Turing has been chosen as the face of Britain’s new 50 pound note, the Bank of England announced Monday.

Governor Mark Carney said Turing, who did ground-breaking work on computers and artificial intelligence, was “a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.”

During World War II Turing worked at the secret Bletchley Park code-breaking center, where he helped crack Nazi Germany’s secret codes by creating the Turing bombe,'' a forerunner of modern computers. He also developed theTuring Test” to measure artificial intelligence.

After the war he was prosecuted for homosexuality, which was then illegal, and forcibly treated with female hormones. He died at age 41 in 1954 after eating an apple laced with cyanide.

Turing received a posthumous apology from the British government in 2009, and a royal pardon in 2013.

The U.K’s highest-denomination note is the last to be redesigned and switched from paper to more secure and durable polymer. The redesigned 10 pound and 20 pound notes feature author Jane Austen and artist J.M.W. Turner.

The Turing banknote will enter circulation in 2021. It includes a photo of the scientist, mathematical formulae and technical drawings, and a quote from Turing: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”

Former lawmaker John Leech, who led the campaign for a pardon, said he was “absolutely delighted” by the choice.

“I hope it will go some way to acknowledging his unprecedented contribution to society and science,” he said.

 “But more importantly I hope it will serve as a stark and rightfully painful reminder of what we lost in Turing, and what we risk when we allow that kind of hateful ideology to win.”