Suspected explosive device found at George Soros’ New York home

FILE PHOTO: Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

(Reuters) – A package containing what appeared to be an explosive device was found in a mailbox outside the New York residence of billionaire financier George Soros on Monday, police said.

Soros, one of the world’s biggest donors to liberal groups and causes, has become a hate figure for right-wing campaigners in the United States and eastern Europe, and the target of a hostile media campaign by the nationalist government in his native Hungary.

An employee at the home in Katonah, New York, opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device. Soros was not home at the time, the New York Times reported.

Authorities were contacted at around 3:45 p.m., the Town of Bedford Police Department said in a statement.

Bomb squad technicians detonated the package in a nearby wooded area, police told the newspaper.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into the incident, police said.

A Hungarian government spokesman said: “The matter falls under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities. After all, the incident occurred there.” He declined to comment further.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; additional reporting by Gergely Szakacs in Budapest; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Soros donation to halt Brexit causes storm in Britain

Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016.

By Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) – News that billionaire financier George Soros is a backer of a campaign group seeking to keep Britain in the EU added fire to Britain’s Brexit debate on Thursday, with supporters of quitting the bloc accusing opponents of plotting a “coup”.

The Best of Britain campaign group confirmed it had received 400,000 pounds from Soros. Soros, best known in Britain for earning billions betting against the pound in the early 1990s, is the target of a hostile media campaign by the nationalist government in his native Hungary and a hate figure for rightwing campaigners in eastern Europe and the United States.

Best of Britain said it had obeyed all rules on political funding in accepting the donation from Soros.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office repeated its long-standing position that the decision to leave the EU in 2019 after a vote in 2016 was final and would not be reversed. It also defended the right of campaign groups to accept donations.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which first reported Soros’s involvement, said the 87-year-old former hedge fund manager was backing a “secret plot” to stop Brexit. The article was written by Nick Timothy, a former chief of staff to May.

Mark Malloch-Brown, a former British diplomat who is chair of the Best for Britain campaign group, said the group had never hidden its aims, which include staying in the EU.

“George Soros’s foundations have along with a number of other major donors also made significant contributions to our work,” Malloch-Brown said in a statement, confirming Soros had contributed 400,000 pounds through his charitable foundations.

May’s spokesman said: “There are many political and campaign groups in this country, that’s entirely right and as you would expect in a democracy.”

“The prime minister’s position on this matter is clear, the country voted to leave the European Union, that’s what we are going to deliver and there won’t be a second referendum.”

BREXIT REVERSED?

In the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum, 51.9 percent, or 17.4 million people, voted to leave the EU while 48.1 percent, or 16.1 million people, voted to stay. Both sides accepted large donations from wealthy individuals.

Ever since the shock vote, supporters of EU membership have been exploring an array of different legal and political methods to prevent what they see as the biggest mistake in post-World War Two British history.

Brexiteers say such efforts threaten political stability as they go against the democratic will of 17.4 million people. They have vowed to fight any attempt to stop Brexit.

“The new Soros-led coalition is planning a coup in Britain, against the democratic will of the people,” Richard Tice, who chairs the Leave Means Leave campaign group, told Reuters. “They have been outed and will be defeated.”

May, whose government and party is divided over Brexit, has just eight months to strike a deal with the EU on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal.

Opponents of Brexit hope to focus their efforts on blocking British parliamentary approval for the exit deal, a step that if successful could sink May’s premiership. There is, though, little sign so far of a change in opinion among voters, and the supporters of EU membership lack a popular leader who could unite the disparate groups opposed to Brexit.

Brexiteers such as Nigel Farage say public opposition to Brexit from the likes of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N> Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein are unlikely to sway British public opinion.

With no deal, Britain would face a disorderly Brexit that many investors fear would imperil Britain’s $2.7 trillion economy, disrupt trade across the world’s biggest trading bloc and undermine London’s position as the only financial centre to rival New York.

($1 = 0.7209 pounds)

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Peter Graff)

Woman pepper-sprayed at UC Berkeley protest sues university, police

A worker surveys the damage to a vandalized Starbucks after a student protest turned violent at UC Berkeley during a demonstration over right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, who was forced to cancel his talk, in Berkeley, California.

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A woman who says she was pepper-sprayed by protesters demonstrating against a planned appearance by a right-wing speaker in February has sued the University of California at Berkeley for infringing on her First Amendment free speech rights.

Kiara Robles of Oakland, California is suing 18 individuals and organizations including officials at the University of California, UC Berkeley’s police department, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, the Berkeley Police Department, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi and investor George Soros.

“Robles was attacked with extremely painful pepper spray and bear mace by masked assailants amongst the protesters because she chose to exercise her right to freedom of speech and show support for the planned speaker, Milo Yiannopoulous,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Larry Klayman, a conservative activist and one of Robles’ attorneys.

In an emailed statement on Tuesday, Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for the University of California at Berkeley, defended the actions of campus administrators and police, and said the university would vigorously fight the suit.

A spokesman for the Berkeley mayor’s office, Stefan Elgstrand, said the office has no comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, Robles went to UC Berkeley to hear Yiannopoulous’ speech. But violence erupted after more than 1,500 protesters gathered on the campus, forcing the former Breitbart News editor to cancel his appearance at the liberal-leaning institution.

According to the lawsuit, the University of California, Berkeley unconstitutionally limited the First Amendment rights of its students and invitees at the event “who do not subscribe to the radical, left-wing philosophies sanctioned by defendants.”

Representative for the University of California’s office of the president and the city of Berkeley Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A statement from Pelosi was not immediately available, according to a spokeswoman from her office, Caroline Behringer.

George Soros could not immediately be reached.

Robles is demanding a trial by jury and is seeking more than $20,000,000 in damages and other relief, the lawsuit said.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler)