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Russia Was Linked to 14 Deaths in the U.K. But Britain Looked Away. A New Book Explores Why

It began with an anonymous phone call. A woman called the British investigative journalist Heidi Blake in March 2015, gave her an address, and told her she had a story. Blake turned up at an address in Pimlico, London where Michelle Young was waiting for her. In December 2014, Michelle’s ex-husband, Scottish property developer Scot Young, 52, was found impaled on iron railings after he fell from the fourth floor of his girlfriend’s flat in Marylebone, West London. The death made headlines, raising concerns that it was linked to a series of suspicious deaths of businessmen in the U.K.

Michelle told Blake, who has been the Global Investigations Editor at BuzzFeed News since 2018, that she believed her ex-husband been murdered. She wanted the journalist’s investigative team to look into it. She handed Blake a wealth of evidence about Young’s business affairs; it soon became clear that he had deep connections to several Russian oligarchs, who had fled to the U.K because they had fallen out of favor with President Vladimir Putin, who came to power in 2000, and needed a safe place to stash their money. “That’s where we began,” Blake says.

Over the course of a two-year investigation, BuzzFeed News discovered that Young was one of 14 people whom U.S. intelligence officials suspected were assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups. The list includes Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Russian oligarch, who was found hanged in his flat in 2013 and eight members of his inner circle. But the British government intelligence passed on by its closest ally, Blake says, and did not treat the 14 deaths as suspicious.

Blake, whose new book From Russia with Blood: Putin’s Ruthless Killing Campaign and Secret War on the West is published Nov. 19, spoke to TIME about why the U.K. has long been reluctant to take the suspected Russian hits seriously.

BuzzFeed News

TIME: Why was U.K. hesitant to confront the suspected assassinations?

Heidi Blake: That’s the burning question. We at BuzzFeed spent years talking to government officials, former and current, to piece together an understanding. What emerged was that the British government—in common with other governments in Europe and the U.S.—was extremely anxious to court Putin in the hopes that he could be brought into the institutions, alliances that underpin the stability of the Western liberal world order. Putin was given a spot in G8, brought into closer cooperation with NATO, became a central part in the war on terror and played a leading role in the Iran nuclear deal.

There was also a huge dependency on Russian energy and on the Russian money that pours into Western economies, especially in London.

The general feeling in government circles was that it’s better to keep Putin on our side, than to pick a fight with the Kremlin over what seemed to be isolated incidents, as well as risk what looked like an opportunity to build a lasting alliance with Russia.

The British government’s reaction to the case of the former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who died in the full glare of the world’s media from radiation poisoning in London in 2006, was very telling. The government resisted calls for a proper investigation into his death for eight years, citing the need to protect “international relations” with Russia, and only after a series of jaw-droppingly audacious moves by the Kremlin did officials relent and open a public inquiry that ultimately found in 2016 that the assassination had likely been on Putin’s orders.

A U.K. counter-terrorism unit investigated the 2018 Skripal case and deemed it an attempted assassination and a murder. What changed the U.K.’s approach?

In recent years, it’s become ever more apparent that Putin never intended to enter the liberal fold, honestly cooperate with Western governments and that he’s been waging a covert war of subversion against Western institutions. Western officials are now waking up to the fact that it has been a huge mistake to turn a blind eye.

The attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury with a chemical nerve agent—the first time a nerve agent has been used on European soil since the Second World War—that endangered the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians in Britain, was a real watershed moment. The British government realized that the Russian campaign of assassinations had just been allowed to spin out of control. Now, governments are scrambling to get to grips with it.

These deaths are about more than eliminating an individual. What message is Russia trying to send?

These deaths are part of Russia’s propaganda operation—they aim to show the muscle of the Russian state and warn anyone considering betraying the motherland that if you cross Putin, there’s no safe place for you, the long arm of the Russian state can reach you anywhere.

But they’re also about telling Western governments not to tangle with Russia. The attempted assassination of the Skripals is a case in point. Novichok is a highly conspicuous Russian poison, which was developed by the Soviets and is known to Western intelligence as originating in Russia. That attack was a message with a very clear return address.

When the U.K. stood up to Russia after the Skripal case, in some ways, it played into Putin’s hands. [Then Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible and framed it as an act of war. Britain and its allies expelled 153 Russian spies from Western capitals, imposed sanctions and impeded trade.] Is this an unwinnable war?

Western governments are caught in a huge dilemma when responding to Russian attacks. And it’s difficult to say what is the right approach. Putin used the strong British response to the attack on the Skripals as an election tool and helped himself to a massive majority in the 2018 presidential elections, on the back of language about Russophobia and the ‘Western enemy’. All of that plays into his strongman image and the sense he wants to create that the world outside his borders is full of adversaries and only Putin can be trusted to defend the motherland.

There’s a large community of Russian dissidents in the U.K, several of whom are in contact with Scotland Yard about their safety. Some of them live everyday in fear and have to employ heavy-duty security measures. I would have thought it’s only a matter of time before there’s another suspicious death. This is an ongoing and escalating problem.

Taking a firm line draws a bellicose response from the Kremlin. But there has to be a point where governments draws a line. The price of appeasement, as history has taught us, is too steep.

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Venice Confronts Serious Flooding as High Water Invades Cafes, Tourist Sites

(VENICE, Italy) — Tourists and Venetians alike donned high boots and took to strategically placed raised walkways on Tuesday to slosh through the high water that has hit much of the lagoon city.

Venice's tide forecast office said the water level peaked at 1.27 meters (about 4 feet 3 inches) Tuesday morning but warned that an even higher tide was forecast for after nightfall.

The high water invaded cafes, stores and other businesses. Sirens warned people in Venice of the rising water, and as a precaution, authorities closed nursery schools.

A top tourist attraction, the Ducal Palace, just off St. Mark's Square, tweeted that it's “open today, despite the exceptional tide,” and advised visitors to use the raised walkways leading to its entrance.

Many hotels keep disposable knee-high plastic boots handy for tourists. Venetians' wardrobes often include over-the-knee rubber boots.

As the phenomenon of high water, locally known as “acqua alta,” goes, the levels Tuesday, while amusing for tourists and a nuisance for residents going about their business, were far lower than the 1.94 meters (6 feet 4 inches) in the devastating November 1966 flood in Venice.

But even lesser levels of the salty high water, over the years, take their toll on the city, eroding foundations of homes, businesses and city buildings.

Bad weather is continuing to dog Italy, with no real let-up forecast for several days.

In Policoro, a southern town in an area known for its ancient Greek ruins, a whirlwind ripped the roofs off two homes, but the occupants inside escaped injury, Italian news reports said.

In that same region of Basilicata, swaths of the tourist town of Matera, famed for its Sassi former cave dwellings, were flooded after heavy rains.

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Let’s Talk About That Twist in the First Episode of The Mandalorian

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first episode of the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

The Star Wars saga has always been full of twists and turns, from Darth Vader's “I am your father” reveal in Empire Strikes Back to Kylo Ren's decision to kill Snoke in The Last Jedi. So perhaps we should have expected the first live-action Star Wars TV series to surprise us. Still, The Mandalorian, which dropped on Disney's new streaming service Disney+ on Tuesday, took a direction that few critics or fans could have expected.

The titular Mandalorian (played by Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pascal) seems to have few moral qualms when we meet him at the beginning of the first episode. He operates at the edges of the galaxy after the fall of the Empire. (The Mandalorian is set shortly after Return of the Jedi.) The Mandalorian freezes his bounties in carbonite — just as bad guy Jabba once did to Han Solo. And he accepts a sketchy assignment, in exchange for high pay, from a man who presumably is allied with what remains of the Empire leadership, since he is surrounded by Storm Troopers.

Werner Herzog plays the unnamed man who offers our Mandalorian the lucrative job and provides him with scant information about the target: a geolocation and one fact: the target is 50 years old. The Mandalorian arrives at the location in question and finds that an assassin droid has also been commissioned to kill the same target. The two team up to take out dozens of aliens fighting to protect the target. But when they finally reach their mark, they make a startling discovery: The target is actually a baby of Yoda's species, lying in a cradle. And it's adorable.

Our Mandalorian turns from anti-hero to hero in one quick moment, shooting the assassin droid in order to save the baby. This decision isn't all that shocking. In the Star Wars universe, every anti-hero — from Han Solo, who shot first, to Cassian Andor, who did bad things for a good cause — usually turns out to be a traditional, noble softie. We see in flashbacks earlier in the episode that the Mandalorian's own parents were killed, after which he was left to fend for himself. So of course he would save another orphan.

It's the baby that's the true surprise. Dubbing this alien “a baby Yoda,” as much of the internet did on Tuesday, isn't quite accurate, since Yoda is the name of a specific character, not a species. And Yoda dies in Return of the Jedi, before The Mandalorian takes place. We know little about Yoda's species — not even the name of his people. But we can presume, because Yoda lived to be 900 years old, that the species ages more slowly than humans: To a 900-year-old Yoda, a 50-year-old alien of his species would, indeed, be a young babe.

We have met one other alien of Yoda's species in the Star Wars universe: A female alien named Yaddle, who appeared on the Jedi council in the prequel movies. Yaddle was a badass. According to Wookieepedia, she was training to be a Jedi when she was captured, imprisoned and tortured. Her captors eventually forgot about her and left her in a pit for decades. She survived using the Force, fought off a beast using only a stick and eventually escaped.

When she returned home, most of the Jedi Council believed she did not need additional training — since, you know, she survived for years on literally no food — but Yoda thought she was too young. Yoda eventually backed down from this stance, which clearly had as much to do with her sex as her age, and she became a member of the council. She eventually died by sacrificing her own life to save the entire planet of Mawan.

Both Yaddle and Yoda are dead by the time The Mandalorian takes place, which means that this baby could be the last remaining member of their species. It's unclear as of yet why the Empire wants this baby, but we can venture a few guesses. When the Mandalorian meets Herzog's character about the bounty, he also meets an over-eager scientist who probably wants to conduct experiments on the alien child. Given that both Yaddle and Yoda were powerful Jedi, it's also possible that this baby is Force-sensitive, and thus poses a great threat to the Empire.

We don't hear about any of Yoda's kin in the new Star Wars movies, so it's unclear what this baby's ultimate fate will be. Though perhaps a grown-up version will still show up in Rise of Skywalker, which will hit theaters in December. In the meantime, we will get to watch the fallout of the Mandalorian's decision to sacrifice a big payday, and possibly his own safety, to save this baby.

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Hong Kong Police Clash With University Students as Protests Continue Into the Night

(HONG KONG) — Protesters in Hong Kong battled police on multiple fronts Tuesday, from major disruptions during the morning rush hour to a late-night standoff at a prominent university, as the 5-month-old anti-government movement takes an increasingly violent turn.

Gasoline bombs and fires lit up the night at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, while police massed for a possible clearing action with a water cannon truck.

It was the second straight day of weekday protests and followed an especially violent day Monday in which police shot one protester and a man was set on fire.

As on Monday morning, the day began with protesters shutting down parts of the commuter rail system and blocking roads. Some people took more than two hours to get to work, while others stayed home.

Bus tires were punctured and debris thrown on railway tracks. Police fired tear gas at protesters who littered roadways with bricks and anything else they could get their hands on — even merchandise still wrapped in plastic and tossed out from boxes.

Commuters got off one stopped train and were escorted on foot along the tracks.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, speaking to news media after a weekly meeting with advisers, called the blocking of the morning commute “a very selfish act.”

“People from different sectors in society are holding fast to their positions and refusing to concede to violence or other radical actions,” she said. “I hereby express my gratitude to those who are still going to work and school today.”

Many office workers turned out in support of the protesters, who rallied for a second day on Pedder Street in Central, a business and high-end shopping district.

A few thousand people took over several blocks, chanting “Five demands, not one less” while holding up one hand with five outstretched fingers. Their demands include democratic changes and an independent investigation of police treatment of protesters.

Traffic was blocked on two major roads, with buses and half a dozen of Hong Kong's famous trams lined up unable to move. The words “Join Us” were spray painted on the front window of a halted double-decker bus abandoned by the driver and passengers. The driver-side window was shattered, with a message reading “Sorry” added later.

Office workers filled the sidewalks and overhead walkways, some joining the protesters in chanting.

One 24-year-old man, who would not give his name, said he was there to support the protesters and accused the police of using excessive force, a common complaint among the city's 7.4 million people.

Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters and onlookers who were hurling abuse at the officers. At least one person was injured when he was struck on the head by a tear gas canister. But protesters returned by evening and were again blocking roads with bricks and commandeered buses.

Protests ebbed and flowed all day at several universities. Classes were canceled, and clashes were particularly intense at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Scores of officers charged onto the campus after firing tear gas, arresting student protesters who tried to block their way with makeshift barricades, including a burning car.

That didn't end the standoff, which was continuing Tuesday night.

Recent weeks have been marked by escalating vandalism of shops linked to mainland China and train stations, and assaults by both protesters and pro-Beijing supporters.

On Monday, a police officer drew his gun during a struggle with protesters, shooting one in the abdomen. In another neighborhood, a 57-year-old man was set on fire after an apparent argument.

Both remained hospitalized Tuesday, the shot protester in serious condition and the man who was burned in critical condition, the Hospital Authority said.

Video also showed a policeman on a motorcycle weaving at high speed through a group of protesters walking up a street.

Police say those incidents are being investigated but defend the officers' actions as necessary for their own safety.

Police spokesman Kong Wing-cheung said the burning had been registered as a case of attempted murder and called on the public to provide information about the assailant.

“Hong Kong's rule of law has been pushed to the brink of total collapse,” Kong said, calling those who defend or maintain ties with violent protesters “accomplices.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang lambasted the U.S. and Britain over statements of concern about the spike in violence.

“The United States and Britain pretend to be fair on this incident, but it only reveals how they confuse right and wrong and how hypocritical they are. And their verbal justice once again exposes their double standards and ulterior motives,” Geng said at a daily briefing.

China accuses the U.S. and other foreign powers of fomenting and encouraging the protests.

In Washington, the U.S. government said Monday that it is watching the situation with “grave concern.”

“?We condemn violence on all sides, extend our sympathies to victims of violence regardless of their political inclinations, and call for all parties — police and protesters — to exercise restraint,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

She urged the government to address the underlying concerns behind the protests and the protesters to respond to efforts at dialogue.

Police said they had arrested 287 people on Monday, raising to the number of arrests since the movement began in June to more than 3,500. The latest arrests ranged in age from 12 to 82 years old and 190 were students.

The Hospital Authority said 128 people were taken to hospitals Monday, and one remained in critical condition and five others in serious condition on Tuesday.

The protests began over a proposed law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, where they could face opaque and politically sensitive trials.

Activists saw the bill as another sign of an erosion in Hong Kong's autonomy and civic freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.

Lam eventually withdrew the extradition bill but has insisted the violence stop before any further political dialogue can take place.

District council elections on Nov. 24 are seen as a measure of public sentiment toward Hong Kong's government. Pro-democracy lawmakers have accused the government of trying to provoke violence to justify canceling or postponing the vote.

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Associated Press news assistant Phoebe Lai contributed to this story.

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Fish With a Pretty Convincing Human-Like Face Is Out There So Don’t Think People Aren’t Catching On

While some humans are notorious for making a “fish face” while mugging for a photo, there's now a fish that's gone viral for its remarkable resemblance to a human.

In a TikTok video on Twitter that's been making the rounds online, a fish can be seen swimming in a stream before lifting its head out of the water to reveal a visage that bears an uncanny similarity to a land-dwelling, two-legged human being in its eyes, nose and mouth. The succinct caption that accompanies the tweet simply (and pithily) reads: “This face has human face,” alongside a slew of anxious, grimacing face emoji.

According to News 18, the video was captured by a visitor to the Miao village in Kunming, China; it was later shared on Weibo and then TikTok. The TikTok video has now garnered 23.6k views.

See the fish with a freakishly human-like face in the TikTok video below.

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Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Trump’s Bid to End DACA as Protections for 660,000 Immigrants at Stake

(WASHINGTON) — Protections for 660,000 immigrants are on the line at the Supreme Court.

The justices are hearing arguments Tuesday on the Trump administration's bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work in the United States legally.

The program was begun under President Barack Obama. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it would end DACA protections, but lower federal courts have stepped in to keep the program alive.

Now it's up to the Supreme Court to say whether the way the administration has gone about trying to wind down DACA complies with federal law.

A decision is expected by June 2020, amid the presidential election campaign.

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that if the Supreme Court overturns the immigrants' protections “a deal will be made with the Dems for them to stay!” But Trump's past promises to work with Democrats on a legislative solution for these immigrants have not led to an agreement.

Trump also wrongly claimed in the tweet that many program participants are “no longer very young, are far from ‘angels'” and that “some are very tough, hardened criminals.” But the program bars anyone with a felony conviction from participating. Serious misdemeanors may also bar eligibility.

Some DACA recipients who are part of the lawsuit are expected to be in the courtroom for the arguments. People have been camping out in front of the court since the weekend for a chance to grab some of the few seats that are available to the general public. Chief Justice John Roberts has rejected a request for live or same-day audio of the arguments. The court will post the audio on its website.

A second case being argued Tuesday tests whether the parents of a Mexican teenager who was killed by a U.S. border patrol agent in a shooting across the southern border in El Paso, Texas, can sue the agent in American courts.

If the court agrees with the administration in the DACA case, Congress could put the program on surer legal footing. But the absence of comprehensive immigration reform from Congress is what prompted Obama to create DACA in 2012, giving people two-year renewable reprieves from the threat of deportation while also allowing them to work.

Federal courts struck down an expansion of DACA and the creation of similar protections for undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens.

Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric was a key part of his presidential campaign in 2016, and his administration pointed to the invalidation of the expansion and the threat of a lawsuit against DACA by Texas and other Republican-led states as reasons to bring the program to a halt.

Young immigrants, civil rights groups, universities and Democratic-led cities and states sued to block the administration. They persuaded courts in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., that the administration had been “arbitrary and capricious” in its actions, in violation of a federal law that requires policy changes be done in an orderly way.

Indeed, the high court case is not over whether DACA itself is legal, but instead the administration's approach to ending it.

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Alex Trebek Got Emotional Over a Heartfelt Final Jeopardy Answer

Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has been very vocal about his ongoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and in response, fans are being equally transparent and their support for the beloved host.

On Monday night’s show, one contestant used his “Final Jeopardy” answer to show his appreciation for Trebek.

Instead of writing an answer to the question on Monday night’s “Tournament of Champions” game, contestant Dhruv Gaur wrote “We love you, Alex!” which appeared on the front of his podium. When Trebek read the message, he began to choke up at the sweet message. “That”s very kind of you,” Trebek said, clearly emotional. “Thank you.” The moment was shared on Twitter by the show:

Trebek, who has hosted the quiz show since 1984, announced his diagnosis in March of this year in a video to fans. At the time he said that the cancer has a “low survival rate” but that he would beat it. He appeared to be doing well, returning to host the show just months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, which appeared to put his cancer into remission.

However, months later the cancer returned. Trebek announced in early October that he had begun another round of chemotherapy. “I’m not afraid of dying,” Trebek said after announcing the return of the disease. “I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life… if it happens, why should I be afraid of that?”

It’s clear that fans are eager to show their support.

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Supreme Court Says Sandy Hook Families Can Sue the Remington Gun Maker

In a major blow to the firearms industry, the U.S. Supreme Court will not block the families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting from suing the gun maker Remington.

The nation’s highest court on Tuesday denied an appeal by the Remington Arms Company to review a lower court's ruling that allowed the families to take on the gun maker in court over how it marketed the rifle used in the 2012 school massacre.

“The families are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld precedent and denied Remington’s latest attempt to avoid accountability,” said Josh Koskoff, the attorney representing the families. “We are ready to resume discovery and proceed towards trial in order to shed light on Remington’s profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users at the expense of Americans’ safety.” One of the weapons Adam Lanza used at Sandy Hook was an AR-15 style Bushmaster.

The Court’s decision not to take on the Remington case is significant and suggests the court is not yet willing to weigh in on challenges to a federal law that has protected gun companies from lawsuits since it was enacted in 2005. The law, formally known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, largely shields firearm and ammunition manufacturers and sellers from liability when their products are used in crimes. There are a few exceptions, such as if a defective weapon causes death or injury or if a seller or manufacturer is found to have violated a law in the marketing or sale of the product. But the law has widely deterred families from targeting gun makers in court.

In 2014, two years after a gunman killed 20 children and six faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., nine family members of victims and one survivor took on the challenge and filed a wrongful death suit against Remington over its marketing practices. Remington argued it was protected under the law, but the families' suit said the federal law did not apply because they were accusing Remington of violating state laws in the marketing of the weapon. In March, the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed. Remington appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case without offering any explanation. The case now heads back to the Connecticut Superior Court.

“This simply means that the case can proceed under Connecticut state law, and it doesn’t mean that the plaintiffs will prevail,” says Robert Spitzer, a gun policy expert and chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York at Cortland.

But Spitzer and other experts say Remington could be forced to provide documents that could yield damaging internal memos—similar to the way a major civil settlement in 1998 forced the tobacco industry to disclose millions of pages of internal communications that revealed deceptive marketing practices.

“Who knows what they’ll find,” Spitzer says, “but there’s certainly a fair likelihood that it could indeed be damaging politically and perhaps even to the legal case they’re trying to make.”

The NRA and Remington did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Gun rights groups have slammed the lawsuit as a misuse of the legal system. In a statement to TIME, Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the gun trade group was “disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision but “confident that Remington will prevail at trial.”

“Nothing in Remington’s advertising of these products connotes or encourages the illegal or negligent misuse of firearms,” Keane said. “We continue to feel sympathy toward the Sandy Hook victims, as NSSF is headquartered in Newtown, but Adam Lanza alone is responsible for his heinous actions.”

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How The Mandalorian Fits into the Larger Star Wars Timeline

Thanks to the convoluted order in which the Star Wars movies have been released over the past 40-plus years, the timeline of events in the galaxy far, far away can be somewhat confusing. So with the launch of The Mandalorian, Disney's new Star Wars TV series now available on the Disney+ streaming service, TIME is here to break down exactly how the show fits into the larger Star Wars timeline.

What is The Mandalorian about?

The Mandalorian stars Game of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal as a bounty hunter who hails from the planet Mandalor. In the tradition of his bounty hunter predecessors Jango and Boba Fett, the unnamed Mandalorian is a helmeted “lone gunfighter” who wears the traditional armor of his homeland. But that's pretty much where the similarities end. While fan favorite Boba Fett was a clone raised by Jango who worked primarily for Jabba the Hutt during the Galactic Empire's tyrannical rule, the Mandalorian operates in the chaotic outer reaches of the galaxy after the fall of the Empire.

Mandalorian trailer

“It’s like after the Roman Empire falls, or when you don’t have a centralized shogun in Japan­ — and, of course, the Old West, when there wasn’t any government in the areas that had not yet been settled,” showrunner Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Lion King) told Entertainment Weekly.

When does The Mandalorian take place?

That's where the series' place in the Star Wars timeline comes into play. Favreau has said that The Mandalorian is set five years after the fall of the Empire in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) and 25 years before the rise of the First Order, the authoritarian regime that is firmly in control of the galaxy when Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) begins.

In terms of Star Wars years, Return of the Jedi is set in 4 ABY (after the Battle of Yavin) and The Force Awakens is set in 34 ABY, which means The Mandalorian takes place around 9 ABY. This is a period of time when the New Republic, the democratic government formed by the Rebel Alliance following their victory over the Empire, has only a tenuous hold on the galaxy — especially its lawless outskirts.

LucasFilm

According to Favreau, The Mandalorian will explore some of the roots of the First Order. “You come in on Episode VII, [the First Order are] not just starting out. They’re pretty far along,” he told EW. “So somehow, things weren’t necessarily managed as well as they could have been if [the galaxy] ended up in hot water again like that.”

The Mandalorian also stars Gina Carano as Rebel Shock Trooper-turned-mercenary Cara Dune, Carl Weathers as bounty hunter guild leader Greef Carga, Giancarlo Esposito as former Imperial governor Moff Gideon and Taika Waititi as the voice of assassin droid IG-11.

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Maya Rockeymoore Cummings Seeks Late Husband’s Seat in Congress

(BALTIMORE) — The widow of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings has resigned as Maryland's Democratic Party chair to run for her late husband's congressional seat.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, is expected to formally announce her campaign at her Baltimore home Tuesday morning, news outlets reported. Congressman Elijah Cummings died last month at the age of 68.

“I am, of course, devastated at the loss of my spouse, but his spirit is with me,” Rockeymoore Cummings told The Baltimore Sun. “I'm going to run this race and I'm going to run it hard, as if he's still right here by my side.”

She says Cummings told her he wanted her to succeed him if he died. She said he was conflicted about whether he should to resign or stay in office.

Rockeymoore Cummings also said she will undergo a preventative double mastectomy Friday. She expects her recovery to take up to four weeks. Her mother died from breast cancer in 2015 and her sister was diagnosed with the disease last year, according to the newspaper. She said the surgery had been planned since before her late husband died.

She's joining a crowded race for the 7th District congressional seat. At least six Democrats and three Republicans have filed for the position.

Rockeymoore Cummings, who resigned Monday as party chair, is a public policy consultant who founded the Washington consulting firm Global Policy Solutions LLC. State senator and party vice chair Cory McCray will take over as interim chair.

The special primary for the congressional seat is Feb. 4. The special election is April 28. The winner will fill the rest of the congressman's term, until January 2021.

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