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  • Schiff joins Schumer in blasting McConnell's impeachment trial rules

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    Rep. Adam Schiff joined Sen. Chuck Schumer in slamming the rules unveiled by Republicans for the Senate impeachment trial, calling them “the process for a rigged trial.”

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:49:48 -0500
  • Northeastern College Student Deported to Iran Despite Judge’s Order

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    The attorneys for a 24-year-old Iranian national and Northeastern University student who inspired protests at Boston Logan International Airport over the weekend said their client was deported late Monday in spite of a federal court order.Shahab Dehghani was detained Sunday night at about 5 p.m. when he arrived to study economics at the private school on a valid F1 student visa. He was held for secondary questioning by federal agents, and more than 100 people reportedly came out to demonstrate on his behalf outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) area of the airport for at least three hours on Monday. Protesters chanted “let Shahab in,” “do the right thing,” “stop deporting students,” and “let him in!”Dehghani was ordered removed from the U.S. without his having access to a lawyer, WBUR reported, but his attorneys, Susan Church and Kerry Doyle, filed an emergency federal petition on his behalf Monday night. The filing claimed CBP agents violated Dehghani’s rights when they detained him at the airport in the first place.U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs granted the order, scheduled a hearing in Boston federal court at 10 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss the matter, and appeared to delay Dehghani’s removal.“It is not a total victory. It is a partial victory,” Church told a crowd of protesters on Monday night, according to MassLive.com.Despite that order, Church said on Twitter Tuesday morning that Shahab Dehghani was “removed from the U.S. at 10:03 p.m.” Monday after agents told “multiple attorneys” that he was taken off the plane about 30 minutes earlier.Church tweeted on Tuesday morning: “THEY LIED.”A CBP spokesperson said in a statement that the agency could not confirm or deny that Dehghani was even in custody, citing the Privacy Act.“Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the U.S. by overcoming all grounds of inadmissibility including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds,” the statement said.Judge Richard G. Stearns reportedly dismissed the case during a Tuesday morning hearing, declaring the issue moot—since Dehghani had already been deported—and noting that he did not believe he had the authority to order CBP to allow for the student’s return, according to WBUR.During the 10 a.m. hearing in Boston federal court, CBP attorneys also disputed the timeline presented by Dehghani’s attorneys, one of whom said Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey received confirmation that the emergency stay order was granted before the flight took off, WBUR reported. In court, the agency’s attorneys reportedly claimed that Dehghani’s plane left before the order was issued.“We are aware that a Northeastern University student who is an Iranian citizen has been denied entry to the United States,” school spokeswoman Shannon Nargi said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Northeastern welcomes thousands of international students and supports them with an array of resources. We have been in touch with federal officials to learn more about this case and to provide our student with the appropriate assistance to facilitate a successful return to Northeastern.”Dehghani previously attended University of Massachusetts Boston and was in the country for more than two years before he returned to Iran to visit family in December 2018, MassLive.com reported.Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren recently requested more information from CBP about additional security measures that may target Iranian travelers entering the country. The Guardian reported that the U.S. has deported at least 10 Iranian students with valid visas since August—despite the lengthy and intense approval process it takes to acquire that paperwork. Seven of those students had reportedly flown into Logan International Airport in Boston, and some now allege serious infractions by an individual CBP officer at the Boston airport, the newspaper reported.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 10:55:05 -0500
  • AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights Demonstration

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    Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Monday contrasted the annual gun rights rally in Richmond, Va. with the riots after the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray and protests following the killing of Eric Garner by New York police."When we go out and march for the dignity…of the lives of people like Freddie Gray and Eric Garner, the whole place is surrounded by police in riot gear without a gun in sight [among protesters]," Ocasio-Cortez said at a Monday event. "And here are all of these people [in Richmond], flying Confederate flags with semiautomatic weapons, and there are almost no police officers at that protest."Following the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police van in Baltimore in 2015, the city saw riots so extensive that Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, while national-guard units deployed to quell the violence. While the officers who arrested Gray were initially charged with murder, all charges were eventually dropped by the prosecution.During the Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va. officers arrested one person for covering her face in public, which is banned under Virginia law. The individual was later released, and the rally continued without violence.On Thursday the New York Times reported that three suspected white nationalists had been arrested, with investigators alleging the three would try to ignite violence at the rally. Governor Ralph Northam, who has voiced support for more restrictive gun laws, declared a state of emergency in response to the threat.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:03:04 -0500
  • Huawei CFO lawyers say her alleged crimes no crime in Canada

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    Lawyers for a senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei argued Tuesday that allowing her extradition to the United States would result in Canada bowing to foreign law. This week's hearings deal with the question of whether the U.S. charges against Meng Wanzhou are crimes in Canada as well. Canada does not have similar sanctions on Iran.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 15:42:22 -0500
  • Feds: White supremacists hoped rally would start civil war

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    A hidden camera captured members of a white supremacist group expressing hope that violence at a gun rights rally in Virginia this week could start a civil war, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:42:06 -0500
  • The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest area

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    The body of Selena Shelley Faye Not Afraid, 16, was found near the Montana rest area where she was last seen on New Year's Day, authorities said.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 08:38:53 -0500
  • Rohingya refugees pray for justice as court to rule in genocide case

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    COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) - Rohingya refugees who fled persecution and violence in Myanmar are praying for justice as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague prepares to deliver an initial verdict on Thursday in a genocide case filed against Myanmar. More than 730,000 Muslim Rohingya fled an army offensive in Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017. The United Nations says gang rapes and mass killings were carried out with "genocidal intent".

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 07:39:16 -0500
  • Austria Threatens to Quit Effort to Create an EU Financial Tax

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Austria’s new finance minister dismissed a proposal by his German counterpart on how to tax financial trades in the European Union, throwing the years-long effort into disarray.“We want a common, broad financial transaction tax. We’re ready to talk, but the current proposal is the opposite of what was originally intended,” Austria’s Gernot Bluemel told journalists on his way into a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels. Without a new a approach, the country will leave the group of 10 still working on the plan, he said.Germany’s Olaf Scholz tabled a “final proposal” for the levy in December that focused on stock purchases, after talks on a broader version of the tax had failed. Bluemel, who was sworn in along with the rest of Austria’s new government this month, said this approach would damage the real economy while letting “speculators” off the hook.The European Commission first proposed a financial-transaction tax in 2011 to make sure the industry made a “fair contribution” after taxpayers bore most of the costs of the financial crisis. When some member states opposed the plan, a smaller group sought a compromise under “enhanced cooperation” rules. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain are still at the table.Scholz said he still expects an agreement with other European countries on the issue, indicating that some countries are willing to join the group. After years of discussion, “everybody who’s been involved knows what’s possible and what isn’t,” he said. Under EU rules on enhanced cooperation, at least 9 countries are needed for a coordinated approach. Scholz’s proposal foresees a tax rate of 0.2%, which would apply to acquisitions of shares issued by companies based in one of the participating countries and whose market capitalization exceeds 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).(Updates with comment from Scholz in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Weber in Brussels at aweber45@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 08:11:53 -0500
  • Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for wedding

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    With just 40 days left until her wedding, like many a bride-to-be, Amanda Knox has a long to-do list to get through before the big day.Ms Knox revealed a unique "something old" in a post on Instagram as she knuckles down to get through the tasks at hand – her old uniform from her time in an Italian prison.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 12:39:45 -0500
  • McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from Democrats

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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the rules for a Senate impeachment trial on Monday evening.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 19:40:23 -0500
  • After rejecting amendments, Senate adopts impeachment trial rules

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    After a marathon debate session that began on Tuesday afternoon and ended early Wednesday morning, the Senate approved the ground rules for President Trump's impeachment trial.The vote was 53 to 47, along party lines. Under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) resolution, House impeachment managers and Trump's legal team will both have up to 24 hours over three days to argue their cases. Senators will have 16 hours to ask questions, and then they will revisit the matter of calling witnesses and subpoenating other evidence in the trial.Before the final vote, the Senate rejected along party lines several Democratic amendments proposed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), including subpoenaing former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The Senate is now adjourned until 1 p.m. ET.More stories from theweek.com Late night hosts suspect Trump's Senate GOP impeachment jury can't handle the truth, or the strict rules Rep. Hakeem Jeffries explains Trump's impeachment to Trump's lawyers, drops in Biggie Smalls reference White House budget office releases heavily redacted Ukraine emails as Senate rejects OMB subpoenas

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 02:14:00 -0500
  • Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy it

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    Intervention of California governor helps Moms 4 Housing group score victory in fight against state’s homeless crisisThe homeless mothers who took over a vacant house in Oakland, California, and occupied it for almost two months will be allowed to purchase the property – a major victory in a movement working to keep such homes out of the possession of speculators.The group Moms 4 Housing entered the house on Magnolia Street on 18 November with the intent to stay. The house had sat vacant for more than two years before it was purchased in July at a foreclosure auction for $501,078 by Wedgewood Properties, a real estate investment company with a history of buying up foreclosed-upon houses cheaply, evicting the tenants, renovating the homes and then putting them back on the market at much higher prices.Housing advocates say companies such as Wedgewood fueled the housing crisis that now grips the state, which needs anywhere between 1.8m and 3.5m new housing units by 2025. More than 15,500 units remain vacant in Oakland alone, according to the latest US Census Bureau data, while 4,071 people are homeless. House-flipping has led to rapid gentrification, which then in turn led to the widespread displacement of black residents.In Oakland, 78% of the homeless population reported that their last place of residence before becoming homeless was within county limits. Seventy per cent were black.Moms 4 Housing chose the Magnolia Street house in part to try to force Wedgewood to negotiate the sale of the home back to the community.“This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community,” Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who lived in the house with her two children, said in a statement, on the day that America marked Martin Luther King Day. “Today we honor Dr King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations.”With the housing and homelessness crisis worsening each day, the mothers received widespread support for their cause, from local lawmakers to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who praised the activists.Moms 4 Housing had brought the issue to court, but a judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood. Sheriff deputies arrived in the early hours of 15 January to evict them, arresting two of the mothers and two of their supporters.Wedgewood has maintained that the mothers had committed a criminal act in breaking into the house, and the house legally belonged to the company.“Wedgewood has always been and continues to be open to thoughtful and purposeful discussions,” spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement.“After regaining possession of Magnolia Street, we engaged in discussions with governor Gavin Newsom, mayor Libby Schaaf and councilman Larry Reid. These led to progress that everyone should agree is a step in the right direction in helping to address Oakland’s homelessness and housing crisis.”

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 19:07:24 -0500
  • S. Korea naval unit to expand operations to Strait of Hormuz

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    A South Korean anti-piracy unit has temporarily expanded its mission to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital global oil route at the center of soaring tensions between Iran and the United States. South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced the expansion Tuesday, saying it was meant to help ensure the safe passage of South Korean vessels and nationals through the waterway. South Korea has conducted anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2009 and is expanding to the strait that connects the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 01:52:59 -0500
  • Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'

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    The weapon which is expected to eventually arm the country's newer frigates is apparently experiencing developmental challenges.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:11:36 -0500
  • China Learned the True Lesson of Pearl Harbor—Can We?

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    Japan didn't—until it was too late.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:10:00 -0500
  • You Should Get an Electric Fireplace

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    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500
  • China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that the country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.In the most high-profile remarks on the country’s economic policy since the accord was signed last week, Han said that its commitment to buy more from the U.S. is in line with its World Trade Organization obligations and won’t squeeze out other imports. Han also pledged to lower barriers for foreign investors as he set out the case for China’s engagement with the global economy.“China will open its door wider,” Han told an audience in Davos, Switzerland. “Though facing some protectionism from some countries, the determination to open up will not waver.”The speech comes less than a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping sealed a “phase one” deal intended to de-escalate a trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump. The accord saw China commit to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S.“The phase-one trade deal is good for U.S., China and the world,” Han said. “China’s increasing purchases of U.S. goods are in accordance with WTO guidelines and will not impact its imports from other countries.”Han made the comments just as Trump gave his own speech in Davos, in which the U.S. president claimed credit for overseeing an economy enjoying its longest expansion yet, with an unemployment rate that fell to a five-decade low after tax cuts, deregulation and improved trade deals. He also spoke of his close relationship with Xi.“He’s for China and I’m for the U.S., but other than that, we love each other,” he said.Under the agreement, China will boost purchases of U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, energy and services over the next two years. Critics say such pre-determined demand can have adverse consequences elsewhere.‘Managed Trade’”The real problem with managed trade is that it may divert, rather than expand, international commerce,” Chad Bown, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in a report released Tuesday. “For example, China could purchase more American soybeans by cutting back on imports of oilseeds from Brazil.”Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy said China’s pledge to boost American imports could end up costing the European Union about $11 billion next year. “If trade costs and hence relative prices do not change, Chinese imports from the U.S. must come at the expense of third countries,” the institute said in a study published this week.Last week, EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said his team will scrutinize whether China’s pledge is allowed under the WTO.“We haven’t analyzed the document in detail, but we will and if there’s a WTO-compliance issue of course we will take the case,” Hogan told a conference on Thursday in Washington.Separately, Australia is pushing China for the same dairy concessions that the U.S. received, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. As part of phase one of the deal, the U.S. secured regulatory breaks on dairy products shipped to China, barriers that have hampered Australian exporters, the newspaper reported last week.To contact the reporters on this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net;Crystal Chui in Zurich at tchui4@bloomberg.net;Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Ben Sills, Brendan MurrayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 10:53:10 -0500
  • Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressure

    Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis to complain about Chinese pressure on the island Beijing claims as its own, saying China seeks to threaten its democracy and freedom. The Vatican is one of just 15 countries that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan and the only one in Europe.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:58:07 -0500
  • Menendez and Graham Partner Up to Craft a New Iran Deal

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    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have teamed up to work on drafting potential contours for negotiations with Tehran over the country’s nuclear programming and a roadmap for a new deal, according to Graham and two other congressional aides familiar with the matter.“I’ve been working with Senator Menendez on this for some time,” Graham told The Daily Beast in an interview last week. “We need a new way forward. And I’ve been trying to think of alternatives.”Graham told The Daily Beast in an interview in August that he was working with senior Trump administration officials on an alternative to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal. Part of that effort included fielding ideas from outside actors, including foreign officials. Since then, Graham has met with Menendez—although only a few times—on how to kickstart a bipartisan congressional effort to reform the administration’s Iran policy.According to sources individuals familiar with the Graham-Menendez partnership, the two senators have largely talked about constructing an actionable plan to present to other lawmakers and to the White House. But the two sides have yet to agree on exactly how to get the ball rolling, according to those sources. One individual said Menendez wanted to work with Graham because the South Carolina lawmaker had gained the president’s ear on Iran over the last year.Although the duo has spoken about teaming up for some time, sources say the lawmakers are focused now more than ever on crafting a new deal following the killing of Iran’s top military leader, Qassem Soleimani. Following the strike, Democrats in the Senate, including Menendez, called out senior officials in the Trump administration for not offering proper intelligence briefings to Congress on what led to the strike. Menendez told MSNBC earlier this month that the administration suggested in briefings there was an imminent threat to American interests but that there was “no clear definition of what they consider imminent.”The senator also called on the administration to declassify the official notification provided to Congress about the Soleimani strike.Graham, on the other hand, applauded President Trump and told The Daily Beast that the administration should continue to keep the military option on the table if Iran were to continue to threaten American interests in the Middle East. Graham suggested the U.S. strike Iranian oil assets in the country, pointing to refineries in particular. Menendez, on the other hand, has urged the administration to up its diplomatic outreach following the strike rather than continue to rely on its military might.Despite their division on Trump’s decision to strike Soleimani, both lawmakers opposed the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.“I have looked into my own soul, and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it,” Menendez said in a 2015 speech. “It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.”At the time of the deal’s proposal in 2015, Menendez advocated that the Obama administration continue to levy sanctions on Iran in order to change Tehran’s behavior and keep it from eventually obtaining a nuclear weapon. Although Graham’s and Menendez’s public statements on Iran have varied, both lawmakers seem to agree on one point: The Trump administration’s strategy isn’t working.Since Trump took office, Menendez has criticized the Trump administration’s Iran strategy as only emboldening Tehran. And while Graham tends to support Trump publicly, the South Carolina lawmaker has been openly critical of how the White House responds to Iran’s malign activities in the region.In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Graham said the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign—meant to cripple Iran’s economy with sanctions—was working but needed to be harsher and combined with military deterrence. Team Trump Thought It Could Contain Iran With ‘Maximum Pressure.’ The Attacks Got Worse.Before the Soleimani strike, Iran policy experts, some of whom worked with the Obama administration, said Tehran would not engage in talks about a revised nuclear deal unless the U.S. rolled back at least some of its sanctions on the country. Now those experts say Tehran, having rolled back its commitments under the former deal, is not likely to engage in any meaningful conversation with the U.S. on nuclear power, at least in the short term.Meanwhile, two officials in the Treasury Department say their unit is continuously drawing up additional sanctions for Iran on the chance Trump wants to hit the country with additional punishments in the near future.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 05:15:07 -0500
  • Schiff may have mischaracterized Parnas evidence, documents show

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    Unredacted material shows he may have referred to the wrong "Mr. Z."

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 19:46:48 -0500
  • Police: Mom accused of killing her 3 kids said she smothered them while singing

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    A probable cause document doesn’t provide a possible motive for the brutal killings that Rachel Henry is charged with.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:52:01 -0500
  • Supreme Court stays out of dispute over grand jury secrecy

    The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to get involved in a dispute about judges' authority to order the disclosure of secret grand jury material in rare circumstances. The court turned away an appeal from an 82-year-old researcher who is seeking grand jury records from the late 1950s. The justices' order does not affect an ongoing court battle over House Democrats’ quest for access to grand jury materials from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 09:57:11 -0500
  • Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcano

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    A desolate landscape of ash dunes and bare trees left by the eruption of the Philippines' Taal volcano lay in contrast with a few signs of life at ground zero of the disaster on Tuesday. The island site was buried by massive deposits of ash when Taal erupted last week and remains under a mandatory evacuation order due to a feared bigger blast. Authorities have said any outward signs of an imminent eruption have been weak over the past several days.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:48:52 -0500
  • The U.S. Navy Plans On Turning This Littoral Combat Ship Into the Ultimate Naval Weapon

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    Russia and China should be on notice.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:30:00 -0500
  • Biden selfie with elevator operator goes viral after 2020 candidate fails to secure New York Times endorsement

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    A clip of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden taking a selfie with an elevator operator has gone viral after the former vice president failed to secure an endorsement from The New York Times.The exchange was captured on camera when Mr Biden was on his way to meet the Times’ editorial board as part of a series of interviews with Democratic 2020 election candidates.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:35:59 -0500
  • 30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors

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    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:30:26 -0500
  • Taiwan calls on China to share 'correct' virus information

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    Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on China on Wednesday to share "correct" information about a new coronavirus and for the World Health Organisation (WHO) not to exclude Taiwan from collaboration on the outbreak for political reasons. Authorities have confirmed more than 400 cases of the virus in China, most of them in the central city of Wuhan where the virus first appeared at the end of 2019. The virus, which health officials have said can be passed from person to person, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai, with cases have been confirmed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, as well as Taiwan.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:54:45 -0500
  • Zimbabwe Opposition Vows Rolling Protests Over Economy

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on TwitterZimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change will hold a series of demonstrations this year over the government’s failure to address the deteriorating economy.The southern African nation had the continent’s fastest-shrinking economy last year, after Libya, and its annual inflation rate was outpaced globally only by Venezuela, International Monetary Fund estimates show. Zimbabwe is grappling with shortages of food, fuel and foreign-exchange, while its inability to pay for adequate electricity imports and breakdowns at power plants have led to outages of as long as 18 hours a day.“This year is going to be a year of demonstrations and action,” MDC leader Nelson Chamisa told party supporters in the capital, while outlining their plans for this year.” This year it must be known that demonstrations are coming. It is time to fight for Zimbabwe we all want and have been dreaming of.”Previous protests by anti-government activists have resulted in brutal repression. At least 18 people have been killed in demonstrations since Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power in November 2017.To contact the reporter on this story: Godfrey Marawanyika in Harare at gmarawanyika@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at gbell16@bloomberg.net, Paul Richardson, Alastair ReedFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:30:59 -0500
  • 4 wild stories we've learned so far from 'A Very Stable Genius,' a new book on the Trump White House

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    The book tells never-before-heard stories about the Trump White House, and confirms anecdotes that were detailed in other books and reporting.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 16:39:16 -0500
  • 2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison

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    Two inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison that has been shaken by other deadly violence in recent weeks. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the deaths Tuesday but did not immediately release the names of the latest inmates killed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department said it is investigating the deaths.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:32:51 -0500
  • Leopard runs into house before being captured in south India

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    A leopard that ran into a house and sparked a frantic search and a frenzy of attention in southern India on Monday has been caught and tranquilized. The big cat emerged from the Kamdanam forest and ran into a house in Shadnagar town in Telangana state, said Dr. Mohammad Abdul Hakeem, a wildlife official. Deadly conflict between humans and animals has increased in recent years in India largely due to shrinking forest habitats and urban expansion.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 09:15:50 -0500
  • Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police say

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    Officials described the mother, who was not identified, as a 22-year-old woman who recently moved to Arizona from Oklahoma.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 22:19:58 -0500
  • Russia's Navy Is Having A Submarine Problem (And There Is No Easy Solution)

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    While the Yasens probably have the ability to launch cruise missiles as well, that would still leave Russia with around 10 modern nuclear-powered SSNs and dedicated SSGNs alongside two-dozen boats in their thirties and forties facing looming retirement.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:30:00 -0500
  • Confused, Iran Scrambles to Figure Out Trump

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    In the wake of the U.S. killing of General Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran is scrambling to figure out how to respond to President Trump. Throughout 2019, Iran ratcheted up threats and tensions, targeting oil tankers in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and U.S. troops in Iraq via proxies, testing Washington’s response. The decision to kill Soleimani, who arrived at Baghdad International Airport without any apparent suspicion of his impending death, threw down a gauntlet to Tehran that left the Ayatollah and the IRGC grasping for response options. This is a lesson to be learned from the recent Iran tensions: The U.S. can strike back at Iran and its allies without a major war resulting, so long as Iran is surprised or confused by the U.S. response.Iran, in response, fired ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq because it didn’t know what else to do. Ballistic missiles enabled Iran to strike without risking its own casualties and to showcase a technology that it has and that the U.S. lacked defenses against in Iraq. But the strike was limited in scope, and Iran hoped that at worst the U.S. would respond with cruise missiles or some similar kind of missile strike. How do we know this? Iran didn’t put its whole country on a war footing when it fired the missiles. It did down a civilian Ukrainian Airlines flight by mistake, showing that it expected some kind of aerial retaliation.Iran tries to project an image of itself as massively powerful and cunning, sending its constantly smiling foreign minister, Javad Zarif, abroad to demonstrate its ability to open doors from Europe to Asia. Closer to home, Iran pushes relations with Turkey, Qatar, India, Oman, and other countries. Iran boasts of massive revenge for its losses. All last year, Iranian media featured articles about its military technological achievements, such as new drones, missiles, and warships. But behind the facade of strength and boasting, Iran prefers long-term incremental achievements and influence entrenchment in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.Take the Iranian proxy attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq throughout 2019 as an example. Iran can read U.S. media and official statements to gauge U.S. response. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Iraq in May to warn of possible Iranian escalation. From that moment Iran did escalate, attacking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and downing a U.S. drone in June. In Iraq, rockets were fired at bases where U.S. forces are located. Pompeo warned in December that “Iran’s proxies have recently conducted several attacks” in Iraq and that the U.S. would respond directly if Iran harmed U.S. personnel. David Schenker, State Department assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, said that Iranian-backed militias in Iraq were shelling Iraqi bases where U.S. forces are located.Iran didn’t expect the U.S. to carry through with a powerful response because it could read U.S. responses to the June drone downing and knew that Trump had refrained from a strike on Iran. Whether by mistake or intention, a rocket attack by Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah in late December killed a U.S. contractor near Kirkuk. Five Kataib Hezbollah sites were hit with U.S. airstrikes in response, and dozens were killed. Iran predicted that a show of force at the U.S. embassy would embarrass Washington and show the U.S. who is boss in Iraq. On Twitter on December 31, Pompeo singled out Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iran, and other Iraqi proxies of Iran as responsible for the attack on the U.S. embassy. Tehran’s leaders could have read that tweet as the threat that it was. Instead, Muhandis met Soleimani at the airport in Baghdad two days later, without fear that he was being followed by a U.S. drone that would soon turn his SUV into a smoldering wreck.The decision to go off script and strike directly at Soleimani and Muhandis has been termed “regime disruption,” a purposeful attempt to confuse Tehran by doing something unprecedented. Iran’s initial reaction was muted despite is boasts of “hard revenge,” because it doesn’t know what to do. It wants to keep an open account with the U.S., as a threat to do more. But Tehran’s usual attempt to control the tempo of conflict in the Middle East has been blunted.Lesson learned: Iran does best when it gets to set the narrative through its good-cop/bad-cop strategy of military bluster and political sweet talk, played by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Iran’s proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. But what does Iran do when it faces complex challenges? In Syria, Israel has carried out more than 1,000 airstrikes on Iranian targets, and Iran has responded with desultory rocket fire. The attacks appear to have reached a point where Iran expects them and shrugs them off, because, as with Soleimani, it doesn’t know how to respond to Israel. It has provided Hezbollah with a massive arsenal of rockets and wants to equip them with precision guidance, but Tehran must know that you get to use this massive arsenal only once before you provoke a war with Israel. That means that Hezbollah has one shot and that Iran must preserve that threat for a rainy day.Where Iran succeeds in its incrementalism is in the Gulf and in dealings with Europe over the Iran deal. Iran has walked away from key aspects of the deal over the past year, giving Europe 60-day warnings. Iran did the same in the Gulf, judging that Saudi Arabia would not respond to a drone and cruise-missile attack in September against its Abaiq refinery. Typically, when 25 drones and nine cruise missiles strike a massive refinery, the country would go to war in response. But Iran knows that Saudi Arabia can’t afford a real war that would destabilize the Gulf and oil exports. Riyadh and its wealthy Gulf neighbors have more to lose than Iran does in such a scenario.Iran expects its adversaries to follow a script, and it has a ready-made tit-for-tat response. The U.S. left the Iran deal and struck Soleimani and Muhandis, surprising Tehran. Killing another IRGC commander would have diminishing returns, just as sanctions seem to no longer surprise Tehran. This is a challenge for American strategists: Devise a strategy whose core is to do the opposite of what the enemy expects. A combination of Seinfeld’s George and Sun Tzu’s Art of War. The more Iran has to focus on what the U.S. might do next, the less Iran can plan on how to attack the U.S. and its allies, including Israel.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 06:30:04 -0500
  • New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler

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    * Ian O’Reilly says he was forced to act after animal bit child * Police say O’Reilly ‘suffocated the coyote until it succumbed’A New Hampshire man fought and killed a coyote on Monday, police said, bringing a spate of attacks to an end.Ian O’Reilly, from Kensington, choked the coyote to death after it attacked his two-year-old child. The same coyote is believed to have bitten a woman in the buttocks earlier in the day, and attacked a car.The coyote targeted O’Reilly’s family while they were walking on a trail near Kensington. It bit one of O’Reilly’s three children, prompting the father to kick it. O’Reilly then throttled the animal.“There was no interest in it going away,” O’Reilly told Boston 25 News. “[I] ultimately had to make the decision to become the aggressor and jumped on it, attacked it and [got] it to the ground.“When I was able to get on top of it, I put my hand on its snout so it wasn’t able to attack me. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I shoved the face into the snow and then eventually was able [to] put my hand on its snout and expire it through suffocation.“Ultimately one hand on its windpipe and one hand on its snout did the trick.”O’Reilly was reportedly bitten in the arm and chest. His child was wearing a bulky snowsuit and was unharmed.“The coyote attacked a young child, and the child’s dad went into protection mode and suffocated the coyote until it succumbed,” police said.New Hampshire’s fish and game department was testing the coyote for rabies, according to 25 News. O’Reilly received shots for the virus.Police believe the same coyote earlier attacked a car in the same vicinity, before targeting Kensington resident Pat Lee and her dogs. The coyote bit one of the dogs and bit Lee in the buttocks.“Thank God the plumber was here, because the plumber was standing at the door screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’” Lee told NBC Boston. The coyote managed to get into Lee’s home.“I was running behind the dogs to get them in, and just as I was here, literally, the coyote bit me. In the butt.”Coyote attacks are rare. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “more people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes”.The Kensington police chief, Scott Cain, said O’Reilly may have saved others from being attacked by the coyote.“The chances are it was sick and the pack kicked it out of the pack,” Cain said.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 09:17:50 -0500
  • Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremony

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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Western global powers to include China in their multilateral system and treat Beijing equally rather than freeze it out and risk slipping into a Cold War-style bipolar order. Speaking after receiving a prize at the American Academy in Berlin, attended by former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, Merkel said China's economic success posed challenges. "Of course we also have to build up fairness, of course we have to practise multilateralism such that the rules apply to everyone," she said.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:50:46 -0500
  • Sanders Tied With Biden for Lead in New Poll: Campaign Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Bernie Sanders jumped seven percentage points in a new CNN poll and now is neck-and-neck with Joe Biden to lead the Democrats vying for the party’s presidential nomination.Among registered Democrats, 27% said they are most likely to back the Vermont senator, an increase from a month ago, according to the poll conducted Jan. 16-19 and released Wednesday. Former Vice President Biden came in second with 24% of respondents, although the difference is within the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.4 percentage points, meaning there is no clear leader.Sanders and Biden were followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who like Sanders has left the campaign trail and returned to Washington for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Warren had 14% and was followed by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with 11%. About 5% of the poll respondents said they were likely to support Michael Bloomberg, a figure that is unchanged from the previous month. Bloomberg is is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.The poll did find a significant advantage for Biden -- about 45% of those surveyed said he has the best chance of beating Trump, with only 24% saying the same for Sanders. The other candidates ranked in the single digits.Bloomberg Unveils $1 Trillion Public Works Plan (6 a.m.)Michael Bloomberg is pledging to repair 240,000 miles of U.S. roads and 16,000 bridges by 2025 as part of a comprehensive public works plan that would send more than $1 trillion to state and local governments over a decade.Previous efforts to enact sweeping federal infrastructure plans have languished without a consensus on how to pay for them, and Bloomberg isn’t saying yet how he’ll fund his. Those details will be part of his forthcoming tax plan, the campaign said.Bloomberg argues that past spending hasn’t solved the problem because there hasn’t been a national plan to guide investments in needed work by local communities. The former New York mayor was to discuss his policy at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting Wednesday in Washington.Bloomberg’s plan calls for allocating $850 billion over 10 years for roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure, with additional spending such as a $1 billion annual “pothole” fund for emergency repairs and $100 billion over a decade for cities with the worst water systems. He would also focus on airports, including “fast rail links” to 10 of the busiest, as well as expanding transit, high-speed rail and broadband.The plan also proposes a new Climate Resilience Finance Corporation with $100 billion annually in U.S. Treasury credit authority to provide loans, loan guarantees and grants to states, cities and the private sector for green projects. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. -- Mark NiquetteCOMING UP:Bloomberg and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg both plan to address the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Wednesday. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg NewsSome of the Democratic candidates will debate again in New Hampshire on Feb. 7.The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses will be held Feb. 3. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 11. Nevada holds its caucuses on Feb. 22 and South Carolina has a primary on Feb. 29.(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)\--With assistance from Mark Niquette.To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Davison in Washington at ldavison4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Kathleen HunterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 22 Jan 2020 08:24:01 -0500
  • Trump Was Defending Record at Davos, Says Blackstone CEO Schwarzman

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Blackstone Group Inc. chief executive officer Steve Schwarzman said Donald Trump was seeking to defend his economic record in Davos as the U.S. president faces the start of his impeachment trial.“Here’s somebody who is having the impeachment process start with a trial today,” Schwarzman said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday at the Swiss resort. “This was a speech to basically say ‘I think we need some perspective and let’s look at what’s happened under this administration. That is not just for domestic consumption, it’s meant to be heard in the broader context.” The president spent most of his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum lauding the success of the U.S. economy, saying the nation was witnessing “an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.” He said the benefits were widespread and creating a “geyser of opportunity.”The billionaire co-founder of New York-based private equity firm Blackstone has previously advised Trump and was present in the White House when he announced the first part of the China-U.S. trade deal. Trump’s impeachment trial formally opens in the Senate on Tuesday.Schwarzman, 72, spoke on the sidelines of Davos where he was one of at least 119 billionaires in attendance at the annual conference in the Swiss mountains.Blackstone has more than $550 billion in assets under management and is expanding into almost all areas of finance. The firm’s growth in recent years, along with other major PE firms, has been dramatic as the industry pushed into areas that banks pulled back from in the wake of the global financial crisis.Asked if a decade-long bull market was nearing an end, Schwarzman was optimistic: “This has been an amazing run. Usually you expect some kind of adjustment,” he said. As long as U.S. politics is stable and “we avoid the kinds of major international geopolitical risks, I think we will go on with variability up and down over today’s levels.”The firm was recently the target of Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren‘s ire, who has singled out Wall Street companies and investors she says contribute to inequality. In November, she assailed Blackstone for going on a “shopping spree” in the wake of the 2008 crisis and buying apartments and single-family homes that had been foreclosed. She also took aim at Colony Capital Inc. and Cerberus Capital Management.(Updates with comment on markets in 7th paragraph)\--With assistance from Heather Perlberg, Francine Lacqua and Tom Keene.To contact the reporter on this story: Benjamin Robertson in london at brobertson29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shelley Robinson at ssmith118@bloomberg.net, Chris BourkeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 07:42:25 -0500
  • AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’

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    New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained that the Democratic party does not represent the political left in the United States, calling the organisation a “centre or centre-conservative” party that “can’t even get a floor vote” on nationalising health care.She said: “We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare for All — not even a floor vote that might get doubled down.”

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 10:32:14 -0500
  • Allegations bite into business of 'Africa's richest woman'

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    Portuguese bank EuroBic said it will stop doing business with companies and people linked to its main shareholder Isabel dos Santos after an investigation accused the billionaire daughter of Angola’s former ruler of murky dealings. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists this week accused Dos Santos, who is reputed to be Africa's richest woman, of using “unscrupulous deals” to build her fortune, estimated at $2 billion. The cache of documents is known as Luanda Leaks, named for Angola's capital, Luanda.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:59:04 -0500
  • Tekashi 6ix9ine won't be allowed to serve the rest of his 2-year sentence in home confinement even though his prison has a lot of Blood gang members

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    A judge dashed the controversial rapper's hopes that he could spend the rest of his two-year prison sentence away from the gang he once betrayed.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:35:54 -0500
  • Prince Harry banned from wearing military uniform after stepping back from armed forces

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    Harry, Duke of Sussex, will be barred from wearing his military uniform after he agreed to step back from his armed forces appointments.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 10:06:10 -0500
  • 21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam War

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    A lot of firepower.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:00:00 -0500
  • Supreme Court refuses for now to hear appeal of decision threatening Affordable Care Act

    Golocal247.com news

    A federal appeals court ruled last month that the government cannot force most consumers to buy health insurance because a tax penalty was eliminated.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:26:58 -0500
  • China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deaths

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    China's National Health Commission said on Wednesday 440 people in 13 Chinese provinces were confirmed to be infected with a new coronavirus as of Tuesday, with nine deaths, and that there was evidence of respiratory transmission from patient to patient.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 21:31:32 -0500
  • Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfront

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    Nigerian navy personnel shot in the air Tuesday as they sought to clear a waterfront community of 10,000 people in the latest mass-eviction around economic hub Lagos. Bulldozers rumbled into Tarkwa Bay, a semi-rural area on an island in the city of some 20 million, as part of an operation the military say is aimed officially at stopping the looting of nearby oil pipelines. AFP correspondents heard gunfire during the operation.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:21:28 -0500
  • Michael Avenatti is being held in El Chapo's cell at the Manhattan jail where Epstein died, his lawyer says

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    Michael Avenatti, the lawyer most famous for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump, was arrested in California last week and transferred over the weekend to New York's federal Manhattan Correctional Center to face charges of extortion and embezzlement, his lawyers told a federal court on Monday. In fact, lawyer Scott Srebnick wrote, Avenatti is being housed, for reasons that are unclear, in the MCC's "Special Housing Unit on the notorious 10-South," the "most secure secure floor in the entire facility," in "a cell reportedly once occupied by El Chapo, on a floor that houses individuals charged with terrorism offenses."Not only is Avenatti being held in the freezing cell that once housed notorious Mexican drug trafficker and escape artist Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Srebnick said, but he's on 24-hour solitary confinement with a guard and two cameras keeping watch on him from outside his cell 24 hours a day. MCC appears to have learned from the suicide of another recent inmate, Jeffrey Epstein, as Srebnick alludes to in his filing.> Avenatti’s lawyers also write that the Manhattan federal jail’s staff and SDNY’s line prosecutors have been as helpful as they can. > > It all raises the question—if the letter is accurate, who decided that the SHU and SAMs were appropriate conditions of confinement for Avenatti?> > — southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) January 21, 2020Srebnick asked for the court's help in finding out why Avenatti is under such strict lockdown and in getting him moved to regular incarceration amid the general population of MCC, saying the current conditions are hindering Avenatti's participation in his defense case.More stories from theweek.com White House budget office releases heavily redacted Ukraine emails as Senate rejects OMB subpoenas Rep. Hakeem Jeffries explains Trump's impeachment to Trump's lawyers, drops in Biggie Smalls reference After rejecting amendments, Senate adopts impeachment trial rules

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:51:00 -0500
  • Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins

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    They're the Quds Force officers who tracked and killed Iraqis working with the U.S.-led coalition, hunted those deemed hostile to Iranian influence through a council of assassins, and smuggled the spies, money, weapons, and secrets into Iraq that sowed chaos across the country during the American occupation. Qassem Soleimani first gained the attention of Western media through his role in instigating a campaign of covert violence against the U.S. in Iraq which cost the lives of over 600 American troops. But underneath the now famous Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps icon, other officers managed the war that first made Soleimani notorious. For a period during the mid-2000s, one of those officers was Brigadier General Ahmed Foruzandeh, who rose to command the Ramazan Corps, part of the Guard’s elite Quds Force, after cutting his teeth in the unit running guerrilla warfare operations during the Iran-Iraq war.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to America“Although Qassem Soleimani was the architect of that broader strategy, it was his lesser known lieutenants who ran and oversaw the operations,” Dr. Afshon Ostovar, a scholar at the Naval Postgraduate School, said. “Foruzandeh was one of the top Quds Force operatives in the field in Iraq, yet his name was hardly known at the time.” Declassified documents obtained by The Daily Beast through the Freedom of Information Act offer new details of Foruzandeh’s campaign of violence in Iraq during the latter 2000s. They show how Foruzandeh and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) funneled guns, money, and spies into Iraq and assassinated both Americans and Iraqis. And they offer hints that the man who helped Iran kill hundreds of Americans throughout the Iraq war may not have actually retired years ago as he let on, but continued to consult for his former boss long after the war ended.Iranian and American media alike have treated Foruzandeh’s old boss, the former Quds Force commander Soleimani, with something approaching hagiography. In profiles and obituaries, he’s cast as a legendary “shadow commander” possessed of superhuman abilities and cunning, a judgment not entirely supported by Soleimani’s colleagues. By contrast, declassified documents obtained by The Daily Beast and other sources paint a more prosaic picture of Foruzandeh. Like a number of Quds Force personnel, Foruzandeh’s career in Iraq drew on nothing more mystical than relationships and experience. His first brush with the world of covert operations in the Iran-Iraq war met with middling success and the guerrilla warfare effort he supported barely moved the needle in the conflict. But by the time the U.S. showed up on Iran’s doorstep, Foruzandeh had been carrying out guerrilla warfare and covert operations across the Iran-Iraq border for nearly 20 years with some of the same people and organizations. “They clearly have, one, home court advantage. Two, these guys have been doing special operations in the region for their entire adult life and they’re veterans of the brutal Iran-Iraq war,” Doug Wise, a former CIA officer and station chief in Baghdad, told The Daily Beast of Iranian Quds Force officers who worked on Iraq. “These guys are worthy adversaries. They’re not 10 feet tall. They have human and physical limitations but extraordinary experience in conducting the operations that they were required to conduct,” Wise said. * * *“Big picture,” Col. Donald Bacon, then the chief of special operations and intelligence information for the coalition, said in a 2007 press conference, “the Ramazan Corps is the organization that does operations here in Iraq to—they use it to—they're the ones who transit in the weapons, the funding and help coordinate Iraqi militia extremists into Iran to get them training and then get them back into Iraq.”Ramazan was the Quds Force unit in charge of causing chaos in Iraq and, at least for a time, Foruzandeh was its commander. The unit, which dated back to the Iran-Iraq war, divided its forces between a handful of sub-commands along the Iraqi border. Foruzandeh had worked in Fajr command, based in Ahwaz, Iran, which handled operations in Basra and southern Iraq, working his way up to deputy commander of Ramazan.By 2007, as violence in Iraq peaked, intelligence reports surveyed Iranian covert operations in Iraq as the U.S. turned its attention away from the Sunni jihadist insurgency and towards the violence instigated by Iran and its proxies. The documents include raw reporting marked as "not finally evaluated intelligence" from sources whose motivations are described as "based on favorable experiences with U.S. forces and desire to rid Iraq of destructive foreign influences" but they track broadly with what U.S. officials have said about Ramazan Corps and its personnel.Taken together, they show a sprawling campaign of covert violence with Foruzandeh and the Ramazan Corps in charge.The documents spend considerable space detailing the elaborate process by which the Iranian-overseen “Golden Death Squad” targeted, approved, and carried out assassinations against Iraqis they viewed as obstacles. The unit, the report wrote, “consists of Iranian intelligence leadership that provide guidance and funding to Iraqis that are recruited from [Jaish al-Mahdi], Badr Corps, the Al-Fadilah Party, and other Shia Iraqi parties and militias that conduct assassination operations against former Ba'ath party members, Iraqis that are working with the [Coalition Forces], and Iraqis that are not supporting Iranian influence in Iraq.”Iranian officers shuttled Iraqi members of the assassination teams to Ahwaz, Iran, the headquarters of Ramazan’s Fajr command, for training. The 10-day long course included instruction from Iranian officers on “information collection to support the targeting of coalition forces in Iraq, assassinations, and the use of indirect fire systems such as Katyusha rockets and mortars.” Iran also trained its proxies in the use of “what is described as very sophisticated explosives that can penetrate [Coalition Forces'] armor,” an apparent reference to the notorious Iranian-made explosively formed projectiles which killed and maimed hundreds of American troops. When it came time to decide who would be killed, Quds Force officers set up a process for adjudicating assassination targets, giving Iraqi allies a role in the process, according to the documents. “Iraqis that are agents of the Iranians are allowed to produce lists of Iraqis that are to be assassinated,” it notes. “Most of these Iraqis that are authorized to make decisions regarding who is to be killed by the Golden Death Squad are members of the Iraqi government and security forces.” Meetings of the hit squad reportedly took place at the Basra governor’s office where members of Basra police intelligence would "routinely attend.”Iranian intelligence officers also nominated their own targets for assassination. Their names were handed to a member of the Iranian-backed Badr militia. The Iranian officer who passed the targets along—his name is redacted in the report—is described as “a Persian Iranian that is fluent in Iraqi Arabic and has a southern Iraqi accent due to the years he has spent in Iraq."Those slated for assassination included not just former Baathists but Iraqis who worked with the U.S.-backed coalition. The documents recount how one Quds Force officer, assigned to Ramazan’s Fajr command in southern Iraq, ran an Iraqi agent who photographed coalition informants for the IRGC. The unnamed Quds Force officer then “passe[d] the pictures to Iraqis that he tasks and funds to kill those identified by [redacted's] reporting and pictures."In at least one case, Foruzandeh reportedly intervened to help one of his militia allies after coalition officials arrested them. Mehdi Abdmehd al-Khalisi allegedly ran the Muntada al-Wilaya militia, a small, Iranian-backed Shiite militia implicated in the murder of a number of former Baathist officials and an attack on coalition troops. When coalition officials arrested al-Khalisi in 2005, senior Iraqi officials began pressuring the coalition to release him. A classified cable leaked by WikiLeaks show that informants told the U.S. that al-Khalisi had been communicating with Foruzandeh about attacks on British forces in Iraq’s Maysan governorate via encrypted telegrams as early as 2003. After his arrest, the cable says that an informant of “unknown reliability” reported that Foruzandeh “has authorized an expenditure of up to $500,000 for operations to secure Mr. al-Khalisi's release, and that senior [Iraqi Transitional Government] officials have received telephone calls from the Brigadier requesting assistance.” Along with the assassinations came Iranian weapons and trainers. Reporting by the Long War Journal first sketched out Ramazan’s “rat lines” in Iraq and documents obtained by The Daily Beast note that the unit oversaw a “complex smuggling apparatus from Ahwaz, Iran into Iraq" that included "weapons, information, financial support, and Iranian intelligence officers." The money, guns, and Iranian personnel began their journey in Ahwaz and were handed off to smugglers at the border with Iraq.Iranian intelligence officers would vet smugglers for loyalty and to ensure that they had a "pre-existing relationship with the [Iraqi border police] because of their tribal relationship"—a relationship that nonetheless "usually involves a pre-arranged bribe." Once across the border, smugglers toting money, guns, and Iranian personnel were “typically met by a reception element that represents a Shia militia group that the operation support package was built for."In the ports of southern Iraq, Ramazan agents smuggled weapons via hidden compartments in the fuel tanks of fishing boats, according to the documents. As violent as Foruzandeh’s tenure in occupation-era Iraq war was, he wasn’t entirely averse to covert diplomacy. Ahmed Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi lobbyist who helped push the Bush administration to war in Iraq, met with Foruzandeh in the spring of 2004, according to a 2008 biography of Chalabi by journalist and former Daily Beast senior correspondent Aram Roston. At the time, Chalabi had transitioned from pro-war lobbyist to an Iraqi member of parliament and was seeking to accommodate himself to Iran’s newfound influence in Iranian politics.  Some time after the meeting, the U.S. learned that Iranian intelligence had suddenly realized American spies were reading their cable traffic and had broken their codes. A few months later, American intelligence officials told The New York Times they believed Chalabi had walked into the Iranian embassy in Baghdad and blown the operation to the station chief of Iranian intelligence at the embassy. Chalabi denied any involvement in the leak but the incident led the Bush administration to end its relationship with him.* * *Foruzandeh’s father worked for the Abadan oil company and when he left the company, his family of 13 sons and daughters moved to Khorramshahr, just across the border from Basra in Iraq. His son Ahmed was an early supporter of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, a stance which earned him a stint in prison at university—thanks to the ruling Shah’s secret police—and the revolutionary bonafides that came with it when the Shah’s government was ousted.In the early days of the Islamic Revolution, Foruzandeh worked with the IRGC to identify and arrest Arab dissidents in Khorramshahr opposed to the new government. His knowledge of the area, proven commitment to the regime, and background in underground work made him a natural fit for intelligence when the Iran-Iraq war started.“After Iraq's invasion, he was the intelligence chief of the Khorramshahr unit that later played a key role in re-taking the city from the Baathists in 1982,” Amir Toumaj, an Iran researcher who’s written extensively on the Quds Force, explained of Foruzandeh. “His biography states that he started developing a relationship with Hassan Bagheri around the time of Khorramshahr's fall and sent him reports,” Toumaj says. Bagheri, the founder of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence service, was killed during the war but went on to become one of Iran’s most famous “martyrs.” His brother, Mohammad, is now Iran’s highest-ranking military officer and it was those kinds of connections that would help pave Foruzandeh’s ascent to the highest ranks of the IRGC.Trump, Iran, and Where ‘The Forever War’ Was Always HeadedLater in the war, Foruzandeh left his position in Khorramshahr’s 22nd Badr Brigade and joined the Ramazan Corps. The unit was designed to work with dissident groups in Iraq and carry out guerrilla operations behind enemy lines while the otherwise static style of trench warfare that characterized the Iran-Iraq conflict played out. At Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters, where Foruzandeh first worked, the unit carried out operations with Iraqi Shiite groups like the Badr Brigade, a group of exiled dissidents and former prisoners of war. The militia was originally “conceived by the Iranians as an adjunct to the IRGC-QF Ramazan Corps,” according to a 2005 State Department cable, and drew support from their political arm, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war, radio broadcasts from Tehran hailed operations by the “Ramazan Headquarters” which claimed assassination attempts with “Iraqi mujahidin” on Saddam’s interior minister Samir al-Shaykhali in Baghdad, the “revolutionary execution” of a Ba’ath Party official in Baghdad’s Mansur neighborhood, and having set fire to one of Saddam’s Baghdad palaces "used for pleasure by Ba'ath party officials and senior officers of that regime.”Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters and the Badr Brigade didn’t do much to change the tide of the war. It ended in a bloody stalemate in 1988, more of exhaustion than because of guerrilla daring. One of the Ramazan Corps’s most valuable relationships actually lay farther north with Kurdish forces from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The group carried out strikes deep into Iraqi Kurdish territory with Ramazan’s backing, including a 1986 raid on Iraqi oil infrastructure in Kirkuk (later memorialized in a cheesy Iranian action flick, Kirkuk Operation).But the relationships forged by Ramazan with Iraqi Shia militants would prove useful to both the Revolutionary Guards and Iran years down the road when groups like Badr took on an important role in Iraqi politics and security. When the war ended, both Ramazan Corps and Foruzandeh remained focused on Iraq, particularly during the Shia uprising against Saddam at the end of the Persian Gulf War. One Iranian news account put Foruzandeh in charge of working with Iranian-backed militias to support the uprising “in order to speed up the support of the Iraqi Mujahideen” because his unit, Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters, was closest to the revolt in Basra.There’s not much evidence about how Foruzandeh spent his time in the interim between America’s first two wars in Iraq. The most evidence available is a fragmentary report from Saddam-era intelligence documents captured by the U.S. after the war that shows Foruzandeh running an agent inside a camp for the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian dissident cult group which fought on behalf of Iraq during the war and carried out a series of terrorist attacks in Iran.* * *Not many senior Ramazan Corps veterans appear to have retired. Iraj Masjedi, another Quds Force Iraq veteran, took over as Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad in 2017. Abdul Reza Shahlai, who served in Iraq during the occupation alongside Foruzandeh, is now at 63 years old reportedly the top Quds Force officer in Yemen and was unsuccessfully targeted in a U.S. airstrike there the same night that special operations forces killed Soleimani.After the U.S. wound down its occupation in Iraq, Foruzandeh, gray-haired and portly, gave every impression of having retired and contented himself with the hobbies of old age, despite a U.S. sanctions designation on him during the war. He told an Iranian news outlet that he’d retired from the Quds Force in 2008, and was working on an oral history project about his hometown. In public, he spent his spent time shuffling between memorial ceremonies for fallen comrades. It doesn’t appear to be true.Another declassified intelligence document obtained by The Daily Beast offers hints that Foruzandeh may not have retired after all. The report, an account of senior Iranian officials’ participation in a museum project "documenting lessons learned from the Iran-Iraq war," suggests he kept at least a consulting role in Quds Force operations. In describing the background of officials present at the meeting, the report says Foruzandeh still dabbled in "management of personnel and logistic support to IRGC-QF external activities." Iran’s Khorasan province “has been recently added to his portfolio." Iran’s Khorasan province borders northwest Afghanistan and by 2013, the Obama administration had already been arguing for years that Quds Force officers were secretly supporting the Taliban in order to weaken U.S. and NATO forces in the country. There are some reasons to be skeptical of the declassified report. The sources claim that Foruzandeh was appointed a director of Iran’s Iran-Iraq war museum, but he’s not listed by the museum as an official or referred to as such in news accounts. It’s also dated around the same time Foruzandeh gave an interview to an Iranian news outlet announcing that he was working on a history project about his hometown’s role in the Iran-Iraq war.Still, other evidence suggests Foruzandeh was still in the irregular warfare business.In 2014, one of Foruzandeh’s closest colleagues in the Quds Force, fellow brigadier general and Ramazan Corps veteran Hamid Taghavi, was killed by ISIS in Iraq. The death came as a surprise, not least because Taghavi was one of the highest-ranking IRGC officers killed in Iraq since the Iran-Iraq war. Like Foruzandeh, Taghavi was also supposed to have left active duty. Instead, he was in Iraq supporting a Shiite militia loyal to Iran, Sayara al-Khorasani, and organizing Iran’s fight against ISIS.“Commander Taghavi was retired. No one thought he’d go to Iraq and be able to play a role in the mobilization and organization of the [Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units militia],” Foruzandeh told a meeting of Ahwaz city officials after his death. Taghavi’s death hit Foruzandeh hard and he would break down in tears recounting his comrade’s life when talking to reporters. In one interview, Foruzandeh suggested he’d been in contact with Taghavi by phone shortly before his death and offered advice for his work standing up pro-Iranian militias after ISIS took Mosul“He came to the place where we were stationed,” Foruzandeh said without elaborating. “We told him about the situation in Iraq, the characteristics of the conflict, the various Iraqi groups, and the challenges that existed. The Iraqi forces had deficiencies that needed to be addressed.” Taghavi was concerned about Iranian-backed militias’ performance during operations in Jurf al-Sakhar, an Iraqi town captured by ISIS and taken back during a brutal operation coordinated by the Quds Force. “He believed that unless these forces received better training they would suffer severe casualties. The casualties these forces suffered were generally due to a lack of proper military training. They didn’t know how to move, what to do when they’re under fire from the enemy, how to provide cover when attacking, or even how to clear traps and contaminants from an infected area,” Foruzandeh recalled.One of the last public glimpses of Foruzandeh comes from an unlikely source: Facebook. Foruzandeh doesn’t appear to have a profile, but his acquaintances identified him in pictures during a 2016 visit to meet with Iraqi officials from Maysan Province. The photos show a grandfatherly Quds Force officer with his trademark scowl described as an “advisor” to Iran’s Supreme Leader, a tailored visiting dignitary in a place where decades before he was once a spry, hunted guerrilla in hand-me-down fatigues.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:51:31 -0500
  • Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

    Golocal247.com news

    Indonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:31:08 -0500
  • Boeing Hiked Fourth-Quarter Lobby Spend in 737 Max Crisis

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co.’s spending on federal lobbying rose to $3.4 million in the last quarter of 2019 as the embattled plane-maker faced new threats in Washington after its 737 Max jetliner was grounded following two fatal crashes.The aerospace giant’s lobbying outlay in the last three months of 2019 jumped 8% compared with the third quarter as the company’s crisis over the 737 Max deepened.Former chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg faced a bipartisan pummeling in two days of testimony in late October, with even GOP stalwarts like Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, delivering blows. That performance was the beginning of the end for Muilenburg, who was ousted in late December and replaced with David Calhoun.The same month, the company was publicly rebuked by Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson for a litany of grievances. The agency complained that Boeing’s projections for returning the 737 Max to service were too optimistic and amounted to an attempt to put pressure on the regulator, according to an email the agency sent to lawmakers.A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on the company’s lobbying spending.Boeing said Tuesday that the grounded 737 Max won’t be cleared to fly until the middle of this year, months later than previously anticipated, in a new delay that will add to the company’s financial burden. The FAA hasn’t set a time frame for completing work on the Max.Boeing’s shares fell 3.3% to $313.37 at the close in New York, the biggest decline on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the lowest closing price in more than a year.The FAA grounded the 737 Max in March of 2019 after two crashes within five months killed 346 people. Representative Rick Larsen, the Democrat who represents Boeing’s Seattle industrial hub, is spearheading a House investigation of the Max crashes with Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat.For decades, Boeing has spread big money around Washington, but the company struggled to shore up its image last year.Lawmakers have accused Boeing of putting shareholders ahead of safety and questioned the design lapses behind a flight-control system that played a role in two fatal Max crashes. The company at times also clashed with federal regulators, though its interactions with FAA mostly aren’t considered lobbying under the law.Boeing’s fourth-quarter lobbying spend was down 12% compared with a year earlier. Overall Boeing spent $13.8 million on federal lobbying last year, down 9% from what it spent in 2018. Congress is mulling whether to rein in a decades-old program that delegates some certification work to aircraft manufacturers including Boeing. Though the FAA retains the ultimate responsibility for ensuring safe designs, Boeing approved features of the 737 jetliner with little input from the agency.Earlier this month, key lawmakers vowed to change the system following the release of internal Boeing documents showing employees discussed deep unease with the 737 Max and the flight simulators used to train pilots on the new jetliner, while also mocking senior managers and regulators in messages.(Updates with Boeing comment in fifth paragraph)\--With assistance from Bill Allison, Julie Johnsson and Alan Levin.To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Nix in Washington at nnix1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Jon MorganFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:52:22 -0500
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