US-backed Syria force says IS territorial defeat is near
BAGHOUZ, Syria (AP) — The sound of mortar shelling and fighter jets whizzing by filled the air.
02/16/2019 - 02:37 PM
5 killed as gunman opens fire at Illinois warehouse
A gunman opened fire in an industrial warehouse in Aurora, Ill., on Friday, killing five people and wounding five police officers before he was slain.
02/15/2019 - 06:57 PM
More U.S.-Sent Humanitarian Aid for Venezuela Lands in Colombia
U.S. military airplanes loaded with food, medicine and hygiene kits took off from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami and landed at the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Saturday. The aid now sits alongside relief supplies that arrived on Feb. 8.
02/16/2019 - 04:38 PM
North Koreans pay tribute to Kim's father in freezing cold
The Day of the Shining Star dawned bitterly cold in Pyongyang. Kim, the son of the isolated North's founder Kim Il Sung and the father and predecessor of current leader Kim Jong Un, was born on February 16. According to Pyongyang's orthodoxy, he came into the world in 1942, in a snow-covered hut at a secret camp on the slopes of Mount Paektu, the spiritual birthplace of the Korean people, where his father was fighting occupying Japanese forces.
02/16/2019 - 04:00 AM
Netanyahu's main rival in Israeli election voices agreement with him on Iran
Former general Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strongest challenger in an election scheduled for April, voiced support on Sunday for the right-wing leader's tough policy toward Iran. "I am standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the fight against Iran's aggression," Gantz, a former chief of Israel's armed forces and a centrist candidate, told the Munich Security Conference. Polls predict that Netanyahu's Likud party will win the April 9 election, taking about 30 of parliament’s 120 seats - enough to form a coalition of right-wing and religious factions similar to one he now heads.
02/17/2019 - 06:38 AM
Let us raise our daughter's baby, say family of Bethnal Green Jihadi bride Shamima Begum
The family of Bethnal Green teenager Shamima Begum have urged the British government to give them custody of her unborn child while she faces the prospect of imprisonment for supporting Islamic State. The pregnant 19-year-old has said she fears her baby, due to be born anytime now, will be taken from her if she manages to return to Britain after leaving the country in 2015 to join the terror group in Syria. Now her family have said that if she were to face a custodial sentence for her support of a terrorist organisation they will step in to raise the child, rather than the taxpayer having to pick up the cost. Muhammad Rahman, 36, whose brother is married to Shamima’s elder sister Renu, told The Sunday Telegraph: “Her parents would want custody of the baby. They would want to look after their grandchild. “I don’t think people, feeling the way many do about what Shamima has done, would want the state to pick up the burden of looking after the child.” Once in Syria she was married off to Yago Riedijk, 26, a Muslim convert from the Netherlands and bore him two children Mr Rahman added: “It’s in our culture for the rest of the family to step in and look after the children when there’s a problem and would make Shamima feel better if she ends up serving a prison sentence and she knows her parents are looking after her baby. “Both her parents are alive and are capable of looking after the baby. Hopefully then Shamima can be reunited with her baby after she has been freed from any spell in custody.” It comes after her family pleaded with the Government to treat the case as a "matter of urgency", as they said in a statement that the "welfare of Shamima’s unborn baby is of paramount concern". Shamima’s parents are now consulting their lawyer about the prospect of legal action against the British government to force it to allow the teenager back into the country. Ben Wallace, the Home Office minister in charge of security, last week rebuffed Shamima’s plea to be rescued from the Syrian refugee camp where she is currently stranded, saying her “actions have consequences”. At the same time Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, has said he would use all his available powers to prevent her return. But Shamima’s family believe that flies in the face of both common humanity and the British state’s responsibility towards one of its own citizens. Mr Rahman said: “Shamima’s family are taking the advice of their solicitor as to what to do next and that might well involve legal action to force the Government to allow her to return to Britain. That is certainly one prospect.” Family members say that while they recognise she may face prosecution and may have to undertake a period of intensive rehabilitation to ensure she presents no threat to the public, they also argue that Britain cannot simply ‘dump’ its problem citizens on another country. The schoolgirl who turned to Isil Her family are of Bangladeshi origin, but Shamima - who is nine months pregnant - was raised and schooled in London until falling under the spell of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Once in Syria she was married off to Yago Riedijk, 26, a Muslim convert from the Netherlands and bore him two children, who both died while babies. She said in an interview with The Times on Saturday: "What do you think will happen to my child? Because I don’t want it to be taken away from me, or at least if it is, to be given to my family.” Mr Rahman, who works as an electrician, said: “I can understand why many people in Britain do not want Shamima to be allowed back into the country after what she has done. I know people are scared about what she might do if she came back, if she might still be dangerous, but she went as a 15-year-old and I don’t know how a 15-year-old can make make such a decision with any responsibility. “She was a minor when she left and she has surely been brainwashed when she was out there. If there’s any possibility of a good outcome being achieved, by helping her to return and go through some sort of rehabilitation, it should be tried.” The 36-year-old family man, who lives in a house in east London previously occupied by Shamima’s sister Renu, added: “They want to be reunited as a family again. She is their daughter. If she is remorseful and can be set back on the right path then perhaps we can be compassionate as a society and think the best of people. “Every family wants to think the best of their children and their close ones but they had no idea she was being led down the path she was otherwise they would have tried to stop her. They think the best of their daughter and whatever difficulties she comes back with they believe they can fix.” Mr Rahman said Shamima’s decision to leave Britain and travel to Syria in February 2015, aged just 15, with her two friends from Bethnal Green Academy, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, had stunned her family, who had always considered themselves hard working people trying to do their best for their children. “I first met her when she was a little girl, just 11, and she was just a normal little girl. When I heard that she had left the country to travel to Syria it was completely out of the blue, both for me and her family. There is no way they would have let her do that if they had known she was planning to leave like that.” Tasnime Akunjee, solicitor for the three families of the Bethnal Green girls with Mayfair law firm Farooq Bajwa & Co, yesterday questioned whether the Home Secretary had the power to prevent Shamima returning to Britain. Writing on Twitter he said: “Sajid Javid the home secretary, does he understand UK laws?” Earlier Mr Akunjee stated: “It looks as if Mr Javid is trying to oppose that. I don’t believe he has the legal grounds or tools to stop her coming back.”
02/16/2019 - 05:00 PM
It Looks Like the Land Rover Discovery SVX Is Dead
This looks like another miss from Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations.
02/15/2019 - 05:54 PM
Amazon pays zero federal taxes for second year in succession despite doubling profits, says new report
Amazon has paid zero federal taxes for the second year in succession, despite a doubling of its profits, according to a new report. Although the tech giant founded by Jeff Bezos saw its profits grow from $5.6bn (£4.3bn) in 2017 to $11.2bn (£8.7bn) in 2018, it will actually receive a tax rebate of $129m (£100m). “The company’s newest corporate filing reveals that, far from paying the statutory 21 per cent income tax rate on its US income in 2018, Amazon reported a federal income tax rebate of $129m,” said the report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), which describes itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit think tank”, based in Washington DC.
02/16/2019 - 03:49 PM
Southwest declares operations 'emergency' amid labor dispute with mechanics
The airline sent a strongly worded memo to mechanics ordering all hands on deck in response to a higher than usual number of planes out of service.
02/15/2019 - 09:00 PM
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faces criticism for Amazon's escape from New York
Some Democrats are criticizing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her role in Amazon's decision to cancel plans for a huge investment in New York; Doug McKelway reports.
02/15/2019 - 06:59 PM
The Latest: Cardinal calls McCarrick punishment 'important'
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on the defrocking of former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick (all times local):
02/16/2019 - 06:21 PM
Donald Trump demands Britain puts jihadists on trial as Isil makes desperate last stand
Donald Trump has demanded Britain and its continental neighbours repatriate their captured Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters and put them on trial - or face the terrorists being set free to "permeate Europe." In a strongly-worded message tweeted late on Saturday night, the US president warned he would have little choice but to release approximately 800 "jihadists" currently held by American-backed Kurdish forces in Syria. He said now was the time for the ant-Isil coalition partners to "step up" and take over ownership of its rogue citizens who threaten the safety of Europe. Mr Trump's remarks came as the Sunday Telegraph exclusively revealed intense concern in Washington that "time is running out" to bring the terror group’s fighters to justice as coalition forces prepare to declare victory within days. "The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial," he wrote. The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them........— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019 "The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.." "The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go. We do so much, and spend so much - Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!" Time is rapidly running out to establish a coherent strategy with Isil fighters now controlling a pocket of land just 700 metres square in eastern Syria. At its height, the terror group controlled an area the size of Britain. In a final gesture of defiance, surviving Isil militants on Sunday laid down roadblocks around their final redoubt to prevent an estimated 1,000 civilians trapped with them from leaving. Mr Trump predicted victory would come on Saturday, but commanders of the Syrian Democratic Forces commanders have slowed a push on the village of Baghouz with fears that civilians were being used as human shields. SDF fighters man a checkpoint on the road leading to Bagouz, the last village under Isil control Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images Europe On Saturday, the French army revealed a senior officer was facing punishment after publicly criticising coalition tactics. Colonel Francois-Regis Legrier said an emphasis on minimizing risk to coalition personnel resulted in unnecessary civilian deaths and destruction of infrastructure that could feed resentment leading to another insurgency in future. At least seven British Isil members, including two alleged members of the notorious ‘Beatles’ terror cell, are believed to have been captured and held in Syria. But an unknown number of others, including Shamima Begum, the 19-year-old child bride from Bethnal Green, are living in refugee camps and may also pose a threat to the UK. According to a statement released by Miss Begum's family on Sunday, the teenager has just given birth to a baby boy. Mr Trump's comments put pressure on the British government to rethink its reluctance to commit to taking back the individuals. The village of Bagouz, Isil's ;ast enclave, is seen from an SDF hilltop position on February 14 Credit: Getty Images Europe/Chris McGrath Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, insisted last week he would “not hesitate” to prevent the return of anyone who supported terrorist organisations abroad. But yesterday SUN General Lord Richard Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, said the UK had an obligation to accept its citizens. “Usually I disagree with Donald Trump, but on this occasion I think he’s right. “If there are … a large number of foreign fighters in captivity in Syria who originate from countries like the UK, then they are our citizens and we have a responsibility to act responsibly towards them. That means they have got to come back to this country.” And Jeremy Wright, the Culture Secretary, echoed those views. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, he said: "It's clear, if you are dealing with a British citizen who wants to return to this country and they're not a dual citizen - so their only citizenship is British citizenship - then we are obliged, at some stage at least, to take them back." ENDS
02/17/2019 - 01:31 PM
US ‘tells India it respects its right to self-defence’ after cross-border militant attack kills 44 paramilitary police
The US has supported India’s right to “self defence” against cross-border terrorism after an attack claimed by Pakistan-based militants killed at least 44 police officers in the disputed territory of Kashmir. In comments that will please Indian hawks but also raise fears that tensions between India and Pakistan could escalate yet further, US national security advisor John Bolton reportedly told his counterpart in Delhi, that America “offered all assistance to India” to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice. Mr Bolton and Ajit Doval also “resolved to hold Pakistan to account for its obligations under UN resolutions”, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
02/16/2019 - 02:35 PM
Venezuela's Exit From U.S. Sanctions? Show Maduro the Door
The Treasury Department said Friday it would “consider lifting sanctions” on those who take concrete steps to “restore democratic order” in the country, as it imposed fresh penalties on five of Maduro’s close associates, including Venezuelan Oil Minister and PDVSA Chairman Manuel Quevedo. The move is the latest in a series of steps the U.S. has taken to chip away at Maduro’s inner circle.
02/16/2019 - 04:00 AM
Merck, Pfizer drug combo extends kidney cancer survival: study
Nearly 90 percent of patients who received the combination therapy were still alive after 12 months compared with about 78 percent of patients who were alive after a year when treated with the older drug Sutent, data showed. Merck on Monday released interim data from the trial, saying the combination reduced the risk of death by 47 percent compared with Sutent. The findings add to an arsenal of positive clinical data for Keytruda, which is approved to treat several types of cancer, making it by far Merck's most important growth driver.
02/16/2019 - 05:19 PM
How to Watch the Super Snow Moon, the Biggest Supermoon of 2019
Here’s what to know about the upcoming February full moon, also known as the 'super snow moon'— and what the best time is to see it.
02/17/2019 - 09:00 AM
Fact-check: Does Amazon pay '$0' in taxes?
A tweet by a popular US Congresswoman spotlighted a report about US tech behemoth Amazon's tax burden for the past two years. While the company paid no US federal income tax, it reported "cash taxes paid" of $1.2 billion last year and $957 million in 2017. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising Democratic star in the US Congress, tweeted (1) about media reports on research by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank, stating Amazon paid no US federal income tax for two years.
02/15/2019 - 07:15 PM
Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton shares honest 'pregame' breast-pumping picture
The model and actress posted a photo using a breast pump before her Valentine's Day dinner with husband Justin Verlander.
02/15/2019 - 05:09 PM
Illinois factory gunman killed five victims after being fired
The gunman who killed five co-workers and wounded five police officers at an Illinois factory was a violent felon who had just been fired, and the plant manager and a young intern were among his victims, authorities said on Saturday. Gary Martin, 45, armed himself with a handgun, which he owned illegally, before reporting for a meeting on Friday at the Henry Pratt Company where his employment was terminated, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman told reporters. Martin had bought the gun he used, a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun with a laser sight, in 2014 before authorities realized he had a prior felony conviction, Ziman said.
02/16/2019 - 04:27 PM
The Latest: Extremist attack in Nigeria kills 4 civilians
YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — The Latest on Nigeria's postponed presidential election (all times local):
02/16/2019 - 12:11 PM
Judge says Roger Stone can keep talking about his criminal case, but not on the courthouse steps
A federal judge ruled Friday lawyers and Roger Stone, the flamboyant political consultant, shouldn't comment to media on courthouse steps
02/15/2019 - 04:59 PM
Hamas takes control of Gaza goods crossing with Israel
Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas took control of the Palestinian side of the enclave's main goods crossing with Israel, the strip's interior ministry and an official news agency said Sunday. Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a near civil war with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' Fatah party. The PA administration at the goods crossing said Sunday that Hamas had "expelled (its) employees and banned them from entering the crossing", the official news agency Wafa reported.
02/17/2019 - 03:17 PM
How the 'Block' 4 F-35 Stealth Fighter Could Become A Navy Killer (And Much More)
New weapon systems due to be integrated in the Block 4 that will significantly expand the F-35’s maritime strike, air-to-ground capabilities and air-to-air lethality.
02/16/2019 - 02:00 AM
San Jose hostage situation involving UPS truck ends, suspect shot, killed
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office says the suspect who was in a standoff in a UPS truck was shot and killed after attempting to run from the truck. Friends have identified the suspect as Mark Morasky.
02/15/2019 - 09:47 PM
NASA posts image of ghostly blue objects, deep in the cosmos
When a star is born, a chaotic light show ensues. NASA's long-lived Hubble Space Telescope captured vivid bright clumps moving through the cosmos at some 1,000 light years from Earth. The space agency called these objects clear "smoking gun" evidence of a newly formed star — as new stars blast colossal amounts of energy-rich matter into space, known as plasma. Seen as the vivid blue, ephemeral clumps in the top center of the new image below, these are telltale signs of an energy-rich gas, or plasma, colliding with a huge collection of dust and gas in deep space. As NASA says, these blue masses are transient creations in the cosmos, as "they disappear into nothingness within a few tens of thousands of years." Bright lights inside a nebula. Image: ESA/Hubble/NASA/K. Stapelfeldt These blue clumps are traveling at 150,000 mph toward the upper left direction (from our view, anyhow). In total, there are five of these ghostly clumps, hurtling through space. SEE ALSO: Opportunity rover's last picture is as grim as it is dark NASA doesn't identify the new star itself, called SVS 13, perhaps because it's obscured by thick clouds of cosmic matter. This collection of dust and gas is part of a distant nebula, which are often the remnants of exploded stars swirling through the infinity of space. WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?
02/17/2019 - 11:19 AM
Exclusive: McCarrick defrocking shows 'bishops not above the law' - top Vatican investigator
McCarrick was expelled from the priesthood after being found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults. In an interview with Reuters, Archbishop Charles Scicluna said the decision showed the church was taking action. "It is a very important signal that, if we're talking about accountability for bishops, we are actually doing it," said Scicluna, the archbishop of Valletta, Malta.
02/16/2019 - 11:17 AM
Saudi prince starts Asia tour with deals to invest $20 bn in Pakistan
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed a raft of investment deals Sunday worth up to $20 billion for the cash-strapped South Asian country, as Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman launched his Asia tour seeking to emerge from the Khashoggi affair. Pakistan is facing a serious balance of payments crisis and hopes the deals -- seven separate agreements and Memorandums of Understanding -- will provide welcome relief to its teetering economy. The crown prince, widely known as "MBS", is staging the high-profile three-country visit five months after he came under intense pressure following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
02/17/2019 - 02:44 PM
This potato rösti is the perfect way to use up that last bit of cheese in the fridge. SERVES Two INGREDIENTS 500g potatoes, ideally a nice waxy chip potato 1 small onion, finely sliced 1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped Pinch of dried chilli 50g butter 120g mixed grated cheese such as cheddar, gruyere or comté (a great opportunity to use up leftovers) Large pinch of fresh or dried sage METHOD Peel the potatoes and coarsely grate them into a bowl. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and season well. Tip onto a tea towel and squeeze them tightly to remove any excess liquid, then return to the bowl and mix in 25g of the butter, diced. Add 15g of the butter to a large non-stick and ovenproof frying pan (large enough to hold the potato mixture) and allow to melt. Press the potato mixture into the pan and cook over a medium heat until the underside starts to crisp – from around six to 10 minutes. When ready, flip the rosti onto a plate (cooked side up), melt the rest of the butter in the pan and slide the rosti into it to cook on the other side for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through. To finish, preheat the grill and sprinkle the rosti with the grated cheese and sage, along with a good grinding of black pepper. Place until the grill until the cheese melts and bubbles. Serve with a crisp green salad. RECIPES | Angela's budget-friendly dishes
02/17/2019 - 05:00 AM
Medical emergency triggers stampede at San Francisco theater
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Chaos broke out during a performance of the musical "Hamilton" at San Francisco's Orpheum theater Friday night after audience members mistook a medical emergency for a shooting.
02/16/2019 - 05:11 PM
Trump doesn’t let facts get in the way of declaring a national emergency
A U.S. Border Patrol agent listens from the front row as President Donald Trump declares a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border during remarks about border security in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 15, 2019. President Trump’s rambling declaration of a national emergency, the intent of which was to fund a barrier along hundreds of miles on the U.S. border with Mexico, was filled with factual inaccuracies, misleading statements and contradictions. In his Rose Garden remarks on Friday, Trump repeated many of the same disproven claims he has made over the last several weeks about drug smuggling, human trafficking and other crime at the border.
02/15/2019 - 09:12 PM
Green New Deal: Republicans talk up climate change plan – but not because they like it
Republicans trumpet the Green New Deal because they say the climate change plan is a losing proposition for Democrats.
02/17/2019 - 04:00 PM
More U.S. aid for Venezuela touches down amid distribution uncertainty
The shipment will be the second arrival of large-scale U.S. and international aid for Venezuelans, many of whom have scant access to food and medicine, since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in defiance of socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido, who invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself the country's leader last month, arguing Maduro's 2018 re-election was a sham, has said aid will enter Venezuela on Feb. 23. Speaking in Caracas to supporters who had volunteered to help with the aid effort, Guaido said he would announce further details on Monday about how he planned to get aid into the country from Colombia, Brazil and Curacao despite Maduro's opposition.
02/16/2019 - 03:21 PM
Egypt says deadly extremist attack hits Sinai checkpoint
CAIRO (AP) — Extremists attacked an army checkpoint in the troubled northern Sinai peninsula on Saturday at dawn, causing 15 casualties among the armed forces including at least one officer shot dead, Egypt's military spokesman said.
02/16/2019 - 09:05 AM
Iran launches 'cruise missile capable' submarine
Iran on Sunday launched a new locally-made submarine capable of firing cruise missiles, state TV said, in the country's latest show of military might at a time of heightened tensions with the US. The launch ceremony, led by President Hassan Rouhani, took place in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas. "Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully self-reliant on land, air and sea," Rouhani said.
02/17/2019 - 10:35 AM
Mueller seeks tough sentence for ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort
In their sentencing memo filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecutors said Manafort, who is 69, deserves between 19.6 and 24.4 years in prison and a fine of between $50,000 and $24 million. "While some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant's crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct or the sophistication of his schemes," prosecutors said in the memo. "Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship," they said.
02/15/2019 - 09:56 PM
Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru
Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday. The discovery was made on the Mata Indio dig site in the northern Lambayeque region, archaeologist Luis Chero told state news agency Andina. Archaeologists believe the tomb belonged to a noble Inca based on the presence of "spondylus," a type of sea shell always present in the graves of important figures from the Incan period, which lasted from the 12th to the 16th centuries.
02/15/2019 - 11:07 PM
Saudi crown prince begins Asia tour with $20 billion Pakistan investment pledge
Kicking off his tour of South Asia and China with a far higher Pakistan investment than expected, the crown prince said the $20 billion figure represents only the start of an economic tie-up that would bring the historic Muslim allies even closer. "It’s big for phase 1, and definitely it will grow every month and every year, and it will be beneficial to both countries," said the crown prince. "We have been a brotherly country, a friendly country to Pakistan.
02/17/2019 - 01:57 PM
Luis Severino, Yankees agree to $40M, 4-year contract
NEW YORK (AP) — Right-hander Luis Severino avoided an arbitration hearing with the New York Yankees, agreeing Friday to a $40 million, four-year contract.
02/15/2019 - 10:35 PM
U.S. Appeal for NATO Personnel in Syria Brushed Off by Spain
Vice President Mike Pence told reporters at the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. is asking NATO members and other partners to provide "the resources and the support and the personnel" required to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State once U.S. operations conclude. "Requests between countries aren’t made in press releases or conference comments," Spain’s Josep Borrell said at a briefing in Munich on Saturday.
02/16/2019 - 12:57 PM
Problem: The Stealth F-35 Lightning II Can't Handle Lightning
Is that an issue?
02/16/2019 - 03:31 PM
Germany's SPD climbs in polls after welfare rethink
Support for Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) has hit its highest level in almost six months, a poll showed on Sunday, a week after the center-left party outlined new welfare plans aimed at winning back working class voters. Ahead of European elections in May and four regional votes this year, the Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper put support for the SPD, which shares power with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, on 19 percent, up 2 points from a week ago.
02/17/2019 - 08:24 AM
India ends police protection for Kashmir leaders after bombing
Indian authorities withdrew police protection for five separatist leaders in Kashmir on Sunday amid mounting fallout from a suicide bombing that killed 41 soldiers in the disputed region. New Delhi has vowed to retaliate after a van packed with explosives ripped through a convoy transporting 2,500 soldiers across the Indian-administered territory on Thursday, the deadliest-ever attack in a 30-year-old armed conflict. Indian officials said police protection had been withdrawn for Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and four other leaders.
02/17/2019 - 08:17 AM
`Going Away Party` for School Shutting Down Because of Student`s Death Causes Controversy
Some parents are outraged a California school for kids with special needs is holding a "going away party" after one of its own students died after being restrained by staff.
02/15/2019 - 11:00 PM
U.S. Supreme Court to decide legality of census citizenship query
The justices, in a brief order, granted the administration's request to hear its appeal of Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman's Jan. 15 ruling even before a lower appeals court has considered the matter. Furman's ruling came in lawsuits brought by 18 U.S. states, 15 cities and various civil rights groups challenging the Republican administration's decision to include the question. Furman ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had concealed the true motives for his "arbitrary and capricious" decision to add the citizenship question in violation of federal law.
02/15/2019 - 06:51 PM
No smoke without fire: Tobacco companies in quiet return to Formula One
Tobacco giants Philip Morris and British American Tobacco have formed partnerships with their scientific research subsidiaries and Formula 1 teams Ferrari and McLaren more than a decade after cigarette advertising was banned from the sport. US giant Philip Morris International (PMI), whose Marlboro brand was long associated with Ferrari, re-entered the sport last October, branding Ferrari cars with "Mission Winnow" and a logo that hints at the white-on-red triangles of the old Marlboro packs.
02/16/2019 - 08:48 PM
AP Interview: Karzai worries Pakistan talks risk peace pact
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that previously unscheduled peace talks between the Taliban and the United States in Pakistan risk engulfing the country in regional rivalries.
02/16/2019 - 07:36 AM
Irish backstop can't be changed for Brexit deal: Estonian president
There can be no changes to the Irish "backstop", an arrangement to avoid a hard border between European Union member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland after Brexit, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid told Reuters. Many British lawmakers, especially in Prime Minister Theresa May's governing Conservative Party, fear the backstop will trap the UK in a permanent customs union with the EU after Brexit.
02/17/2019 - 05:38 AM
Collusion: The Criminalization of Policy Disputes
What a weasel word “collusion” is.In Washington, Senator Richard Burr (R., N.C.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, has now seen fit to pronounce that, after two years of investigation, the panel has found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime. Meanwhile, in a nearby courtroom, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s senior staffer, Andrew Weissmann, told a federal judge that an August 2016 meeting between the then-chairman of the Trump campaign and a suspected Russian intelligence officer “goes . . . very much to the heart of what the special counsel is investigating” -- which sure sounds like Mueller’s collusion hunt is alive and well.What gives?Readers of these columns know that the “collusion” label has been a pet peeve of your humble correspondent since the media-Democratic “Putin hacked the election” narrative followed hard on the declaration of Donald Trump’s victory in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016.The reason for the collusion label is obvious. Those peddling the “Putin hacked the election” story have always lacked credible evidence that Trump was complicit in the Kremlin’s “cyber-espionage.” They could not show a criminal conspiracy. Connections between denizens of Trump World and Putin’s circle might be very intriguing, and perhaps even politically scandalous. But only a conspiracy -- an agreement by two or more people to commit an actual criminal offense, such as hacking -- would be a reasonable basis for prosecution or impeachment.This dearth of proof was significant. The Russians apparently started hacking operations in 2014, long before Trump entered the race. The FBI first warned the Democratic National Committee about penetration of its servers in September 2015. By the time Trump won, the Bureau and U.S. intelligence agencies had been working hard to understand the nature and extent of Kremlin-directed hacking operations for two years. The investigation was so high-level, so intense, that shortly before the election, there were confrontational conversations between CIA director John Brennan and his Russian counterpart, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, and later between President Obama and Russian president Putin.Yet, as thorough as the investigation was, no one could credibly say Trump was a participant in Russia’s malfeasance. The best Obama’s notoriously politicized CIA could say was that Trump was Putin’s intended beneficiary.Unable to establish conspiracy, Trump’s opposition settled on collusion. It is a usefully slippery word. Collusion just means concerted activity -- it can be sinister or benign. It can refer to a conspiracy or to any arrangement people have together, including those that may be sleazy but non-criminal.This commitment to ambiguity came in handy for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein when he appointed Robert Mueller to be special counsel. After President Trump fired FBI director James Comey on May 9, 2017, and then shamefully talked Comey down for the consumption of Russian diplomats visiting the White House the next day, Rosenstein came under intense pressure. Because he had written the memorandum originally used to justify Comey’s dismissal, congressional Democrats slammed him for complicity in what they portrayed as Trump’s obstruction of the Russia probe. Rosenstein wanted to appease them by appointing the special counsel they were demanding.Special counsels, however, are not supposed to be appointed unless there is a solid basis to believe a crime has been committed. Rosenstein was lawyer enough to know that a president’s firing of an FBI director -- a firing that Rosenstein himself had argued was justified -- could not be an obstruction crime. And he knew that there was no proof that Trump had conspired in Russia’s cyberespionage. So . . . how to justify appointing a special counsel?Easy: Make it a counterintelligence probe. That way, there would be no need for a crime, since such investigations are just intelligence-gathering exercises.What’s that? You say there’s no basis in the special-counsel regulations to appoint one for counterintelligence? You say the Justice Department does not appoint prosecutors for counterintelligence investigations, which are the FBI’s bailiwick? So what? The special-counsel regulations expressly say that they create no enforceable rights enabling anyone to challenge the Justice Department’s flouting of them. Rosenstein knew he could ignore the rules and there was not a thing anyone could do about it.So instead of a prosecutor investigating a crime of conspiracy, we have a bloated staff of prosecutors gathering intelligence about “collusion”: Every contact between anyone connected to Trump and anyone connected to Russia.Some of this could be valuable information. That brings us back to that August 2016 meeting Andrew Weissman was talking about, between Trump’s campaign chairman and a suspected Russian intelligence operative. Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, had high-level contacts and conducted multi-million-dollar business with oligarchs close to the Kremlin. Konstantin Kilimnik, his partner in Kiev, certainly is suspected of having a “relationship with Russian intelligence,” as Weissmann obliquely put it in the court session.That “relationship,” however, goes back to the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union fell and the United States was quite content to do business with lots of people who had “relationships” with Russian intelligence, the Kremlin, and even the Communist party. One of Kilimnik’s first jobs when he left the Russian military was to work for the International Republican Institute -- the democracy-promoting enterprise that Senator John McCain ran for over 20 years. Kilimnik started there as a translator -- hired for the skills he’d learned at the military academy that prepared translators for service in Russian intelligence. It didn’t seem to bother anyone -- by the early 2000’s, Kilimnik was running the IRI’s Moscow office.My point is not to defend Kilimnik. Not only has Mueller already him indicted for witness-tampering conspiracy in Manafort’s case (a charge to which Manafort has pled guilty). Kilimnik also hovers as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of Samuel Patten, a lobbyist friend of Manafort’s who has pled guilty in a separate Justice Department case to being an unregistered agent of Ukraine and to violating the prohibition against foreign contributions to political campaigns -- enabling Kilimnik and two Ukrainian oligarchs to donate to the Trump presidential-inaugural committee and attend the inauguration festivities.The point is that if we are going to obsess over collusion rather than the actual crime of conspiracy, then we need to evaluate the Russian contacts of Trump associates in the context of everyone who has interacted with Russia in the last quarter-century. Under administrations of both parties, Washington has maintained that post-Soviet Russia was a perfectly fine country to partner with and do business with. Did the Trump campaign hope to tap Kremlin-connected sources for campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton? That seems undeniable. But it is not a crime per se. How does it rank on the scale of unsavory political behavior? You’d have to compare it to, for example, Democratic-party entreaties to the Kremlin -- back when the Russians were our Cold War Soviet antagonist -- for help in the campaigns against Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.I did not like candidate Donald Trump’s blandishments toward the Putin regime. It was part of why Trump was closer to the bottom than the top of my preferred GOP candidates. I thought his performance as president in the meeting with Putin in Helsinki was appalling. But we are talking here about policy disputes. Trump has a right to be wrong, even seriously wrong, on a policy matter. That does not make him a Russian agent.If members of Trump’s campaign were corruptly selling accommodations (such as sanctions relief) to Russia, then by all means prosecute them to the full extent of the law. But if the campaign was exploring whether sanctions relief could be traded for Russian actions in America’s interests -- just as Obama told us sanctions relief for Iran was being bargained in exchange for what he claimed were advances of America’s interests -- that might have been wrong-headed or naïve, but it wasn’t criminal.Apparently Senator Burr thinks of “collusion” as criminal conspiracy, and he thus realizes that there was not one. Special Counsel Mueller, by contrast, has been unleashed to probe collusion not just in the form of criminal conspiracy, but in whatever form: All manner of contacts with a regime that, just the blink of an eye ago, President Obama was mocking Mitt Romney for regarding as a geopolitical foe, even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped Moscow build its version of Silicon Valley -- notwithstanding Defense Department and FBI worries that we were thus improving their military and cyber capabilities.What is “collusion,” then? Increasingly, it looks like the criminalization of policy disputes.
02/16/2019 - 06:30 AM
Iran rejects anti-Semitism allegation by Pence
Iran on Saturday rejected accusations of anti-Semitism leveled against it by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, saying it respected Judaism but opposed Israel, which Tehran said was acting like a "killing machine against the Palestinians". Pence accused Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism on Friday after visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, maintaining his harsh rhetoric just a day after attacking European powers for trying to undermine U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic. "Iran's historic and cultural record of coexistence and respect for divine religions, particularly Judaism, is recorded in reliable historic documents of various nations," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.
02/16/2019 - 10:15 AM
Beckham looks to '70s, Westwood turns catwalk into protest
Victoria Beckham looked back to the 1970s at London Fashion Week on Sunday, while Vivienne Westwood turned her catwalk into a stage to protest issues ranging from climate change to Brexit. In front of an audience including Beckham's husband David and their children, models wore dresses and skirts slim fitted over the knee, some with abstract chain patterns. In a collection rich in vibrant colors and patterns, Beckham stuck to her signature silhouette of fitted skirt suits, which were checkered, and wide-leg trousers.
02/17/2019 - 02:19 PM
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