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America and Iran: On a Path Towards War?

America and Iran: On a Path Towards War?Iran’s leader has taken a defiant stance against the United States and its allies, signalling a potential “fraying” of the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program, The New York Times reported.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on July 16, 2019 denounced “the vicious British” after U.K. forces earlier in the month seized an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar.In a speech to clerics, Khamenei “appeared to signal his intention to ignore diplomacy for the moment and stoke tensions with the West over the embattled nuclear accord,” the Times’ Rick Gladstone wrote.“Khamenei spoke as unconfirmed news reports suggested Iran’s Revolutionary Guards may have seized a United Arab Emirates tanker in the Persian Gulf, possibly in retaliation for Britain’s impounding of an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar this month.”Iranian militia troops had attempted to retaliate on July 10, 2019 by seizing a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. A Royal Navy frigate intervened and stopped the assault.Khamenei’s tone has sharpened of late. “The defiance expressed by the top leader ... contrasted with what seemed like a less confrontational stance taken at the White House,” Gladstone added.U.S. president Donald Trump told reporters his administration is “not looking for regime change” in Iran. “They’d like to talk, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, claimed Iran was willing to negotiate over its missile program, which Gladstone pointed out is “an area of Western concern that was not covered in the 2015 nuclear agreement.”




POSTED JULY 16, 2019 5:46 PM

Man 'shot polar bear and left its body outside his home for five months'

Man 'shot polar bear and left its body outside his home for five months'A man has been charged with killing a polar bear and leaving the body to rot outside his home in Alaska for five months.Christopher Gordon, 35, allegedly shot the animal dead when it ventured into his front yard to try and eat some butchered whale meat.He then failed to report the polar bear carcass or attempt to “harvest” it for food between December 2018 and May this year.Gordon also allowed the bear to be covered with snow, which resulted in one of its legs being ripped off by a passing snowplough.Finally, on 22 May, he burned the carcass at the village dump in Kaktovik.He is now facing up to one year in prison and a $100,000 (£80,000) fine if convicted of the federal crime of “knowingly taking a polar bear in a manner unlawful under the Marine Mammal Protection Act”.Prosecutors say that the killing of the bear was not done in legal self defence and that he “left the harvestable remains to waste”.“Gordon allegedly left butchered whale meat outside in front of his yard of his residence for a substantial period of time, which attracted polar bear, as well as other animals to his front yard,” said federal prosecutor Ryan Tansey.“He then allegedly shot and killed the polar bear because it was trying to eat the improperly stored whale meat.”Gordon has also been charged with the state offence of wasteful taking of a marine animal.The investigation was carried out by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.Gordon declined to comment about the case and is scheduled to appear in court in Fairbanks in August.Kaktovik, with a population of just over 250, has experienced increasing encroachment by polar bears in recent years due to the disappearing Arctic sea ice.As a result it has become a popular tourist destination, with more than 2,000 people visiting the village during 2017.“These bears are getting used to people,” said council member Mike Gallagher. ”They’re domesticated.”Additional reporting by Associated Press




POSTED JULY 15, 2019 6:29 AM

The Latest: Epstein says foreign passport needed for safety

The Latest: Epstein says foreign passport needed for safetyAttorneys for financier Jeffrey Epstein say he obtained a foreign passport under an alias in the 1980s to defend himself from potential kidnappers while traveling in the Middle East. Prosecutors say the foreign passport was found in a safe in Epstein's Manhattan mansion following his arrest on sex trafficking charges. Epstein has pleaded not guilty.




POSTED JULY 16, 2019 7:24 PM

Michael Flynn’s Ex-Business Partner Points the Finger at Him in Court

Michael Flynn’s Ex-Business Partner Points the Finger at Him in CourtPhoto Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/GettyIf there is a question of who worked on behalf of the Turkish government to influence the 2016 Donald Trump campaign, then the court should look no further than former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, lawyers for Bijan Kian, the Iranian-American businessman and former Flynn partner, told jurors in the Eastern District of Virginia Monday. Kian is charged with two felonies—illegally lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government and conspiring covertly to influence U.S. politics about Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who is now living in Pennsylvania. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted. But Kian’s team of attorneys said in their opening statements Monday that their client “did not conspire with anyone” to work on behalf of the Turkish government in the U.S. When questioning the Turkish government’s influence operations in the U.S., the jury should look at the newly announced cache of evidence the government has on Flynn, said attorney Bob Trout. Kian isn’t referenced in any of it, Trout said. Michael Flynn Putting Mueller Deal at Risk in ‘Dangerous’ New TrialIn the opening statements Monday the Kian legal team spent the majority of their time arguing that their client did not work on behalf of the Turkish government when he attempted to influence public opinion in the U.S. about Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen currently lives in Pennsylvania and is wanted by the Turkish government for allegedly planning a military coup in the country in 2016. Kian instead worked on behalf of a Turkish-Dutch businessman named Ekim Alptekin, Trout said. (Alptekin is named as a defendant in the Kian case but will likely avoid appearance because he is living in Istanbul.) Toward the end of his statements, Trout tried to create a degree of separation between Kian and Flynn who is currently awaiting sentencing in Washington for crimes carried out during his time working with the Trump team. He pointed to the government’s evidence, which was mentioned in a hearing last week, and said that prosecutors had all but conceded that Kian was not involved. The jurors have not seen the evidence yet and the details of what the government currently has in its position is unclear.According to a government indictment filed last year, Flynn and Kian worked together throughout the fall of 2016, when Flynn was an advisor to then candidate Trump, on a project to try and extradite Gulen back to Turkey. Prosecutors said the two took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Turkish government to execute the plan. Flynn was also at the time accused of lying about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. He entered into a cooperation deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and admitted to lying about the communications and about his consulting firm’s business with the Turkish government. He said that the registration he filed for the Turkey-focused project in 2017 contained several inaccuracies, though his lawyers maintain that Flynn did not intentionally lie on the documents. As part of his deal with the government, Flynn was supposed to testify against Kian and his sentencing in Washington was postponed so he could appear as a witness in Virginia.That all changed last week when the government removed Flynn from the witness list and instead named him as a co-conspirator in the case. The government also said it had extensive information that the Turkish government attempted to influence the Trump campaign through Flynn. It was the first mention of an additional set of materials that show how Flynn was being extensively involved in the Turkish lobbying.It’s that evidence that lies at the heart of who really committed the crime of illegally lobbying for Turkey, Kian’s lawyers said Monday. Kian “didn’t know” about the alleged separate communications between Alptekin and Flynn that are in the government’s possession, Trout said.For its part, the government in its opening statement barely mentioned the former national security adviser, instead referring several times to Kian’s business team members as “associates.” The government focused on Kian’s email correspondences, including with Flynn, about the Gulen project and attempted to lay out for the jury how the money that flowed into Kian’s account for services rendered connected back to the Turkish government.After nearly an hour and a half of opening statements, both of which were at times tangled and difficult to follow, the jury seemed to fade by 5:30 p.m. Several individuals closed their eyes and appeared to be sleeping.They’re due back in court Tuesday morning for testimony, including evidence to be entered into the record and for witness examinations.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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POSTED JULY 15, 2019 8:07 PM

Judge scolds Trump ex-adviser Stone and bans social media posts

Judge scolds Trump ex-adviser Stone and bans social media postsA visibly irritated federal judge on Tuesday banned President Donald Trump's former adviser Roger Stone from posting on social media, describing him as behaving like a schoolchild unable to follow simple orders, after prosecutors accused him of violating a gag order by repeatedly discussing his case on Instagram. "Your lawyer had to twist the facts, twist the plain meaning of the order and twist himself into a pretzel" to argue that Stone's social media posts did not violate her order, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone at a hearing. Jackson said she would not jail Stone for violating the order, saying a contempt hearing, which could result in jail time or a fine, would only generate more media attention that could affect potential jurors down the road.




POSTED JULY 16, 2019 6:06 AM

Utah Police Find New Evidence in MacKenzie Lueck Case

Utah Police Find New Evidence in MacKenzie Lueck CaseAyoola Ajayi made his first court appearance in connection to the murder of University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck.




POSTED JULY 16, 2019 5:55 PM

Susan Rice Calls Chinese Diplomat a ‘Racist Disgrace’ on Twitter

Susan Rice Calls Chinese Diplomat a ‘Racist Disgrace’ on Twitter(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice sparred with a senior Chinese diplomat on Twitter in an unusual and heated dispute over race in Washington.In a series of Tweets apparently aimed at making a broader point about diplomatic divisions over the mass detention of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province, Lijian Zhao, a diplomat posted in Islamabad, said on Sunday that if “you’re in Washington, D.C., you know the white never go” to the southeastern part of the U.S. capital.“You are a racist disgrace. And shockingly ignorant too,” Rice told Zhao on Twitter. Likely assuming that Zhao was posted in China’s mission in Washington, she then addressed her next comment to China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai. “Ambassador Cui, I expect better of you and your team. Please do the right thing and send him home.”Zhao, who is deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Pakistan’s capital, is often vocal on Twitter against critics of China’s infrastructure-building projects in Pakistan and other parts of Asia. Beijing has invested tens of billions of dollars in Pakistan, whose leader Imran Khan has previously dodged questions about the issue.‘Shockingly Ignorant’“You are such a disgrace, too. And shockingly ignorant, too. I am based in Islamabad. Truth hurts. I am simply telling the truth,” Zhao fired back at Rice on Monday. “To label someone who speak the truth that you don’t want to hear a racist, is disgraceful & disgusting.”Read More: How China Is Defending Its Detention of Muslims to the WorldZhao didn’t immediately respond to phone calls, an email and a direct message on Twitter seeking comment.In a string of messages that appeared aimed at highlighting U.S. hypocrisy on human rights, Zhao referred to everything from income inequality and school shootings in the U.S. to immigration officers separating children from parents.He tweeted a list of mostly-Western nations that condemned China for its actions in Xinjiang as well as a separate list of other countries -- including Pakistan, Cuba, Tajikistan and Nigeria -- that wrote a joint letter to the United Nations supporting Beijing, which Zhao called “a big slap on the face of U.S. & its western cohorts.”Outspoken DiplomatsChina’s diplomats have become increasingly vocal and outspoken. This month, China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, gave a rare televised statement accusing the British government of meddling in Hong Kong, the scene of mass protests against Beijing’s rule.Earlier this year, China’s envoy to Canada publicly accused his hosts of “white supremacy,” while the country’s chief envoy in South Africa said President Donald Trump’s policies were making the U.S. “the enemy of the whole world.”Asked about the Twitter dispute on Monday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang didn’t comment directly.“I don’t know the specific situation,” he said. However, he added, “we resolutely oppose the interference of the U.S. and individual Western countries in interfering in China’s internal affairs with the Xinjiang issue.”To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in New Delhi at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Chris Kay, Gregory TurkFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.




POSTED JULY 15, 2019 10:44 PM

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin recalls first moments on the moon on 50th anniversary of mission

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin recalls first moments on the moon on 50th anniversary of mission"To me, it was the dream we had all signed up to chase, what we had imagined, worked and trained for, the apex of national service to a country we unabashedly loved," Buzz Aldrin said.




POSTED JULY 16, 2019 1:28 PM

The California hiker who was found after spending 4 days alone in the wilderness says she got lost after fleeing a man with a knife

The California hiker who was found after spending 4 days alone in the wilderness says she got lost after fleeing a man with a knifeSheryl Powell, 60, disappeared on Friday while on a camping trip with her husband. Search teams found her alive and well on Monday.




POSTED JULY 16, 2019 11:59 AM

Odd Man Out: How the Independent Justin Amash Could Shake Up the 2020 Presidential Election

Odd Man Out: How the Independent Justin Amash Could Shake Up the 2020 Presidential ElectionWashington circles are abuzz with the suggestion that Justin Amash, the ex-Republican congressman from Michigan, may mount a third-party presidential campaign in 2020. In the few days since leaving the GOP, he’s talked about “room for a third party” and refused to rule out running for president. But sources close to Amash and the Libertarian Party deny that a presidential run is in the works—although the door is still open. For the time being, the Libertarian-leaning representative is looking to build a fiscally conservative, pro-restraint coalition across party lines.Michigan representative Justin Amash has made waves in recent weeks with his challenges to the Republican establishment. He first suggested that President Donald Trump should be impeached, then he contested the president’s authority to attack Iran without congressional approval, and finally left the party.Amash seemed to send mixed signals about his next move, telling CNN that he’s planning to run for re-election to the House of Representatives, but confirming that he still “wouldn’t rule anything like [a Libertarian presidential run] out.”




POSTED JULY 16, 2019 1:24 PM

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