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Senator Tim Kaine Calls on FBI to Open Khashoggi Investigation

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:53

Senator Tim Kaine Calls on FBI to Open Khashoggi InvestigationYasin Akgul/GettySenator Tim Kaine (D-VA) is calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open an investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist and Virginia resident who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after going missing in October 2018. “This investigation is more important than ever to achieve true accountability and justice for this horrific crime,” Kaine said in a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray on Wednesday, which was obtained by The Daily Beast. The Senator called Khashoggi’s killing a “state sponsored execution” by Saudi Arabia and requested written notification by August 1 from the FBI as to whether this investigation will take place. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.Kaine’s letter to Wray comes just weeks after the United Nations published a report on its six-month investigation into Khashoggi’s killing. In that report, the UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard called Khashoggi’s dissapearance an “international crime” and said she found “credible evidence” that his murder was linked to the Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman. The CIA has also concluded with “high confidence” that the crown prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi.Like Kaine, Callamard also recommended that the FBI open a probe “into the execution of Mr. Khashoggi, if one is not already open, and pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate.” U.N. Reveals Contents of Secret Tape of Khashoggi’s Brutal Last MomentsOver the past year, Congress has introduced several measures to investigate Khashoggi’s death and to hold those responsible accountable for it. This week lawmakers in the House voted for a bill to impose sanctions on officials involved in the killing. The bill, introduced by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), requires the director of national intelligence to publicly name those involved and impose visa and travel sanctions on them.Despite his own intel committee’s conclusions, the president and his close aides have been reluctant to punish, let alone blame, the crown prince for his likely involvement in the Khashoggi killing. In an interview with NBC in June, President Trump refused to commit to calling on the FBI to conduct an investigation into the matter, saying the situation has been “heavily investigated.”The Trump administration has grown increasingly close with the crown prince and the Saudi Royal Court over the last two years. President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner in particular is friendly with the crown prince and met with him several times in Saudi Arabia with little oversight from the State Department. The administration has read the country’s leaders in on U.S. regional policy proposals and decisions, including the development of Kushner’s Middle East peace plan. And after the murder of Khashoggi, the Trump administration continued to work closely with Saudi Arabia. The administration moved ahead with doling out authorizations to U.S. companies who wanted to conduct nuclear-related work in the country, with two of those authorizations, known as Part 810s, being approved in the days following the Khashoggi muder. (Senator Kaine’s office was the first to reveal the timing of those authorizations.) And in May, the Trump team announced that it had approved a multi-billion dollar arms sales deal for Saudi Arabia. Jamal Khashoggi Book Details Saudi’s Killing on Tape: ‘I Have Never Worked on a Warm Body Until Now’In his letter to Wray, Kaine denounced the Trump administration for its inability to call out the crown prince and other leaders in Saudi Arabia for the muder of Khashoggi despite the overwhelming evidence against them, including evidence gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies. And in hearings on Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties accused the Trump administration of bypassing Congress. “For whatever reason, the administration, in what seems to me a not fully baked decision-making process, decided to circumvent the law, decided to circumvent the constitutional responsibility of Congress and act unilaterally,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in a recent hearing. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is simply Democrats who are concerned about this.”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.

Dilemmas for West as Iran's arrests of dual nationals mount

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:51

Dilemmas for West as Iran's arrests of dual nationals mountNotorious for its conditions, Tehran's Evin prison is proving to be a headache for Western governments as a rising number of dual nationals are detained in what many see as a ruthless diplomatic strategy. Fariba Adelkhah, a well-known academic with French and Iranian nationality, has been held in the prison in north Tehran since early June on charges that have not been disclosed.

Pakistan arrests US-wanted terror suspect in Mumbai attacks

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 10:12

Pakistan arrests US-wanted terror suspect in Mumbai attacksPakistan on Wednesday arrested a radical cleric and U.S.-wanted terror suspect implicated in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, officials said, just days ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan's trip to Washington. Hafiz Saeed was taken into custody in Punjab province while traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the city of Gujranwala, according to counterterrorism official Mohammad Shafiq. Saeed founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which was blamed for the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

From Iraq to Yemen, drones raise U.S. alarm over Iranian plans

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 10:10

From Iraq to Yemen, drones raise U.S. alarm over Iranian plansGENEVA/WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) - The increased use of drones by Iran and its allies for surveillance and attacks across the Middle East is raising alarms in Washington. The United States believes that Iran-linked militia in Iraq have recently increased their surveillance of American troops and bases in the country by using off-the-shelf, commercially available drones, U.S. officials say.

New York businesswoman and Jamaican immigrant Scherie Murray launches campaign to unseat Ocasio-Cortez

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 09:47

New York businesswoman and Jamaican immigrant Scherie Murray launches campaign to unseat Ocasio-Cortez"There’s a crisis in Queens and it’s called AOC," said Scherie Murray, a Republican businesswoman who is challenging Ocasio-Cortez in 2020.

The Latest: De Blasio says officer entitled to due process

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 09:19

 De Blasio says officer entitled to due processThe Latest on the U.S. Justice Department's decision not to prosecute the officer involved in Eric Garner's death. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the officer who placed a chokehold on Eric Garner exactly five years ago is entitled to due process under state law. De Blasio said Wednesday the decision whether to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo (pan-tuh-LAY'-oh) is up to Police Commissioner James O'Neill.

U.S. complains after Russia denies visas to embassy school teachers

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 08:47

U.S. complains after Russia denies visas to embassy school teachersThe United States accused Russia on Wednesday of using children as pawns, after Moscow rejected visas for dozens of new teachers at an English-language school set up by the U.S., British and Canadian embassies in Moscow for the children of diplomats. U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman said 30 teachers who had been due to arrive in Moscow next month had been denied visas, a move he said could force Moscow's Anglo American School to cut the number of children attending.

Brazil Police Shut Down a Factory Making Fake Ferraris and 'Shamborghinis'

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 08:44

Brazil Police Shut Down a Factory Making Fake Ferraris and 'Shamborghinis'Brazilian police say they’ve shut down a clandestine factory that was producing fake Ferraris and sham Lamborghinis

Easter attackers should be executed says Sri Lanka president

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 08:01

Easter attackers should be executed says Sri Lanka presidentSri Lanka's president has demanded capital punishment for the "terrorists" responsible for the deadly Easter Sunday attacks just days after he blamed international drug dealers for the suicide bombings. President Maithripala Sirisena has been battling his own uneasy coalition government -- which is seeking to abolish capital punishment altogether -- in a push to restart executions. While Sri Lanka still maintains the death penalty, there has been a moratorium on judicial executions for murder and other serious crimes since June 1976.

Teachers union has become an arm of the abortion-rights left. Conservatives should quit.

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 06:00

Teachers union has become an arm of the abortion-rights left. Conservatives should quit.Why would the NEA go out of its way to take extreme stands on hot-button issues so far removed from the real problems facing our nation’s schools?

Israel's Barak defiant after criticism over Epstein links

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 05:24

Israel's Barak defiant after criticism over Epstein linksFormer Israeli premier Ehud Barak, who is challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in upcoming elections, vowed to fight back Wednesday after criticism over his ties to disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein. Barak, who recently returned to politics ahead of September 17 elections as a fierce Netanyahu critic, has been the subject of reports highlighting his business ties with Epstein, who has been charged with sex trafficking of minors in the United States. A Tuesday report in Britain's Daily Mail showed pictures of Barak entering Epstein's New York residence in 2016, with the Israeli's face partially hidden by a neck gaiter.

US fears Iran seized UAE-based tanker in Strait of Hormuz

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 04:38

US fears Iran seized UAE-based tanker in Strait of HormuzA small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker three days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region. Iranian state media quoted its Foreign Ministry spokesman early Wednesday as saying the Islamic Republic had aided a foreign oil tanker with a malfunction, but the report didn't explain further. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Australia calls on China to let Uighur mother and son leave

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 04:31

Australia calls on China to let Uighur mother and son leaveAustralia's government on Wednesday called on China to allow an Australian child and his Uighur mother to leave the country, days after co-signing a letter denouncing Beijing's treatment of the Muslim minority. China has rounded up an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking minorities into re-education camps in tightly controlled Xinjiang region, in the country's northwest. Sadam Abdusalam has campaigned for months for his Uighur wife, Nadila Wumaier, and their son Lutifeier, whom he has never met, to be allowed to come to Australia.

Italian, U.S. police make arrests as Mafia clan looks to regroup

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 04:08

Italian, U.S. police make arrests as Mafia clan looks to regroupItalian and U.S. police have launched a coordinated crackdown on a Sicilian Mafia family that was seeking to rebuild its power base after years of exile in the United States, Italian investigators said on Wednesday. More than 200 police, including officers from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), arrested 18 people in Sicily as part of their investigation into the Inzerillo clan in the island's capital Palermo and the allied New York-based Gambino family. A 19th suspect is being sought in the United States.

Italian, U.S. police make arrests as Mafia clan looks to regroup

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 04:06

Italian, U.S. police make arrests as Mafia clan looks to regroupItalian and U.S. police have launched a coordinated crackdown against major crime families who were looking to rebuild their Mafia powerbase in Sicily, Italian investigators said on Wednesday. More than 200 police, including officers from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), have been carrying out 19 arrest warrants since dawn targeting the Inzerillo clan in Sicily's capital Palermo and the New York-based Gambino family. Sicily's organised crime group, known as 'Cosa Nostra' (Our Thing), has been in a state of flux since the death of the feared boss of bosses Salvatore "Toto" Riina, who died in prison in 2017 after spending almost a quarter of century behind bars.

‘I saw hate in his eyes’: White security guard pulls gun on black police officer

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 03:52

 White security guard pulls gun on black police officerSheriff’s deputy Alan Gaston thought they were on the same side.One man, Mr Gaston, was a high-ranking officer in the Lucas County, Ohio, sheriff’s department with 34 years of experience.The other was a security guard contracted to protect an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office in Toledo.But then the guard pulled his gun. He raised his voice. He put a hand on Mr Gaston’s arm and rested his finger on the trigger.In a matter of seconds, what began with a routine errand at the IRS escalated into a frightening standoff between a white security guard and a black police officer, who said he heard hate in the guard’s shouts and believed he would be shot.“You don’t expect to be ambushed by someone who you think is on the same team,” Mr Gaston told The Washington Post.“I feel there was definitely some racial overtones involved. And I’m not the type of person to throw the race card, I’m just telling you the facts. I looked in his eyes and I saw hate in his eyes.”He had stopped by the IRS office during his shift on 31 May to ask a question about a letter the agency sent him.He was in full uniform, his badge and his firearm in clear view.The security guard, identified in court documents as Seth Eklund, asked Mr Gaston to leave his gun in his patrol car.When Mr Gaston replied he couldn’t do that, he said Mr Eklund became hostile. Mr Eklund accused Mr Gaston of reaching for his weapon, shouting “get your hands off your gun”, even though Mr Gaston said his hands were visible and nowhere near his holster.Mr Gaston, who has years of experience teaching defensive tactics, decided it was time for him to leave.He recalled a wide-eyed elderly couple in the office waiting room watching the exchange, and he said he feared for the bystanders’ safety. Mr Gaston turned to go.As he walked out of the cramped office, Mr Eklund drew his gun, trained it on Mr Gaston’s back and followed him. At one point, Mr Gaston said, Mr Eklund tried to arrest the uniformed officer.“He came around the corner with his weapon out, telling me, ‘you had your chance, you’re not going anywhere, I’m detaining you’,” Gaston said.“That’s when I was preparing myself to be shot. The hate and anger he had against me, I was getting ready to be shot by this security guard for no reason.”Mr Eklund, who could not be reached for comment, pleaded not guilty to one charge of aggravated menacing in a court appearance on Monday.Mr Gaston and his wife have also filed a lawsuit against Mr Eklund and the two security firms that apparently employed him.Representatives of those companies, Paragon Systems and Praetorian Shield, did not respond to requests for comment. The IRS declined to comment.The local news station WTVG published what it claims to be security camera footage of the interaction and The Washington Post obtained screenshots of the video.The images show Mr Gaston backing away and attempting to leave the building in an elevator. But Mr Eklund, gun still drawn, blocks the door with his foot.Mr Gaston says he felt cornered, scared. He took out his phone to take a picture of Mr Eklund, he said, and the security guard finally holstered his weapon.Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Society of Police in St Louis, said that Mr Eklund behaved recklessly and likely would not have treated a white officer the same way.“We know what it’s like being an African American police officer in a city,” Ms Taylor said. “A lot of us realise that, hey, even though you’re in uniform, that doesn’t mean you’re safe.”The tense scene recalled other, infamous incidents with grisly endings. Ms Taylor pointed to the case of Jemel Roberson, a black security guard who was killed by a Midlothian, Illinois, police officer while they both responded to a shooting at the bar where Roberson worked.She also mentioned Detective Jacai Colson in Maryland, who was killed by a fellow officer while working undercover. Mr Colson, according to a lawsuit, had his badge in his hand and was shouting “Police! Police!” before he was killed.“You’re not given the benefit of the doubt as a minority,” Ms Taylor said. “It’s something we’ve been highlighting forever and now here’s another example of it.”She applauded Mr Gaston’s cool demeanour in the face of what she said was potentially lethal bigotry.Mr Gaston said he didn’t feel that Mr Eklund respected him as a law enforcement officer, and in more than three decades of police work has never dealt with anything like that.He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression, he said. He’s been on medical leave and is seeing a counsellor twice a week. The civil suit Mr Gaston and his wife filed seeks compensation.The standoff between Mr Gaston and Mr Eklund ended, he said, when Toledo police officers responded to a 911 call from inside the building that mentioned a man who has “got a gun” and “won’t leave”. The caller didn’t mention that the man was a police officer.When Toledo police arrived, Mr Gaston recounted, they told Mr Eklund: “You know he’s a uniformed deputy sheriff, right? We can go anywhere in this building we want.”Washington Post

'You must be stupid': Duterte says he won't be tried by international court

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 03:34

 Duterte says he won't be tried by international courtPhilippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared he will never be tried by an international court for mass killings in his war on drugs, and vowed no let up in a crackdown that he said he was winning and would see through "to the very end". In a television interview with a celebrity pastor, the firebrand leader said the Philippine justice system was working fine, so it would be "stupid" to imagine he would let an international court put him on trial.

Trump shares false information about AOC and Ilhan Omar's polling figures

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 03:32

Trump shares false information about AOC and Ilhan Omar's polling figuresDonald Trump has been accused of “mass distortion of reality” after he shared misleading polling data on the two of the Democratic congresswomen of colour he targeted in a series of racist tweets.He tweeted that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had an approval rating of 21 per cent, while Ilhan Omar had a rating of just eight per cent. It came as the US president insisted that he did not have a “racist bone” in his body and called the vote to condemn his racist attacks directed at the four congresswomen as a “Democrat con game”.Mr Trump had said that some Democratic congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” in a series of tweets on Sunday.While the US president did not name the targets of his attack, the context of his tweet made it clear it was aimed at a group of four progressive Democratic women of colour – Ms Omar, Ms Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. Defending his previous remarks, Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country.” “Get a list of the HORRIBLE things they have said”He added: "Omar is polling at 8%, Cortez at 21%. Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party. See you in 2020!"However, the data he cited was based on a poll by news website Axios which only surveyed “white non-college voters” who supported Mr Trump in 2016.In response to Mr Trump’ tweet citing the data, Ms Ocasio-Cortez wrote: ”Authoritarians rely on mass distortion of reality to further concentrate their power, and they will take advantage of anyone and anything to meet that end.”The polling data has since been criticised eviscerated by polling experts.Ariel Edwards-Levy, the Huffington Post’s polling editor, said: “Readers have no way of knowing who commissioned the poll, who conducted it, how they identified the voters they surveyed, what methodology they used to interview them or what exactly respondents were asked.”“That makes it basically impossible to evaluate the survey in any meaningful way.”The House of Representatives voted in favour of the resolution condemning Mr Trump’s racist tweets on Tuesday night.The vote was largely along partisan lines with only four Republican congressmen voting against the resolution.

Big Guns: Army Prototypes Range-Doubling New Artillery Weapon to Outgun Russia

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 02:02

 Army Prototypes Range-Doubling New Artillery Weapon to Outgun RussiaThe Army is building prototypes of a new artillery cannon that can more than double the range of existing weapons and vastly alter the strategic and tactical landscape shaping land war into the future.The Army program, called Extended Range Cannon Artillery, has been developing for several years; it is now entering a new phase through an Army deal with BAE Systems to build “Increment 1” prototypes.“This prototype phase will address capability gaps in the Army’s indirect fire systems and improve the rate and range of fire with the development of power distribution software and hardware integration solutions,” a BAE Systems statement said.During testing thus far, the Army has successfully fired a 155mm artillery round 62 kilometers - marking a technical breakthrough in the realm of land-based weapons and progressing toward its stated goal of being able to outrange and outgun Russian and Chinese weapons.Currently, most land-fired artillery shot from an M777 Towed Howitzer or Self-Propelled Howitzer are able to pinpoint targets out to 30km - so hitting 62km dramatically changes Army offensive attack capability. As part of an effort to ensure the heavy M777 is sufficiently mobile, the Army completed a “mobility” demonstration of ERCA prototypes last year.

Vietnam, China embroiled in South China Sea standoff

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 01:53

Vietnam, China embroiled in South China Sea standoffVietnamese and Chinese ships have been embroiled in a weeks-long standoff near an offshore oil block in disputed waters of the South China Sea, which fall within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone, two Washington-based think-tanks said on Wednesday. China's U-shaped "nine-dash line" marks a vast expanse of the South China Sea that it claims, including large swathes of Vietnam's continental shelf where it has awarded oil concessions. One of the oil blocks it surveyed is licensed by Vietnam to Spanish energy firm Repsol , which was forced last year and in 2017 to cease operations in Vietnamese waters because of pressure from China.

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