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China Might Have Stolen The Secrets To Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 15:22

And that has implications for America.

Families of Soldiers Fallen or Wounded in Afghanistan Sue Contractors for Allegedly Paying Protection Money to Taliban

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:49

Families of 143 American troops and contractors killed or wounded in Afghanistan have sued U.S. and international contractors involved in Afghan reconstruction projects for allegedly paying protection money to the Taliban.The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court, claims certain contracting companies often paid the Taliban through subcontractors, which allowed the the companies to save money on security personnel. The Taliban then used the money, according to the lawsuit, to fund attacks on other companies that didn't make payments to the insurgent group."The defendants are large corporations that had lucrative businesses in Afghanistan," said Joshua Branson, a lawyer for the case, in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. "Those protection payments, as alleged, redirected attacks away from the defendants’ own interests while financing a terrorist insurgency that killed and injured thousands of Americans, including our clients."It has been widely known for years that money from American defense contractors has found its way to local Afghan warlords in the wake of the U.S. invasion of the country. A 2010 congressional investigation found that funds from Pentagon-backed contractors were fueling a "protection racket" by bribing local officials and possibly Taliban members in exchange for safe passage of goods.No U.S. or international companies have been successfully prosecuted for aiding the Taliban. The current lawsuit is a civil suit, which will enable a conviction if prosecutors can convince a jury of a preponderance of evidence in their favor, as opposed to a criminal suit which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.The war in Afghanistan, now 18 years old, came under increased scrutiny after the Washington Post published a trove of documents it dubbed the "Afganistan Papers." The records are from a federal investigation into the war effort and contain reflections of U.S. officials and troops in which they express doubts about the success of the war and the clarity of the military's mission. The officials also indicated the U.S. repeatedly misrepresented progress in the war to the government and the American people.The U.S. has been attempting peace negotiations with the Taliban, but talks have proceeded slowly as insurgents have continued to attack American targets.

Trump Isn’t a Nazi. He’s a Failure.

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:48

Nancy Pelosi’s fecklessness has ensured that Americans understand impeachment to be a purely political matter, and as a purely political matter impeachment is as dead as your leftover Christmas turkey.Only a few days after the impeachment vote, President Donald Trump hit his best job-approval rating ever in the Quinnipiac poll. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is ready to slap the process around like a housecat tormenting a sparrow. The magic bullet missed, and now Democrats have to make a more ordinary case against Trump.The problem is: They don’t know how.The case against Trump in 2016 was that he is unfit for the office. The case against Trump in 2020 is — or should be — that he is not very good at his job.In 2016, Trump promised Americans sustained 3-percent economic growth, but the economy has not met that standard. He promised a shrinking trade deficit, but the trade deficit has grown. He promised to build a wall along the southern border and to make Mexico pay for it, which he has not done. Which is to say, on the core issues of economic growth, trade, and immigration, President Trump is a failure by his own criteria.But the Democrats are poorly positioned to take Trump to the woodshed on these issues.Consider immigration. In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders toured Iowa union halls with an immigration message that was not too different from Trump’s. He denounced “open borders” as a billionaires’ plot to flood the U.S. market with cheap labor. At the time, Democrats still talked about illegal immigration like it was . . . illegal.In 2020, ascendant Democratic primary candidate Pete Buttigieg has just published a plan that would reduce the deportation of illegal immigrants, including those guilty of certain categories of crimes, and Democrats as a whole have invested a great deal of political capital in opposing Trump’s efforts to control illegal immigration.Why? A majority of Americans say they personally worry about illegal immigration, and a large majority — 77 percent in the most recent Gallup poll — say they see illegal immigration as a “critical threat” or an “important threat.” Trump has thrived on the issue of illegal immigration, and, in response, Democrats have taken a position that is both bad policy and bad politics.On trade, Democrats have done the opposite: Rather than blindly opposing a basically good policy, they have adopted the worst of Trump’s ideas. Senator Elizabeth Warren apes Trump’s nationalist posturing, insisting that trade is a question of “loyalty to America” and charging that American businessmen “have no patriotism.” Her proposals would essentially prohibit trade deals with China and Mexico, among other countries. But two-thirds of Americans say Trump’s trade war is unlikely to improve their lives and a third say it will leave them worse off, according to a Hill/HarrisX survey. Warren is unlikely to outdo Trump on a nationalism agenda, but nonetheless she has maneuvered herself into a position that is both bad policy and bad politics.On the economy, Trump has seen modest success after tax cuts and deregulatory efforts. The Democrats oppose these for ideological reasons, but also because they have the stink of Trump on them.A more intelligent approach for Democrats (and for us lonely few anti-Trump conservatives) would be to concede that the president’s positions on issues such as illegal immigration and trade speak to concerns that are genuine and legitimate while pointing out that his actions have been in the main ineffective or genuinely destructive. But the Democrats are so committed to their exotic fairy tale — Trump is a monster, Trump is a Nazi, Trump is a white nationalist, etc. — that they have forgotten how to run an ordinary campaign against an ordinary failure.* * *National Review Institute (NRI) is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) journalistic think tank that supports the NR mission and 14 NRI fellows (including this author!), allowing them to do what they do best: Advance principled and practical conservate journlaism. NRI is currently in the midst of its End-of-Year Fund Appeal and seeks to raise over $200,000 to support the work of the NRI fellows. Please consider giving a generous end-of-year tax-deductible contribution to NRI. Your gift, along with all those from the NR Nation, will provide the essential fuel for our mission to defend those consequential principles for which National Review has fought since 1955, and for which, with your support, it will carry the fight far into the future. Thank you for your consideration.

Islamic State says it beheaded Christian captives in Nigeria

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:36

The Islamic State group released a video purporting to show its militants beheading 10 Christian men in Nigeria, saying it was part of a campaign to avenge the deaths of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and its spokesman.

Russia and Ukraine drop mutual gas claims worth millions

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:23

The gas companies of Ukraine and Russia have agreed to drop all financial claims worth billions of pounds against each other in the latest rapprochement between the two nations bitterly divided by a separatist conflict. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview broadcast on Russian state television on Friday that the two countries are withdrawing all of their lawsuits against each other after they agreed on a gas transit deal last week. Russian gas giant Gazprom, which relies on Ukraine as its single largest transit route to Europe, last week agreed to pay out $2.9 billion (£2.2 billion) to Ukraine stemming from a previous dispute over transit fees. The parties will now withdraw all financial claims that run up millions of pounds on both sides. Ukraine, for one, has managed to secure a freeze of Gazprom’s assets in several countries such as Great Britain, Switzerland and the Netherland. Those assets will now be released. Mr Novak on Friday hailed the deal as “mutually beneficial” and said that courts would otherwise have taken years to rule on those claims. A Gazprom petrol station in Moscow “It’s a good thing,” he said in the interview. “It was important for us to start our relations with a clean slate on January 1.” The two neighboring countries have been hostile to each other since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and threw its weight behind separatists in eastern Ukraine. Moscow still claims the annexation of Crimea was legal and denies reports of sending troops and weapons to back the separatist rebels. Both countries have, however, been making small steps towards rapprochement since Ukraine elected its new president, former comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy in April. Mr Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiated a major prisoner exchange earlier this year and agreed at a summit meeting earlier this month to release more prisoners by the end of the year.

An American Citizen Died After Being Injured in the Deadly Volcanic Eruption in New Zealand

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:23

The latest victim is one of at least 17 casualties from the Dec. 9 volcanic eruption

Al Shabaab shoot locusts with machine guns as Somalia battles biggest swarms in 25 years

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:08

Farmers in southern Somalia are shooting at huge swarms of locusts with heavy machine guns in a desperate attempt to save their crops, according to media affiliated to the jihadist group Al-Shabaab. According to the group’s media, insects that have infested farmland around the southwestern town of Tiyeglow, an Al-Shabaab stronghold, are being shot at with a PKM rifle — a machine gun version of the Russian Kalashnikov. The news comes as the country experiences its largest locust infestation for 25 years. Since July, swarms of Desert Locusts from nearby Yemen have invaded vast swathes of the Horn of Africa.  A typical swarm can contain up to 150 million insects per square kilometre. Each locust can grow up to 4.3 inches long and travel up to 95 miles a day depending on the wind. Every day, an average swarm can consume the equivalent of a year's worth of food for 2,500 people.  According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the locusts have already destroyed 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of farmland in Somalia and neighbouring Ethiopia.  Somali boys attempt to fend off desert locusts as they fly across grazing land Credit: REUTERS/Feisal Omar The plague has been far more serious than experts projected it would be and has been made worse by unseasonably heavy rainfall, which has killed hundreds of people across East Africa over the last few months.  According to a spokesperson from the FAO, the favourable weather conditions mean that there is a high chance that the locusts will continue breeding rapaciously for the next three months.  Somalia’s chaotic fighting makes spraying pesticide by aeroplane - which the FAO has called the “ideal control measure” - impossible, the agency said in a statement. The insects have compounded Somalia’s dire humanitarian crisis. The east African nation of 15 million people has been struggling to recover from a severe drought that ended in 2017. In August, aid agencies said that over 2 million people were threatened with severe hunger as crop yields continue to fail.  Aid agencies now say that the locusts mean that many Somali farmers will face starvation unless relief reaches them over the next few months.

Palestinians in Gaza will scale back protests along the fortified border with Israel

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:08

Palestinians in Gaza will scale back protests along the fortified border with Israel, factions in the strip said on Thursday, in a sign of a lasting détente between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers, Hamas, along the volatile frontier.

Trump sparked a tourism boom in Ghana when he told congresswomen to 'go back' to where they came from

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 14:02

President Trump's tweets telling four freshmen congresswomen to "go back" to the "totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" had an unexpected and surprising upside: a massive tourism boom in Ghana.Akwasi Agyeman, the chief executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority, told The Washington Post that after Trump's July tweets, interest in visiting the West African nation surged: "People spoke of booking a trip, he said, as a way to strike back at Trump's words." Applications to visit Ghana this year have reportedly risen from 1,000 per week to 10,000.Trump's tweets had been directed at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), all of whom are U.S. citizens. Omar, a Somali refugee and the only one in the group to have actually been born abroad, was visiting Ghana at the time of Trump's attack. She'd tweeted in response: "So grateful for the honor to return to Mother Africa."In addition to retaliation to Trump, tourists flocked to Ghana in 2019 to honor the "Year of Return," which marked 400 years since the first slave ship reached the state of Virginia; the nation expected "some 500,000 visitors this year, up from 350,000 in 2018," the Christian Science Monitor reports. Celebrity interest, including posts by Cardi B, also enticed Americans across the Atlantic. Many have even moved to Ghana permanently."When I think about going home to the States," one Boston emigrant, Pierre Delva, told the Post, "it almost makes me want to cry."More stories from A more honest evangelical defense of Trump 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's holiday season Democratic leadership should be afraid of McKayla Wilkes

Congress Demands Investigation Into the U.S.'s Nuclear Coffin

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 13:30

The Runit Dome is leaking radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean.

Dallas dismissed from lawsuit over police shooting

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 13:05

A federal judge has ruled the city of Dallas is not liable for an off-duty police officer fatally shooting a man in his own apartment last year. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn dismissed the city from civil lawsuit that the family of Botham Jean brought after the 26-year-old was killed by Amber Guyger. The ruling leaves the 31-year-old former officer as the sole defendant in the suit, which argues she used excessive force and that better police training could have prevented Jean's death.

Mexico reveals webs of corruption in contracts, trafficking

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 12:31

Mexico's top financial investigator on Friday reported on the webs of corruption and money laundering that thieves, traffickers and political figures have used to hide their wealth. Santiago Nieto, the head of Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit, said a federal judge took bribes to rule in favor of the violent Jalisco cartel, and then used a lawyer's office to buy vehicles and send as much as $2 million to the United States. Another gang stole fuel from government pipelines and set up trucking companies to use the diesel and launder profits from sales of fuel to third parties.

A 10-year-old girl died on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Seattle after apparently suffering cardiac arrest

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 12:23

Delta Flight 2423 landed back at Los Angeles International 21 minutes after taking off so that the young girl could receive medical aid.

Philippines bans two U.S. senators, considers tighter entry restrictions for U.S. citizens

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 12:03

The Philippines has banned two U.S. lawmakers from visiting and will introduce tighter entry restrictions for U.S. citizens should Washington enforce sanctions over the detention of a top government critic, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said on Friday.

Marines in California took the Corps' new Amphibious Combat Vehicle out for a nighttime test in the ocean

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 12:02

The Corps has used the Amphibious Assault Vehicle since 1972. But starting in late 2020, the Amphibious Combat Vehicle will carry Marines into battle.

Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein Associate, under FBI Investigation

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 11:17

Reuters reports that the FBI has opened an investigation into several associates of late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, including his longtime friend Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of being complicit in the financier's underage-sex trafficking ring.Maxwell, 58, is a former girlfriend of the wealthy financier who remained in his circle and is accused by multiple women of helping Epstein find underage girls to have sex with. The British socialite has not been criminally charged, and she has denied all allegations.One of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, has alleged in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell lured her to the billionaire financier and forced her to have sex with Epstein as well as British Prince Andrew.The British royal family said any interview with Prince Andrew would be “a matter for the FBI.”Epstein, 66, was found dead by apparent suicide in his Manhattan jail cell in August, shortly after he was arrested and charged with sex trafficking underage girls as young as 14 from 2002 to 2005. His death sparked a Justice Department investigation and came a day after court documents were unsealed detailing the allegations against billionaire. Epstein had pleaded not guilty to the charges against him before his death.“Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,” Attorney General William Barr said in August of the ongoing investigation.Maxwell, the daughter of late British media heavyweight Robert Maxwell, has been spotted in various locations since Epstein's death, including a Los Angeles shopping mall.

Kansas explosion: 11 people injured in blast at aircraft plant in Wichita

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 11:17

Officials are responding to multiple reports of an explosion at the Beechcraft aircraft plant in Kansas.Fire crews and emergency units were deployed to the scene as traffic was blocked off near the site of the plant, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Ring and Amazon get slammed with a federal lawsuit that claims the companies failed to secure cameras against hackers

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 11:01

The company has been accused of negligence and breach of implied contract for failing to properly protect its users against cyberattack.

U.S. appeals court voids 'shockingly low' 17-year sentence in NY terrorism case

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 10:55

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Fareed Mumuni's trial judge abused her discretion in imposing a term that was 80% below the 85 years recommended by federal guidelines, and even below the 18-year term for co-defendant Munther Omar Saleh, who was not accused of attempted murder. In a 2-1 decision, the court said U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie improperly second-guessed whether Mumuni, 25, intended to kill FBI Special Agent Kevin Coughlin in June 2015 by stabbing him repeatedly with an 8-inch kitchen knife in Mumuni's home.