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Bloomberg pledges $70 billion to bolster black America in new plan

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 12:00

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his presidential campaign's plan for bolstering economic opportunity for black Americans.


Two More Bodies Found at Tijuana Property Where Missing California Couple Were Buried Under the Dirt Floor

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 12:00

Two more bodies have been discovered at a Tijuana, Mexico, property where investigators earlier found the remains of a missing California couple buried under the dirt floor of a house on Friday. Jesús Rubén López Guillén, 70, a U.S. resident, and his wife Maria Teresa Guillén, 65, a naturalized U.S. citizen, were reported missing by their daughter Norma López after they traveled from Garden Grove to Tijuana on Jan. 10 to collect more than $6,400 in overdue rent from their 37-year-old son-in-law. Police in Garden Grove launched a missing persons investigation after López said she could no longer track her parents’ movements through the Find My Phone app. She said the last signal she received before their phone went dead was at the property they owned where her husband was living in southern Tijuana, about 4 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Their bodies were found buried under the dirt floor of one of the property’s three homes late Friday.While conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the Guilléns’ murder, Mexican investigators say they discovered the bodies of another couple buried in the property. It is not known if they were found in the same house as the Guilléns’ remains. The new victims have not yet been identified, but police in Mexico say they also may have been involved in a monetary dispute with the son-in-law.The son-in-law, a Mexican national who was deported from the U.S. in 2012 and identified only as “Santiago” in court documents, was first charged with the California couple’s disappearance and taken into custody while the property was searched. Baja California state prosecutor Hirán Sánchez confirmed that when his in-law’s bodies were found, he was charged with their murder.Sanchez told reporters that when the son-in-law was first questioned about what happened to his in-laws, he offered up a “series of contradictions” including a tale that they had walked across the border and that he had picked them up. López says her parents had instead driven their own pickup truck to retrieve the money. The son-in-law also told police that he first took them to their property and then they went together to a bank to exchange currency he paid them, after which he said he drove them back to the border. Instead investigators say that the son-in-law tried to extract money with the couple’s bank cards.“The Guilléns drove themselves to their houses, not Santiago,” Sanchez said at a news conference. “They never left.”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.


AP Explains: CFO of China's Huawei facing extradition to US

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 11:02

An extradition hearing begins Monday in a Vancouver courtroom for Huawei top executive Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company's founder. Canada arrested Meng while she was changing planes at Vancouver's airport in late 2018.


UK's Johnson, France's Macron reiterate commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 09:07

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated their commitment on Sunday to the Iran nuclear deal and agreed a long-term framework was needed, Downing Street said on Sunday. "On Iran, the leaders reiterated their commitment to the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and also acknowledged the need to define a long-term framework to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon," a Downing Street spokeswoman said in a statement after the two met on the sidelines of a Libya summit in Berlin.


Police robots keep malfunctioning, with mishaps ranging from running over a toddler's foot to ignoring people in distress

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 09:07

As companies have begun to experiment with security robots, the robots have repeatedly hit obstacles — or, in some cases, fallen into them.


Ex-Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line workers reveal the things they couldn't live without on board

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 09:04

Workers for cruise lines like Carnival and Norwegian might be away from home for over six months, so they need to be thoughtful about what they pack.


The 25 Best PSP Games

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 09:00


Designer Ayissi is first black African at fashion's top table

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 07:45

Not only is he joining fashion's creme de la creme, the Cameroonian couturier is shaking up the stereotype of what "African materials" are by refusing to use wax prints which he dismisses as "colonial". Highly colourful wax cotton prints flooded West Africa after Dutch mills began turning out millions of rolls of the material with patterns borrowed from Indonesian batik in the 19th century. "Still when we talk about African fashion it's always wax, which is a real pity, because its killing our own African heritage," Ayissi told AFP.


Philippine military says 5 Indonesians kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 06:16

Eight Indonesians were abducted in Sabah on Thursday. Three were released, while the remaining five were probably brought by their captors to the southern Philippine province of Sulu, said Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command.


US navy to name aircraft carrier in honour of black Pearl Harbor veteran

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 06:12

Doris Miller was working as a mess attendant on the battleship West Virginia the morning of 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. An alarm sounded, and as the ship drew heavy fire, Miller raced to assist the West Virginia’s fatally wounded commanding officer. He also fired a machine gun against enemy planes.For his bravery and “distinguished devotion to duty” that day, Miller in 1942 was awarded the prestigious Navy Cross, the second-highest military decoration, making him the first African American to receive the medal.


Bless Virginia for passing the Equal Rights Amendment, but blame women for taking this long

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 06:00

Women could've fought for the ERA long before now, but too many chose political ideology over enshrining protections in the U.S. Constitution.


Philippine military says 5 Indonesians kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 05:55

The Philippine military on Sunday said it has launched search and rescue operations for five Indonesian fishermen kidnapped by militants belonging to the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Malaysian waters last week. Three were released, while the remaining five were probably brought by their captors to the southern Philippine province of Sulu, said Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command. Sulu is Abu Sayyaf's stronghold.


House of Lords Could Move to North of England Under Proposal

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 05:32

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Moving the House of Lords out of London is one of a number of ideas under consideration to make sure every part of the U.K. “feels properly connected to politics,” Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly said.The Sunday Times reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to locate Parliament’s upper chamber permanently in York in northern England and has ordered work to begin on the practicalities of a move. Birmingham in the Midlands is also in the running, it said.When asked about the report on Sky TV’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday” show, Cleverly said: “We might. It’s one of range of things we are looking into. It’s about demonstrating to people we are going to do things differently. The Labour Party lost millions of voters because they failed to listen.”Johnson has spoken repeatedly of “leveling up” across the U.K. after traditional Labour strongholds in the north backed the Conservatives for the first time in the Dec. 12 general election.The Palace of Westminster, home of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, is due to be vacated for several years from the mid-2020s to allow billions of pounds of restoration work to the Victorian-era buildings to take place.Speaking on BBC TV’s Andrew Marr Show, International Development Secretary Alok Sharma backed moving the 795-member Lords, saying the Conservatives should use their strong parliamentary majority to bring the government “closer to the country as a whole.”But Labour lawmaker Nadia Whittome dismissed the idea. “Working-class people don’t care about the unelected House of Lords,” she told Marr. “We want jobs, proper investment and meaningful decentralization of power. This is superficial. It’s tinkering around the edges.”(Adds comment from government minister in sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Sara Marley, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Rep. Ilhan Omar Says ‘We Must Stop Detaining’ Illegal Immigrants

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 05:26

“This should never be the case,” she wrote. “The cruelty of our immigration system becomes clearer every day. We must stop detaining immigrants and start giving them pathways to citizenship.”


‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to America

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 05:04

In the hours after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3, U.S. officials in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department worked overtime on assembling a plan to handle the fallout, only to watch senior administration officials and the president himself scuttle their effort in real time on national television. The ensuing days became a mad dash to reconcile the intense intra-administration tensions over what the intelligence actually said about Iranian plots, and how best to sell their case to the American public. At the very top was a president who stewed and complained to staff about how the killing he’d just ordered might negatively affect his re-election prospects and ensnare him in a quagmire in the Middle East of his own creation.The plan to take out Soleimani had been approved months earlier by President Donald Trump after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-National Security Adviser John Bolton pushed for more to be done to manage Iran’s aggression in the Middle East. But the president for years tried to avoid a direct military confrontation with Tehran, and hitting Soleimani was a move that could edge the two countries closer to war.When an American contractor was killed in Iraq in late December, President Trump’s national security team presented him with a slew of options on how to respond, and killing Soleimani was on the list. National security advisers reminded the president that he had publicly drawn a line in the sand, saying that if the regime killed Americans there would be severe consequences. Still, the strike was a departure from the regular Trump playbook and officials knew it would take a robust effort to explain not only the reasoning behind the attack but also the administration’s goal on Iran.“There was this sudden nature about it all. Yeah, it had been in the works for some time. But it didn’t feel like we were all thinking the same on how to move forward,” said one U.S. official, referring to the strike on Soleimani. “It was like, ‘OK, now what?’” For more than a week, Trump, Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and officials from the national security community, including at the Pentagon, held twice-daily meetings and conference calls to make sure all government agencies were on the same page regarding messaging, according to two individuals familiar with those conversations.Despite that effort, what resulted appeared to be an uncoordinated effort to justify an action by national security officials who were varied in their answers about the pre-strike intelligence and who struggled to define the administration’s strategy on Iran post strike.That internal confusion on how to re-frame the administration’s approach to dealing with Iran led to weeks of what appeared to be frequent mixed messaging, critiques about the administration's apparent lack of strategy, calls from Congress for more robust intelligence briefings—and allegations that Trump and his lieutenants were actively misleading a nation into a sharp military escalation.This article is based on interviews with 10 U.S. government officials and several former administration officials. The State Department and White House House did not comment on the record for this story.Worry over the “counterpunch”For several days following Soleimani’s assassination, Pentagon officials warned Trump and his national security advisers that Iran had a variety of responses it could carry out to make the Americans pay. Among them, sources said, were Iranian attacks on senior U.S. military officers overseas, or violence targeting American outposts in countries like Iraq. Their bottom line was that Iran would hit back, and hit back hard. The president worried aloud to his team about how the strike could impact the way voters viewed him in the upcoming election. After all, avoiding costly foreign wars in the Middle East had been one of the key promises— and points of contrast—he made as a candidate in 2016. One official told The Daily Beast that in meetings at the White House Trump was “preoccupied” with ensuring that his public statements on Iran—notably that he would not drag the U.S. into a war with the country—would hold following the assassination. Once Soleimani was gone, Trump was adamant that the administration “get things back to normal” with Iran, one official told The Daily Beast. According to another U.S. official, senior administration officials, including President Trump, were framing the strike as a de-escalatory measure even before the attack was ordered. The idea was that if the U.S. didn’t hit Soleimani, more people would die because Iran would continue to carry out attacks in the region.Trump’s insistence on returning to “normal” with Iran directly after he ordered the death of the Islamic republic’s top military leader underscores this president’s wild vacillations between diplomatic overtures and teasing violent retribution, where a call for peace one moment could be followed by a threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites—a tactic that is considered a war crime under international law.The president inquired about this not long before greenlighting, then abruptly calling off, military strikes on Iran that he approved knowing the body count was estimated to be high.And even as he publicly celebrated this massive escalation with Iran and aggressively campaigned on, and fundraised off of, his decision, Trump continued to lament privately to close allies that it would be “crazy” to plunge America into another invasion or full-blown war in the Middle East, according to two people who spoke to Trump in the days following the Soleimani hit.He then pledged he would not “let it happen” on his “watch.” Of course, none of the president’s stated reservations about starting a new war, or his stated desire to bring soldiers home, kept him and his administration from deploying thousands more American troops to the region as the U.S. and Iran walked up to the brink of all-out warfare early this month.The Soleimani strike, though, forced the president to pause, even just briefly, to consider whether what he had ordered would have lasting, irreversible consequences—repercussions he’d never meant to bump up against.“You know, he's sincerely grappling with this, which is good. I mean, war should be hard and we should grapple with it. I just don't want any one person to say, okay, I've grappled with it we should do it,” Sen. Tim Kaine told The Daily Beast in an interview about the escalating tension in Iran. Since the Soleimani strike, the Virginia Democrat has led a bipartisan push in the Senate to rein in Trump’s authority to wage war in Iran without congressional approval. “If I were president I shouldn't have the ability to just on my own say, let’s do this,” Kaine added. “It should be deliberative, because that's what the troops and their families deserve.”President Trump’s concerns were fed, in part, by comments from lawmakers and other analysts that the strike on Soleimani could lead quickly to a major, sustained conflict.“We need to get ready for a major pushback. Our people in Iraq and the Middle East are going to be targeted. We need to be ready to defend our people in the Middle East,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in an interview with The Daily Beast the night of the strike. “I think we need to be ready for a big counterpunch.”“Overselling the intel”In the first week after the Jan. 3 strike, officials appeared on television and radio shows in an attempt to frame the Soleimani strike as an act of de-escalation. Just hours after the strike, Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran, went on BBC World Service radio saying that killing Soleimani was designed to “advance the cause of peace.”Officials at the State Department, in coordination with the White House, drafted talking points advising those who would appear in the media to underscore Soleimani’s “malign activities” and his role in killing American troops over the years, according to two U.S. officials. But the White House wanted to advance a different argument—one that wasn’t about what Iran had already done, but what U.S. officials claimed Iran was about to do. They said the U.S. killed Soleimani because he was planning “imminent” attacks that would harm American interests. That talking point in particular was emailed out to officials across the Pentagon, White House, and State Department, and even to several GOP lawmakers’ offices repeatedly the week of the strike, according to several officials who spoke to The Daily Beast. It became, for a time, the central rationale the administration offered for the assassination. On the night of the hit, the Pentagon said only that Soleimani was “actively developing plans” for an unspecified attack. By Sunday Jan. 5, Pompeo said on several morning talk shows that there were actually “constant threats” from Iran, rather than a specific one the strike preempted. And officials told a varying story about how many Americans could be killed. That next week, in briefings to Congress, the administration struggled to explain what exactly the alleged “imminent” attack was. Senators left a closed-door briefing Wednesday, Jan. 8, unconvinced, angry, and warning that the intelligence put forward did not match how senior officials described it. And when the dissatisfied lawmakers pressed for a clearer picture, Graham ended the briefing even though several members had yet to ask their questions.“It was right when things were really starting to get heated and Graham just said something like, ‘Hey don’t you all have to get back to the White House?’,” the source said.For Kaine, the problem wasn’t the intel, it was some of the messengers. “I think the intel has been strong. But I think some of the political people have been overselling the intel,” said Kaine. “What I heard of the political folks doing seems to me to be significantly beyond what the intel says.”Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), a member of the House intelligence committee who received a separate classified briefing on the Soleimani strike, said he “saw nothing related to imminence.”“To exaggerate your view of what intelligence means is dangerous,” he told The Daily Beast. “This was either a misrepresentation or a degree of incompetence in analyzing the intelligence.”Senators were also displeased with how the administration’s briefers, including Pompeo, answered questions about Iraq and its parliament vote to oust American troops from the country after the Soleimani assassination. According to two people in the room, the briefers dismissed questions about the Baghdad vote, telling lawmakers “don’t worry about it,” according to an individual who was in the room. “One of them said ‘that’s just how the Iraqis talk. We will take care of it.’”“When you take strikes… in Iraq over their objections, there’s going to be consequences to that. And that’s the kind of thing where you got to be thinking down the board. If they object to us using Iraq as a field of battle… but we’re saying yeah, we’re doing it anyway. Well, what do you think is going to happen?” Kaine told The Daily Beast in reference to the briefing. “I certainly didn't get much sense that they had thought through, like, oh, they are probably going to kick us out of the country.”Trump on Jan. 9 told reporters that the intelligence actually showed that Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” The next day, he went bigger in a Fox News interview, saying that there “probably would’ve been four embassies.” But two days after that, on Jan. 12, Trump’s claim was put into question by his own defense secretary. In an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Mark Esper conceded that he had not in fact seen a piece of intelligence “with regard to four embassies.” But, in an apparent attempt to cover for Trump, Esper said the president “believed that it probably and could have been attacks against additional embassies.”According to two officials who spoke to The Daily Beast, Trump was outwardly frustrated by critiques of his embassy claim, telling his close confidants that he was furious with Esper’s performance on CNN.Lawmakers on Capitol Hill called on the Trump administration to explain the president’s remarks, demanding briefings with Pompeo and other administration officials—which were scheduled this week and then canceled without explanation. According to two senior U.S. officials, Trump and Pompeo spoke about the need to avoid answering more questions about the embassy threats.“This whole episode has been one of mixed messages. Mixed messages is a function of no real strategy,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “When you don’t have a strategy, you get all sorts of confusing events on top of each other.”“Aggressive opinions”Officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said part of that confusion on messaging came as a result of abundant input by GOP lawmakers with “aggressive opinions on how to handle Iran,” as one official put it. In the days after the assassination, Trump spoke with Republican leaders in the Senate and the House, picking their brains on how to redefine the administration’s years-long policy of maximum pressure—a campaign to wage economic warfare on Tehran. Some of those same senators had publicly and behind closed doors denounced the administration’s maximum pressure campaign. They argued that the campaign wasn’t doing enough to change Iran’s behavior. In the days leading up to the strike, Graham spoke with President Trump. “I won’t get into the details,” Graham told The Daily Beast. “But he told me Soleimani was a target and that they had caught him red-handed.” Graham said he had advocated for the president to take a tougher military stance against Iran following the attacks on the Saudi oil refineries in September.“I didn’t have any specific targets in mind,” Graham said. “I just thought we needed to be doing more.”Several national security officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said there was a push by GOP lawmakers, including Graham, in the days after the strike to fundamentally re-vamp the administration’s maximum pressure campaign by adding a military component.“If there are any more threats against Americans or our interests then we should hit refineries and oil infrastructure inside Iran,” Graham said. “The military option should be on the table.” The campaign was not initially designed to include military power as a form of maximum pressure, according to two former Obama administration officials. Instead, its architects envisioned it as a means of economic strangulation, whereby Iran would be put under such crippling sanctions that it would opt to transform its foreign policy and take an unspecified grand bargain that the administration began offering after abandoning the nuclear deal in 2018. Graham told The Daily Beast that he is working on an alternative to the Obama administration's 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. “I'm not surprised the President has close relationships with these folks,” Kaine told The Daily Beast, referring to GOP lawmakers. “But it makes me nervous. Rather than senators pressuring the president, hey, go after Iran, let them make the case on the floor of the Senate.”After two weeks of shifting talking points on Iran, re-defining the administration’s policy, Pompeo seemed to edge the closest to articulating a clear response on the administration’s policy when he appeared for a speech at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University on Jan. 13.“President Trump and those of us on his national security team are re-establishing deterrence… against Iran. The goal is twofold. First we want to deprive the regime of resources. And second we just want Iran to act like a normal nation,” he said, sighing. “Just be like Norway.”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.


Iran backtracks on plan to send flight recorders to Ukraine

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 04:50

The Iranian official leading the investigation into the Ukrainian jetliner that was accidentally shot down by the Revolutionary Guard appeared to backtrack Sunday on plans to send the flight recorders abroad for analysis, a day after saying they would be sent to Kyiv. The same official was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday as saying the recorders would be sent to Ukraine, where French, American and Canadian experts would help analyze them. Iranian officials previously said the black boxes were damaged but usable.


Taiwan Is Not Worth A War With China (For 1 Key U.S. Ally, That Is)

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 04:14

Especially for Australia.


Iran says it is preparing for satellite launch

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 03:23

Iran said Sunday that two newly constructed satellites have passed pre-launch tests and will be transported to the nation's space center for eventual launch, without elaborating. Iran has not said when it will launch the satellites, but often coordinates its launches with national holidays. Iran's largely state-run media say the 90-kilogram (200-pound) Zafar satellites each have four high-resolution color cameras and will monitor and transmit data on natural resources as well as agricultural and environmental developments.


Police fire tear gas to disperse thousands in central Hong Kong

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 03:08

Police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered in a central Hong Kong park but later spilled onto the streets, briefly barricading roads and spray-painting buildings. Out in numbers before the demonstration began, police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march. Several units of police in riot gear were seen chasing protesters and several arrests were made.


Yemen missile attack kills at least 70 soldiers: sources

Top Stories - Sun, 01/19/2020 - 02:08

At least 70 Yemeni soldiers have been killed in a missile attack launched by Huthi rebels on a mosque in the central province of Marib, medical and military sources said Sunday. The Huthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in Marib -- about 170 kilometres (105 miles) east of Sanaa -- during evening prayers on Saturday, military sources told AFP.


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