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- McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from Democrats
- As Trump trial starts, Pelosi's star rises with opening of one-woman theatrical show
"The Adult in the Room," which started to take shape about a year ago, was "fast-tracked" to keep pace with the events leading to the president's impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, playwright Bill McMahon told WBBM radio. McMahon's play primarily tells the story of Pelosi, a Democrat who is now serving her 17th term representing a California congressional district.
- Police: Mom accused of killing her 3 kids said she smothered them while singing
- Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal case
An attorney for Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Monday, requesting the he recuse himself from Parnas' criminal case.Parnas was arrested last October and charged with campaign finance violations. In the letter, which was also filed in New York federal court, attorney Joseph Bondy said Barr has a conflict of interest and asked that a special prosecutor from outside the Justice Department handle Parnas' case. "Federal ethics guidelines bar federal employees from participating in matters in which their impartiality could be questioned, including matters in which they were personally involved or about which they have personal knowledge," Bondy wrote.Bondy cited several reasons why Barr should recuse himself, noting that the reconstructed transcript released by the White House of President Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows Trump telling Zelensky that Barr could help him facilitate an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. Last week, Parnas told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that Barr knew about efforts in the Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, saying, "Attorney General Barr was basically on the team." Read Bondy's letter here.More stories from theweek.com After rejecting amendments, Senate adopts impeachment trial rules White House budget office releases heavily redacted Ukraine emails as Senate rejects OMB subpoenas Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow's odd impeachment rant about 'lawyer lawsuits' may stem from a misheard phrase
- Feds: White supremacists hoped rally would start civil war
A hidden camera captured members of a white supremacist group expressing hope that violence at a gun rights rally in Virginia this week could start a civil war, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday.
- REI’s January Sale Offers 50% off Cold-Weather Outdoor Gear
- Scientists want to cut off Wuhan from the rest of the world to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus gripping the city
- Iran Says Ukrainian Jet Was Downed by Two Short-Range Missiles
(Bloomberg) -- A Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed after taking off from the Iranian capital on Jan. 8 was downed by two short-range surface-to-air missiles, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said in a second preliminary investigation report.The Tor-M1 missiles were launched at the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 jetliner from the north, according to the report.It also said:Plane took off from Tehran at 6:12 a.m. local time and lost all contact with air traffic control at 8,100 feetAircraft disappeared from secondary surveillance radar screens at 6:15 a.m. and from primary surveillance radars at 6:18 a.m.Aircraft moved past a residential area and its first physical contact with the ground was at a public park. Plane was torn apart as it moved through a football pitch, nearby farmland and gardensThe retrieved flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder are “some of the most advanced equipment of their kind in the world” and Iran lacks the facilities to decode themFrench and U.S. accident investigation agencies have refused to send necessary equipment to Iran for decoding the black boxes(Adds details on impact with the ground.)To contact the reporter on this story: Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey at email@example.com, Michael Gunn, Erin ZlomekFor 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.
- Are North Korea's Vaunted Submarines Actually Any Good?
- Netanyahu tries to rally global opposition to ICC case
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling on the world to take “concrete actions” against the International Criminal Court ahead of a possible war-crimes case against Israel. The ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said last month that there was a “reasonable basis” to open a war crimes probe into Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip as well as Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. Israel, which is not a member of the ICC, has said the court has no jurisdiction and accused Bensouda of being driven by anti-Semitism.
- Rohingya refugees pray for justice as court to rule in genocide case
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) - Rohingya refugees who fled persecution and violence in Myanmar are praying for justice as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague prepares to deliver an initial verdict on Thursday in a genocide case filed against Myanmar. More than 730,000 Muslim Rohingya fled an army offensive in Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017. The United Nations says gang rapes and mass killings were carried out with "genocidal intent".
- Can school choice exclude religious schools? High court weighs in.
- Rep. Hakeem Jeffries explains Trump's impeachment to Trump's lawyers, drops in Biggie Smalls reference
Senate Republicans rejected a series of amendments proposed on behalf of House impeachment managers Tuesday, killing motions to subpoena Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, and other potential witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial plus Ukraine-related records from the White House, State Department, Office of Management and Budget, and Pentagon.The Democratic House impeachment managers took turns explaining why senators should want to see the new evidence, and it fell to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to argue in favor of subpoenaing Mulvaney, Trump's acting chief of staff. "Even President Nixon, whose articles of impeachment included obstruction of Congress, did not block key White House aides from testifying in front of Congress," he said. "President Trump's complete and total obstruction makes Richard Nixon look like a choir boy."But Jeffries also responded to a more fundamental challenged from Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow. "We don't hate this president, but we love the Constitution, we love America, we love our democracy," Jeffries said. "That's why we're here today. The question was asked by Mr. Sekulow as he opened before this distinguished body: 'Why are we here?'""We are here, sir, because President Trump pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political and personal gain. We are here, sir, because President Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election and corrupted our democracy," putting his personal interests over national security, then tried to cover it up, he added. "That is why we are here, Mr. Sekulow. If you don't know, now you know."That last line was borrowed from rapper Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G. Not everyone in the room got the reference. "Apparently not a lot of Biggie fans in the U.S. Senate," TalkingPointsMemo reporter Tierney Sneed tweeted. "I saw only Sens. [Brian] Schatz [D-Hawaii] and [Kirsten] Gillibrand [D-N.Y.] laugh at the line." But outside the chamber, there were a lot of nods.> Hakeem Jeffries - “If you don’t know, now you know.” Biggie (Juicy) breaks into the trial. Brooklyn in the house (Senate).> > — Eric Holder (@EricHolder) January 22, 2020This wasn't the first time Jeffries referenced Biggie in Congress, either. Back in 2017, for example:If you didn't know, now you know.More stories from theweek.com Trump suggested Medicare and Social Security are the 'easiest' things to cut. Democrats pounced. Trump outright brags he's withholding 'all the material' to beat impeachment MeToo activists accuse Oprah of throwing Russell Simmons' accusers 'under the bus'
- The brazen (and careless) Russian assassination team behind the Salisbury poisonings has been spotted in Europe, again
- The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl Harbor
- Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'
- Halkbank Hit With U.S. Demand for Millions in Contempt Fines
(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s Halkbank should pay millions of dollars in fines for its continued failure to respond to U.S. sanctions-evasions charges, federal prosecutors in New York said.In a court filing Tuesday, the government asked a federal judge to impose a daily $1 million fine that would double each week the bank refuses to appear in the case.Prosecutors charged the bank in October with aiding a yearslong scheme to help Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions and access $20 billion in frozen oil revenue. Since then, the bank has refused to accept service of the indictment or answer the case, leading prosecutors to deem it a fugitive from justice.The U.S. pursuit of Halkbank, which is owned by the Turkish government, has been a sore point in relations between the two countries. Manhattan federal prosecutors previously won the conviction of a senior Halkbank executive in a case Turkish President Recep Erdogan likened to an “international coup attempt.”Read More: Halkbank Threatened with U.S. Contempt in Iran Sanctions Case“Halkbank has consistently sought to avoid responsibility for its role in a massive sanctions-evasion and money-laundering scheme that gave the Government of Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of restricted oil proceeds,” the U.S. said in Tuesday’s filing.The U.S. argued that Halkbank improperly ignored an initial summons, “intentionally frustrated” efforts to serve the summons and indictment, attacked the charges in the press and failed to show up for a required court appearance.Andrew Hruska, a U.S. lawyer for Halkbank, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the sanctions request.A judge in December denied Halkbank’s request that it be allowed to make a “special appearance” to argue for the charges’ dismissal without submitting itself to the court’s jurisdiction. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman denied the request, leaving Halkbank with a choice between answering the charges and defending against them or not participating in the case in any way.While Halkbank does almost no business in the U.S., it has some ties to the nation’s financial system, which the government could limit or sever.In its initial filing, the U.S. provided conflicting statements about the amount of the proposed fine. In one section the daily $1 million fine was said to double at the end of each week the bank fails to comply. In another section the government said the fine would double every day. In a corrected filing, prosecutors made clear the fine should double only each week.The case is U.S. v. Halkbank, 15-cr-867, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).(Updates with amount of requested fine)To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in federal court in Manhattan at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at email@example.com, Joe Schneider, Steve StrothFor 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.
- How Was the Secret Air War Between the U.S. Navy and Soviet Fighters Over Siberia Kept Secret for Forty Years?
- UN experts: Jeff Bezos phone hack shows link to Saudi prince
The phone of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was hacked after receiving a file sent from an account used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, United Nations experts said Wednesday. The two experts called for an “immediate investigation” by the United States into information that suggests that Bezos' phone was likely hacked after he received an MP4 video file sent from the Saudi prince's WhatsApp account in May 2018, after the two exchanged phone numbers at a dinner in California. The file was sent to Bezos' phone five months before Saudi critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi government agents inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October.
- Taiwan calls on China to share 'correct' virus information
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on China on Wednesday to share "correct" information about a new coronavirus and for the World Health Organisation (WHO) not to exclude Taiwan from collaboration on the outbreak for political reasons. Authorities have confirmed more than 400 cases of the virus in China, most of them in the central city of Wuhan where the virus first appeared at the end of 2019. The virus, which health officials have said can be passed from person to person, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai, with cases have been confirmed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, as well as Taiwan.
- AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights Demonstration
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Monday contrasted the annual gun rights rally in Richmond, Va. with the riots after the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray and protests following the killing of Eric Garner by New York police."When we go out and march for the dignity…of the lives of people like Freddie Gray and Eric Garner, the whole place is surrounded by police in riot gear without a gun in sight [among protesters]," Ocasio-Cortez said at a Monday event. "And here are all of these people [in Richmond], flying Confederate flags with semiautomatic weapons, and there are almost no police officers at that protest."Following the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police van in Baltimore in 2015, the city saw riots so extensive that Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, while national-guard units deployed to quell the violence. While the officers who arrested Gray were initially charged with murder, all charges were eventually dropped by the prosecution.During the Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va. officers arrested one person for covering her face in public, which is banned under Virginia law. The individual was later released, and the rally continued without violence.On Thursday the New York Times reported that three suspected white nationalists had been arrested, with investigators alleging the three would try to ignite violence at the rally. Governor Ralph Northam, who has voiced support for more restrictive gun laws, declared a state of emergency in response to the threat.
- Trump impeachment trial: Republicans block witnesses and evidence while insisting president is 'a man of his word'
The Republican-controlled US Senate has voted along party lines to approve the rules of Donald Trump‘s impeachment trial, rejecting Democratic efforts to obtain evidence and ensure witnesses are heard.The third presidential impeachment trial in American history began with a marathon session of nearly 13 hours on Tuesday, as rancorous debate about the terms of proceedings stretched out until nearly 2am in Washington (7am UK time).
- A college student from Iran who waited a year to be granted a student visa to the US was deported when he arrived
- The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest area
- This 26-year-old former truck driver is running for Congress, and he's betting big that TikTok will help get him elected
- Zimbabwe Opposition Vows Rolling Protests Over Economy
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on TwitterZimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change will hold a series of demonstrations this year over the government’s failure to address the deteriorating economy.The southern African nation had the continent’s fastest-shrinking economy last year, after Libya, and its annual inflation rate was outpaced globally only by Venezuela, International Monetary Fund estimates show. Zimbabwe is grappling with shortages of food, fuel and foreign-exchange, while its inability to pay for adequate electricity imports and breakdowns at power plants have led to outages of as long as 18 hours a day.“This year is going to be a year of demonstrations and action,” MDC leader Nelson Chamisa told party supporters in the capital, while outlining their plans for this year.” This year it must be known that demonstrations are coming. It is time to fight for Zimbabwe we all want and have been dreaming of.”Previous protests by anti-government activists have resulted in brutal repression. At least 18 people have been killed in demonstrations since Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power in November 2017.To contact the reporter on this story: Godfrey Marawanyika in Harare at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at email@example.com, Paul Richardson, Alastair ReedFor 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.
- The Air Force's New B-21 Stealth Bomber Will Be a High-Tech Doomsday Machine
- Indonesia detains American journalist over visa regulations
An American journalist is facing up to five years in an Indonesian jail and a fine on charges of violating immigration regulations, a lawyer and officials said Wednesday. Philip Jacobson of California was detained Tuesday in Palangkaraya city on Borneo island. The government has promised to ease visa restrictions for international media since President Joko Widodo took office in 2014.
- China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deaths
China's National Health Commission said on Wednesday 440 people in 13 Chinese provinces were confirmed to be infected with a new coronavirus as of Tuesday, with nine deaths, and that there was evidence of respiratory transmission from patient to patient.
- 26 Coffee Makers for Every Type of Coffee Drinker
- Judge upholds mom charged for being topless at home
- McConnell Impeach Plan: Run Like Hell, Pray for No Surprises
The vision that Senate Republican leaders have for the impeachment trial of President Trump, which is set to begin on Tuesday, is simple: a sprint that briskly checks the required procedural boxes before arriving, business-like, at the end result—an acquittal of the president. The vision that Trump himself has for the impeachment trial of President Trump, however, may be different. He has approached the trial that will decide the fate of his presidency as a scorched-earth battle to vindicate himself and a zero-sum loyalty test for congressional Republicans. His trial team, announced last week, reflects that combative mindset. Between Kenneth Starr—the architect of President Clinton’s impeachment 20 years ago—and Alan Dershowitz, the celebrity attorney and former Clinton backer turned Trump defender, what is effectively a Fox News panel will be guiding Trump’s defense in a trial before 100 U.S. senators and the chief justice of the Supreme Court.The tension between a group of Republican lawmakers who publicly make clear they want no “circus” and a president with a penchant for creating them will be just one factor that will make Trump’s impeachment trial unlike the other two trials in U.S. history—or any other event in U.S. history, for that matter. Another unique factor: the steady flow of fresh facts and revelations directly related to the charges laid out in articles of impeachment. Last Thursday, as senators were sworn in as jurors, they were struggling to keep up with incendiary, breaking allegations about Trumpworld’s conduct on Ukraine from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. On top of that, a federal government watchdog had just found that the White House violated the law in withholding appropriated funds from Ukraine. Taken together, it all seems a recipe for mayhem—a sign that anything could happen as the trial unfolds over the next several weeks. But underneath all the drama, the fundamental political reality has remained static since the beginning: When it’s over and the votes are tallied, Trump will almost certainly not be removed from office. A flat “no” was Sen. Ted Cruz’s answer when asked last Thursday if anything at all had changed over the last few months about whether or not Trump’s conduct on Ukraine justifies his removal from office.“We will respect due process, both sides will be allowed to present their case,” said the Texas Republican, a reliable Senate ally of the president. “And then we will decide the matter pursuant to the law and the Constitution, and I am confident at the end of this proceeding the result will be an acquittal. ”Most Democrats know that the prospect of 20 GOP senators joining with all Democratic senators to ensure Trump’s removal is, as it stands, not remotely likely. Publicly, though, Democrats are holding out hope that the ultimate bank shot—getting just four Republicans to side with them on a vote to call additional witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who might offer new and damning evidence of Trump’s misconduct—could alter the cold political reality they’re facing.“In a trial, you never know what will happen if you have witnesses and documents,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told The Daily Beast. “It can change the dynamic of the trial. As to whether it’ll change the ultimate outcome, that’s for senators to decide after hearing all the witnesses.”On Monday night, McConnell unveiled his proposed rules to govern the trial. They reflect a desire to storm through the proceeding; this week, the House Democratic prosecutors and the president’s defense team will each get a 24 hour block of time for presenting their argument—but two days in which to do it. After that, senators will get several hours to pose questions to each side’s representatives.After that point, per the proposed rules, senators will vote on whether or not to consider additional witnesses and evidence. If a fourth Republican does not vote yes on that, it’s possible Trump’s acquittal could come less than two weeks before the formal opening of the trial. The Senate Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, slammed the rules package on Monday night, saying it was proof that Senate Republicans were complicit in a “cover up.” He and other Democrats noted that the rules do not admit the evidence collected by the House’s impeachment inquiry at the outset, instead punting that question to a vote later on. “Any senator that votes for the McConnell resolution will be voting to hide information and evidence from the American people,” said Schumer. Previously, the Democratic leader had aggressively pushed McConnell to vote on additional witnesses from the get-go, and he said that he will use the limited procedural power he has to force those votes anyway on Tuesday. The provision allowing for a vote on whether or not to call new witnesses is the result of a pressure campaign initiated by a small group of centrist, Trump-critical and/or retiring GOP senators, who pushed McConnell to craft the rules to guarantee a vote on calling additional witnesses when trial arguments conclude. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, for example, have openly advocated for that vote, and both have said they are leaning toward casting it in favor of new witnesses.Other Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to turn Democrats’ witness calls against them by claiming the GOP should get to call figures like Hunter Biden, who is not relevant to the articles of impeachment but is useful for suggesting the vice president and his son were connected to corrupt activity in Ukraine. Cruz, for example, has floated a witness “reciprocity” idea in which Biden would be called by the White House if senators voted to call someone like Bolton. On that subject, most Senate Republicans’ desire for a smooth, minimally dramatic affair could clash with Trumpworld’s appetite for total war. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, for instance, has threatened to force multiple votes to call Biden if Democrats continue to push for their own witnesses. Many, however, are wary of creating a “circus-like” atmosphere—something that top Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas have explicitly warned against. Also possible to derail a quick, ho-hum trial is a continued drip of new information—possible or even likely even if no new witnesses are called—about Trump’s Ukraine push. The factual record on the saga that sparked Trump’s impeachment is still growing as each side’s advocates begin exploring the timeline inside and out over the course of many hours of oral arguments. That is another point of stark difference between Clinton’s trial—in which there was a similar push for new witnesses but no similar, steady drumbeat of new information—and Trump’s.In particular, the disclosure of evidence from Parnas, who was at the center of the Ukraine pressure campaign, suggests that the highest echelons of the administration knew and approved of the effort and its aim to subject Biden to political pain. Amid it all, some of the jurors admitted a struggle to keep up. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted on Thursday “how surreal it is” to start the trial “on a day when major news continues to break.” And nearly all Democrats pointed to the disclosures as more reason to include additional witnesses during the trial.Many Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have settled on a strategy of slamming new evidence—like that revealed by Parnas’ disclosures—as illegitimate because it was not collected in the course of the House’s impeachment inquiry. Gathering of new evidence, said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), is outside the scope of the trial.“This is not a fact finding search to go see if we can find something to be able to prove him innocent or guilty,” said Lankford. If the ultimate judgment of the trial may not be in doubt, the way it will be rendered carries significant implications for which party controls the Senate after the 2020 election. Questions of process, like calling witnesses, are likely to fuel attack ads against vulnerable senators on both sides for months and months. “I think a lot of this is more a focus on putting the incumbent Republicans who are on the ballot in 2020—making sure that they have some hard votes to cast that can be used against them in the campaign,” said Cornyn of Democrats’ efforts. “Because we know how the story ends, especially with the 67-vote threshold.”And that final vote Cornyn is referencing—to acquit or convict—may define the political fates of a set of vulnerable senators on both sides up for reelection in November. Less certain is how it will define the fate of the person at the center of it all. Already, however, one truth is clear: the trial will not go away as quickly as Trump wants it to, and it will be taken more seriously than he wants it to. On the other hand, McConnell’s control has its limits. The president’s Twitter feed, for example, falls far outside his jurisdiction—and can, as it has before, scramble the Senate GOP’s careful plans at any moment. The day after the trial formally began with all 100 senators’ solemn oaths—which was sobering enough to members on both sides that many declined to speak on their way out of the Capitol—the president approvingly tweeted a comment from Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who said, “entertaining this Impeachment is a joke. This whole thing should be dismissed.”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.
- Macron berates Israeli security men in tussle at Jerusalem church
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - "Go outside," French President Emmanuel Macron demanded in English in a melee with Israeli security men on Wednesday, demanding they leave a Jerusalem basilica that he visited before a Holocaust memorial conference. The French tricolor has flown over the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem's walled Old City since it was gifted by the Ottomans to French Emperor Napoleon III in 1856. France views it as a provocation when Israeli police enter the church's sandstone complex, in a part of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
- AOC Claims Democrats Are ‘Center-Conservative’ Party, Says Progressive Members Are Trying to Change That
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) knocked the Democratic Party on Monday for being too moderate."We don’t have a left party in the United States. The Democratic Party is not a left party," Ocasio-Cortez told an audience at an event marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day, sparking applause. "The Democratic Party is a center or a center-conservative party.""We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare-for-all, not even a floor vote that gets voted down," Ocasio-Cortez went on. "We can’t even get a vote on it. So this is not a left party. There are left members inside the Democratic Party that are working to try to make that shift happen."During the same event, Ocasio-Cortez compared the peaceful gun rights rally in Richmond, Va. on Monday, during which one person was arrested for covering their face in public, with the 2015 riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police van. Those riots were so severe that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, and National Guard contingents were called to the city to keep order.This is not the first time the freshman Representative has bucked the Democratic establishment. In early January Ocasio-Cortez announced she would not pay dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which she charged would not do enough to elect progressive candidates. Meanwhile, half of the funds raised by her new Courage to Change PAC, billed as an alternative to the DCCC, will be earmarked for her reelection campaign.The Representative raised more funds for reelection in the third quarter of 2019 than any other Democratic congressional candidate, surpassing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
- Brexit Deal Clears U.K. Parliament, Ending Years of Deadlock
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal cleared its final hurdles in Parliament, bringing the crisis that has paralyzed British politics since the country voted to leave the European Union almost four years ago to a close.The passage of the law vindicates Johnson’s gamble to call an election last month in which he asked voters to back his blueprint for leaving the bloc on Jan. 31. His 80-seat majority in the elected House of Commons meant he could sweep aside objections from pro-EU politicians in the upper chamber of Parliament, the Lords, and break the deadlock that cost his predecessor, Theresa May, her job last year.“It will stand as a historic piece of legislation,” Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay told members of Parliament as he urged them to reject the Lords’ changes to the bill.Later on Wednesday, members of the unelected House of Lords formally dropped their opposition and accepted the legislation as approved by the Commons. The bill will now go to Queen Elizabeth II who will sign it into law, putting Britain on track to leave the EU in nine days’ time.The agreement with the EU will now need to be formally ratified by the European Parliament on Jan. 29, before the U.K. leaves the bloc at the end of the month. Britain will then enter a transition period, scheduled to last until the end of the year, during which it will continue to be bound by EU laws until it negotiates a new trade deal with the remaining 27 member states.U.K., EU Draw Battle Lines as the Hard Part of Brexit Begins“We’re in a very happy position in that we leave the EU in a position of absolute grace and uniformity,” Johnson said as he answered questions from the public about the future negotiations with Brussels on Facebook. “We are in perfect alignment with our EU friends and partners.”Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid acknowledged Johnson’s Dec. 31 deadline for reaching a new trade deal with the EU was “tight.”“Both sides recognize that it’s a tight timetable, a lot needs to be put together in the time that we have, but it can be done,” Javid said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “And it can be done for both goods, where we want to see free trade, zero tariffs, zero quotas -- but also on services.”The House of Lords had sought to amend the Brexit legislation to enhance EU citizens’ rights in Britain, allow judges -- rather than ministers -- to decide on the use of rulings by European Courts, and to ensure unaccompanied refugee children can join family in the U.K. All the measures were rejected by the Commons. Johnson’s government rejected these changes and pushed the Lords to back down.\--With assistance from Lucy Meakin, Olivia Konotey-Ahulu and Ian Wishart.To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at email@example.com, Edward EvansFor 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.
- The Sneaky Way Russia Is Increasing Its Military Power
- Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants
- On the menu at China virus market: rats and live wolf pups
The food market where China's deadly virus surfaced was a smorgasbord of exotic wildlife ranging from wolf pups to species linked to previous pandemics such as civets, according to vendor information and a Chinese media report. The Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan came under greater scrutiny on Wednesday as Chinese officials said that the virus which has so far killed nine people and infected hundreds may have originated in a wild animal sold at the food emporium. Past deadly epidemics have been blamed on wild animals -- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was linked to Chinese consumption of civet meat -- setting Chinese authorities up for potential embarrassment if lax supervision of wildlife trafficking is found at fault in the latest outbreak.
- The US plans to force passengers to change routes, and potentially redirect entire flights, to make sure they get screened for the Wuhan virus
- Elizabeth Warren says half her cabinet will be women
- Why No GOP Senator Will Stand Up to Trump
- UK to introduce tougher jail terms for convicted terrorists after London Bridge attack
Britain will introduce tougher jail sentences for convicted terrorists and will end early release as part of a series of measures to strengthen its response to terrorism, the government said on Tuesday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make changes after an attack near London Bridge in November in which Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist who had been released early from prison, killed two people. Khan had been sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison in 2012 with a requirement that the parole board assess his danger to the public before release.
- Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins
They're the Quds Force officers who tracked and killed Iraqis working with the U.S.-led coalition, hunted those deemed hostile to Iranian influence through a council of assassins, and smuggled the spies, money, weapons, and secrets into Iraq that sowed chaos across the country during the American occupation. Qassem Soleimani first gained the attention of Western media through his role in instigating a campaign of covert violence against the U.S. in Iraq which cost the lives of over 600 American troops. But underneath the now famous Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps icon, other officers managed the war that first made Soleimani notorious. For a period during the mid-2000s, one of those officers was Brigadier General Ahmed Foruzandeh, who rose to command the Ramazan Corps, part of the Guard’s elite Quds Force, after cutting his teeth in the unit running guerrilla warfare operations during the Iran-Iraq war.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to America“Although Qassem Soleimani was the architect of that broader strategy, it was his lesser known lieutenants who ran and oversaw the operations,” Dr. Afshon Ostovar, a scholar at the Naval Postgraduate School, said. “Foruzandeh was one of the top Quds Force operatives in the field in Iraq, yet his name was hardly known at the time.” Declassified documents obtained by The Daily Beast through the Freedom of Information Act offer new details of Foruzandeh’s campaign of violence in Iraq during the latter 2000s. They show how Foruzandeh and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) funneled guns, money, and spies into Iraq and assassinated both Americans and Iraqis. And they offer hints that the man who helped Iran kill hundreds of Americans throughout the Iraq war may not have actually retired years ago as he let on, but continued to consult for his former boss long after the war ended.Iranian and American media alike have treated Foruzandeh’s old boss, the former Quds Force commander Soleimani, with something approaching hagiography. In profiles and obituaries, he’s cast as a legendary “shadow commander” possessed of superhuman abilities and cunning, a judgment not entirely supported by Soleimani’s colleagues. By contrast, declassified documents obtained by The Daily Beast and other sources paint a more prosaic picture of Foruzandeh. Like a number of Quds Force personnel, Foruzandeh’s career in Iraq drew on nothing more mystical than relationships and experience. His first brush with the world of covert operations in the Iran-Iraq war met with middling success and the guerrilla warfare effort he supported barely moved the needle in the conflict. But by the time the U.S. showed up on Iran’s doorstep, Foruzandeh had been carrying out guerrilla warfare and covert operations across the Iran-Iraq border for nearly 20 years with some of the same people and organizations. “They clearly have, one, home court advantage. Two, these guys have been doing special operations in the region for their entire adult life and they’re veterans of the brutal Iran-Iraq war,” Doug Wise, a former CIA officer and station chief in Baghdad, told The Daily Beast of Iranian Quds Force officers who worked on Iraq. “These guys are worthy adversaries. They’re not 10 feet tall. They have human and physical limitations but extraordinary experience in conducting the operations that they were required to conduct,” Wise said. * * *“Big picture,” Col. Donald Bacon, then the chief of special operations and intelligence information for the coalition, said in a 2007 press conference, “the Ramazan Corps is the organization that does operations here in Iraq to—they use it to—they're the ones who transit in the weapons, the funding and help coordinate Iraqi militia extremists into Iran to get them training and then get them back into Iraq.”Ramazan was the Quds Force unit in charge of causing chaos in Iraq and, at least for a time, Foruzandeh was its commander. The unit, which dated back to the Iran-Iraq war, divided its forces between a handful of sub-commands along the Iraqi border. Foruzandeh had worked in Fajr command, based in Ahwaz, Iran, which handled operations in Basra and southern Iraq, working his way up to deputy commander of Ramazan.By 2007, as violence in Iraq peaked, intelligence reports surveyed Iranian covert operations in Iraq as the U.S. turned its attention away from the Sunni jihadist insurgency and towards the violence instigated by Iran and its proxies. The documents include raw reporting marked as "not finally evaluated intelligence" from sources whose motivations are described as "based on favorable experiences with U.S. forces and desire to rid Iraq of destructive foreign influences" but they track broadly with what U.S. officials have said about Ramazan Corps and its personnel.Taken together, they show a sprawling campaign of covert violence with Foruzandeh and the Ramazan Corps in charge.The documents spend considerable space detailing the elaborate process by which the Iranian-overseen “Golden Death Squad” targeted, approved, and carried out assassinations against Iraqis they viewed as obstacles. The unit, the report wrote, “consists of Iranian intelligence leadership that provide guidance and funding to Iraqis that are recruited from [Jaish al-Mahdi], Badr Corps, the Al-Fadilah Party, and other Shia Iraqi parties and militias that conduct assassination operations against former Ba'ath party members, Iraqis that are working with the [Coalition Forces], and Iraqis that are not supporting Iranian influence in Iraq.”Iranian officers shuttled Iraqi members of the assassination teams to Ahwaz, Iran, the headquarters of Ramazan’s Fajr command, for training. The 10-day long course included instruction from Iranian officers on “information collection to support the targeting of coalition forces in Iraq, assassinations, and the use of indirect fire systems such as Katyusha rockets and mortars.” Iran also trained its proxies in the use of “what is described as very sophisticated explosives that can penetrate [Coalition Forces'] armor,” an apparent reference to the notorious Iranian-made explosively formed projectiles which killed and maimed hundreds of American troops. When it came time to decide who would be killed, Quds Force officers set up a process for adjudicating assassination targets, giving Iraqi allies a role in the process, according to the documents. “Iraqis that are agents of the Iranians are allowed to produce lists of Iraqis that are to be assassinated,” it notes. “Most of these Iraqis that are authorized to make decisions regarding who is to be killed by the Golden Death Squad are members of the Iraqi government and security forces.” Meetings of the hit squad reportedly took place at the Basra governor’s office where members of Basra police intelligence would "routinely attend.”Iranian intelligence officers also nominated their own targets for assassination. Their names were handed to a member of the Iranian-backed Badr militia. The Iranian officer who passed the targets along—his name is redacted in the report—is described as “a Persian Iranian that is fluent in Iraqi Arabic and has a southern Iraqi accent due to the years he has spent in Iraq."Those slated for assassination included not just former Baathists but Iraqis who worked with the U.S.-backed coalition. The documents recount how one Quds Force officer, assigned to Ramazan’s Fajr command in southern Iraq, ran an Iraqi agent who photographed coalition informants for the IRGC. The unnamed Quds Force officer then “passe[d] the pictures to Iraqis that he tasks and funds to kill those identified by [redacted's] reporting and pictures."In at least one case, Foruzandeh reportedly intervened to help one of his militia allies after coalition officials arrested them. Mehdi Abdmehd al-Khalisi allegedly ran the Muntada al-Wilaya militia, a small, Iranian-backed Shiite militia implicated in the murder of a number of former Baathist officials and an attack on coalition troops. When coalition officials arrested al-Khalisi in 2005, senior Iraqi officials began pressuring the coalition to release him. A classified cable leaked by WikiLeaks show that informants told the U.S. that al-Khalisi had been communicating with Foruzandeh about attacks on British forces in Iraq’s Maysan governorate via encrypted telegrams as early as 2003. After his arrest, the cable says that an informant of “unknown reliability” reported that Foruzandeh “has authorized an expenditure of up to $500,000 for operations to secure Mr. al-Khalisi's release, and that senior [Iraqi Transitional Government] officials have received telephone calls from the Brigadier requesting assistance.” Along with the assassinations came Iranian weapons and trainers. Reporting by the Long War Journal first sketched out Ramazan’s “rat lines” in Iraq and documents obtained by The Daily Beast note that the unit oversaw a “complex smuggling apparatus from Ahwaz, Iran into Iraq" that included "weapons, information, financial support, and Iranian intelligence officers." The money, guns, and Iranian personnel began their journey in Ahwaz and were handed off to smugglers at the border with Iraq.Iranian intelligence officers would vet smugglers for loyalty and to ensure that they had a "pre-existing relationship with the [Iraqi border police] because of their tribal relationship"—a relationship that nonetheless "usually involves a pre-arranged bribe." Once across the border, smugglers toting money, guns, and Iranian personnel were “typically met by a reception element that represents a Shia militia group that the operation support package was built for."In the ports of southern Iraq, Ramazan agents smuggled weapons via hidden compartments in the fuel tanks of fishing boats, according to the documents. As violent as Foruzandeh’s tenure in occupation-era Iraq war was, he wasn’t entirely averse to covert diplomacy. Ahmed Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi lobbyist who helped push the Bush administration to war in Iraq, met with Foruzandeh in the spring of 2004, according to a 2008 biography of Chalabi by journalist and former Daily Beast senior correspondent Aram Roston. At the time, Chalabi had transitioned from pro-war lobbyist to an Iraqi member of parliament and was seeking to accommodate himself to Iran’s newfound influence in Iranian politics. Some time after the meeting, the U.S. learned that Iranian intelligence had suddenly realized American spies were reading their cable traffic and had broken their codes. A few months later, American intelligence officials told The New York Times they believed Chalabi had walked into the Iranian embassy in Baghdad and blown the operation to the station chief of Iranian intelligence at the embassy. Chalabi denied any involvement in the leak but the incident led the Bush administration to end its relationship with him.* * *Foruzandeh’s father worked for the Abadan oil company and when he left the company, his family of 13 sons and daughters moved to Khorramshahr, just across the border from Basra in Iraq. His son Ahmed was an early supporter of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, a stance which earned him a stint in prison at university—thanks to the ruling Shah’s secret police—and the revolutionary bonafides that came with it when the Shah’s government was ousted.In the early days of the Islamic Revolution, Foruzandeh worked with the IRGC to identify and arrest Arab dissidents in Khorramshahr opposed to the new government. His knowledge of the area, proven commitment to the regime, and background in underground work made him a natural fit for intelligence when the Iran-Iraq war started.“After Iraq's invasion, he was the intelligence chief of the Khorramshahr unit that later played a key role in re-taking the city from the Baathists in 1982,” Amir Toumaj, an Iran researcher who’s written extensively on the Quds Force, explained of Foruzandeh. “His biography states that he started developing a relationship with Hassan Bagheri around the time of Khorramshahr's fall and sent him reports,” Toumaj says. Bagheri, the founder of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence service, was killed during the war but went on to become one of Iran’s most famous “martyrs.” His brother, Mohammad, is now Iran’s highest-ranking military officer and it was those kinds of connections that would help pave Foruzandeh’s ascent to the highest ranks of the IRGC.Trump, Iran, and Where ‘The Forever War’ Was Always HeadedLater in the war, Foruzandeh left his position in Khorramshahr’s 22nd Badr Brigade and joined the Ramazan Corps. The unit was designed to work with dissident groups in Iraq and carry out guerrilla operations behind enemy lines while the otherwise static style of trench warfare that characterized the Iran-Iraq conflict played out. At Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters, where Foruzandeh first worked, the unit carried out operations with Iraqi Shiite groups like the Badr Brigade, a group of exiled dissidents and former prisoners of war. The militia was originally “conceived by the Iranians as an adjunct to the IRGC-QF Ramazan Corps,” according to a 2005 State Department cable, and drew support from their political arm, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war, radio broadcasts from Tehran hailed operations by the “Ramazan Headquarters” which claimed assassination attempts with “Iraqi mujahidin” on Saddam’s interior minister Samir al-Shaykhali in Baghdad, the “revolutionary execution” of a Ba’ath Party official in Baghdad’s Mansur neighborhood, and having set fire to one of Saddam’s Baghdad palaces "used for pleasure by Ba'ath party officials and senior officers of that regime.”Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters and the Badr Brigade didn’t do much to change the tide of the war. It ended in a bloody stalemate in 1988, more of exhaustion than because of guerrilla daring. One of the Ramazan Corps’s most valuable relationships actually lay farther north with Kurdish forces from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The group carried out strikes deep into Iraqi Kurdish territory with Ramazan’s backing, including a 1986 raid on Iraqi oil infrastructure in Kirkuk (later memorialized in a cheesy Iranian action flick, Kirkuk Operation).But the relationships forged by Ramazan with Iraqi Shia militants would prove useful to both the Revolutionary Guards and Iran years down the road when groups like Badr took on an important role in Iraqi politics and security. When the war ended, both Ramazan Corps and Foruzandeh remained focused on Iraq, particularly during the Shia uprising against Saddam at the end of the Persian Gulf War. One Iranian news account put Foruzandeh in charge of working with Iranian-backed militias to support the uprising “in order to speed up the support of the Iraqi Mujahideen” because his unit, Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters, was closest to the revolt in Basra.There’s not much evidence about how Foruzandeh spent his time in the interim between America’s first two wars in Iraq. The most evidence available is a fragmentary report from Saddam-era intelligence documents captured by the U.S. after the war that shows Foruzandeh running an agent inside a camp for the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian dissident cult group which fought on behalf of Iraq during the war and carried out a series of terrorist attacks in Iran.* * *Not many senior Ramazan Corps veterans appear to have retired. Iraj Masjedi, another Quds Force Iraq veteran, took over as Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad in 2017. Abdul Reza Shahlai, who served in Iraq during the occupation alongside Foruzandeh, is now at 63 years old reportedly the top Quds Force officer in Yemen and was unsuccessfully targeted in a U.S. airstrike there the same night that special operations forces killed Soleimani.After the U.S. wound down its occupation in Iraq, Foruzandeh, gray-haired and portly, gave every impression of having retired and contented himself with the hobbies of old age, despite a U.S. sanctions designation on him during the war. He told an Iranian news outlet that he’d retired from the Quds Force in 2008, and was working on an oral history project about his hometown. In public, he spent his spent time shuffling between memorial ceremonies for fallen comrades. It doesn’t appear to be true.Another declassified intelligence document obtained by The Daily Beast offers hints that Foruzandeh may not have retired after all. The report, an account of senior Iranian officials’ participation in a museum project "documenting lessons learned from the Iran-Iraq war," suggests he kept at least a consulting role in Quds Force operations. In describing the background of officials present at the meeting, the report says Foruzandeh still dabbled in "management of personnel and logistic support to IRGC-QF external activities." Iran’s Khorasan province “has been recently added to his portfolio." Iran’s Khorasan province borders northwest Afghanistan and by 2013, the Obama administration had already been arguing for years that Quds Force officers were secretly supporting the Taliban in order to weaken U.S. and NATO forces in the country. There are some reasons to be skeptical of the declassified report. The sources claim that Foruzandeh was appointed a director of Iran’s Iran-Iraq war museum, but he’s not listed by the museum as an official or referred to as such in news accounts. It’s also dated around the same time Foruzandeh gave an interview to an Iranian news outlet announcing that he was working on a history project about his hometown’s role in the Iran-Iraq war.Still, other evidence suggests Foruzandeh was still in the irregular warfare business.In 2014, one of Foruzandeh’s closest colleagues in the Quds Force, fellow brigadier general and Ramazan Corps veteran Hamid Taghavi, was killed by ISIS in Iraq. The death came as a surprise, not least because Taghavi was one of the highest-ranking IRGC officers killed in Iraq since the Iran-Iraq war. Like Foruzandeh, Taghavi was also supposed to have left active duty. Instead, he was in Iraq supporting a Shiite militia loyal to Iran, Sayara al-Khorasani, and organizing Iran’s fight against ISIS.“Commander Taghavi was retired. No one thought he’d go to Iraq and be able to play a role in the mobilization and organization of the [Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units militia],” Foruzandeh told a meeting of Ahwaz city officials after his death. Taghavi’s death hit Foruzandeh hard and he would break down in tears recounting his comrade’s life when talking to reporters. In one interview, Foruzandeh suggested he’d been in contact with Taghavi by phone shortly before his death and offered advice for his work standing up pro-Iranian militias after ISIS took Mosul“He came to the place where we were stationed,” Foruzandeh said without elaborating. “We told him about the situation in Iraq, the characteristics of the conflict, the various Iraqi groups, and the challenges that existed. The Iraqi forces had deficiencies that needed to be addressed.” Taghavi was concerned about Iranian-backed militias’ performance during operations in Jurf al-Sakhar, an Iraqi town captured by ISIS and taken back during a brutal operation coordinated by the Quds Force. “He believed that unless these forces received better training they would suffer severe casualties. The casualties these forces suffered were generally due to a lack of proper military training. They didn’t know how to move, what to do when they’re under fire from the enemy, how to provide cover when attacking, or even how to clear traps and contaminants from an infected area,” Foruzandeh recalled.One of the last public glimpses of Foruzandeh comes from an unlikely source: Facebook. Foruzandeh doesn’t appear to have a profile, but his acquaintances identified him in pictures during a 2016 visit to meet with Iraqi officials from Maysan Province. The photos show a grandfatherly Quds Force officer with his trademark scowl described as an “advisor” to Iran’s Supreme Leader, a tailored visiting dignitary in a place where decades before he was once a spry, hunted guerrilla in hand-me-down fatigues.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.
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(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on TwitterZimbabwean inflation is beginning to stabilize, even with consumer prices increasing more than 500% on an annual basis, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said.Year-on-year inflation remains high, “but that’s expected, that happens when you liberalize a currency,” Ncube said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos.After a decade of using a basket of foreign currencies, including the South African rand and the U.S. dollar, Zimbabwe last year reintroduced its own tender. It has plummeted to 17.1950 per dollar since a 1:1 peg was removed in February.The southern African nation’s statistics agency suspended publishing year-on-year inflation data after June, when monthly inflation peaked at 39.3%. It still releases the consumer price index, which shows annual costs rose 521% in December, the most since a hyperinflation episode in 2009. While monthly price growth has cooled, it was still at 16.6% in December, whereas Ncube said in February it could be close to zero by the end of 2019.Still, investors can believe his government’s pledge to rein in inflation because they have “walked the talk,” he said.“We said that month-on-month inflation is going to be stabilizing and going to be dropping, that’s what has been been happening,” Ncube said. “We believe that we are on our way to dealing with inflation. It will take time, but we are headed there.”\--With assistance from Rene Vollgraaff.To contact the reporter on this story: Haslinda Amin in Singapore at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey at email@example.com, Rene Vollgraaff, Paul RichardsonFor 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.
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