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From today, January 23, 2020
- Exclusive: The inside story of how the U.S. gave up a chance to kill Soleimani in 2007
In the first years of the occupation, Qassem Soleimani had moved back and forth between Iran and Iraq ?constantly,? but had always taken the precautions to be expected from a seasoned intelligence officer, said John Maguire, a former senior CIA official stationed in Baghdad in the mid-2000s. Soleimani disguised his rank and identity, used only ground transportation and avoided speaking on the phone or the radio, preferring to give orders to proxies and subordinates in Iraq in person.
- Graham praises Schiff on impeachment presentation: 'You're very well-spoken'
Walking out of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night after the first day of opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., congratulated Adam Schiff, the lead manager for House Democrats, on his presentation of the case.
- The American Airlines flight attendant union is calling on US airlines to step up precautions for the deadly Wuhan coronavirus
- Putin to Meet Jailed Israeli?s Mother Amid Reports of Release
(Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin is to meet in Jerusalem with the mother of an Israeli woman imprisoned in Russia on drug-smuggling charges, the Kremlin said, amid reports Russian authorities are preparing to free her.Putin, who?ll be a guest of honor Thursday at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army?s liberation of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp, spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone last week about 26-year-old Naama Issachar. Netanyahu said after the call that he was optimistic about securing her freedom.Issachar was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in a Russian prison in October for carrying a small amount of hashish on a transit flight via Moscow. Her mother, Yaffa, asked Putin in November to pardon her daughter in a letter handed to him by Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. The plight of the U.S.-born Israeli army veteran, who was detained in April, has become a cause celebre in Israel, where she?s widely regarded as a pawn in a political game.Putin will meet Yaffa Issachar together with Netanyahu and the patriarch, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. While Ushakov wouldn?t confirm that a release is planned, he said the president?s right to pardon a convicted person is ?an important prerogative.?Property DisputeIn another sign of a possible resolution, Ushakov said Russia and Israel are making progress in settling a dispute over the ownership of Russian Orthodox Church property in Jerusalem. Israel?s Haaretz newspaper said resolving the issue could form part of a quid pro quo with Putin for the release of Issachar.Putin will speak at the anniversary ceremony, though there won?t be time for him to meet with other leaders attending the event, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to Ushakov.Issachar?s case for a time became entangled with that of a Russian national, Alexei Burkov, whom Israel extradited to the U.S. in November on charges including hacking and credit card fraud. Russia had offered to swap the two, according to Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician.Putin rebuffed repeated pleas to free her by Netanyahu, who?s fighting to maintain his 13-year-rule as he battles fraud and bribery charges, with new elections due in March.\--With assistance from Gwen Ackerman and Ivan Levingston.To contact the reporters on this story: Andrey Biryukov in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org;Henry Meyer in Moscow at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tony HalpinFor 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.
- White Nationalists Arrested ahead of Richmond Rally Planned to Kill Gun-Rights Demonstrators to Spark Civil War
Three alleged members of a white supremacist group were plotting to murder demonstrators at Monday's gun rights rally at the Virginia Capitol before they were arrested by the FBI last week, according to court documents.The men were caught discussing their plans on a hidden camera set up in their Delaware apartment by FBI agents.?We can?t let Virginia go to waste, we just can?t,? said Patrik J. Mathews, one member of the hate group "the Base" that promotes violence against African-Americans and Jews.According to authorities, the 27-year-old former Canadian Armed Forces reservist also discussed creating "instability" in Virginia by killing people, derailing trains, poisoning water, and shutting down highways in order to "kick off the economic collapse" and possibly start a "full blown civil war."Mathews also discussed the possibility of "executing" police officers and stealing their belongings and remarked that, ?We could essentially be like literally hunting people.??Virginia will be our day,? said 33-year-old Brian M. Lemley Jr., adding, ?I need to claim my first victim.??Lemley discussed using a thermal imaging scope affixed to his rifle to conduct ambush attacks,? the court filings read.The two were arrested along with a third man, 19, last Thursday. They are charged with federal firearms violations and ?transporting and harboring an alien,? referring to Mathews, who is a Canadian national. Four more members of The Base have also been arrested and charged in Georgia and Wisconsin.In a search of the apartment, prosecutors said that FBI agents found propaganda fliers for The Base, communications devices, empty rifle cases, "go bags" with "numerous Meals-Ready-to-Eat," knives, and materials for building an assault rifle.Tens of thousands of gun rights advocates rallied in Richmond on Monday to protest the state?s Democratic legislature's gun-control agenda. Critics raised fears beforehand that militant white supremacists could disrupt the rally, but the day ended peacefully with no violence.
- Firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing 3 Americans
Three American firefighting airplane crew members were killed Thursday when the C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker they were in crashed while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia, officials said. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the deaths in the state's Snowy Monaro region, which came as Australia grapples with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction. Canada-based Coulson Aviation said in a statement that one of its Lockheed large air tankers was lost after it left Richmond in New South Wales with retardant for a firebombing mission.
- The brazen (and careless) Russian assassination team behind the Salisbury poisonings has been spotted in Europe, again
- WHO says not declaring virus a global emergency but taking it seriously
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday that the new coronavirus that has emerged in China and spread to several other countries does not yet constitute an international emergency but it was tracking its evolution "every minute". WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement after its Emergency Committee of 16 independent experts reviewed the latest evidence and made its recommendations, which he accepted. "Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China," Tedros told a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
- See This Nuke? Meet the Most Destructive Nuclear Bomb Ever Made By Man
- Iraqis apprehensive ahead of cleric's anti-US rally
Supporters of volatile Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr prepared on Friday for a "million-strong" march in Baghdad to demand the ouster of US troops, putting the protest-hit capital on edge. The march has rattled the separate, months-old protest movement that has rocked the capital and Shiite-majority south, where young Iraqis have demanded a government overhaul, early parliamentary elections and more accountability. After defying violence that has left 470 people dead as well as a spree of kidnappings and intimidations, those protesters fear their cause could be eclipsed by Sadr's powerplay.
- Family attorneys say cruise line's story of toddler's death is 'physically impossible'
- A University of Minnesota student was arrested in China and sentenced to 6 months in prison for tweeting cartoons making fun of President Xi Jingping
- Iran Says Drone Used in Soleimani Strike Came From Kuwait
(Bloomberg) -- Iran?s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the U.S. drone used to kill a top Iranian general in Baghdad took off from a military base in Kuwait, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Guards? aerospace force.The Guards had detected activity from the drone and fighter jets near Baghdad airport but didn?t know they were planning to target Qassem Soleimani, according to Hajizadeh. At least four military bases in the Persian Gulf were involved in the Jan. 3 operation, he said, according to the report late Wednesday.To contact the reporters on this story: Farah Elbahrawy in Dubai at email@example.com;Golnar Motevalli in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at email@example.com, Amy TeibelFor 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.
- REI?s January Sale Offers 50% off Cold-Weather Outdoor Gear
- Mother says she sang to her three children as she smothered them
A young mother in Arizona has reportedly told police that she killed her three children before placing them in the living room as if they were sleeping.Other family members were in the home at the time.
- Fifth condemned Tennessee inmate opts for the electric chair
A Tennessee inmate has chosen the electric chair for his scheduled execution next month, opting like four other inmates in little more than a year for electrocution over the state's preferred execution method of lethal injection. Nicholas Sutton, 58, is scheduled to be put to death Feb. 20 for the stabbing death of a fellow inmate decades ago while serving a life sentence for his grandmother's slaying. An affidavit signed on Tuesday said he waives the right to be executed by lethal injection and chooses electrocution.
- Presidential candidate Tom Steyer: ?I?m for reparations?
On Yahoo News? ?Hot Mic with Brittany Shepherd,? Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer spoke about race and reparations, saying that if he were elected to office, ?I would start a commission on race on day one.?
- Trump says impeachment trial witnesses would be national security risk
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would prefer a longer impeachment trial so that current and former top administration officials could testify, but that having them appear would present national security concerns. Trump, speaking to reporters as he prepared to leave the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, also said he would love to go appear at the Senate trial in his own defense but that his lawyers would likely object. The Republican president said it was up to the Senate to decide how to handle the trial, but that he would like to have former national security adviser John Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testify.
- NYT Ed Board Member Wrote Out ?Full Draft? of Biden Endorsement, but Scrapped It over His ?Normal? Message and Lack of ?Urgency?
Kathleen Kingsbury, a deputy editorial page editor and member of The New York Times?s editorial board, revealed Thursday that she wrote a full 2,000-word endorsement of Joe Biden, only for the board to reject it because ?it didn?t match the moment.?The Times broke new ground this cycle by conducting on-the-record interviews with nine of the top candidates and airing the interviews, which have historically been off-the-record, on their documentary show The Weekly on FX.Kingsbury explained to Times columnists on the The Argument podcast how the Times editorial board arrived at its first-ever dual endorsement of Senators Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), saying that ?policy prescriptions? and the ?messages? drove much of the thought-process. She also dismissed concerns about electability, calling the effort to predict which candidate would be most successful in the general election a ?fool?s errand.??What we realized is that the party needs to have that conversation amongst itself. It?s really not the role of the editorial board to determine the future of the Democratic Party,? Kingsbury said.But she revealed that, following heightened tensions with Iran after President Trump?s decision to kill Qasem Soleimani, she went ahead and drafted an endorsement of Biden, citing his opposition to the war in Afghanistan.?Right after we had the outbreak of conflict with Iran, I sat down and I wrote an entire endorsement of Joe Biden,? Klingsbury said. ?I think that came from a desire on my part for the comfort of having someone who during his interviews, spoke so fluently about foreign policy, who?s been in the room in some of those more difficult decision-making [moments].?In August, Biden fabricated an Afghanistan-war story about how he resisted safety concerns to travel to ?godforsaken country? and honor a war hero.?We can lose a vice president,? he recounted at a campaign event. ?We can?t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.?Klingsbury then explained why the Times ultimately did not pursue Biden?s endorsement, implying that Biden?s campaign hasn't meaningfully grappled with the conditions that gave rise to Trump's election.?Joe Biden?s message simply is ?let?s go back to normal, whatever normal is, right?? For a lot of Americans, ?normal? wasn?t working and I think that there needs to be some recognition that at least for some portion of the American public, the government and the economic systems were failing them,? she said.In an emailed statement to National Review, Kingsbury said she did not ?have much to say beyond what I said on The Argument.? She declined to comment on whether the board wrote any other endorsement drafts, or when it decided to scrap Biden?s.?Once I had a draft in hand, I realized I should return to the wisdom of my board,? she explained ". . . [Biden?s] message and his proposed plans don?t feel like they match the urgency of the moment.?
- Russia, China, and Iran Would Love to Take Out a Nuclear Aircraft Carrier. Here's Why They Can't.
- 'Haters gonna hate & deniers will deny': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defends Greta Thunberg after Steven Mnuchin dissed the activist
- U.S., China Must Adjust for Stable World, Singapore Leader Says
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Both the U.S. and China must make adjustments if they are going to reach a lasting phase-two trade deal that benefits the rest of the world, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg?s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait, Lee said ?both sides have to make quite basic adjustments.? The U.S., he said, must decide whether to create rules that allow ?the best man? to win or only let America come out on top.?America First means you do the best for the United States,? Lee said in Davos, Switzerland, while attending the World Economic Forum. ?So do you do the best by prospering in the world and there are other countries who are doing well, or do your best by being a big country in a troubled world? And I?m not sure that the second is a very good answer.?The U.S.-China War Over Trade and Tariffs, Explained: QuickTakeChina, on the other hand, must decide whether they are going to be ?constructive players? in world affairs and accept that ?rules which were acceptable to other countries when they were smaller and less dominant now have to be revised and renegotiated,? Lee said.?It?s not so easy for them to concede and voluntarily step back from what they feel they can hold on to for a while longer,? he said. But if they make that adjustment, ?there?s some possibility of working out a modus vivendi which will be stable and constructive for the world,? he said.Huawei ConcernsSingapore, a city-state heavily dependent on trade, had been one of the most outspoken countries in Asia calling for the U.S. and China to reach a trade deal. Lee has warned that Southeast Asian nations might one day be forced to choose if the world economy gets pulled apart into different blocs.The Trump administration has sought to convince countries around the world to avoid using equipment from Huawei Technologies Co., China?s biggest tech firm, for 5G networks, arguing it poses a national security threat. Singapore?s government so far has left the decision up to its telecommunications operators.How Huawei Landed at the Center of Global Tech Tussle: QuickTakeLee reiterated that Singapore hasn?t ?banned Huawei? but will evaluate it based on operational requirements. Any system will have weaknesses, he said, and governments must try to keep them secure.?We have to make our own assessments, and the assessments have to be based on facts and risks,? Lee said. ?And having made those assessments, well we may come to a conclusion which is different from what the Americans have come to, but it doesn?t mean that we?re not concerned about similar issues.?Lee added that differences of opinion on Huawei don?t necessarily signal a loss of U.S. influence. ?If you ask us on security cooperations, certainly we are closer to the U.S. than to China,? Lee said. ?But in terms of our trade, the Chinese are our biggest trading partner. In terms of our overall relationship, we have deep relationships with both.?March SummitPresident Donald Trump last November invited countries in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, to a special summit in the U.S. after he skipped the bloc?s meeting in Bangkok. At the time, most leaders in the region snubbed the group?s meeting with Trump?s representative, National Security Adviser Robert O?Brien.Lee said he would join other Asean leaders for a meeting with Trump in Las Vegas on March 14.?I?m sure we?ll be discussing areas where we can cooperate and do more together,? Lee said. ?I hope that Mr. Trump, amidst his many domestic preoccupations, will send a message that Asia is important to him and Southeast Asia has its part in the Americanscheme of things.?China has recently stepped up efforts to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea, prompting fellow claimants like Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia to resist those advances in the energy-rich waters. The Asean bloc has been negotiating a legally binding code of conduct in the waters for more than two decades, and aim to complete it in the next few years.?It?s not an easy thing to do,? Lee said of the code of conduct. ?We?re working at it and we?ve made some progress in the negotiating process, but I think it?s better to be talking and working toward this rather than abandoning this and actually coming to blows on the ground.?\--With assistance from Joyce Koh, Faris Mokhtar, Michelle Jamrisko and Ruth Pollard.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org, Nasreen SeriaFor 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.
- Canada's TSB says Iran has invited it to examine black boxes
Canada's Transportation Safety Board said Thursday it has been invited by Iran to participate in the download and analysis of the flight recorders from the downing of a Ukraine International Airlines jet ?whenever and wherever? that takes place. Iran has acknowledged that its armed forces fired two Russian anti-aircraft missiles at the jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people on board. Fifty-seven Canadians died and 138 of the passengers were headed to Canada.
- 'His intention was to kill everyone in the home except himself': Utah boy, 16, charged with killing mother, 3 siblings
- Utah bans LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors
- Regime Critic Says Saudis Tried to Kidnap Him on U.S. Soil
A suspected agent of the Saudi government attempted to kidnap a regime critic on American soil, according to the critic and multiple U.S. and foreign sources familiar with the episode. The young Saudi man says the FBI saved him from becoming the next Jamal Khashoggi.Abdulrahman Almutairi is a 27-year-old comedian and former student at the University of San Diego with a big social-media presence. After Almutairi used social media to criticize the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over the October 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi, an unidentified Saudi man accompanied Almutairi?s father on a flight to collect Almutairi against his will and bring him back to Saudi Arabia, according to The Daily Beast?s sources. ?The Saudi government realized I was a threat,? Almutairi told The Daily Beast, revealing for the first time an ordeal that might have culminated in a whole new crisis: the kidnapping and rendition of a Saudi dissenter on American soil. Only timely intervention from the FBI broke up the plot, two sources say. ?If I go back to Saudi Arabia,? Almutairi said, ?I?ll be killed in the airport.? Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, has investigated the Khashoggi killing. She drew attention this week by calling for an inquiry into allegations that MBS hacked Jeff Bezos? phone. Callamard is familiar with Almutairi?s story, although they haven?t spoken, and considers it credible. She told The Daily Beast that it?s part of an ominous trend, particularly now that MBS has skated for Khashoggi?s murder. ?There is a pattern of the Saudi authorities, particularly over the last two years, targeting individuals?high profile people with a big Saudi audience,? Callamard said, ?either because they?re critical of MBS or the government or not just for what they say but what they don?t say, if they?re insufficiently supportive.?Almutairi has previously spoken about the harassment he received as a critic of the Saudi government, most prominently to PBS? Nick Shifrin, including a mysterious phone call from a Saudi trying to get Almutairi to come home for a ?family reunion.? But he has not, until now, revealed the attempted capture. ?I couldn?t afford to speak out earlier, my situation was so intense, and all I wanted was to get out of it,? he explained. But over a year later, Almutairi doesn?t speak with his family, lives for protracted stretches out of his car, and generally fears for his life. On his YouTube channels, which have 200,000 subscribers between them, and his Instagram, where he has 208,000 followers, he?s posting through it. About the only positive thing Almutieri sees emerging from the ordeal was his social-media rebirth as a comedian, something he started as a response to the horrorshow in his mentions. But the harassment may have worked. In the new year, Almutairi told The Daily Beast, he?s going to stop speaking out against the Saudi government. ?My criticism against the government won?t do anything. It?ll just turn more people against me,? Almutairi said. ?I?m trying not to use the term ?political dissident.? I want to influence my country for the better.?That desire prompted Almutairi to cheer when MBS took power. As he saw it, the sclerotic, wealth-soaked royal court finally had a dynamic, young reformer on the rise. MBS was out to fix what was wrong with the country: women forbidden to drive, an economy driven entirely by oil extraction. While Almutairi studied finance and marketing at the University of San Diego, he posted videos on his Snapchat and Twitter accounts boosting MBS to his growing legion of followers.With his expenses paid by the Saudis? stipend for subjects? education abroad, Almutairi?s life online was about promoting reform within his home country, the sort of liberalization MBS touted. A frequent topic was the rigidity of the Saudi religious establishment, whose dark portrayal of America didn?t match the place he saw up close. But his growing audience?one of his recent Arabic-language videos has 842,000 views?became a problem for Riyadh. The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ?Dead or Alive?On Oct. 2, 2018, agents of Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul, a crime the CIA assessed MBS ordered. The brazenness and brutality of the Khashoggi slaying made it one of the biggest stories in the world. Yet for all the damage it momentarily did to the reputation of a prince who melted the heart of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, MBS quickly saw to it that the crime had no lasting impact. The Trump administration, with which he had cultivated close ties, quickly spared him from consequences. On Oct. 11, 2018, barely a week after Khashoggi?s murder, Trump said that sanctioning Saudi weapons purchases from the U.S. would be a self-inflicted economic wound. MBS denied involvement?and still does. And at first Almutairi believed him. ?I was in denial,? Almutairi remembered. ?MBS would never do an atrocity like that.? But the accruing reports tying the murder closer and closer to MBS prompted him first to break with his political hero, then to post about his disillusionment?and soon after to denounce MBS online. Death threats quickly piled into his mentions and onto his messaging apps. One picture sent to him contained a beheaded body. Another showed a flayed, severed head. ?You will eat a bullet,? he said someone texted him, seemingly a reference to MBS? nickname, the Father of Bullets. ?They say I?m supported by the Muslim Brotherhood?I?m openly agnostic!? Almutairi said. More disturbing to him was a different kind of text, one that he still receives. ?I get ?come home? messages daily,? Almutairi said. Whether the Saudi government is behind them, he can?t know, but his suspicion lingers. Then someone he describes only as a source in Saudi Arabia told him that his life was in danger?and that living in California did not mean he was safe. It prompted Almutairi to call the police during the week of Oct. 25, 2018. What happened next he would only learn from an FBI official he said he spoke with: Without Almutairi?s knowledge, his father flew to Los Angeles, and he wasn?t alone. Accompanying his father was someone Almutairi does not know.But they never arrived in San Diego. The FBI was waiting for them at LAX. According to two additional sources familiar with the incident, the FBI intercepted both the senior Almutairi and the unidentified Saudi man and sent them back on a subsequent flight. The FBI declined to comment for this story. Almutairi said that the FBI debriefed him after the airport interception. ?I was shown a picture of someone who came with my dad, who I didn?t recognize,? he said. Almutairi has no way of verifying it, but he believes the man worked for the Saudi royal court. In July, Middle East Eye?s Dania Akkad first reported that in November 2018, a timeline consistent with Almutairi?s story, the FBI met with at least four Saudi dissidents in the U.S. to warn them of threats to their lives emanating from the kingdom. The dissidents were not named, but one of them, Akkad reported, ?runs a popular YouTube channel critical of the Saudi government.?The Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to The Daily Beast?s requests for comment by press time.The near-miss was not the end of the harassment. Almutairi deleted his Twitter because of the non-stop threats. As he previously told PBS, he was forced to drop out of school shortly before he was to graduate after the Saudis cut off his scholarship, his $1,800 monthly allowance, and his health insurance. He was without a way to afford his rent, his bills, and his medications. Almutairi took restaurant work, but the low pay required him to visit food pantries. For three weeks he was homeless. ?I remember Thanksgiving 2018,? he recalls. ?I was homeless, sleeping at the beach. I saw everyone with their families and stuff and it almost killed me, psychologically,? he said. ?It?s really hard to process, suffering for what I had said. I wish Saudis would live like Americans. We deserve a better life.? These days, Almutairi doesn?t speak to most of his family, out of fear that he?ll put them in danger. They received messages saying, ?you have to get him to stop? making his MBS-critical videos. He is sure that his father was coerced into boarding the plane to Los Angeles. Saudi Crown Prince Appeared to Taunt Jeff Bezos Over Secret Affair Before Enquirer Exposé?Abduction is part and parcel of the way the Saudi government has operated for many years,? said Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur. But until MBS became crown prince two years ago, ?most victims were part of the royal family. It appears now that their kidnapping attempts are expanding.? Being a Saudi dissident living in America is no protection, she warned: ?Absolutely, they will keep trying to lure people in the United States. The only reason why they haven?t succeeded is because the U.S. intelligence agencies are doing their job.?The impunity with which MBS acts also follows a long pattern. As defense minister, he launched a devastating war in neighboring Yemen?with the active cooperation of the Obama administration?that has decimated the country. He seized power in the kingdom in a move applauded by Friedman and other prominent commentators. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported that before the Khashoggi murder, MBS sent Jeff Bezos a malware-tainted video file over WhatsApp to extract potential blackmail material from the richest man in the world?who happens to own the newspaper that Khashoggi worked for and which has crusaded for accountability on the execution. After the murder, and the Post?s aggressive reporting, MBS messaged Bezos ?private and confidential information about Mr. Bezos' personal life that was not available from public sources,? according to U.N. officials. The MBS message came months before the National Enquirer?whose publisher once issued an MBS-boosting magazine?reported that Bezos was having an affair. All that corroborated a March 2019 op-ed published in The Daily Beast from Bezos security aide Gavin de Becker alleging that ?the Saudis had access to Bezos? phone, and gained private information.? ?At a time when Saudi Arabia was supposedly investigating the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and prosecuting those it deemed responsible, it was clandestinely waging a massive online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post,? Callamard and her U.N. colleague David Kaye said in a Wednesday statement. Saudi Arabia?s U.S. embassy called allegations that the kingdom was behind the hack ?absurd.?These days, Almutairi focuses on his two YouTube channels and his Instagram account. ?I use comedy to convey positive thoughts and empower young Saudis,? he said. ?I think I?m a living example: I was once homeless, now I?m not, and I?m starting two companies in California. My story, especially to people who saw it happening on social media, can be inspiring to a lot of Saudis.? But his vlogs are pivoting away from Saudi Arabian politics in the new year. Without school, Almutairi is focusing on his comedy. In March, he plans on launching a YouTube show called ?America on Wheels,? which he envisions as a conversational comedy filmed in his car that introduces a Saudi audience to young Americans and their issues. It sounds like if ?Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? operated as a tacit rebuke to the Saudi religious establishment. He?s also applying to film school at USC.?My message to the American people,? he said over text, ?please don?t brush the Saudi people with the same brush you use with MBS. We have no choice but to nod our heads and agree, he is a dictator.? But even his comedy contains limits set by his ordeal. He recently passed on an offer to tell jokes in Saudi-allied Dubai. ?The UAE? Nah, bro,? he said. And while Almutairi may have given up commenting on MBS on social media, that has not left him feeling any safer. Even in sunny California, he constantly wonders what might be coming for him around the next corner, since the threats keep popping up on his phone. Some say things like ?we?ll pay someone to kill you. It?ll look like an accident in LA,? Almutairi said. Nonchalantly, he added, ?I expect that to happen at any moment.? 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. 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- Senators reportedly laugh as Democrats play clip of former Trump official calling out Rudy Giuliani
Democrats are continuing to make their impeachment argument by citing President Trump's allies and officials, this time getting in a dig at Rudy Giuliani in the process. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), one of the impeachment managers who spoke Thursday in Democrats' second day of opening arguments in the Senate's trial, took apart the conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election by hacking the Democratic National Committee.To make her point that this theory has no basis in reality, Garcia referred to the words of Trump's former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert, who told ABC News last year this "conspiracy theory" has been "completely debunked." Bossert in the clip played in the Senate went on to voice frustrations with Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, for pushing this conspiracy theory, quoting a former senator's magazine article as saying that one of the "ways to impeach oneself" is "hiring Rudy Giuliani."Previously, Garcia played a clip of FBI Director Christopher Wray stating in an interview, "We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election." This was another example during Democrats' impeachment arguments of using clips from Trump allies and officials to make their argument after House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) made strategic use of 1990s-era quotes from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump's impeachment defense team, to argue abuse of power is impeachable. HuffPost's Ryan Reilly reports that when Bossert in the clip quipped that hiring Giuliani is a way to self-impeach, there were "a lot of laughs on both sides of the Senate chamber." > A portion of ex-Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert's interview with @GStephanopoulos last summer on the debunked theory of 2016 election meddling was played by House impeachment managers during the Senate trial.> > Watch his exchange on @ThisWeekABC. https://t.co/jfWy6wWWqf pic.twitter.com/ze8hQfg2is> > -- This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 23, 2020More stories from theweek.com Democrats walked right into Mitch McConnell's trap 5 brutally funny cartoons about Mitch McConnell's impeachment rules Wanting to stop 'birth tourism,' Trump administration will restrict visas for pregnant women
- Global airlines on high alert as virus outbreak spreads
The biggest concern is a sharp drop in travel demand if the virus becomes a pandemic. During the height of the SARS outbreak in April 2003, passenger demand in Asia plunged 45%, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Cathay cut nearly 40% of its flights and reported a financial loss, as did Singapore Airlines Ltd, Japan Airlines Co Ltd and ANA Holdings Inc.
- Tennessee inmate chooses the electric chair for his scheduled execution
A Tennessee inmate has chosen the electric chair for his scheduled execution next month, opting like four other inmates in little more than a year for electrocution over the state's preferred execution method of lethal injection.
- The outbreaks of both the Wuhan coronavirus and SARS started in Chinese wet markets. Photos show what the markets look like.
- German Defense Chief Warns Islamic State Could Resume ?Terror?
(Bloomberg) -- Germany?s defense minister warned that Islamic State fighters could return in force in the Middle East if an international coalition is unable to continue its work against the militant organization.Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, speaking in an interview at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, said that Germany aims to keep its forces in Iraq, but can only do so at the behest of the government in Baghdad.?We need to keep in mind that in Iraq, IS is not yet defeated,? Kramp-Karrenbauer told Bloomberg Television in Davos, Switzerland. ?If the pressure is reduced, then the danger is great that it resumes its regime of terror.?The concerns by a key U.S. ally underscore how the mission has been shaken since the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, which prompted the Iraqis to demand the departure of 5,000 American troops from the country. The self-declared caliphate was largely subdued by early last year in Syria and Iraq, where it once controlled territory the size of Iceland.Germany, which has some 120 troops in Iraq as part of an anti-ISIS campaign, suspended its operations amid the crisis. Thirty-two German troops were transferred to Jordan and three to Kuwait.Kramp-Karrenbauer, who visited German troops in the region last week, said that the European nation had made progress in training Iraqi forces to fend off the militants.The German defense chief, who is also Chancellor Angela Merkel?s presumptive heir as leader of her Christian Democratic Union, said that her country is doing more to take on global responsibility in the face of public skepticism about troop presence in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali.?What we have to continue to explain in domestic politics is why these missions serve our own interests,? Kramp-Karrenbauer said.To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at email@example.com;Chad Thomas in Davos, Switzerland at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at email@example.com, Raymond ColittFor 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.
- 4 killed in plane crash at Southern California airfield
Four people were killed Wednesday in the crash of a small airplane at a Southern California airfield, authorities said. The plane went down at Corona Municipal Airport, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, police said. Four fatalities were confirmed, the Corona Fire Department said on Twitter.
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- Menendez and Graham Partner Up to Craft a New Iran Deal
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have teamed up to work on drafting potential contours for negotiations with Tehran over the country?s nuclear programming and a roadmap for a new deal, according to Graham and two other congressional aides familiar with the matter.?I?ve been working with Senator Menendez on this for some time,? Graham told The Daily Beast in an interview last week. ?We need a new way forward. And I?ve been trying to think of alternatives.?Graham told The Daily Beast in an interview in August that he was working with senior Trump administration officials on an alternative to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal. Part of that effort included fielding ideas from outside actors, including foreign officials. Since then, Graham has met with Menendez?although only a few times?on how to kickstart a bipartisan congressional effort to reform the administration?s Iran policy.According to sources individuals familiar with the Graham-Menendez partnership, the two senators have largely talked about constructing an actionable plan to present to other lawmakers and to the White House. But the two sides have yet to agree on exactly how to get the ball rolling, according to those sources. One individual said Menendez wanted to work with Graham because the South Carolina lawmaker had gained the president?s ear on Iran over the last year.Although the duo has spoken about teaming up for some time, sources say the lawmakers are focused now more than ever on crafting a new deal following the killing of Iran?s top military leader, Qassem Soleimani. Following the strike, Democrats in the Senate, including Menendez, called out senior officials in the Trump administration for not offering proper intelligence briefings to Congress on what led to the strike. Menendez told MSNBC earlier this month that the administration suggested in briefings there was an imminent threat to American interests but that there was ?no clear definition of what they consider imminent.?The senator also called on the administration to declassify the official notification provided to Congress about the Soleimani strike.Graham, on the other hand, applauded President Trump and told The Daily Beast that the administration should continue to keep the military option on the table if Iran were to continue to threaten American interests in the Middle East. Graham suggested the U.S. strike Iranian oil assets in the country, pointing to refineries in particular. Menendez, on the other hand, has urged the administration to up its diplomatic outreach following the strike rather than continue to rely on its military might.Despite their division on Trump?s decision to strike Soleimani, both lawmakers opposed the Obama administration?s 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.?I have looked into my own soul, and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it,? Menendez said in a 2015 speech. ?It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.?At the time of the deal?s proposal in 2015, Menendez advocated that the Obama administration continue to levy sanctions on Iran in order to change Tehran?s behavior and keep it from eventually obtaining a nuclear weapon. Although Graham?s and Menendez?s public statements on Iran have varied, both lawmakers seem to agree on one point: The Trump administration?s strategy isn?t working.Since Trump took office, Menendez has criticized the Trump administration?s Iran strategy as only emboldening Tehran. And while Graham tends to support Trump publicly, the South Carolina lawmaker has been openly critical of how the White House responds to Iran?s malign activities in the region.In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Graham said the Trump administration?s maximum pressure campaign?meant to cripple Iran?s economy with sanctions?was working but needed to be harsher and combined with military deterrence. Team Trump Thought It Could Contain Iran With ?Maximum Pressure.? The Attacks Got Worse.Before the Soleimani strike, Iran policy experts, some of whom worked with the Obama administration, said Tehran would not engage in talks about a revised nuclear deal unless the U.S. rolled back at least some of its sanctions on the country. Now those experts say Tehran, having rolled back its commitments under the former deal, is not likely to engage in any meaningful conversation with the U.S. on nuclear power, at least in the short term.Meanwhile, two officials in the Treasury Department say their unit is continuously drawing up additional sanctions for Iran on the chance Trump wants to hit the country with additional punishments in the near future.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.
- Joe Biden tells reporter to 'calm down' after repeated questions about Bernie Sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden seemingly doesn't want to hear about his apparent feud with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).After an Iowa campaign event on Wednesday, Biden walked off the stage in a pretty typical way: followed by reporters asking him questions. But one from CBS News' Ed O'Keefe about Sanders seemingly sent him over the edge.As Biden left the stage, O'Keefe asked why he was attacking Sanders after just accepting his apology a day earlier. "Why wasn't his apology enough, Mr. Vice President?" O'Keefe asked. Biden stopped, turned around, and peppered O'Keefe with a barrage of "why why why why why." "You're getting nervous, man! Calm down," Biden then said before briefly answering the question.> WATCH: After a campaign event in Mason City, Iowa, @joebiden reacts to @edokeefe's question about his ongoing feud with @berniesanders: "Calm down, it's okay." https://t.co/a2hmMbnjnf pic.twitter.com/ymOMWRR2zP> > ? CBS News (@CBSNews) January 22, 2020O'Keefe's question stems from one of Sanders' supporters accusing Biden of having a "corruption problem" in an op-ed, and another putting together a video purportedly showing Biden opposing social security. Sanders apologized for the op-ed but not for the video, as Biden pointed out to CBS News.More stories from theweek.com Democrats walked right into Mitch McConnell's trap 5 brutally funny cartoons about Mitch McConnell's impeachment rules Wanting to stop 'birth tourism,' Trump administration will restrict visas for pregnant women
- Parishioner Who Stopped Texas Church Shooter Criticizes Bloomberg on Gun-Control Efforts
The armed parishioner who took down a shooter at a Texas church in December criticized former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control efforts on Wednesday."Mr. Bloomberg, had we operated by his standards or his wishes, the carnage would have been significantly greater because the individual still, after the shooting, still had seven live rounds in his gun and three more in his pocket," Jack Wilson said in an interview on Fox News. Wilson, a member of West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, fired a single round at an armed intruder on December 29, killing the assailant.Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey hit back at Wilson in a Thursday appearance on Fox."Mr. Bloomberg supports his right to carry a gun," Sheekey said. "We salute him. But the question is, should anyone who is criminally insane be able to get a gun? I would say no."Earlier in January, while speaking about the Texas incident, Bloomberg appeared to criticize policies that loosen restrictions on gun control."Somebody in the congregation had their own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it is the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot," Bloomberg said. "You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place."Bloomberg has been heavily involved in gun-control efforts over the years. His proposals for the 2020 presidential election include universal background checks and "red flag screening" measures. In 2013, Bloomberg founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit that advocates for stricter gun control measures.
- This is a rare photo of a smartphone-hacking device sold by the NSO Group, the billion-dollar Israeli spyware company accused of helping hack Jeff Bezos
- Graph shows how fast the coronavirus is spreading
- N Korea names sharp-tongued army figure as foreign minister
North Korea has named a sharp-tongued former army officer with little foreign policy experience as its top diplomat, in a possible indication it will take a harder line with Washington in stalled nuclear negotiations. Ri Son Gwon's new title as foreign minister was disclosed Friday in a Korean Central News Agency dispatch that said he attended a reception for foreign diplomats in Pyongyang the previous day. South Korean and other outside media outlets have recently reported North Korea informed foreign diplomats in Pyongyang of Ri's job last week.
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- Rudy Giuliani Sidekick Lev Parnas Traces Part of Money Trail to Ukraine
(Bloomberg) -- From fine whiskey to European flights to cigar bars, the tab for the Ukraine mission was starting to add up.Even one of President Donald Trump?s wealthiest contributors sounded peeved. ?Just becoming expensive flying u guys everywhere LEV,? wrote Harry Sargeant III, a Florida energy tycoon, in a pointed text to Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani?s advance man on the Ukraine operation.A trove of documents recently released by Parnas, including that text from April, provides some new details about the money web that helped support Giuliani?s work in Ukraine as President Trump?s personal lawyer.The group?s apparent wish list included discrediting a Trump rival, tying Ukraine to 2016 election meddling and pushing for the ouster of a U.S. ambassador -- the propriety of which is now at the heart of impeachment proceedings in Washington.Money flowed to Giuliani and his cohorts from home loans, friends, relative strangers and wealthy businessmen, some with interests in the gas and energy sector. It even came from a lawyer for an embattled Ukrainian energy tycoon fighting extradition to the U.S. on a conspiracy charge.Giuliani was working for the president without pay, and under financial strain from his public divorce proceeding. While most pro bono clients cover their lawyers? out-of-pocket expenses, the famously tight-fisted Trump doesn?t appear to have been shelling out for the travel racked up by Giuliani, Parnas and his Florida business partner, Igor Fruman.The travel arrangements could brush up against campaign finance laws. While Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman can volunteer as much of their time as they want for a campaign, any subsidy for such work by third parties would generally need to be reported as a contribution, and money from foreign individuals would be illegal. Trump kicked off his re-election campaign last June at a rally in Florida.Chris Kise, a lawyer for Sargeant, characterized the money shelled out for flights as loans to a colorful and funny acquaintance who claimed to be broke. ?Mr. Sargeant was not part of any plan to remove the U.S. ambassador and has no business interests in Ukraine,? Kise said.Giuliani didn?t respond to a request for comment, nor did attorneys for Parnas and Fruman.Ukraine Mission CostThe Ukraine mission looks to have run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel and hotel costs, including private jets and the Ritz-Carlton in Vienna, where a night costs upwards of 380 euros ($420). Another glimpse comes from New York prosecutors. Parnas spent more than $70,000 on private jet travel in September alone, according to a filing last month seeking to revoke his bail.Over the course of eight months last year, Parnas jetted to Kyiv on multiple occasions and made trips to Warsaw, Vienna, Madrid, Paris and Israel, according to his messages, many of them touching on his Ukraine work. Giuliani and Fruman accompanied him frequently.Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman also accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in travel expenses. Sargeant picked up the tab on at least a handful of trips by Parnas and Fruman, according to people familiar with the situation. Parnas ran up tens of thousands of dollars in debt to a private jet broker close to Sargeant, who covered the cost so his friend wasn?t stiffed, according to a person familiar with the situation and text messages to Parnas.Sargeant and Giuliani have known each other for years. Since 2018, Sargeant and Parnas regularly crossed paths. The three took in a Dallas Cowboys game and shuttled between New York, Washington and Florida together. Sargeant, a shipping magnate, controls potentially lucrative oil concessions in Venezuela that are currently hamstrung by U.S. sanctions. When the men?s travel coincided, Parnas and Fruman sometimes flew on Sargeant?s own plane, but that was to fill empty seats at no additional cost, according to someone familiar with the matter.Sargeant?s lawyer said he ?never chartered or paid for any private aircraft for Lev (or Igor Fruman, or Giuliani) in or to Europe.?Trump?s CircleParnas began working his way into Trump?s orbit with campaign donations in 2016, but it was two years later when he and Fruman upped the ante by giving $325,000 to America First Action, a pro-Trump political action committee. That vaulted them into Trump?s inner circle, including dinner with Donald Trump Jr.The big donation prompted prosecutors in New York to charge Parnas and Fruman with conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and with filing false records to disguise the source of their contributions. The two have pleaded not guilty.The men reported to the Federal Election Commission that the money came from their company, but prosecutors say it came from a private loan. Fruman borrowed $3 million against a Miami condo in a private mortgage just two days before he made the $325,000 contribution. The lenders were a retired American couple who immigrated from the Soviet Union decades ago and their son-in-law, according to real estate records filed in Florida.The couple, Gregory and Lilian Abrovsky, also bought a condo in the same Miami building. They have a son who is an executive at a Russian internet company, but he was unaware of the transaction, according to a spokesman for the family.The loan, extended to a Fruman company called Seafront LLC for one year at 9%, was arranged by a mortgage broker who says his lenders and borrowers often don?t meet each other.?In the spring of 2018, we made a secured interest-bearing loan,? said the son-in-law, Daniel Chernin. ?We never met with or spoke with the borrowers.? The loan was repaid in full in August 2019.Parnas?s family got its own personal loan last year. The lawyer representing Dmitry Firtash, the gas tycoon fighting U.S. extradition from Vienna, says he extended $1 million to buy a Boca Raton, Florida, property. In addition, Parnas received $200,000 from a law firm representing Firtash, according to U.S. prosecutors.The man at the center of the mission had his own money woes. Giuliani?s income had plunged as he left a law firm job that paid him as much as $6 million a year, took the president as his primary client and headed for divorce court. He picked up cash along the way to replenish his finances.A Long Island businessman paid $500,000 to Giuliani as part of his investment into Fraud Guarantee, a company co-founded by Parnas. Marc Mukasey, a former legal partner of Giuliani, loaned his friend $100,000 last year when divorce proceedings tied up his bank accounts. One America News Network paid about $100,000 for travel and other costs for a three-part television report that Giuliani worked on in Ukraine, Charles Herring, the network?s president, told Bloomberg in an interview last month. The documentary series was intended to further Trump?s cause against Democratic political rival Joe Biden.Top-Shelf StyleWherever they went, Giuliani and his team kept a top-shelf lifestyle. That would be consistent with the spending habits chronicled in Giuliani?s divorce. His monthly expenses were about $230,000, according to his ex-wife?s lawyer.Big bills at cigar bars surfaced. Other luxuries were enticements for the Ukraine crew. Giuliani became godfather to Parnas?s son, and Parnas at one point described receiving a loan of about $100,000 for his son?s bris without saying who extended it, according to a person familiar with the matter.Parnas sent photos of bottles to Yuriy Lutsenko, then Ukraine?s prosecutor general, while in Kyiv last June. ?Igor wants to know which one?s best,? Parnas texted in Russian.?Hibiki,? Lutsenko responded, citing a Japanese whiskey that can easily run hundreds of dollars a bottle. ?Really great. In the top three worldwide.??Come join us,? Parnas urged the prosecutor.Later that summer -- after the July phone call when Trump pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a Biden-linked investigation -- Giuliani flew to Madrid. He was there for a client who had nothing to do with the Ukraine matter, according to his lawyer, Robert Costello. While in Spain, Giuliani also met Zelenskiy?s top adviser.For that trip, Parnas smoothed the way. ?I also arranged VIP service at Madrid,? he wrote to Giuliani ahead of time. ?When you arrive in Madrid their (sic) will be someone waiting for you with a sign that says ?NUBA? at the door of the plane. They will take you through costumes (sic).?Last April, Parnas showed some sensitivity to Sargeant?s complaint and suggested that he would be reimbursed.?We are paying you back for this we are never expecting you to pay for it my brother that?s why we wanted to do the loan so we don?t have to bother you,? he texted at one point.By August, Sargeant was pestering Parnas to repay him as well as a jet charter company operated by a family friend. Despite repeated requests, Parnas never did, according to Sargeant?s lawyer.Potential JobOne source of potential revenue for Giuliani failed to materialize. He pursued contracts last spring for what appeared to be work for Ukraine?s Prosecutor General and Justice Ministry, according to the Parnas messages. Bloomberg previously reported that Giuliani talked about representing Ukraine to help recover billions in looted assets.According to the Parnas texts, Giuliani was seeking retainers, and pro-Trump lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova were working with him to finalize them. Giuliani was negotiating with Lutsenko in February 2019, at the same time they were discussing a possible Ukrainian investigation of Biden and his son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian company.Giuliani never signed a retainer contract and there?s no indication he was paid. The legal duo of Toensing and diGenova went on to represent Firtash, for which they billed $1 million and for whom Parnas provided translation services.Ultimately, Ukraine did open an investigation, though not into Biden. Authorities are now examining something else mentioned in the text trove, the possibility of improper surveillance of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was abruptly recalled to Washington last spring.To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Farrell in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Stephanie Baker in London at email@example.com;Ben Bartenstein in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;David Kocieniewski in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Winnie O'Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jeffrey D GrocottFor 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.
- World airports taking precautions after China virus ourbreak
Airports around the world have begun taking precautions to deal with an anticipated influx of Chinese tourists taking Lunar New Year holidays, just as the outbreak of a pneumonia-like virus in China has prompted officials there to take drastic measures to prevent its spread. Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel, announced on Thursday that, following government guidance, all passengers arriving on direct flights from China will receive thermal screening at the gate upon arrival and be provided with informational brochures. The screening at the airport, home to Emirates airline, will be conducted at secured, closed gates by teams from the Dubai Health Authority and the Airport Medical Center, Dubai Airports said in a statement provided to The Associated Press.
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- Militia ally of Iran's Soleimani shot dead in southwest Iran: IRNA
Gunmen in Iran shot dead a commander of the hardline Basij militia who was an ally of Qassem Soleimani, the senior Revolutionary Guards commander killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, the official news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday. The Basij are under the command of the Guards, the most powerful and heavily armed security force in the Islamic Republic. IRNA said that Abdolhossein Mojaddami, a Basij commander in the city of Darkhovin in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, was shot on Tuesday in front of his home by two men riding a motorcycle.
- Grassley Expands Probe into DoD Contracts Awarded to Stefan Halper over Spying Concerns
Senator Chuck Grassley announced an expanded probe Wednesday into the Department of Defense?s Office of Net Assessment (ONA) and its awarding of defense contracts to Stefan Halper, in order to see whether ONA illicitly authorized funds for the former professor to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign.Halper, an FBI source who met with and recorded Trump associates Carter Page, Sam Clovis, and George Papadopoulos, according to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz?s December report, has been awarded more than $1 million in contracts by ONA since 2012.Grassley points to several contracts awarded to Halper in a letter to James Baker, the director of ONA, as examples ?that clearly indicate weak or non-existent internal controls.?Evaluators raised ?several weaknesses,? including a lack of substance, in a 2012 contract proposal by Halper that were ultimately ignored. For a 2015 proposal, Halper listed a Russian intelligence official as an adviser, who was then cited by Christopher Steele as source for his now-infamous dossier.Halper?s last contract, awarded in September 2016, mentions ?unknown third parties? paying for Halper?s trip to Japan to interview ?former high-level U.S. and foreign government officials,? but Grassley points out that the IG later found none of Halper?s 348 footnotes in the subsequent study cited any interviews.Halper also contacted Papadopoulos in September 2016 and offered $3,000 for him to write a policy paper on the natural-gas market in the Mediterranean.?Given Professor Halper?s intelligence connections and government funding, it is reasonable to ask whether he used any taxpayer money in his attempt to recruit Trump campaign officials as sources,? Grassley hypothesizes.The Iowa Senator concludes his letter by asking for a list of every contract ONA has issued over the last five years to review the consistency of its decision-making.?The fact that taxpayer money was used to support these projects calls into question ONA?s ability to be a proper steward of the people?s money and whether ONA has acted consistent with its mission and purpose,? Grassley writes.