McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from Democrats

McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from DemocratsSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the rules for a Senate impeachment trial on Monday evening.


World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.

World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.The world needs to prepare for millions of people being driven from their homes by the impact of climate change, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday. Speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum, Filippo Grandi said a U.N. ruling this week meant those fleeing as a result of climate change deserved international protection, and that it had broad implications for governments. The U.N. Human Rights Committee made the landmark ruling on Monday in relation to Ioane Teitiota, from the Pacific nation of Kiribati, who brought a case against New Zealand after authorities denied his claim of asylum.


Hurricane Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani Hints At Tapes Exposing Parnas 'Lies'

Hurricane Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani Hints At Tapes Exposing Parnas 'Lies'Will the potential Trump impeachment witness hit back?


Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police say

Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police sayOfficials described the mother, who was not identified, as a 22-year-old woman who recently moved to Arizona from Oklahoma.


Court ruling ends long legal fight in Chinese torture case

Court ruling ends long legal fight in Chinese torture caseA federal appeals court ruling Tuesday ended a 15-year-old legal fight in the U.S. over whether a Chinese television official incited torture in his country against members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected a request by members of the movement to file an amended lawsuit in the case. Zhao Zhizhen, a onetime radio and television executive in China who founded the China Anti-Cult Association, was sued in 2004 in federal court under the Alien Tort Statute, an 18th-century U.S. law that allows foreigners to sue in the U.S. over human rights abuses committed anywhere.


China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations

China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that the country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.In the most high-profile remarks on the country’s economic policy since the accord was signed last week, Han said that its commitment to buy more from the U.S. is in line with its World Trade Organization obligations and won’t squeeze out other imports. Han also pledged to lower barriers for foreign investors as he set out the case for China’s engagement with the global economy.“China will open its door wider,” Han told an audience in Davos, Switzerland. “Though facing some protectionism from some countries, the determination to open up will not waver.”The speech comes less than a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping sealed a “phase one” deal intended to de-escalate a trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump. The accord saw China commit to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S.“The phase-one trade deal is good for U.S., China and the world,” Han said. “China’s increasing purchases of U.S. goods are in accordance with WTO guidelines and will not impact its imports from other countries.”Han made the comments just as Trump gave his own speech in Davos, in which the U.S. president claimed credit for overseeing an economy enjoying its longest expansion yet, with an unemployment rate that fell to a five-decade low after tax cuts, deregulation and improved trade deals. He also spoke of his close relationship with Xi.“He’s for China and I’m for the U.S., but other than that, we love each other,” he said.Under the agreement, China will boost purchases of U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, energy and services over the next two years. Critics say such pre-determined demand can have adverse consequences elsewhere.‘Managed Trade’”The real problem with managed trade is that it may divert, rather than expand, international commerce,” Chad Bown, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in a report released Tuesday. “For example, China could purchase more American soybeans by cutting back on imports of oilseeds from Brazil.”Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy said China’s pledge to boost American imports could end up costing the European Union about $11 billion next year. “If trade costs and hence relative prices do not change, Chinese imports from the U.S. must come at the expense of third countries,” the institute said in a study published this week.Last week, EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said his team will scrutinize whether China’s pledge is allowed under the WTO.“We haven’t analyzed the document in detail, but we will and if there’s a WTO-compliance issue of course we will take the case,” Hogan told a conference on Thursday in Washington.Separately, Australia is pushing China for the same dairy concessions that the U.S. received, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. As part of phase one of the deal, the U.S. secured regulatory breaks on dairy products shipped to China, barriers that have hampered Australian exporters, the newspaper reported last week.To contact the reporters on this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net;Crystal Chui in Zurich at tchui4@bloomberg.net;Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Ben Sills, Brendan MurrayFor 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.


Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for wedding

Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for weddingWith just 40 days left until her wedding, like many a bride-to-be, Amanda Knox has a long to-do list to get through before the big day.Ms Knox revealed a unique "something old" in a post on Instagram as she knuckles down to get through the tasks at hand – her old uniform from her time in an Italian prison.


Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'

Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'The weapon which is expected to eventually arm the country's newer frigates is apparently experiencing developmental challenges.


The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl Harbor

The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl HarborMiller heroically fought back against the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.


Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan Border

Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan BorderThousands of Central American migrants clashed with Mexican authorities on Monday as they attempted to cross the Mexico-Guatemala border despite being denied in their requests to continue traveling toward the U.S.The caravan consisted of roughly 4,000 migrants who began traveling last week Honduras last week. Some members of the group forced their way through a border gate while others waded through the shallow waters of the Suchiate River. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their native Central American countries.The caravan, now on Mexican soil, is currently being blocked from traveling through Mexico by Mexican National Guard members, some in riot gear. Over the weekend, authorities used pepper spray to deter migrants and both sides were seen throwing rocks at each other.Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised the Trump administration that Mexico would enhance its efforts to prevent the mass migration of undocumented immigrants, most from Central America, which overwhelmed authorities last spring. Mexico has stepped up security at its own southern border, adding checkpoints and deploying the national guard to increase border control.The leaders of the Honduran caravan wrote a letter to the Mexican president requesting that “all the members of the caravan receive the permission to move freely through Mexican territory. We are committed to you and your government to maintain order and discipline in the places where we transit.”Mexico originally sent mixed messages to the migrants, Obrador saying that more than 4,000 jobs were available to them in Mexico, but later stating that most migrants would be deported who turned themselves in to authorities.President Trump has pointed to the large caravans of undocumented migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S. as a reason to build his long-promised border wall, especially after the flow of asylum seekers surged at the U.S.-Mexico border during the spring.In September, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the vast majority of migrant families who enter the country illegally will no longer be eligible for so-called “catch and release” due to the implementation of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which require that migrants wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are being adjudicated.


'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death camp

'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death campA strip of skin tattooed with the Auschwitz death camp number 99288 sits in a silver frame on a shelf in Avraham Harshalom's living room. As the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation on Jan 27, 1945, nears, Harshalom, 95, is very clear about why he kept it. Harshalom is one of some 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.


Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill Billions

Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill BillionsAnd its all underwater.


Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner

Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetlinerIran acknowledged on Tuesday that its armed forces fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people onboard.


You Should Get an Electric Fireplace

You Should Get an Electric Fireplace


The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest area

The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest areaThe body of Selena Shelley Faye Not Afraid, 16, was found near the Montana rest area where she was last seen on New Year's Day, authorities said.


Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy it

Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy itIntervention of California governor helps Moms 4 Housing group score victory in fight against state’s homeless crisisThe homeless mothers who took over a vacant house in Oakland, California, and occupied it for almost two months will be allowed to purchase the property – a major victory in a movement working to keep such homes out of the possession of speculators.The group Moms 4 Housing entered the house on Magnolia Street on 18 November with the intent to stay. The house had sat vacant for more than two years before it was purchased in July at a foreclosure auction for $501,078 by Wedgewood Properties, a real estate investment company with a history of buying up foreclosed-upon houses cheaply, evicting the tenants, renovating the homes and then putting them back on the market at much higher prices.Housing advocates say companies such as Wedgewood fueled the housing crisis that now grips the state, which needs anywhere between 1.8m and 3.5m new housing units by 2025. More than 15,500 units remain vacant in Oakland alone, according to the latest US Census Bureau data, while 4,071 people are homeless. House-flipping has led to rapid gentrification, which then in turn led to the widespread displacement of black residents.In Oakland, 78% of the homeless population reported that their last place of residence before becoming homeless was within county limits. Seventy per cent were black.Moms 4 Housing chose the Magnolia Street house in part to try to force Wedgewood to negotiate the sale of the home back to the community.“This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community,” Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who lived in the house with her two children, said in a statement, on the day that America marked Martin Luther King Day. “Today we honor Dr King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations.”With the housing and homelessness crisis worsening each day, the mothers received widespread support for their cause, from local lawmakers to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who praised the activists.Moms 4 Housing had brought the issue to court, but a judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood. Sheriff deputies arrived in the early hours of 15 January to evict them, arresting two of the mothers and two of their supporters.Wedgewood has maintained that the mothers had committed a criminal act in breaking into the house, and the house legally belonged to the company.“Wedgewood has always been and continues to be open to thoughtful and purposeful discussions,” spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement.“After regaining possession of Magnolia Street, we engaged in discussions with governor Gavin Newsom, mayor Libby Schaaf and councilman Larry Reid. These led to progress that everyone should agree is a step in the right direction in helping to address Oakland’s homelessness and housing crisis.”


After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to Clinton

After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to ClintonAfter some last-minute tweaks on Tuesday, the proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial now largely mirror the ones used for the trial of former President Bill Clinton. After approving the rules, the Senate will hear arguments from lawyers on both sides before debating whether to seek witness testimony and documents. Clinton's Republican prosecutors already had evidence that was compiled by then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.


South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback

South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback(Bloomberg) -- South Korea is considering different ways to allow its people to travel to North Korea despite a U.S. warning to proceed with caution in visiting a country under extensive international sanctions.The Unification Ministry said Monday the government is looking at measures that include allowing South Koreans to go to North Korea directly through previously established land crossings or going through a third country in a tour group. The latter option would help South Koreans travel to major cities in North Korea, including the capital Pyongyang.The tourism initiative comes after the South Korea presidential office last week criticized U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris for suggesting that the U.S. government should be consulted first. The latest dispute added to heightened tensions between the allies over U.S. demands for South Korea to pay more for hosting American troops.Harris said tourism is allowed under sanctions but some of things visitors take with them could be prohibited under the sanctions, which were imposed on North Korea to punish it for its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.South Korea Should Consult U.S. on North Korea Tours, Envoy SaysTourism allows cash-starved North Korea to obtain hard currency and significant flow of money to Kim Jong Un’s regime could undermine President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to squeeze its economy through sanctions. Moon has called for a resumption of projects with North Korea seeing them as a way to establish trust and security on the heavily armed peninsula.North Korea’s Kim has pushed for increased tourism and in an address to mark the new year highlighted one of his pet projects in the coastal city of Wonsan, which has been undergoing a tourism face-lift. For months Pyongyang has rebuffed Moon’s calls for talks, telling South Korea to stay out of the way in its dealings with Trump and advising Seoul to “behave prudently” and “not to be reduced to a fool heading nowhere.”Kim last year also threatened to tear down South Korean-built structures at a resort constructed at North Korea’s Mt. Geumgang, delivering a blow to Moon’s plans to bring back the now-frozen project once seen as a symbol of reconciliation.Kim Jong Un Deals Blow to South Korean Plans for Joint ResortIn 2008, South Koreans were ordered to vacate the resort after a 53-year-old woman vacationer who wandered close to a North Korean military facility in the area was shot and killed. More than 2 million South Koreans had visited the scenic mountain site located near the border before it was shut down. Tourists paid a fee to enter North Korea and Pyongyang took a cut on all the money the South Koreans spent on food, lodging and tours. The U.S. raised worries at the time that North Korea used funds from Mt. Geumgang to help pay for its weapons programs.To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Peter PaeFor 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.


Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal case

Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal caseAn 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 White House counsel falsely claims Adam Schiff blocked Republicans from attending classified impeachment meetings More U.S. service members receiving treatment following Iranian missile attack Derek Jeter and Larry Walker elected to Baseball Hall of Fame


China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deaths

China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deathsChina'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.


21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam War

21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam WarA lot of firepower.


Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcano

Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcanoA desolate landscape of ash dunes and bare trees left by the eruption of the Philippines' Taal volcano lay in contrast with a few signs of life at ground zero of the disaster on Tuesday. The island site was buried by massive deposits of ash when Taal erupted last week and remains under a mandatory evacuation order due to a feared bigger blast. Authorities have said any outward signs of an imminent eruption have been weak over the past several days.


Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’

Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera on Tuesday insisted that President Donald Trump is a “civil-rights leader,” pointing to low African-American unemployment to make his case.The morning after Martin Luther King Day, the former Celebrity Apprentice star reacted to Trump’s arrival at the economic summit in Davos, telling the hosts of Fox & Friends that he feels “awful” for the president because he’s dealing with impeachment during his trip.“This is an economic summit, the American economy is the envy of the world,” he declared. “I call him, to great controversy, a civil-rights leader, especially yesterday on Martin Luther King Day.”“Because why?” Rivera continued. “African American unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. Latino unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. The rising tide, the rising tide is lifting all boats, we should be celebrating, instead he’s fighting this—this, you know, cage match.”Later on in the program, Fox Business host Charles Payne essentially parroted Rivera’s assertion, adding that the president couldn’t be racist since wages for people of color have risen.The president, meanwhile, also touted minority jobs numbers on MLK Day, basically equating labor participation with civil rights.Rivera currently likening Trump to MLK because blacks and Latinos have jobs somewhat flies in the face of some of his recent comments on the president’s inflammatory racial rhetoric. After Trump called on Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from last summer, Rivera pleaded with the president to “steer clear of language that’s xenophobic even racist.”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.


It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closing

It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closingHeads up if you're vacationing in Florida this chilly week: Several water parks in Florida are closing due to cold temperatures in the state.


AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights Demonstration

AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights DemonstrationRepresentative 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.


Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militantsIndonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.


The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see inside

The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see insideThe US president isn't the only government official that flies in a VIP plane operated by the US Air Force.


New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler

New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler* Ian O’Reilly says he was forced to act after animal bit child * Police say O’Reilly ‘suffocated the coyote until it succumbed’A New Hampshire man fought and killed a coyote on Monday, police said, bringing a spate of attacks to an end.Ian O’Reilly, from Kensington, choked the coyote to death after it attacked his two-year-old child. The same coyote is believed to have bitten a woman in the buttocks earlier in the day, and attacked a car.The coyote targeted O’Reilly’s family while they were walking on a trail near Kensington. It bit one of O’Reilly’s three children, prompting the father to kick it. O’Reilly then throttled the animal.“There was no interest in it going away,” O’Reilly told Boston 25 News. “[I] ultimately had to make the decision to become the aggressor and jumped on it, attacked it and [got] it to the ground.“When I was able to get on top of it, I put my hand on its snout so it wasn’t able to attack me. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I shoved the face into the snow and then eventually was able [to] put my hand on its snout and expire it through suffocation.“Ultimately one hand on its windpipe and one hand on its snout did the trick.”O’Reilly was reportedly bitten in the arm and chest. His child was wearing a bulky snowsuit and was unharmed.“The coyote attacked a young child, and the child’s dad went into protection mode and suffocated the coyote until it succumbed,” police said.New Hampshire’s fish and game department was testing the coyote for rabies, according to 25 News. O’Reilly received shots for the virus.Police believe the same coyote earlier attacked a car in the same vicinity, before targeting Kensington resident Pat Lee and her dogs. The coyote bit one of the dogs and bit Lee in the buttocks.“Thank God the plumber was here, because the plumber was standing at the door screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’” Lee told NBC Boston. The coyote managed to get into Lee’s home.“I was running behind the dogs to get them in, and just as I was here, literally, the coyote bit me. In the butt.”Coyote attacks are rare. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “more people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes”.The Kensington police chief, Scott Cain, said O’Reilly may have saved others from being attacked by the coyote.“The chances are it was sick and the pack kicked it out of the pack,” Cain said.


Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTV

Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTVTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas, after Ankara signed a maritime agreement with Libya last year, broadcaster NTV reported. Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a Surprise

The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a SurpriseThe MML is able to fire a multitude of weapons.


Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor

Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at SobiborNew photos have emerged which for the first time show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk at the Sobibor death camp, a Berlin archive confirmed Monday, although he always denied ever being there. Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 30,000 Jews at Sobibor by a German court in 2011. According to the Berlin-based Topography of Terror archive, photos of Demjanjuk are among a newly discovered collection of more than 350 snaps which give "detailed insight" into the camp in German-occupied Poland.


2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison

2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prisonTwo inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison that has been shaken by other deadly violence in recent weeks. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the deaths Tuesday but did not immediately release the names of the latest inmates killed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department said it is investigating the deaths.


How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ ThreatWhen President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran’s now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence. “There were definitely questions [at the time, internally] about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.It turns out Trump—technically—didn’t get his eyebrow-raising claim out of nowhere, The Daily Beast has learned. According to three sources familiar with the matter, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public during his post-Soleimani victory lap. In doing so, President Trump generated yet more confusion and discord among the national security brass that had already struggled to sell the American people on its case for the strike that just brought Iran and the United States to the precipice of all-out warfare. For weeks the Trump administration had struggled to get on message in talking about why the U.S. decided to strike Soleimani and what it would do in the future to manage any diplomacy with Tehran. Trump’s embassy claim didn’t help, officials said.The White House did not comment on the record for this story.Shortly before he began announcing to the media and rally-goers that the Iranian general was planning assaults on multiple U.S. embassies, the president received briefings at the White House from both national security officials and communications staffers. The purpose of some of these meetings were to prepare Trump on how best to talk to the press regarding his administration’s justifications for killing Soleimani. The president received a briefing shortly before he entered the Roosevelt Room Jan. 9 and said Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” According to two people familiar with this briefing, Trump was told the pre-strike intelligence showed that Iran could lash out against American assets in the region. The president was again told this in a subsequent briefing that day, one of these sources added. However, embassies were a part of a long list of American outposts and bases potentially under threat from Iran but sources familiar with those internal briefings do not remember the number four ever being specified, and they certainly do not recall any imminent danger to those embassies.When administration officials briefed Trump, they mentioned possible targets for Iranian assaults; they were not discussing intel on what anyone in the regime was actively plotting against U.S. interests, the sources noted.However, the moment he heard the word “embassies,” Trump immediately chimed in, interrupting the meeting to grill his briefers on that issue, according to one U.S. official. From there, he began to treat this possible threat as a near-certain danger. Trump received another intelligence briefing shortly before his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Jan. 10 where he repeated the claim that Iran probably would have attacked four embassies. When the president started publicly trotting out his claims of “four embassies,” national security aides were dumbfounded. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump’s “four embassies” talking point clashed with intelligence assessments from Trump’s own officials. CNN also reported that security officials at the State Department weren’t even notified of an imminent danger to any specific set of four American embassies.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper himself admitted during an interview on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation that while “the president said that he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper personally “didn’t see [a specific piece of evidence] with regard to four embassies.”Esper added, “What I’m saying is I shared the president’s view that probably, my expectation is they were going to go after our embassies.”At that point, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had of course already been stormed by an Iranian-supported militia, but that was prior to Soleimani’s death.Senior Trump administration officials have canceled several of their past scheduled briefings with Congress on specific threats to U.S. embassies pre-Soleimani strike. Briefers were also supposed to delve into more detail about what exactly U.S. intelligence said prior to the strike. The administration has held two briefings so far with both the House and the Senate, but sessions left lawmakers frustrated and overwhelmingly uninformed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rescheduled his briefing on the embassy threats with the House Foreign Affairs committee for next week.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to AmericaBut people close to Trump say his embassy fixation lies in his obsession with avoiding the kind of catastrophes that befell his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. President Trump, who has long bashed Obama for the 2012 Benghazi attack and Bush for the Hurricane Katrina response, is particularly concerned with opening himself up to accusations of having suffered “Trump’s Benghazi” or “Trump’s Katrina,” according to two sources who’ve spoken to the president about this. “Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about how you don’t want a Katrina moment,” said a former senior White House official. “You can’t do anything about what weather is going to do, but you can certainly manage the response and the optics of what you’re doing in addition to the substance of what you’re doing.”With Trump’s shambolic, even scandalous, handling of the response and relief efforts to the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, this president seems to have already had his “Katrina.” He is, however, determined not to experience a direct parallel to Benghazi. Indeed, on New Year’s Eve, the president took to Twitter to enthusiastically brand the embassy attack that occurred on his watch “The Anti-Benghazi!” UPDATE 1/21/20: The story has been updated to clarify the timing of one of Trump's intelligence briefings on Iran.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.


30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors

30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors


Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil war

Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil warA 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. Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews also videotaped himself advocating for killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains, a prosecutor wrote in urging a judge in Maryland to keep Mathews and two other members of The Base detained in federal custody. Last month, a closed-circuit television camera and microphone installed by investigators in a Delaware home captured Mathews talking about the Virginia rally as a “boundless” opportunity.


AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’

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Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremony

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Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in Turkey

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Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfront

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Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.

Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.After a nearly decade-long hiatus, 2020 will be the year that American astronauts rocket into space from American soil once again.


Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins

Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and AssassinsThey'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.


Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressure

Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressureTaiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis to complain about Chinese pressure on the island Beijing claims as its own, saying China seeks to threaten its democracy and freedom. The Vatican is one of just 15 countries that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan and the only one in Europe.


Tekashi 6ix9ine won't be allowed to serve the rest of his 2-year sentence in home confinement even though his prison has a lot of Blood gang members

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AP FACT CHECK: Distortions in Trump's legal defense

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US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwise

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Prince Harry banned from wearing military uniform after stepping back from armed forces

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Meet the TF-X: Turkey's Wanna-Be F-22 Stealth Fighter

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Panamanian village sleepless with fear after ritual killings

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The married couple who created a wacky sex button went on 'Shark Tank' and the investors didn't understand why it even exists

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McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from Democrats

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World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.

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Hurricane Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani Hints At Tapes Exposing Parnas 'Lies'

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Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police say

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Court ruling ends long legal fight in Chinese torture case

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China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations

China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that the country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.In the most high-profile remarks on the country’s economic policy since the accord was signed last week, Han said that its commitment to buy more from the U.S. is in line with its World Trade Organization obligations and won’t squeeze out other imports. Han also pledged to lower barriers for foreign investors as he set out the case for China’s engagement with the global economy.“China will open its door wider,” Han told an audience in Davos, Switzerland. “Though facing some protectionism from some countries, the determination to open up will not waver.”The speech comes less than a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping sealed a “phase one” deal intended to de-escalate a trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump. The accord saw China commit to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S.“The phase-one trade deal is good for U.S., China and the world,” Han said. “China’s increasing purchases of U.S. goods are in accordance with WTO guidelines and will not impact its imports from other countries.”Han made the comments just as Trump gave his own speech in Davos, in which the U.S. president claimed credit for overseeing an economy enjoying its longest expansion yet, with an unemployment rate that fell to a five-decade low after tax cuts, deregulation and improved trade deals. He also spoke of his close relationship with Xi.“He’s for China and I’m for the U.S., but other than that, we love each other,” he said.Under the agreement, China will boost purchases of U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, energy and services over the next two years. Critics say such pre-determined demand can have adverse consequences elsewhere.‘Managed Trade’”The real problem with managed trade is that it may divert, rather than expand, international commerce,” Chad Bown, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in a report released Tuesday. “For example, China could purchase more American soybeans by cutting back on imports of oilseeds from Brazil.”Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy said China’s pledge to boost American imports could end up costing the European Union about $11 billion next year. “If trade costs and hence relative prices do not change, Chinese imports from the U.S. must come at the expense of third countries,” the institute said in a study published this week.Last week, EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said his team will scrutinize whether China’s pledge is allowed under the WTO.“We haven’t analyzed the document in detail, but we will and if there’s a WTO-compliance issue of course we will take the case,” Hogan told a conference on Thursday in Washington.Separately, Australia is pushing China for the same dairy concessions that the U.S. received, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. As part of phase one of the deal, the U.S. secured regulatory breaks on dairy products shipped to China, barriers that have hampered Australian exporters, the newspaper reported last week.To contact the reporters on this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net;Crystal Chui in Zurich at tchui4@bloomberg.net;Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Ben Sills, Brendan MurrayFor 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.


Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for wedding

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Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'

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The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl Harbor

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Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan Border

Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan BorderThousands of Central American migrants clashed with Mexican authorities on Monday as they attempted to cross the Mexico-Guatemala border despite being denied in their requests to continue traveling toward the U.S.The caravan consisted of roughly 4,000 migrants who began traveling last week Honduras last week. Some members of the group forced their way through a border gate while others waded through the shallow waters of the Suchiate River. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their native Central American countries.The caravan, now on Mexican soil, is currently being blocked from traveling through Mexico by Mexican National Guard members, some in riot gear. Over the weekend, authorities used pepper spray to deter migrants and both sides were seen throwing rocks at each other.Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised the Trump administration that Mexico would enhance its efforts to prevent the mass migration of undocumented immigrants, most from Central America, which overwhelmed authorities last spring. Mexico has stepped up security at its own southern border, adding checkpoints and deploying the national guard to increase border control.The leaders of the Honduran caravan wrote a letter to the Mexican president requesting that “all the members of the caravan receive the permission to move freely through Mexican territory. We are committed to you and your government to maintain order and discipline in the places where we transit.”Mexico originally sent mixed messages to the migrants, Obrador saying that more than 4,000 jobs were available to them in Mexico, but later stating that most migrants would be deported who turned themselves in to authorities.President Trump has pointed to the large caravans of undocumented migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S. as a reason to build his long-promised border wall, especially after the flow of asylum seekers surged at the U.S.-Mexico border during the spring.In September, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the vast majority of migrant families who enter the country illegally will no longer be eligible for so-called “catch and release” due to the implementation of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which require that migrants wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are being adjudicated.


'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death camp

'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death campA strip of skin tattooed with the Auschwitz death camp number 99288 sits in a silver frame on a shelf in Avraham Harshalom's living room. As the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation on Jan 27, 1945, nears, Harshalom, 95, is very clear about why he kept it. Harshalom is one of some 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.


Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill Billions

Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill BillionsAnd its all underwater.


Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner

Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetlinerIran acknowledged on Tuesday that its armed forces fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people onboard.


You Should Get an Electric Fireplace

You Should Get an Electric Fireplace


The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest area

The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest areaThe body of Selena Shelley Faye Not Afraid, 16, was found near the Montana rest area where she was last seen on New Year's Day, authorities said.


Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy it

Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy itIntervention of California governor helps Moms 4 Housing group score victory in fight against state’s homeless crisisThe homeless mothers who took over a vacant house in Oakland, California, and occupied it for almost two months will be allowed to purchase the property – a major victory in a movement working to keep such homes out of the possession of speculators.The group Moms 4 Housing entered the house on Magnolia Street on 18 November with the intent to stay. The house had sat vacant for more than two years before it was purchased in July at a foreclosure auction for $501,078 by Wedgewood Properties, a real estate investment company with a history of buying up foreclosed-upon houses cheaply, evicting the tenants, renovating the homes and then putting them back on the market at much higher prices.Housing advocates say companies such as Wedgewood fueled the housing crisis that now grips the state, which needs anywhere between 1.8m and 3.5m new housing units by 2025. More than 15,500 units remain vacant in Oakland alone, according to the latest US Census Bureau data, while 4,071 people are homeless. House-flipping has led to rapid gentrification, which then in turn led to the widespread displacement of black residents.In Oakland, 78% of the homeless population reported that their last place of residence before becoming homeless was within county limits. Seventy per cent were black.Moms 4 Housing chose the Magnolia Street house in part to try to force Wedgewood to negotiate the sale of the home back to the community.“This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community,” Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who lived in the house with her two children, said in a statement, on the day that America marked Martin Luther King Day. “Today we honor Dr King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations.”With the housing and homelessness crisis worsening each day, the mothers received widespread support for their cause, from local lawmakers to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who praised the activists.Moms 4 Housing had brought the issue to court, but a judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood. Sheriff deputies arrived in the early hours of 15 January to evict them, arresting two of the mothers and two of their supporters.Wedgewood has maintained that the mothers had committed a criminal act in breaking into the house, and the house legally belonged to the company.“Wedgewood has always been and continues to be open to thoughtful and purposeful discussions,” spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement.“After regaining possession of Magnolia Street, we engaged in discussions with governor Gavin Newsom, mayor Libby Schaaf and councilman Larry Reid. These led to progress that everyone should agree is a step in the right direction in helping to address Oakland’s homelessness and housing crisis.”


After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to Clinton

After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to ClintonAfter some last-minute tweaks on Tuesday, the proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial now largely mirror the ones used for the trial of former President Bill Clinton. After approving the rules, the Senate will hear arguments from lawyers on both sides before debating whether to seek witness testimony and documents. Clinton's Republican prosecutors already had evidence that was compiled by then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.


South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback

South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback(Bloomberg) -- South Korea is considering different ways to allow its people to travel to North Korea despite a U.S. warning to proceed with caution in visiting a country under extensive international sanctions.The Unification Ministry said Monday the government is looking at measures that include allowing South Koreans to go to North Korea directly through previously established land crossings or going through a third country in a tour group. The latter option would help South Koreans travel to major cities in North Korea, including the capital Pyongyang.The tourism initiative comes after the South Korea presidential office last week criticized U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris for suggesting that the U.S. government should be consulted first. The latest dispute added to heightened tensions between the allies over U.S. demands for South Korea to pay more for hosting American troops.Harris said tourism is allowed under sanctions but some of things visitors take with them could be prohibited under the sanctions, which were imposed on North Korea to punish it for its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.South Korea Should Consult U.S. on North Korea Tours, Envoy SaysTourism allows cash-starved North Korea to obtain hard currency and significant flow of money to Kim Jong Un’s regime could undermine President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to squeeze its economy through sanctions. Moon has called for a resumption of projects with North Korea seeing them as a way to establish trust and security on the heavily armed peninsula.North Korea’s Kim has pushed for increased tourism and in an address to mark the new year highlighted one of his pet projects in the coastal city of Wonsan, which has been undergoing a tourism face-lift. For months Pyongyang has rebuffed Moon’s calls for talks, telling South Korea to stay out of the way in its dealings with Trump and advising Seoul to “behave prudently” and “not to be reduced to a fool heading nowhere.”Kim last year also threatened to tear down South Korean-built structures at a resort constructed at North Korea’s Mt. Geumgang, delivering a blow to Moon’s plans to bring back the now-frozen project once seen as a symbol of reconciliation.Kim Jong Un Deals Blow to South Korean Plans for Joint ResortIn 2008, South Koreans were ordered to vacate the resort after a 53-year-old woman vacationer who wandered close to a North Korean military facility in the area was shot and killed. More than 2 million South Koreans had visited the scenic mountain site located near the border before it was shut down. Tourists paid a fee to enter North Korea and Pyongyang took a cut on all the money the South Koreans spent on food, lodging and tours. The U.S. raised worries at the time that North Korea used funds from Mt. Geumgang to help pay for its weapons programs.To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Peter PaeFor 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.


Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal case

Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal caseAn 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 White House counsel falsely claims Adam Schiff blocked Republicans from attending classified impeachment meetings More U.S. service members receiving treatment following Iranian missile attack Derek Jeter and Larry Walker elected to Baseball Hall of Fame


China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deaths

China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deathsChina'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.


21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam War

21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam WarA lot of firepower.


Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcano

Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcanoA desolate landscape of ash dunes and bare trees left by the eruption of the Philippines' Taal volcano lay in contrast with a few signs of life at ground zero of the disaster on Tuesday. The island site was buried by massive deposits of ash when Taal erupted last week and remains under a mandatory evacuation order due to a feared bigger blast. Authorities have said any outward signs of an imminent eruption have been weak over the past several days.


Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’

Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera on Tuesday insisted that President Donald Trump is a “civil-rights leader,” pointing to low African-American unemployment to make his case.The morning after Martin Luther King Day, the former Celebrity Apprentice star reacted to Trump’s arrival at the economic summit in Davos, telling the hosts of Fox & Friends that he feels “awful” for the president because he’s dealing with impeachment during his trip.“This is an economic summit, the American economy is the envy of the world,” he declared. “I call him, to great controversy, a civil-rights leader, especially yesterday on Martin Luther King Day.”“Because why?” Rivera continued. “African American unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. Latino unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. The rising tide, the rising tide is lifting all boats, we should be celebrating, instead he’s fighting this—this, you know, cage match.”Later on in the program, Fox Business host Charles Payne essentially parroted Rivera’s assertion, adding that the president couldn’t be racist since wages for people of color have risen.The president, meanwhile, also touted minority jobs numbers on MLK Day, basically equating labor participation with civil rights.Rivera currently likening Trump to MLK because blacks and Latinos have jobs somewhat flies in the face of some of his recent comments on the president’s inflammatory racial rhetoric. After Trump called on Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from last summer, Rivera pleaded with the president to “steer clear of language that’s xenophobic even racist.”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.


It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closing

It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closingHeads up if you're vacationing in Florida this chilly week: Several water parks in Florida are closing due to cold temperatures in the state.


AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights Demonstration

AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights DemonstrationRepresentative 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.


Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militantsIndonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.


The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see inside

The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see insideThe US president isn't the only government official that flies in a VIP plane operated by the US Air Force.


New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler

New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler* Ian O’Reilly says he was forced to act after animal bit child * Police say O’Reilly ‘suffocated the coyote until it succumbed’A New Hampshire man fought and killed a coyote on Monday, police said, bringing a spate of attacks to an end.Ian O’Reilly, from Kensington, choked the coyote to death after it attacked his two-year-old child. The same coyote is believed to have bitten a woman in the buttocks earlier in the day, and attacked a car.The coyote targeted O’Reilly’s family while they were walking on a trail near Kensington. It bit one of O’Reilly’s three children, prompting the father to kick it. O’Reilly then throttled the animal.“There was no interest in it going away,” O’Reilly told Boston 25 News. “[I] ultimately had to make the decision to become the aggressor and jumped on it, attacked it and [got] it to the ground.“When I was able to get on top of it, I put my hand on its snout so it wasn’t able to attack me. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I shoved the face into the snow and then eventually was able [to] put my hand on its snout and expire it through suffocation.“Ultimately one hand on its windpipe and one hand on its snout did the trick.”O’Reilly was reportedly bitten in the arm and chest. His child was wearing a bulky snowsuit and was unharmed.“The coyote attacked a young child, and the child’s dad went into protection mode and suffocated the coyote until it succumbed,” police said.New Hampshire’s fish and game department was testing the coyote for rabies, according to 25 News. O’Reilly received shots for the virus.Police believe the same coyote earlier attacked a car in the same vicinity, before targeting Kensington resident Pat Lee and her dogs. The coyote bit one of the dogs and bit Lee in the buttocks.“Thank God the plumber was here, because the plumber was standing at the door screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’” Lee told NBC Boston. The coyote managed to get into Lee’s home.“I was running behind the dogs to get them in, and just as I was here, literally, the coyote bit me. In the butt.”Coyote attacks are rare. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “more people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes”.The Kensington police chief, Scott Cain, said O’Reilly may have saved others from being attacked by the coyote.“The chances are it was sick and the pack kicked it out of the pack,” Cain said.


Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTV

Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTVTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas, after Ankara signed a maritime agreement with Libya last year, broadcaster NTV reported. Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a Surprise

The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a SurpriseThe MML is able to fire a multitude of weapons.


Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor

Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at SobiborNew photos have emerged which for the first time show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk at the Sobibor death camp, a Berlin archive confirmed Monday, although he always denied ever being there. Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 30,000 Jews at Sobibor by a German court in 2011. According to the Berlin-based Topography of Terror archive, photos of Demjanjuk are among a newly discovered collection of more than 350 snaps which give "detailed insight" into the camp in German-occupied Poland.


2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison

2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prisonTwo inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison that has been shaken by other deadly violence in recent weeks. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the deaths Tuesday but did not immediately release the names of the latest inmates killed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department said it is investigating the deaths.


How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ ThreatWhen President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran’s now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence. “There were definitely questions [at the time, internally] about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.It turns out Trump—technically—didn’t get his eyebrow-raising claim out of nowhere, The Daily Beast has learned. According to three sources familiar with the matter, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public during his post-Soleimani victory lap. In doing so, President Trump generated yet more confusion and discord among the national security brass that had already struggled to sell the American people on its case for the strike that just brought Iran and the United States to the precipice of all-out warfare. For weeks the Trump administration had struggled to get on message in talking about why the U.S. decided to strike Soleimani and what it would do in the future to manage any diplomacy with Tehran. Trump’s embassy claim didn’t help, officials said.The White House did not comment on the record for this story.Shortly before he began announcing to the media and rally-goers that the Iranian general was planning assaults on multiple U.S. embassies, the president received briefings at the White House from both national security officials and communications staffers. The purpose of some of these meetings were to prepare Trump on how best to talk to the press regarding his administration’s justifications for killing Soleimani. The president received a briefing shortly before he entered the Roosevelt Room Jan. 9 and said Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” According to two people familiar with this briefing, Trump was told the pre-strike intelligence showed that Iran could lash out against American assets in the region. The president was again told this in a subsequent briefing that day, one of these sources added. However, embassies were a part of a long list of American outposts and bases potentially under threat from Iran but sources familiar with those internal briefings do not remember the number four ever being specified, and they certainly do not recall any imminent danger to those embassies.When administration officials briefed Trump, they mentioned possible targets for Iranian assaults; they were not discussing intel on what anyone in the regime was actively plotting against U.S. interests, the sources noted.However, the moment he heard the word “embassies,” Trump immediately chimed in, interrupting the meeting to grill his briefers on that issue, according to one U.S. official. From there, he began to treat this possible threat as a near-certain danger. Trump received another intelligence briefing shortly before his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Jan. 10 where he repeated the claim that Iran probably would have attacked four embassies. When the president started publicly trotting out his claims of “four embassies,” national security aides were dumbfounded. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump’s “four embassies” talking point clashed with intelligence assessments from Trump’s own officials. CNN also reported that security officials at the State Department weren’t even notified of an imminent danger to any specific set of four American embassies.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper himself admitted during an interview on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation that while “the president said that he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper personally “didn’t see [a specific piece of evidence] with regard to four embassies.”Esper added, “What I’m saying is I shared the president’s view that probably, my expectation is they were going to go after our embassies.”At that point, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had of course already been stormed by an Iranian-supported militia, but that was prior to Soleimani’s death.Senior Trump administration officials have canceled several of their past scheduled briefings with Congress on specific threats to U.S. embassies pre-Soleimani strike. Briefers were also supposed to delve into more detail about what exactly U.S. intelligence said prior to the strike. The administration has held two briefings so far with both the House and the Senate, but sessions left lawmakers frustrated and overwhelmingly uninformed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rescheduled his briefing on the embassy threats with the House Foreign Affairs committee for next week.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to AmericaBut people close to Trump say his embassy fixation lies in his obsession with avoiding the kind of catastrophes that befell his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. President Trump, who has long bashed Obama for the 2012 Benghazi attack and Bush for the Hurricane Katrina response, is particularly concerned with opening himself up to accusations of having suffered “Trump’s Benghazi” or “Trump’s Katrina,” according to two sources who’ve spoken to the president about this. “Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about how you don’t want a Katrina moment,” said a former senior White House official. “You can’t do anything about what weather is going to do, but you can certainly manage the response and the optics of what you’re doing in addition to the substance of what you’re doing.”With Trump’s shambolic, even scandalous, handling of the response and relief efforts to the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, this president seems to have already had his “Katrina.” He is, however, determined not to experience a direct parallel to Benghazi. Indeed, on New Year’s Eve, the president took to Twitter to enthusiastically brand the embassy attack that occurred on his watch “The Anti-Benghazi!” UPDATE 1/21/20: The story has been updated to clarify the timing of one of Trump's intelligence briefings on Iran.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.


30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors

30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors


Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil war

Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil warA 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. Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews also videotaped himself advocating for killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains, a prosecutor wrote in urging a judge in Maryland to keep Mathews and two other members of The Base detained in federal custody. Last month, a closed-circuit television camera and microphone installed by investigators in a Delaware home captured Mathews talking about the Virginia rally as a “boundless” opportunity.


AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’

AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained that the Democratic party does not represent the political left in the United States, calling the organisation a “centre or centre-conservative” party that “can’t even get a floor vote” on nationalising health care.She said: “We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare for All — not even a floor vote that might get doubled down.”


Boeing makes it official: 737 Max plane won't be back until summer. Could it be later?

Boeing makes it official: 737 Max plane won't be back until summer. Could it be later?Airlines have already moved the 737 Max back in their schedules. Boeing makes it official: The planes will miss at least part of the summer travel season.


Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremony

Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremonyGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Western global powers to include China in their multilateral system and treat Beijing equally rather than freeze it out and risk slipping into a Cold War-style bipolar order. Speaking after receiving a prize at the American Academy in Berlin, attended by former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, Merkel said China's economic success posed challenges. "Of course we also have to build up fairness, of course we have to practise multilateralism such that the rules apply to everyone," she said.


Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in Turkey

Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in TurkeySeems like a questionable idea.


Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfront

Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfrontNigerian navy personnel shot in the air Tuesday as they sought to clear a waterfront community of 10,000 people in the latest mass-eviction around economic hub Lagos. Bulldozers rumbled into Tarkwa Bay, a semi-rural area on an island in the city of some 20 million, as part of an operation the military say is aimed officially at stopping the looting of nearby oil pipelines. AFP correspondents heard gunfire during the operation.


Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.

Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.After a nearly decade-long hiatus, 2020 will be the year that American astronauts rocket into space from American soil once again.


Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins

Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and AssassinsThey'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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China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations

China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that the country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.In the most high-profile remarks on the country’s economic policy since the accord was signed last week, Han said that its commitment to buy more from the U.S. is in line with its World Trade Organization obligations and won’t squeeze out other imports. Han also pledged to lower barriers for foreign investors as he set out the case for China’s engagement with the global economy.“China will open its door wider,” Han told an audience in Davos, Switzerland. “Though facing some protectionism from some countries, the determination to open up will not waver.”The speech comes less than a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping sealed a “phase one” deal intended to de-escalate a trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump. The accord saw China commit to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S.“The phase-one trade deal is good for U.S., China and the world,” Han said. “China’s increasing purchases of U.S. goods are in accordance with WTO guidelines and will not impact its imports from other countries.”Han made the comments just as Trump gave his own speech in Davos, in which the U.S. president claimed credit for overseeing an economy enjoying its longest expansion yet, with an unemployment rate that fell to a five-decade low after tax cuts, deregulation and improved trade deals. He also spoke of his close relationship with Xi.“He’s for China and I’m for the U.S., but other than that, we love each other,” he said.Under the agreement, China will boost purchases of U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, energy and services over the next two years. Critics say such pre-determined demand can have adverse consequences elsewhere.‘Managed Trade’”The real problem with managed trade is that it may divert, rather than expand, international commerce,” Chad Bown, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in a report released Tuesday. “For example, China could purchase more American soybeans by cutting back on imports of oilseeds from Brazil.”Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy said China’s pledge to boost American imports could end up costing the European Union about $11 billion next year. “If trade costs and hence relative prices do not change, Chinese imports from the U.S. must come at the expense of third countries,” the institute said in a study published this week.Last week, EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said his team will scrutinize whether China’s pledge is allowed under the WTO.“We haven’t analyzed the document in detail, but we will and if there’s a WTO-compliance issue of course we will take the case,” Hogan told a conference on Thursday in Washington.Separately, Australia is pushing China for the same dairy concessions that the U.S. received, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. As part of phase one of the deal, the U.S. secured regulatory breaks on dairy products shipped to China, barriers that have hampered Australian exporters, the newspaper reported last week.To contact the reporters on this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net;Crystal Chui in Zurich at tchui4@bloomberg.net;Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Ben Sills, Brendan MurrayFor 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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After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to ClintonAfter some last-minute tweaks on Tuesday, the proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial now largely mirror the ones used for the trial of former President Bill Clinton. After approving the rules, the Senate will hear arguments from lawyers on both sides before debating whether to seek witness testimony and documents. Clinton's Republican prosecutors already had evidence that was compiled by then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.


South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback

South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback(Bloomberg) -- South Korea is considering different ways to allow its people to travel to North Korea despite a U.S. warning to proceed with caution in visiting a country under extensive international sanctions.The Unification Ministry said Monday the government is looking at measures that include allowing South Koreans to go to North Korea directly through previously established land crossings or going through a third country in a tour group. The latter option would help South Koreans travel to major cities in North Korea, including the capital Pyongyang.The tourism initiative comes after the South Korea presidential office last week criticized U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris for suggesting that the U.S. government should be consulted first. The latest dispute added to heightened tensions between the allies over U.S. demands for South Korea to pay more for hosting American troops.Harris said tourism is allowed under sanctions but some of things visitors take with them could be prohibited under the sanctions, which were imposed on North Korea to punish it for its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.South Korea Should Consult U.S. on North Korea Tours, Envoy SaysTourism allows cash-starved North Korea to obtain hard currency and significant flow of money to Kim Jong Un’s regime could undermine President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to squeeze its economy through sanctions. Moon has called for a resumption of projects with North Korea seeing them as a way to establish trust and security on the heavily armed peninsula.North Korea’s Kim has pushed for increased tourism and in an address to mark the new year highlighted one of his pet projects in the coastal city of Wonsan, which has been undergoing a tourism face-lift. For months Pyongyang has rebuffed Moon’s calls for talks, telling South Korea to stay out of the way in its dealings with Trump and advising Seoul to “behave prudently” and “not to be reduced to a fool heading nowhere.”Kim last year also threatened to tear down South Korean-built structures at a resort constructed at North Korea’s Mt. Geumgang, delivering a blow to Moon’s plans to bring back the now-frozen project once seen as a symbol of reconciliation.Kim Jong Un Deals Blow to South Korean Plans for Joint ResortIn 2008, South Koreans were ordered to vacate the resort after a 53-year-old woman vacationer who wandered close to a North Korean military facility in the area was shot and killed. More than 2 million South Koreans had visited the scenic mountain site located near the border before it was shut down. Tourists paid a fee to enter North Korea and Pyongyang took a cut on all the money the South Koreans spent on food, lodging and tours. The U.S. raised worries at the time that North Korea used funds from Mt. Geumgang to help pay for its weapons programs.To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Peter PaeFor 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.


Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal case

Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal caseAn 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 White House counsel falsely claims Adam Schiff blocked Republicans from attending classified impeachment meetings More U.S. service members receiving treatment following Iranian missile attack Derek Jeter and Larry Walker elected to Baseball Hall of Fame


China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deaths

China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deathsChina'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.


21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam War

21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam WarA lot of firepower.


Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcano

Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcanoA desolate landscape of ash dunes and bare trees left by the eruption of the Philippines' Taal volcano lay in contrast with a few signs of life at ground zero of the disaster on Tuesday. The island site was buried by massive deposits of ash when Taal erupted last week and remains under a mandatory evacuation order due to a feared bigger blast. Authorities have said any outward signs of an imminent eruption have been weak over the past several days.


Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’

Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera on Tuesday insisted that President Donald Trump is a “civil-rights leader,” pointing to low African-American unemployment to make his case.The morning after Martin Luther King Day, the former Celebrity Apprentice star reacted to Trump’s arrival at the economic summit in Davos, telling the hosts of Fox & Friends that he feels “awful” for the president because he’s dealing with impeachment during his trip.“This is an economic summit, the American economy is the envy of the world,” he declared. “I call him, to great controversy, a civil-rights leader, especially yesterday on Martin Luther King Day.”“Because why?” Rivera continued. “African American unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. Latino unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. The rising tide, the rising tide is lifting all boats, we should be celebrating, instead he’s fighting this—this, you know, cage match.”Later on in the program, Fox Business host Charles Payne essentially parroted Rivera’s assertion, adding that the president couldn’t be racist since wages for people of color have risen.The president, meanwhile, also touted minority jobs numbers on MLK Day, basically equating labor participation with civil rights.Rivera currently likening Trump to MLK because blacks and Latinos have jobs somewhat flies in the face of some of his recent comments on the president’s inflammatory racial rhetoric. After Trump called on Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from last summer, Rivera pleaded with the president to “steer clear of language that’s xenophobic even racist.”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.


It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closing

It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closingHeads up if you're vacationing in Florida this chilly week: Several water parks in Florida are closing due to cold temperatures in the state.


AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights Demonstration

AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights DemonstrationRepresentative 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.


Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militantsIndonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.


The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see inside

The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see insideThe US president isn't the only government official that flies in a VIP plane operated by the US Air Force.


New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler

New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler* Ian O’Reilly says he was forced to act after animal bit child * Police say O’Reilly ‘suffocated the coyote until it succumbed’A New Hampshire man fought and killed a coyote on Monday, police said, bringing a spate of attacks to an end.Ian O’Reilly, from Kensington, choked the coyote to death after it attacked his two-year-old child. The same coyote is believed to have bitten a woman in the buttocks earlier in the day, and attacked a car.The coyote targeted O’Reilly’s family while they were walking on a trail near Kensington. It bit one of O’Reilly’s three children, prompting the father to kick it. O’Reilly then throttled the animal.“There was no interest in it going away,” O’Reilly told Boston 25 News. “[I] ultimately had to make the decision to become the aggressor and jumped on it, attacked it and [got] it to the ground.“When I was able to get on top of it, I put my hand on its snout so it wasn’t able to attack me. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I shoved the face into the snow and then eventually was able [to] put my hand on its snout and expire it through suffocation.“Ultimately one hand on its windpipe and one hand on its snout did the trick.”O’Reilly was reportedly bitten in the arm and chest. His child was wearing a bulky snowsuit and was unharmed.“The coyote attacked a young child, and the child’s dad went into protection mode and suffocated the coyote until it succumbed,” police said.New Hampshire’s fish and game department was testing the coyote for rabies, according to 25 News. O’Reilly received shots for the virus.Police believe the same coyote earlier attacked a car in the same vicinity, before targeting Kensington resident Pat Lee and her dogs. The coyote bit one of the dogs and bit Lee in the buttocks.“Thank God the plumber was here, because the plumber was standing at the door screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’” Lee told NBC Boston. The coyote managed to get into Lee’s home.“I was running behind the dogs to get them in, and just as I was here, literally, the coyote bit me. In the butt.”Coyote attacks are rare. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “more people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes”.The Kensington police chief, Scott Cain, said O’Reilly may have saved others from being attacked by the coyote.“The chances are it was sick and the pack kicked it out of the pack,” Cain said.


Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTV

Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTVTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas, after Ankara signed a maritime agreement with Libya last year, broadcaster NTV reported. Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a Surprise

The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a SurpriseThe MML is able to fire a multitude of weapons.


Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor

Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at SobiborNew photos have emerged which for the first time show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk at the Sobibor death camp, a Berlin archive confirmed Monday, although he always denied ever being there. Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 30,000 Jews at Sobibor by a German court in 2011. According to the Berlin-based Topography of Terror archive, photos of Demjanjuk are among a newly discovered collection of more than 350 snaps which give "detailed insight" into the camp in German-occupied Poland.


2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison

2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prisonTwo inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison that has been shaken by other deadly violence in recent weeks. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the deaths Tuesday but did not immediately release the names of the latest inmates killed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department said it is investigating the deaths.


How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ ThreatWhen President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran’s now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence. “There were definitely questions [at the time, internally] about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.It turns out Trump—technically—didn’t get his eyebrow-raising claim out of nowhere, The Daily Beast has learned. According to three sources familiar with the matter, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public during his post-Soleimani victory lap. In doing so, President Trump generated yet more confusion and discord among the national security brass that had already struggled to sell the American people on its case for the strike that just brought Iran and the United States to the precipice of all-out warfare. For weeks the Trump administration had struggled to get on message in talking about why the U.S. decided to strike Soleimani and what it would do in the future to manage any diplomacy with Tehran. Trump’s embassy claim didn’t help, officials said.The White House did not comment on the record for this story.Shortly before he began announcing to the media and rally-goers that the Iranian general was planning assaults on multiple U.S. embassies, the president received briefings at the White House from both national security officials and communications staffers. The purpose of some of these meetings were to prepare Trump on how best to talk to the press regarding his administration’s justifications for killing Soleimani. The president received a briefing shortly before he entered the Roosevelt Room Jan. 9 and said Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” According to two people familiar with this briefing, Trump was told the pre-strike intelligence showed that Iran could lash out against American assets in the region. The president was again told this in a subsequent briefing that day, one of these sources added. However, embassies were a part of a long list of American outposts and bases potentially under threat from Iran but sources familiar with those internal briefings do not remember the number four ever being specified, and they certainly do not recall any imminent danger to those embassies.When administration officials briefed Trump, they mentioned possible targets for Iranian assaults; they were not discussing intel on what anyone in the regime was actively plotting against U.S. interests, the sources noted.However, the moment he heard the word “embassies,” Trump immediately chimed in, interrupting the meeting to grill his briefers on that issue, according to one U.S. official. From there, he began to treat this possible threat as a near-certain danger. Trump received another intelligence briefing shortly before his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Jan. 10 where he repeated the claim that Iran probably would have attacked four embassies. When the president started publicly trotting out his claims of “four embassies,” national security aides were dumbfounded. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump’s “four embassies” talking point clashed with intelligence assessments from Trump’s own officials. CNN also reported that security officials at the State Department weren’t even notified of an imminent danger to any specific set of four American embassies.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper himself admitted during an interview on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation that while “the president said that he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper personally “didn’t see [a specific piece of evidence] with regard to four embassies.”Esper added, “What I’m saying is I shared the president’s view that probably, my expectation is they were going to go after our embassies.”At that point, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had of course already been stormed by an Iranian-supported militia, but that was prior to Soleimani’s death.Senior Trump administration officials have canceled several of their past scheduled briefings with Congress on specific threats to U.S. embassies pre-Soleimani strike. Briefers were also supposed to delve into more detail about what exactly U.S. intelligence said prior to the strike. The administration has held two briefings so far with both the House and the Senate, but sessions left lawmakers frustrated and overwhelmingly uninformed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rescheduled his briefing on the embassy threats with the House Foreign Affairs committee for next week.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to AmericaBut people close to Trump say his embassy fixation lies in his obsession with avoiding the kind of catastrophes that befell his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. President Trump, who has long bashed Obama for the 2012 Benghazi attack and Bush for the Hurricane Katrina response, is particularly concerned with opening himself up to accusations of having suffered “Trump’s Benghazi” or “Trump’s Katrina,” according to two sources who’ve spoken to the president about this. “Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about how you don’t want a Katrina moment,” said a former senior White House official. “You can’t do anything about what weather is going to do, but you can certainly manage the response and the optics of what you’re doing in addition to the substance of what you’re doing.”With Trump’s shambolic, even scandalous, handling of the response and relief efforts to the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, this president seems to have already had his “Katrina.” He is, however, determined not to experience a direct parallel to Benghazi. Indeed, on New Year’s Eve, the president took to Twitter to enthusiastically brand the embassy attack that occurred on his watch “The Anti-Benghazi!” UPDATE 1/21/20: The story has been updated to clarify the timing of one of Trump's intelligence briefings on Iran.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.


30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors

30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors


Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil war

Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil warA 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. Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews also videotaped himself advocating for killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains, a prosecutor wrote in urging a judge in Maryland to keep Mathews and two other members of The Base detained in federal custody. Last month, a closed-circuit television camera and microphone installed by investigators in a Delaware home captured Mathews talking about the Virginia rally as a “boundless” opportunity.


AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’

AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained that the Democratic party does not represent the political left in the United States, calling the organisation a “centre or centre-conservative” party that “can’t even get a floor vote” on nationalising health care.She said: “We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare for All — not even a floor vote that might get doubled down.”


Boeing makes it official: 737 Max plane won't be back until summer. Could it be later?

Boeing makes it official: 737 Max plane won't be back until summer. Could it be later?Airlines have already moved the 737 Max back in their schedules. Boeing makes it official: The planes will miss at least part of the summer travel season.


Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremony

Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremonyGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Western global powers to include China in their multilateral system and treat Beijing equally rather than freeze it out and risk slipping into a Cold War-style bipolar order. Speaking after receiving a prize at the American Academy in Berlin, attended by former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, Merkel said China's economic success posed challenges. "Of course we also have to build up fairness, of course we have to practise multilateralism such that the rules apply to everyone," she said.


Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in Turkey

Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in TurkeySeems like a questionable idea.


Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfront

Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfrontNigerian navy personnel shot in the air Tuesday as they sought to clear a waterfront community of 10,000 people in the latest mass-eviction around economic hub Lagos. Bulldozers rumbled into Tarkwa Bay, a semi-rural area on an island in the city of some 20 million, as part of an operation the military say is aimed officially at stopping the looting of nearby oil pipelines. AFP correspondents heard gunfire during the operation.


Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.

Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.After a nearly decade-long hiatus, 2020 will be the year that American astronauts rocket into space from American soil once again.


Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins

Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and AssassinsThey'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.


Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressure

Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressureTaiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis to complain about Chinese pressure on the island Beijing claims as its own, saying China seeks to threaten its democracy and freedom. The Vatican is one of just 15 countries that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan and the only one in Europe.


Tekashi 6ix9ine won't be allowed to serve the rest of his 2-year sentence in home confinement even though his prison has a lot of Blood gang members

Tekashi 6ix9ine won't be allowed to serve the rest of his 2-year sentence in home confinement even though his prison has a lot of Blood gang membersA judge dashed the controversial rapper's hopes that he could spend the rest of his two-year prison sentence away from the gang he once betrayed.


AP FACT CHECK: Distortions in Trump's legal defense

AP FACT CHECK: Distortions in Trump's legal defensePresident Donald Trump's defense against impeachment charges, as laid out in his legal argument released Monday, has distortions at its core. Trump through his lawyers assails Democrats for trying to upend the results of an election, which is precisely the point of impeachment in the Constitution. The case asserts Trump committed no crime, a benchmark for impeachment that the Constitution's authors avoided adopting in a well-documented debate.


US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwise

US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwiseThe U.S. ambassador to South Korea has some unusual explanations for the harsh criticism he's faced in his host country. Or a Japanese ancestry that raises unpleasant reminders of Japan's former colonial domination of Korea? Many South Koreans, however, have a more straight-forward explanation for Harry Harris' struggle to win hearts and minds in Seoul, and it's got more to do with an outspoken manner that they see as undiplomatic and rude.


Prince Harry banned from wearing military uniform after stepping back from armed forces

Prince Harry banned from wearing military uniform after stepping back from armed forcesHarry, Duke of Sussex, will be barred from wearing his military uniform after he agreed to step back from his armed forces appointments.


Meet the TF-X: Turkey's Wanna-Be F-22 Stealth Fighter

Meet the TF-X: Turkey's Wanna-Be F-22 Stealth FighterBut it might not happen.


Panamanian village sleepless with fear after ritual killings

Panamanian village sleepless with fear after ritual killingsAltos del Terrón (Panamá) (AFP) - A week after six children and a pregnant woman were sacrificed in a brutal religious ritual, the inhabitants of a remote village in northwestern Panama fear they might be next. Blanco lives in Altos del Terron, an isolated indigenous community where the victims of the ritualistic killings were found last week in a mass grave. Police raided the church on January 15, arresting 10 people and rescuing 15 captives, including children, they believe were being prepared for sacrifice.


The married couple who created a wacky sex button went on 'Shark Tank' and the investors didn't understand why it even exists

The married couple who created a wacky sex button went on 'Shark Tank' and the investors didn't understand why it even existsLoveSync, a device that lets you silently indicate to your partner you're in the mood for sex, went viral in 2019 and was heavily mocked online.


McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from Democrats

McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from DemocratsSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the rules for a Senate impeachment trial on Monday evening.


World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.

World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.The world needs to prepare for millions of people being driven from their homes by the impact of climate change, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday. Speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum, Filippo Grandi said a U.N. ruling this week meant those fleeing as a result of climate change deserved international protection, and that it had broad implications for governments. The U.N. Human Rights Committee made the landmark ruling on Monday in relation to Ioane Teitiota, from the Pacific nation of Kiribati, who brought a case against New Zealand after authorities denied his claim of asylum.


Hurricane Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani Hints At Tapes Exposing Parnas 'Lies'

Hurricane Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani Hints At Tapes Exposing Parnas 'Lies'Will the potential Trump impeachment witness hit back?


Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police say

Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police sayOfficials described the mother, who was not identified, as a 22-year-old woman who recently moved to Arizona from Oklahoma.


Court ruling ends long legal fight in Chinese torture case

Court ruling ends long legal fight in Chinese torture caseA federal appeals court ruling Tuesday ended a 15-year-old legal fight in the U.S. over whether a Chinese television official incited torture in his country against members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected a request by members of the movement to file an amended lawsuit in the case. Zhao Zhizhen, a onetime radio and television executive in China who founded the China Anti-Cult Association, was sued in 2004 in federal court under the Alien Tort Statute, an 18th-century U.S. law that allows foreigners to sue in the U.S. over human rights abuses committed anywhere.


China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations

China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that the country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.In the most high-profile remarks on the country’s economic policy since the accord was signed last week, Han said that its commitment to buy more from the U.S. is in line with its World Trade Organization obligations and won’t squeeze out other imports. Han also pledged to lower barriers for foreign investors as he set out the case for China’s engagement with the global economy.“China will open its door wider,” Han told an audience in Davos, Switzerland. “Though facing some protectionism from some countries, the determination to open up will not waver.”The speech comes less than a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping sealed a “phase one” deal intended to de-escalate a trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump. The accord saw China commit to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S.“The phase-one trade deal is good for U.S., China and the world,” Han said. “China’s increasing purchases of U.S. goods are in accordance with WTO guidelines and will not impact its imports from other countries.”Han made the comments just as Trump gave his own speech in Davos, in which the U.S. president claimed credit for overseeing an economy enjoying its longest expansion yet, with an unemployment rate that fell to a five-decade low after tax cuts, deregulation and improved trade deals. He also spoke of his close relationship with Xi.“He’s for China and I’m for the U.S., but other than that, we love each other,” he said.Under the agreement, China will boost purchases of U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, energy and services over the next two years. Critics say such pre-determined demand can have adverse consequences elsewhere.‘Managed Trade’”The real problem with managed trade is that it may divert, rather than expand, international commerce,” Chad Bown, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in a report released Tuesday. “For example, China could purchase more American soybeans by cutting back on imports of oilseeds from Brazil.”Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy said China’s pledge to boost American imports could end up costing the European Union about $11 billion next year. “If trade costs and hence relative prices do not change, Chinese imports from the U.S. must come at the expense of third countries,” the institute said in a study published this week.Last week, EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said his team will scrutinize whether China’s pledge is allowed under the WTO.“We haven’t analyzed the document in detail, but we will and if there’s a WTO-compliance issue of course we will take the case,” Hogan told a conference on Thursday in Washington.Separately, Australia is pushing China for the same dairy concessions that the U.S. received, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. As part of phase one of the deal, the U.S. secured regulatory breaks on dairy products shipped to China, barriers that have hampered Australian exporters, the newspaper reported last week.To contact the reporters on this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net;Crystal Chui in Zurich at tchui4@bloomberg.net;Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Ben Sills, Brendan MurrayFor 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.


Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for wedding

Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for weddingWith just 40 days left until her wedding, like many a bride-to-be, Amanda Knox has a long to-do list to get through before the big day.Ms Knox revealed a unique "something old" in a post on Instagram as she knuckles down to get through the tasks at hand – her old uniform from her time in an Italian prison.


Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'

Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'The weapon which is expected to eventually arm the country's newer frigates is apparently experiencing developmental challenges.


The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl Harbor

The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl HarborMiller heroically fought back against the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.


Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan Border

Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan BorderThousands of Central American migrants clashed with Mexican authorities on Monday as they attempted to cross the Mexico-Guatemala border despite being denied in their requests to continue traveling toward the U.S.The caravan consisted of roughly 4,000 migrants who began traveling last week Honduras last week. Some members of the group forced their way through a border gate while others waded through the shallow waters of the Suchiate River. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their native Central American countries.The caravan, now on Mexican soil, is currently being blocked from traveling through Mexico by Mexican National Guard members, some in riot gear. Over the weekend, authorities used pepper spray to deter migrants and both sides were seen throwing rocks at each other.Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised the Trump administration that Mexico would enhance its efforts to prevent the mass migration of undocumented immigrants, most from Central America, which overwhelmed authorities last spring. Mexico has stepped up security at its own southern border, adding checkpoints and deploying the national guard to increase border control.The leaders of the Honduran caravan wrote a letter to the Mexican president requesting that “all the members of the caravan receive the permission to move freely through Mexican territory. We are committed to you and your government to maintain order and discipline in the places where we transit.”Mexico originally sent mixed messages to the migrants, Obrador saying that more than 4,000 jobs were available to them in Mexico, but later stating that most migrants would be deported who turned themselves in to authorities.President Trump has pointed to the large caravans of undocumented migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S. as a reason to build his long-promised border wall, especially after the flow of asylum seekers surged at the U.S.-Mexico border during the spring.In September, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the vast majority of migrant families who enter the country illegally will no longer be eligible for so-called “catch and release” due to the implementation of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which require that migrants wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are being adjudicated.


'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death camp

'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death campA strip of skin tattooed with the Auschwitz death camp number 99288 sits in a silver frame on a shelf in Avraham Harshalom's living room. As the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation on Jan 27, 1945, nears, Harshalom, 95, is very clear about why he kept it. Harshalom is one of some 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.


Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill Billions

Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill BillionsAnd its all underwater.


Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner

Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetlinerIran acknowledged on Tuesday that its armed forces fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people onboard.


You Should Get an Electric Fireplace

You Should Get an Electric Fireplace


The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest area

The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest areaThe body of Selena Shelley Faye Not Afraid, 16, was found near the Montana rest area where she was last seen on New Year's Day, authorities said.


Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy it

Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy itIntervention of California governor helps Moms 4 Housing group score victory in fight against state’s homeless crisisThe homeless mothers who took over a vacant house in Oakland, California, and occupied it for almost two months will be allowed to purchase the property – a major victory in a movement working to keep such homes out of the possession of speculators.The group Moms 4 Housing entered the house on Magnolia Street on 18 November with the intent to stay. The house had sat vacant for more than two years before it was purchased in July at a foreclosure auction for $501,078 by Wedgewood Properties, a real estate investment company with a history of buying up foreclosed-upon houses cheaply, evicting the tenants, renovating the homes and then putting them back on the market at much higher prices.Housing advocates say companies such as Wedgewood fueled the housing crisis that now grips the state, which needs anywhere between 1.8m and 3.5m new housing units by 2025. More than 15,500 units remain vacant in Oakland alone, according to the latest US Census Bureau data, while 4,071 people are homeless. House-flipping has led to rapid gentrification, which then in turn led to the widespread displacement of black residents.In Oakland, 78% of the homeless population reported that their last place of residence before becoming homeless was within county limits. Seventy per cent were black.Moms 4 Housing chose the Magnolia Street house in part to try to force Wedgewood to negotiate the sale of the home back to the community.“This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community,” Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who lived in the house with her two children, said in a statement, on the day that America marked Martin Luther King Day. “Today we honor Dr King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations.”With the housing and homelessness crisis worsening each day, the mothers received widespread support for their cause, from local lawmakers to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who praised the activists.Moms 4 Housing had brought the issue to court, but a judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood. Sheriff deputies arrived in the early hours of 15 January to evict them, arresting two of the mothers and two of their supporters.Wedgewood has maintained that the mothers had committed a criminal act in breaking into the house, and the house legally belonged to the company.“Wedgewood has always been and continues to be open to thoughtful and purposeful discussions,” spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement.“After regaining possession of Magnolia Street, we engaged in discussions with governor Gavin Newsom, mayor Libby Schaaf and councilman Larry Reid. These led to progress that everyone should agree is a step in the right direction in helping to address Oakland’s homelessness and housing crisis.”


After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to Clinton

After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to ClintonAfter some last-minute tweaks on Tuesday, the proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial now largely mirror the ones used for the trial of former President Bill Clinton. After approving the rules, the Senate will hear arguments from lawyers on both sides before debating whether to seek witness testimony and documents. Clinton's Republican prosecutors already had evidence that was compiled by then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.


South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback

South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback(Bloomberg) -- South Korea is considering different ways to allow its people to travel to North Korea despite a U.S. warning to proceed with caution in visiting a country under extensive international sanctions.The Unification Ministry said Monday the government is looking at measures that include allowing South Koreans to go to North Korea directly through previously established land crossings or going through a third country in a tour group. The latter option would help South Koreans travel to major cities in North Korea, including the capital Pyongyang.The tourism initiative comes after the South Korea presidential office last week criticized U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris for suggesting that the U.S. government should be consulted first. The latest dispute added to heightened tensions between the allies over U.S. demands for South Korea to pay more for hosting American troops.Harris said tourism is allowed under sanctions but some of things visitors take with them could be prohibited under the sanctions, which were imposed on North Korea to punish it for its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.South Korea Should Consult U.S. on North Korea Tours, Envoy SaysTourism allows cash-starved North Korea to obtain hard currency and significant flow of money to Kim Jong Un’s regime could undermine President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to squeeze its economy through sanctions. Moon has called for a resumption of projects with North Korea seeing them as a way to establish trust and security on the heavily armed peninsula.North Korea’s Kim has pushed for increased tourism and in an address to mark the new year highlighted one of his pet projects in the coastal city of Wonsan, which has been undergoing a tourism face-lift. For months Pyongyang has rebuffed Moon’s calls for talks, telling South Korea to stay out of the way in its dealings with Trump and advising Seoul to “behave prudently” and “not to be reduced to a fool heading nowhere.”Kim last year also threatened to tear down South Korean-built structures at a resort constructed at North Korea’s Mt. Geumgang, delivering a blow to Moon’s plans to bring back the now-frozen project once seen as a symbol of reconciliation.Kim Jong Un Deals Blow to South Korean Plans for Joint ResortIn 2008, South Koreans were ordered to vacate the resort after a 53-year-old woman vacationer who wandered close to a North Korean military facility in the area was shot and killed. More than 2 million South Koreans had visited the scenic mountain site located near the border before it was shut down. Tourists paid a fee to enter North Korea and Pyongyang took a cut on all the money the South Koreans spent on food, lodging and tours. The U.S. raised worries at the time that North Korea used funds from Mt. Geumgang to help pay for its weapons programs.To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Peter PaeFor 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.


Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal case

Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal caseAn 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 White House counsel falsely claims Adam Schiff blocked Republicans from attending classified impeachment meetings More U.S. service members receiving treatment following Iranian missile attack Derek Jeter and Larry Walker elected to Baseball Hall of Fame


China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deaths

China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deathsChina'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.


21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam War

21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam WarA lot of firepower.


Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcano

Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcanoA desolate landscape of ash dunes and bare trees left by the eruption of the Philippines' Taal volcano lay in contrast with a few signs of life at ground zero of the disaster on Tuesday. The island site was buried by massive deposits of ash when Taal erupted last week and remains under a mandatory evacuation order due to a feared bigger blast. Authorities have said any outward signs of an imminent eruption have been weak over the past several days.


Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’

Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera on Tuesday insisted that President Donald Trump is a “civil-rights leader,” pointing to low African-American unemployment to make his case.The morning after Martin Luther King Day, the former Celebrity Apprentice star reacted to Trump’s arrival at the economic summit in Davos, telling the hosts of Fox & Friends that he feels “awful” for the president because he’s dealing with impeachment during his trip.“This is an economic summit, the American economy is the envy of the world,” he declared. “I call him, to great controversy, a civil-rights leader, especially yesterday on Martin Luther King Day.”“Because why?” Rivera continued. “African American unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. Latino unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. The rising tide, the rising tide is lifting all boats, we should be celebrating, instead he’s fighting this—this, you know, cage match.”Later on in the program, Fox Business host Charles Payne essentially parroted Rivera’s assertion, adding that the president couldn’t be racist since wages for people of color have risen.The president, meanwhile, also touted minority jobs numbers on MLK Day, basically equating labor participation with civil rights.Rivera currently likening Trump to MLK because blacks and Latinos have jobs somewhat flies in the face of some of his recent comments on the president’s inflammatory racial rhetoric. After Trump called on Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from last summer, Rivera pleaded with the president to “steer clear of language that’s xenophobic even racist.”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.


It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closing

It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closingHeads up if you're vacationing in Florida this chilly week: Several water parks in Florida are closing due to cold temperatures in the state.


AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights Demonstration

AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights DemonstrationRepresentative 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.


Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militantsIndonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.


The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see inside

The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see insideThe US president isn't the only government official that flies in a VIP plane operated by the US Air Force.


New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler

New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler* Ian O’Reilly says he was forced to act after animal bit child * Police say O’Reilly ‘suffocated the coyote until it succumbed’A New Hampshire man fought and killed a coyote on Monday, police said, bringing a spate of attacks to an end.Ian O’Reilly, from Kensington, choked the coyote to death after it attacked his two-year-old child. The same coyote is believed to have bitten a woman in the buttocks earlier in the day, and attacked a car.The coyote targeted O’Reilly’s family while they were walking on a trail near Kensington. It bit one of O’Reilly’s three children, prompting the father to kick it. O’Reilly then throttled the animal.“There was no interest in it going away,” O’Reilly told Boston 25 News. “[I] ultimately had to make the decision to become the aggressor and jumped on it, attacked it and [got] it to the ground.“When I was able to get on top of it, I put my hand on its snout so it wasn’t able to attack me. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I shoved the face into the snow and then eventually was able [to] put my hand on its snout and expire it through suffocation.“Ultimately one hand on its windpipe and one hand on its snout did the trick.”O’Reilly was reportedly bitten in the arm and chest. His child was wearing a bulky snowsuit and was unharmed.“The coyote attacked a young child, and the child’s dad went into protection mode and suffocated the coyote until it succumbed,” police said.New Hampshire’s fish and game department was testing the coyote for rabies, according to 25 News. O’Reilly received shots for the virus.Police believe the same coyote earlier attacked a car in the same vicinity, before targeting Kensington resident Pat Lee and her dogs. The coyote bit one of the dogs and bit Lee in the buttocks.“Thank God the plumber was here, because the plumber was standing at the door screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’” Lee told NBC Boston. The coyote managed to get into Lee’s home.“I was running behind the dogs to get them in, and just as I was here, literally, the coyote bit me. In the butt.”Coyote attacks are rare. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “more people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes”.The Kensington police chief, Scott Cain, said O’Reilly may have saved others from being attacked by the coyote.“The chances are it was sick and the pack kicked it out of the pack,” Cain said.


Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTV

Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTVTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas, after Ankara signed a maritime agreement with Libya last year, broadcaster NTV reported. Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a Surprise

The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a SurpriseThe MML is able to fire a multitude of weapons.


Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor

Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at SobiborNew photos have emerged which for the first time show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk at the Sobibor death camp, a Berlin archive confirmed Monday, although he always denied ever being there. Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 30,000 Jews at Sobibor by a German court in 2011. According to the Berlin-based Topography of Terror archive, photos of Demjanjuk are among a newly discovered collection of more than 350 snaps which give "detailed insight" into the camp in German-occupied Poland.


2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison

2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prisonTwo inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison that has been shaken by other deadly violence in recent weeks. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the deaths Tuesday but did not immediately release the names of the latest inmates killed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department said it is investigating the deaths.


How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ ThreatWhen President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran’s now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence. “There were definitely questions [at the time, internally] about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.It turns out Trump—technically—didn’t get his eyebrow-raising claim out of nowhere, The Daily Beast has learned. According to three sources familiar with the matter, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public during his post-Soleimani victory lap. In doing so, President Trump generated yet more confusion and discord among the national security brass that had already struggled to sell the American people on its case for the strike that just brought Iran and the United States to the precipice of all-out warfare. For weeks the Trump administration had struggled to get on message in talking about why the U.S. decided to strike Soleimani and what it would do in the future to manage any diplomacy with Tehran. Trump’s embassy claim didn’t help, officials said.The White House did not comment on the record for this story.Shortly before he began announcing to the media and rally-goers that the Iranian general was planning assaults on multiple U.S. embassies, the president received briefings at the White House from both national security officials and communications staffers. The purpose of some of these meetings were to prepare Trump on how best to talk to the press regarding his administration’s justifications for killing Soleimani. The president received a briefing shortly before he entered the Roosevelt Room Jan. 9 and said Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” According to two people familiar with this briefing, Trump was told the pre-strike intelligence showed that Iran could lash out against American assets in the region. The president was again told this in a subsequent briefing that day, one of these sources added. However, embassies were a part of a long list of American outposts and bases potentially under threat from Iran but sources familiar with those internal briefings do not remember the number four ever being specified, and they certainly do not recall any imminent danger to those embassies.When administration officials briefed Trump, they mentioned possible targets for Iranian assaults; they were not discussing intel on what anyone in the regime was actively plotting against U.S. interests, the sources noted.However, the moment he heard the word “embassies,” Trump immediately chimed in, interrupting the meeting to grill his briefers on that issue, according to one U.S. official. From there, he began to treat this possible threat as a near-certain danger. Trump received another intelligence briefing shortly before his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Jan. 10 where he repeated the claim that Iran probably would have attacked four embassies. When the president started publicly trotting out his claims of “four embassies,” national security aides were dumbfounded. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump’s “four embassies” talking point clashed with intelligence assessments from Trump’s own officials. CNN also reported that security officials at the State Department weren’t even notified of an imminent danger to any specific set of four American embassies.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper himself admitted during an interview on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation that while “the president said that he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper personally “didn’t see [a specific piece of evidence] with regard to four embassies.”Esper added, “What I’m saying is I shared the president’s view that probably, my expectation is they were going to go after our embassies.”At that point, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had of course already been stormed by an Iranian-supported militia, but that was prior to Soleimani’s death.Senior Trump administration officials have canceled several of their past scheduled briefings with Congress on specific threats to U.S. embassies pre-Soleimani strike. Briefers were also supposed to delve into more detail about what exactly U.S. intelligence said prior to the strike. The administration has held two briefings so far with both the House and the Senate, but sessions left lawmakers frustrated and overwhelmingly uninformed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rescheduled his briefing on the embassy threats with the House Foreign Affairs committee for next week.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to AmericaBut people close to Trump say his embassy fixation lies in his obsession with avoiding the kind of catastrophes that befell his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. President Trump, who has long bashed Obama for the 2012 Benghazi attack and Bush for the Hurricane Katrina response, is particularly concerned with opening himself up to accusations of having suffered “Trump’s Benghazi” or “Trump’s Katrina,” according to two sources who’ve spoken to the president about this. “Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about how you don’t want a Katrina moment,” said a former senior White House official. “You can’t do anything about what weather is going to do, but you can certainly manage the response and the optics of what you’re doing in addition to the substance of what you’re doing.”With Trump’s shambolic, even scandalous, handling of the response and relief efforts to the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, this president seems to have already had his “Katrina.” He is, however, determined not to experience a direct parallel to Benghazi. Indeed, on New Year’s Eve, the president took to Twitter to enthusiastically brand the embassy attack that occurred on his watch “The Anti-Benghazi!” UPDATE 1/21/20: The story has been updated to clarify the timing of one of Trump's intelligence briefings on Iran.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.


30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors

30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors


Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil war

Documents: Extremist group wanted rally to start civil warA 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. Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews also videotaped himself advocating for killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains, a prosecutor wrote in urging a judge in Maryland to keep Mathews and two other members of The Base detained in federal custody. Last month, a closed-circuit television camera and microphone installed by investigators in a Delaware home captured Mathews talking about the Virginia rally as a “boundless” opportunity.


AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’

AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained that the Democratic party does not represent the political left in the United States, calling the organisation a “centre or centre-conservative” party that “can’t even get a floor vote” on nationalising health care.She said: “We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare for All — not even a floor vote that might get doubled down.”


Boeing makes it official: 737 Max plane won't be back until summer. Could it be later?

Boeing makes it official: 737 Max plane won't be back until summer. Could it be later?Airlines have already moved the 737 Max back in their schedules. Boeing makes it official: The planes will miss at least part of the summer travel season.


Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremony

Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremonyGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Western global powers to include China in their multilateral system and treat Beijing equally rather than freeze it out and risk slipping into a Cold War-style bipolar order. Speaking after receiving a prize at the American Academy in Berlin, attended by former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, Merkel said China's economic success posed challenges. "Of course we also have to build up fairness, of course we have to practise multilateralism such that the rules apply to everyone," she said.


Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in Turkey

Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in TurkeySeems like a questionable idea.


Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfront

Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfrontNigerian navy personnel shot in the air Tuesday as they sought to clear a waterfront community of 10,000 people in the latest mass-eviction around economic hub Lagos. Bulldozers rumbled into Tarkwa Bay, a semi-rural area on an island in the city of some 20 million, as part of an operation the military say is aimed officially at stopping the looting of nearby oil pipelines. AFP correspondents heard gunfire during the operation.


Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.

Could 2020 mark a new era in US space exploration? Three questions.After a nearly decade-long hiatus, 2020 will be the year that American astronauts rocket into space from American soil once again.


Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins

Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and AssassinsThey'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.


Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressure

Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressureTaiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis to complain about Chinese pressure on the island Beijing claims as its own, saying China seeks to threaten its democracy and freedom. The Vatican is one of just 15 countries that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan and the only one in Europe.


Tekashi 6ix9ine won't be allowed to serve the rest of his 2-year sentence in home confinement even though his prison has a lot of Blood gang members

Tekashi 6ix9ine won't be allowed to serve the rest of his 2-year sentence in home confinement even though his prison has a lot of Blood gang membersA judge dashed the controversial rapper's hopes that he could spend the rest of his two-year prison sentence away from the gang he once betrayed.


AP FACT CHECK: Distortions in Trump's legal defense

AP FACT CHECK: Distortions in Trump's legal defensePresident Donald Trump's defense against impeachment charges, as laid out in his legal argument released Monday, has distortions at its core. Trump through his lawyers assails Democrats for trying to upend the results of an election, which is precisely the point of impeachment in the Constitution. The case asserts Trump committed no crime, a benchmark for impeachment that the Constitution's authors avoided adopting in a well-documented debate.


US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwise

US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwiseThe U.S. ambassador to South Korea has some unusual explanations for the harsh criticism he's faced in his host country. Or a Japanese ancestry that raises unpleasant reminders of Japan's former colonial domination of Korea? Many South Koreans, however, have a more straight-forward explanation for Harry Harris' struggle to win hearts and minds in Seoul, and it's got more to do with an outspoken manner that they see as undiplomatic and rude.


Prince Harry banned from wearing military uniform after stepping back from armed forces

Prince Harry banned from wearing military uniform after stepping back from armed forcesHarry, Duke of Sussex, will be barred from wearing his military uniform after he agreed to step back from his armed forces appointments.


Meet the TF-X: Turkey's Wanna-Be F-22 Stealth Fighter

Meet the TF-X: Turkey's Wanna-Be F-22 Stealth FighterBut it might not happen.


Panamanian village sleepless with fear after ritual killings

Panamanian village sleepless with fear after ritual killingsAltos del Terrón (Panamá) (AFP) - A week after six children and a pregnant woman were sacrificed in a brutal religious ritual, the inhabitants of a remote village in northwestern Panama fear they might be next. Blanco lives in Altos del Terron, an isolated indigenous community where the victims of the ritualistic killings were found last week in a mass grave. Police raided the church on January 15, arresting 10 people and rescuing 15 captives, including children, they believe were being prepared for sacrifice.


The married couple who created a wacky sex button went on 'Shark Tank' and the investors didn't understand why it even exists

The married couple who created a wacky sex button went on 'Shark Tank' and the investors didn't understand why it even existsLoveSync, a device that lets you silently indicate to your partner you're in the mood for sex, went viral in 2019 and was heavily mocked online.


McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from Democrats

McConnell releases impeachment trial rules, sparking new outcry from DemocratsSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the rules for a Senate impeachment trial on Monday evening.


World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.

World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.The world needs to prepare for millions of people being driven from their homes by the impact of climate change, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday. Speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum, Filippo Grandi said a U.N. ruling this week meant those fleeing as a result of climate change deserved international protection, and that it had broad implications for governments. The U.N. Human Rights Committee made the landmark ruling on Monday in relation to Ioane Teitiota, from the Pacific nation of Kiribati, who brought a case against New Zealand after authorities denied his claim of asylum.


Hurricane Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani Hints At Tapes Exposing Parnas 'Lies'

Hurricane Rudy Strikes Back: Giuliani Hints At Tapes Exposing Parnas 'Lies'Will the potential Trump impeachment witness hit back?


Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police say

Arizona mother admits killing her 3 children, police sayOfficials described the mother, who was not identified, as a 22-year-old woman who recently moved to Arizona from Oklahoma.


Court ruling ends long legal fight in Chinese torture case

Court ruling ends long legal fight in Chinese torture caseA federal appeals court ruling Tuesday ended a 15-year-old legal fight in the U.S. over whether a Chinese television official incited torture in his country against members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected a request by members of the movement to file an amended lawsuit in the case. Zhao Zhizhen, a onetime radio and television executive in China who founded the China Anti-Cult Association, was sued in 2004 in federal court under the Alien Tort Statute, an 18th-century U.S. law that allows foreigners to sue in the U.S. over human rights abuses committed anywhere.


China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations

China Tries to Ease Concern U.S. Trade Deal Hurts Other Nations(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that the country’s trade deal with the U.S. won’t hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.In the most high-profile remarks on the country’s economic policy since the accord was signed last week, Han said that its commitment to buy more from the U.S. is in line with its World Trade Organization obligations and won’t squeeze out other imports. Han also pledged to lower barriers for foreign investors as he set out the case for China’s engagement with the global economy.“China will open its door wider,” Han told an audience in Davos, Switzerland. “Though facing some protectionism from some countries, the determination to open up will not waver.”The speech comes less than a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping sealed a “phase one” deal intended to de-escalate a trade war with U.S. President Donald Trump. The accord saw China commit to crack down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S.“The phase-one trade deal is good for U.S., China and the world,” Han said. “China’s increasing purchases of U.S. goods are in accordance with WTO guidelines and will not impact its imports from other countries.”Han made the comments just as Trump gave his own speech in Davos, in which the U.S. president claimed credit for overseeing an economy enjoying its longest expansion yet, with an unemployment rate that fell to a five-decade low after tax cuts, deregulation and improved trade deals. He also spoke of his close relationship with Xi.“He’s for China and I’m for the U.S., but other than that, we love each other,” he said.Under the agreement, China will boost purchases of U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, energy and services over the next two years. Critics say such pre-determined demand can have adverse consequences elsewhere.‘Managed Trade’”The real problem with managed trade is that it may divert, rather than expand, international commerce,” Chad Bown, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in a report released Tuesday. “For example, China could purchase more American soybeans by cutting back on imports of oilseeds from Brazil.”Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy said China’s pledge to boost American imports could end up costing the European Union about $11 billion next year. “If trade costs and hence relative prices do not change, Chinese imports from the U.S. must come at the expense of third countries,” the institute said in a study published this week.Last week, EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said his team will scrutinize whether China’s pledge is allowed under the WTO.“We haven’t analyzed the document in detail, but we will and if there’s a WTO-compliance issue of course we will take the case,” Hogan told a conference on Thursday in Washington.Separately, Australia is pushing China for the same dairy concessions that the U.S. received, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. As part of phase one of the deal, the U.S. secured regulatory breaks on dairy products shipped to China, barriers that have hampered Australian exporters, the newspaper reported last week.To contact the reporters on this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net;Crystal Chui in Zurich at tchui4@bloomberg.net;Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Ben Sills, Brendan MurrayFor 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.


Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for wedding

Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for weddingWith just 40 days left until her wedding, like many a bride-to-be, Amanda Knox has a long to-do list to get through before the big day.Ms Knox revealed a unique "something old" in a post on Instagram as she knuckles down to get through the tasks at hand – her old uniform from her time in an Italian prison.


Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'

Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'The weapon which is expected to eventually arm the country's newer frigates is apparently experiencing developmental challenges.


The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl Harbor

The U.S.'s Next Aircraft Carrier Named After Doris Miller, Hero of Pearl HarborMiller heroically fought back against the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.


Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan Border

Migrants Headed to U.S. Clash With Mexican Forces at Guatemalan BorderThousands of Central American migrants clashed with Mexican authorities on Monday as they attempted to cross the Mexico-Guatemala border despite being denied in their requests to continue traveling toward the U.S.The caravan consisted of roughly 4,000 migrants who began traveling last week Honduras last week. Some members of the group forced their way through a border gate while others waded through the shallow waters of the Suchiate River. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their native Central American countries.The caravan, now on Mexican soil, is currently being blocked from traveling through Mexico by Mexican National Guard members, some in riot gear. Over the weekend, authorities used pepper spray to deter migrants and both sides were seen throwing rocks at each other.Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised the Trump administration that Mexico would enhance its efforts to prevent the mass migration of undocumented immigrants, most from Central America, which overwhelmed authorities last spring. Mexico has stepped up security at its own southern border, adding checkpoints and deploying the national guard to increase border control.The leaders of the Honduran caravan wrote a letter to the Mexican president requesting that “all the members of the caravan receive the permission to move freely through Mexican territory. We are committed to you and your government to maintain order and discipline in the places where we transit.”Mexico originally sent mixed messages to the migrants, Obrador saying that more than 4,000 jobs were available to them in Mexico, but later stating that most migrants would be deported who turned themselves in to authorities.President Trump has pointed to the large caravans of undocumented migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S. as a reason to build his long-promised border wall, especially after the flow of asylum seekers surged at the U.S.-Mexico border during the spring.In September, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the vast majority of migrant families who enter the country illegally will no longer be eligible for so-called “catch and release” due to the implementation of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which require that migrants wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are being adjudicated.


'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death camp

'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death campA strip of skin tattooed with the Auschwitz death camp number 99288 sits in a silver frame on a shelf in Avraham Harshalom's living room. As the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation on Jan 27, 1945, nears, Harshalom, 95, is very clear about why he kept it. Harshalom is one of some 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.


Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill Billions

Forget North Korea or Pakistan: This U.S. Ally Has a Nuclear Arsenal That Could Kill BillionsAnd its all underwater.


Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner

Iran admits it fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetlinerIran acknowledged on Tuesday that its armed forces fired two Russian antiaircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people onboard.


You Should Get an Electric Fireplace

You Should Get an Electric Fireplace


The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest area

The search for Selena Not Afraid ends with 'great sadness.' Missing girl's body found near Montana rest areaThe body of Selena Shelley Faye Not Afraid, 16, was found near the Montana rest area where she was last seen on New Year's Day, authorities said.


Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy it

Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy itIntervention of California governor helps Moms 4 Housing group score victory in fight against state’s homeless crisisThe homeless mothers who took over a vacant house in Oakland, California, and occupied it for almost two months will be allowed to purchase the property – a major victory in a movement working to keep such homes out of the possession of speculators.The group Moms 4 Housing entered the house on Magnolia Street on 18 November with the intent to stay. The house had sat vacant for more than two years before it was purchased in July at a foreclosure auction for $501,078 by Wedgewood Properties, a real estate investment company with a history of buying up foreclosed-upon houses cheaply, evicting the tenants, renovating the homes and then putting them back on the market at much higher prices.Housing advocates say companies such as Wedgewood fueled the housing crisis that now grips the state, which needs anywhere between 1.8m and 3.5m new housing units by 2025. More than 15,500 units remain vacant in Oakland alone, according to the latest US Census Bureau data, while 4,071 people are homeless. House-flipping has led to rapid gentrification, which then in turn led to the widespread displacement of black residents.In Oakland, 78% of the homeless population reported that their last place of residence before becoming homeless was within county limits. Seventy per cent were black.Moms 4 Housing chose the Magnolia Street house in part to try to force Wedgewood to negotiate the sale of the home back to the community.“This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community,” Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who lived in the house with her two children, said in a statement, on the day that America marked Martin Luther King Day. “Today we honor Dr King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations.”With the housing and homelessness crisis worsening each day, the mothers received widespread support for their cause, from local lawmakers to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who praised the activists.Moms 4 Housing had brought the issue to court, but a judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood. Sheriff deputies arrived in the early hours of 15 January to evict them, arresting two of the mothers and two of their supporters.Wedgewood has maintained that the mothers had committed a criminal act in breaking into the house, and the house legally belonged to the company.“Wedgewood has always been and continues to be open to thoughtful and purposeful discussions,” spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement.“After regaining possession of Magnolia Street, we engaged in discussions with governor Gavin Newsom, mayor Libby Schaaf and councilman Larry Reid. These led to progress that everyone should agree is a step in the right direction in helping to address Oakland’s homelessness and housing crisis.”


After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to Clinton

After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to ClintonAfter some last-minute tweaks on Tuesday, the proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial now largely mirror the ones used for the trial of former President Bill Clinton. After approving the rules, the Senate will hear arguments from lawyers on both sides before debating whether to seek witness testimony and documents. Clinton's Republican prosecutors already had evidence that was compiled by then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.


South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback

South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback(Bloomberg) -- South Korea is considering different ways to allow its people to travel to North Korea despite a U.S. warning to proceed with caution in visiting a country under extensive international sanctions.The Unification Ministry said Monday the government is looking at measures that include allowing South Koreans to go to North Korea directly through previously established land crossings or going through a third country in a tour group. The latter option would help South Koreans travel to major cities in North Korea, including the capital Pyongyang.The tourism initiative comes after the South Korea presidential office last week criticized U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris for suggesting that the U.S. government should be consulted first. The latest dispute added to heightened tensions between the allies over U.S. demands for South Korea to pay more for hosting American troops.Harris said tourism is allowed under sanctions but some of things visitors take with them could be prohibited under the sanctions, which were imposed on North Korea to punish it for its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.South Korea Should Consult U.S. on North Korea Tours, Envoy SaysTourism allows cash-starved North Korea to obtain hard currency and significant flow of money to Kim Jong Un’s regime could undermine President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to squeeze its economy through sanctions. Moon has called for a resumption of projects with North Korea seeing them as a way to establish trust and security on the heavily armed peninsula.North Korea’s Kim has pushed for increased tourism and in an address to mark the new year highlighted one of his pet projects in the coastal city of Wonsan, which has been undergoing a tourism face-lift. For months Pyongyang has rebuffed Moon’s calls for talks, telling South Korea to stay out of the way in its dealings with Trump and advising Seoul to “behave prudently” and “not to be reduced to a fool heading nowhere.”Kim last year also threatened to tear down South Korean-built structures at a resort constructed at North Korea’s Mt. Geumgang, delivering a blow to Moon’s plans to bring back the now-frozen project once seen as a symbol of reconciliation.Kim Jong Un Deals Blow to South Korean Plans for Joint ResortIn 2008, South Koreans were ordered to vacate the resort after a 53-year-old woman vacationer who wandered close to a North Korean military facility in the area was shot and killed. More than 2 million South Koreans had visited the scenic mountain site located near the border before it was shut down. Tourists paid a fee to enter North Korea and Pyongyang took a cut on all the money the South Koreans spent on food, lodging and tours. The U.S. raised worries at the time that North Korea used funds from Mt. Geumgang to help pay for its weapons programs.To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Peter PaeFor 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.


Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal case

Attorney: Due to a conflict of interest, William Barr must recuse himself from Lev Parnas' criminal caseAn 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 White House counsel falsely claims Adam Schiff blocked Republicans from attending classified impeachment meetings More U.S. service members receiving treatment following Iranian missile attack Derek Jeter and Larry Walker elected to Baseball Hall of Fame


China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deaths

China says virus cases rise to 440, with 9 deathsChina'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.


21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam War

21,000 Rounds Fired: How the Battleship USS New Jersey Fought the Vietnam WarA lot of firepower.


Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcano

Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcanoA desolate landscape of ash dunes and bare trees left by the eruption of the Philippines' Taal volcano lay in contrast with a few signs of life at ground zero of the disaster on Tuesday. The island site was buried by massive deposits of ash when Taal erupted last week and remains under a mandatory evacuation order due to a feared bigger blast. Authorities have said any outward signs of an imminent eruption have been weak over the past several days.


Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’

Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump Is a ‘Civil-Rights Leader’Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera on Tuesday insisted that President Donald Trump is a “civil-rights leader,” pointing to low African-American unemployment to make his case.The morning after Martin Luther King Day, the former Celebrity Apprentice star reacted to Trump’s arrival at the economic summit in Davos, telling the hosts of Fox & Friends that he feels “awful” for the president because he’s dealing with impeachment during his trip.“This is an economic summit, the American economy is the envy of the world,” he declared. “I call him, to great controversy, a civil-rights leader, especially yesterday on Martin Luther King Day.”“Because why?” Rivera continued. “African American unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. Latino unemployment—lowest it’s ever been. The rising tide, the rising tide is lifting all boats, we should be celebrating, instead he’s fighting this—this, you know, cage match.”Later on in the program, Fox Business host Charles Payne essentially parroted Rivera’s assertion, adding that the president couldn’t be racist since wages for people of color have risen.The president, meanwhile, also touted minority jobs numbers on MLK Day, basically equating labor participation with civil rights.Rivera currently likening Trump to MLK because blacks and Latinos have jobs somewhat flies in the face of some of his recent comments on the president’s inflammatory racial rhetoric. After Trump called on Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from last summer, Rivera pleaded with the president to “steer clear of language that’s xenophobic even racist.”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.


It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closing

It's so cold in Florida that Disney World water park and other Orlando parks are closingHeads up if you're vacationing in Florida this chilly week: Several water parks in Florida are closing due to cold temperatures in the state.


AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights Demonstration

AOC Compares Baltimore Riots to Peaceful Richmond Gun-Rights DemonstrationRepresentative 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.


Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militantsIndonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.


The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see inside

The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see insideThe US president isn't the only government official that flies in a VIP plane operated by the US Air Force.


New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler

New Hampshire man chokes to death coyote who attacked toddler* Ian O’Reilly says he was forced to act after animal bit child * Police say O’Reilly ‘suffocated the coyote until it succumbed’A New Hampshire man fought and killed a coyote on Monday, police said, bringing a spate of attacks to an end.Ian O’Reilly, from Kensington, choked the coyote to death after it attacked his two-year-old child. The same coyote is believed to have bitten a woman in the buttocks earlier in the day, and attacked a car.The coyote targeted O’Reilly’s family while they were walking on a trail near Kensington. It bit one of O’Reilly’s three children, prompting the father to kick it. O’Reilly then throttled the animal.“There was no interest in it going away,” O’Reilly told Boston 25 News. “[I] ultimately had to make the decision to become the aggressor and jumped on it, attacked it and [got] it to the ground.“When I was able to get on top of it, I put my hand on its snout so it wasn’t able to attack me. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I shoved the face into the snow and then eventually was able [to] put my hand on its snout and expire it through suffocation.“Ultimately one hand on its windpipe and one hand on its snout did the trick.”O’Reilly was reportedly bitten in the arm and chest. His child was wearing a bulky snowsuit and was unharmed.“The coyote attacked a young child, and the child’s dad went into protection mode and suffocated the coyote until it succumbed,” police said.New Hampshire’s fish and game department was testing the coyote for rabies, according to 25 News. O’Reilly received shots for the virus.Police believe the same coyote earlier attacked a car in the same vicinity, before targeting Kensington resident Pat Lee and her dogs. The coyote bit one of the dogs and bit Lee in the buttocks.“Thank God the plumber was here, because the plumber was standing at the door screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’” Lee told NBC Boston. The coyote managed to get into Lee’s home.“I was running behind the dogs to get them in, and just as I was here, literally, the coyote bit me. In the butt.”Coyote attacks are rare. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “more people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes”.The Kensington police chief, Scott Cain, said O’Reilly may have saved others from being attacked by the coyote.“The chances are it was sick and the pack kicked it out of the pack,” Cain said.


Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTV

Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTVTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas, after Ankara signed a maritime agreement with Libya last year, broadcaster NTV reported. Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a Surprise

The Army's New Missile Launcher Has a SurpriseThe MML is able to fire a multitude of weapons.


Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor

Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at SobiborNew photos have emerged which for the first time show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk at the Sobibor death camp, a Berlin archive confirmed Monday, although he always denied ever being there. Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 30,000 Jews at Sobibor by a German court in 2011. According to the Berlin-based Topography of Terror archive, photos of Demjanjuk are among a newly discovered collection of more than 350 snaps which give "detailed insight" into the camp in German-occupied Poland.


2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison

2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prisonTwo inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison that has been shaken by other deadly violence in recent weeks. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the deaths Tuesday but did not immediately release the names of the latest inmates killed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department said it is investigating the deaths.


How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ ThreatWhen President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran’s now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence. “There were definitely questions [at the time, internally] about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.It turns out Trump—technically—didn’t get his eyebrow-raising claim out of nowhere, The Daily Beast has learned. According to three sources familiar with the matter, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public during his post-Soleimani victory lap. In doing so, President Trump generated yet more confusion and discord among the national security brass that had already struggled to sell the American people on its case for the strike that just brought Iran and the United States to the precipice of all-out warfare. For weeks the Trump administration had struggled to get on message in talking about why the U.S. decided to strike Soleimani and what it would do in the future to manage any diplomacy with Tehran. Trump’s embassy claim didn’t help, officials said.The White House did not comment on the record for this story.Shortly before he began announcing to the media and rally-goers that the Iranian general was planning assaults on multiple U.S. embassies, the president received briefings at the White House from both national security officials and communications staffers. The purpose of some of these meetings were to prepare Trump on how best to talk to the press regarding his administration’s justifications for killing Soleimani. The president received a briefing shortly before he entered the Roosevelt Room Jan. 9 and said Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” According to two people familiar with this briefing, Trump was told the pre-strike intelligence showed that Iran could lash out against American assets in the region. The president was again told this in a subsequent briefing that day, one of these sources added. However, embassies were a part of a long list of American outposts and bases potentially under threat from Iran but sources familiar with those internal briefings do not remember the number four ever being specified, and they certainly do not recall any imminent danger to those embassies.When administration officials briefed Trump, they mentioned possible targets for Iranian assaults; they were not discussing intel on what anyone in the regime was actively plotting against U.S. interests, the sources noted.However, the moment he heard the word “embassies,” Trump immediately chimed in, interrupting the meeting to grill his briefers on that issue, according to one U.S. official. From there, he began to treat this possible threat as a near-certain danger. Trump received another intelligence briefing shortly before his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Jan. 10 where he repeated the claim that Iran probably would have attacked four embassies. When the president started publicly trotting out his claims of “four embassies,” national security aides were dumbfounded. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump’s “four embassies” talking point clashed with intelligence assessments from Trump’s own officials. CNN also reported that security officials at the State Department weren’t even notified of an imminent danger to any specific set of four American embassies.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper himself admitted during an interview on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation that while “the president said that he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper personally “didn’t see [a specific piece of evidence] with regard to four embassies.”Esper added, “What I’m saying is I shared the president’s view that probably, my expectation is they were going to go after our embassies.”At that point, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had of course already been stormed by an Iranian-supported militia, but that was prior to Soleimani’s death.Senior Trump administration officials have canceled several of their past scheduled briefings with Congress on specific threats to U.S. embassies pre-Soleimani strike. Briefers were also supposed to delve into more detail about what exactly U.S. intelligence said prior to the strike. The administration has held two briefings so far with both the House and the Senate, but sessions left lawmakers frustrated and overwhelmingly uninformed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rescheduled his briefing on the embassy threats with the House Foreign Affairs committee for next week.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to AmericaBut people close to Trump say his embassy fixation lies in his obsession with avoiding the kind of catastrophes that befell his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. President Trump, who has long bashed Obama for the 2012 Benghazi attack and Bush for the Hurricane Katrina response, is particularly concerned with opening himself up to accusations of having suffered “Trump’s Benghazi” or “Trump’s Katrina,” according to two sources who’ve spoken to the president about this. “Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about how you don’t want a Katrina moment,” said a former senior White House official. “You can’t do anything about what weather is going to do, but you can certainly manage the response and the optics of what you’re doing in addition to the substance of what you’re doing.”With Trump’s shambolic, even scandalous, handling of the response and relief efforts to the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, this president seems to have already had his “Katrina.” He is, however, determined not to experience a direct parallel to Benghazi. Indeed, on New Year’s Eve, the president took to Twitter to enthusiastically brand the embassy attack that occurred on his watch “The Anti-Benghazi!” UPDATE 1/21/20: The story has been updated to clarify the timing of one of Trump's intelligence briefings on Iran.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.


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Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins

Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and AssassinsThey'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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