By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia widened its rift with Iran on Monday, saying it would end air traffic and trade links with the Islamic republic and demanding that Tehran must "act like a normal country" before it would restore severed diplomatic relations. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters in an interview that Tehran was responsible for rising tensions after the kingdom executed Shi'ite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, describing him as a terrorist. Insisting Riyadh would react to "Iranian aggression", he accused Tehran of dispatching fighters to Arab countries and plotting attacks inside the kingdom and its Gulf neighbors. "There is no escalation on the part of Saudi Arabia. Our moves are all reactive. It is the Iranians who went into Lebanon. It is the Iranians who sent their Qods Force and their Revolutionary Guards into Syria," Jubeir said. Tehran says it has sent only military advisers to Syria and Iraq at their governments' requests, and denies plots in Gulf states. The execution of Nimr provoked protests among Shi'ites across the region and Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, setting fires and causing damage, prompting Riyadh to cut ties and inflaming an already heated rivalry. "We will also be cutting off all air traffic to and from Iran. We will be cutting off all commercial relations with Iran. And we will have a travel ban against people traveling to Iran," Jubeir said. Iranian pilgrims would still be welcome to visit Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina in western Saudi Arabia, either for the annual haj or at other times of year on the umrah pilgrimage, he said. However, Jubeir said Saudi Arabia had been right to execute Nimr, whom he accused of "agitating, organizing cells, providing them with weapons and money" - allegations that the cleric's family have denied. After listing the crimes of 43 al Qaeda members also put to death on Saturday alongside four Shi'ites, Jubeir said of the executions: "We should be applauded for this, not criticized." 'AGGRESSIVE POLICIES' Jubeir, a former ambassador to Washington where the FBI in 2011 said he had been the target of an Iranian assassination plot, said the break in ties was a response to older problems as well as the embassy storming. "[It] is a reaction to Iran's aggressive policies over the years, and in particular over the past few months. The Iranian regime has been a sponsor of terrorism, they have set up terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries," he said. Tehran has consistently denied those charges and itself has accused Riyadh of supporting militancy through its backing of Islamist rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Jubeir also accused Iran's authorities of complicity in the attack on the embassy at the weekend, saying Saudi diplomats had seen security forces enter the building and take part in looting and that the police did not respond to more than one request for help. Iran has defended its measures to protect the Saudi embassy, saying it is investigating the matter and has made arrests. Asked what steps Iran needed to take before Riyadh would consider restoring diplomatic ties, Jubeir said Tehran must "respect international norms and treaties and conventions" and "act like a normal country [that] respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors". (Editing by William Maclean, David Stamp and Pravin Char)
- The Independent
Investigating ongoing after residents complain of minor damages
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Controversial Republican says New York progressive ‘doesn’t know anything about the economy or economics’
A US man has reportedly been arrested and charged after telling a match "I did storm the Capitol".
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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Top Chef host says ‘this is the nightmare of any parent’ in appeal for facts and donations for Pakistani family
- Miami Herald
In a city where three votes are required to green light projects and legislation, the election of two new Coral Gables commissioners on Tuesday will not only bring different perspectives to the dais, but help set a tone for the city’s priorities and goals.
- The State
Anthony Thompson Jr., 17, died during a confrontation with police.
Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Thursday that China hoped the upcoming ASEAN summit on member Myanmar would pave the way for a "soft landing". The in-person summit in Jakarta on Saturday is the first concerted international effort to ease the crisis in Myanmar, where security forces have killed hundreds of pro-democracy protesters since a Feb. 1 coup. The meeting is also a test for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which traditionally refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of a member state, and operates by consensus.
- The Independent
Police identify Mojave desert murder victims from 1980 cold case and link deaths to man in prison for other killings
Woman’s search for biological parents leads police to identify victims
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148 bills to give GOP lawmakers more power over elections could be ‘death knell’ for democracy, officials warn
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Anas Sarwar has admitted it is a “fair” to call him a hypocrite after he unveiled plans for an attack on private education despite sending his own children to a fee-paying school. Scottish Labour’s manifesto, published Thursday, calls for the charitable status of private schools to be revoked and for any public sector backing for them to end. The document states that such a policy would serve as “a contribution towards achieving a more socially just and inclusive society”. Mr Sarwar, the party leader, sends his own children to Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow, which he also attended, and currently charges annual fees of up to £12,924 per pupil. Asked whether he was a “hypocrite and humbug” for sending his own sons to a private school despite his own party presenting them as a force for social injustice, the father-of-three admitted criticism of him was valid. “I'm open about the fair question and the fair criticism that people make around the decision that my wife and I made for our children,” he said. “I want every child to have opportunity and that's why we put our education comeback plan at the heart of this manifesto. “There are different forms of inequality and prejudice that my children will face that other children won’t face, [but] that still means I accept the criticism around the choice I've made for my children's education.” Mr Sarwar also insisted that his support for the Union was “unequivocal” dispute pledging to “double down” on his attempt to win back support from pro-independence voters in the final fortnight of the Holyrood campaign. The manifesto includes a commitment not to support an independence referendum, warning a repeat vote would cause economic instability and “constitutional turmoil”. Mr Sarwar claimed the “political bubble” was wrong to focus on the constitution and that, despite failing to so far make a breakthrough in opinion polls, his plan to appeal across the constitutional divide was working. He was introduced at the manifesto launch by a business owner from Glasgow who said she was a lifelong SNP voter before switching to Labour. “I'll consider each issue on its merits,” Mr Sarwar said about potentially offering support to Nicola Sturgeon's SNP in the next parliament. “But does that mean I'm equivocating on the constitutional position? Absolutely not. I don't support independence, and I don't support a referendum.” Labour rebranded its manifesto a ‘national recovery plan’ and proposes handing every adult £75 to spend on high streets and offering state subsidised holidays in Scotland to boost the ailing tourism industry. The party did not propose immediate increases to income tax, however. It said if there is a need to raise revenues in the next term, rates should rise for those earning £100,000 or more. The better off could also be hit if Labour gets its way on council tax, which the party said should be scrapped and replaced with “a fairer alternative based on property values and ability to pay”.
- The Independent
‘Do. Not. Come. For. Stacey. Abrams.’
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a 13-month low last week, suggesting layoffs were subsiding and strengthening expectations for another month of blockbuster job growth in April as a re-opening economy unleashes pent-up demand. While the labor market recovery is gaining speed, red flags are emerging in the housing market, the economy's star performer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Realtors warned that expensive homes could become a permanent feature of the market, worsening inequality.
- The Independent
John Kerry criticises Donald Trump for pulling out of Paris accord ‘without any facts, without any science’
Climate envoy said US now working to ‘restore America’s credibility’ as Biden announces ambitious emissions targets
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- Reuters Videos
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): “D.C. residents are Americans and they deserve the equal rights our national ideals promised them.”The House of Representatives on Thursday voted along party lines to make the District of Columbia the 51st U.S. state.By a vote of 216-208, the Democratic-controlled House approved the initiative.But not without some heated debate… as all House Republicans voted against the move.REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): “HR 51 provides no guarantee to the American people that they will not be on the hook for funding the new state for years, if not decades. This bill is nothing more than an attempt to ignore the constitutional process and gain an advantage in the U.S. Senate.”Since the majority of Washington, D.C. residents lean Democratic, as a state, it likely would elect two Democratic senators… altering the balance of power in the Senate.But Democrats argued statehood would right the wrongs of DC’s slogan: “taxation without representation”… Giving the right to vote-in members of Congress to more than 700,000 American citizens.Half of whom - as New York lawmaker Mondaire Jones pointed out - are Black.“One Senate Republican said that D.C. wouldn’t be a ‘well rounded working class state.’ I had no idea there were so many syllables in the word ‘white.’"Jones slammed Republican opposition to statehood for the nation’s capital, suggesting racism was at play:“One of my House Republican colleagues said that DC shouldn’t be a state because the district doesn’t have a landfill. My goodness, with all the racist trash my colleagues have brought to this debate I can see why they're worried about having a place to put it."Republicans quickly objected to Jones’ words. And he was asked to withdraw them."Mr. Speaker, that's fine."But, Jones didn’t end there…“These desperate objections are about fear. Fear that in D.C., their white supremacist politics will no longer play.”Republicans, accusing Democrats of a "power grab" to advance a "far-left" agenda, are expected to block the bill in the Senate, where 60 of 100 members need to agree to advance most legislation.
- Business Insider
SpaceX is launching 4 astronauts into space on Friday. Here's how the journey will go - from liftoff to splashdown.
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- The Daily Beast
Amit Dave via ReutersThe COVID-19 crisis in India has hit a new low as corrupt scammers are now prowling social media for desperate patients who are willing to pay a premium for hospital bed space and black market drugs. 50 Million People Allowed at Superspreader Festival so Modi Can Secure the Hindu VoteVideo of an undercover sting operation in the Indian city of Rajkot showed a hospital worker selling a hospital bed to a desperate woman whose relative needed critical care. “I won’t take anything less than Rs 9,000,” the worker said, which is about $120. “You will get the bed in 30 minutes.” The family negotiated down to Rs 8,000 and the man called someone inside the hospital who finalized the deal. Within an hour, the sick patient is whisked through a back door of the hospital, skirting the 50 or 60 waiting cars in front. So desperate is the need for coveted hospital space that scenes like this are reportedly playing out across the country as overwhelmed hospitals grapple with a tsunami of patients, critical supply shortages, and an obvious lack of vigilance. Indian Hospitals Run Out of Oxygen After Foreign Sales BoomPolice uncovered the deal after following the initial exchange on social media, where many patients are pleading for help. Hospitals have also used social media platforms to plead for supplies like oxygen and drugs. India, which is the world’s largest producer of generic drugs, has also reached a critical shortage of remdesivir and favipiravir, which have both had moderate success in treating COVID-19 patients. Raman Gaikwad, an infectious diseases specialist at Sahyadri Hospital in the western city of Pune, told the Indian Express that remdesivir manufacturers were ordered to cease production in January because of a decrease in infections. When the latest wave hit, they were left with severe shortages. “One solution to this crisis was to create a stockpile of antiviral drugs when cases were low,” Gaikwad told the paper. “But that did not happen.”A network of activists, including YouTuber Kusha Kapila, have joined together to try to source and share information on hospital bed availability, pharmacy supplies, and food delivery to help people stay away from price gougers on the black market. One of the activists told AFP that there is a new request for help every 30 seconds. An investigation carried out by media outlet India Today trailed a black market ring selling remdesivir for six times the market price. Payments had to be made in cash and the patients were told the drug—which the World Health Organization has said doesn’t even work—would be smuggled out of the hospital. Patients were given injections upon delivery of the cash. On Thursday, India reported a record-breaking 314,000 new COVID-19 infections, the most recorded anywhere in the world since the pandemic began."Covid-19 has hit this country with a ferocity not seen before...but not unexpected either". WARNING - this is a very distressing but necessary report from @yogital, Fred Scott and Sanjay Ganguly on the human catastrophe unfolding in #Delhi. Please watch #CovidIndia #BBCNewsTen pic.twitter.com/A5Pi1nwd0n— Nicola Careem (@NicolaCareem) April 21, 2021 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.
- Business Insider
LIFTOFF: SpaceX launches 4 astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour, its first time reusing a spaceship on a crewed mission
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- The Independent
Al Sharpton says Minnesota needs ‘air freshener’ for ‘stench of police brutality’ at Daunte Wright’s funeral
Daunte Wright’s family, as well as local and national leaders, all gathered on Thursday to mourn the 20-year-old who was killed by police