Jonathan Ernst/ReutersFormer secretary of state Rex Tillerson spoke with the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday in a lengthy session that, an aide said, touched on his time working in the Trump administration, the frictions he had with the president’s son-in-law, and efforts to tackle issues like Russian interference in the 2016 election.Tillerson’s appearance, first reported by The Daily Beast, took place as virtually every other Trumpworld luminary has been stonewalling congressional oversight efforts. At the same time the former secretary of state was speaking before lawmakers, former White House counsel Don McGahn was ignoring a subpoena to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Tillerson’s arrival at the Capitol was handled with extreme secrecy. No media advisories or press releases were sent out announcing his appearance. And he took a little-noticed route into the building in order to avoid being seen by members of the media. Tillerson reached out to the committee and expressed a willingness to meet, a committee aide said. In a more than six-hour meeting, he told members and staffers that the Trump administration actively avoided confronting Russia about allegations of interference in the election in an effort to develop a solid relationship with the Kremlin, a committee aide told The Daily Beast. Tillerson also told members and aides that he had tried to establish a formal and disciplined interagency process at the State Department whereby the president could receive informed briefings on sensitive foreign policy matters, the aide said. That effort never manifested, Tillerson told the committee, in part because of the president’s management style, but also because of interference from other aides.Tillerson told the committee that the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, at times impeded his ability to communicate effectively and introduce to President Trump policy proposals developed by State Department experts on major foreign affairs matters across the globe, not just in the Middle East. Kushner, a White House adviser, has publicly focused much of his international efforts on the Middle East and is set to unveil a Middle East peace plan in the coming weeks.Tillerson had a notoriously prickly relationship with the president, reportedly calling him a “moron” in private. But he was present during critical moments of the administration, including Trump’s private 2017 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, Germany. Since leaving his post, Tillerson has rarely made public appearances, save for speaking at a panel in Houston in December. During that appearance, he said there was “no question” Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “So often, the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it,’ and I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law,’” Tillerson said.Tillerson’s interview by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and ranking member Michael McCaul (R-TX) comes a month after special counsel Robert Mueller published his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, top Democrats on the Hill have demanded that Attorney General Bill Barr and Mueller answer questions related to the report and its publication. Barr has declined to testify before the House, citing the insistence of the committee that staff lawyers be allowed to conduct some of the questioning. Mueller is reportedly in negotiations to testify, though the Department of Justice had previously not agreed on a date for him to do so. On Tuesday, CNN reported that Mueller’s team had expressed reluctance about the possibility of a testimony taking place in public for fear that it would appear political. This story has been updated with additional reporting.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.
For months, tension between the US and Iran has been simmering – with Washington urging allies not to do business in Tehran, and Iranian proxies or allies launching attacks at the US and its partners, including two ballistic missiles reportedly fired towards Jeddah and Mecca on Monday.And the rhetoric is escalating. “In this face-off they are the ones who will be forced to retreat,” said Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech last week. “If Iran wants to fight,” US president Donald Trump wrote in a tweet after a rocket fell about a mile from the US embassy compound in Baghdad on Sunday, “that will be the official end of Iran”.Fears of a full-on war between the US and Iran have spiked in recent days. But the two countries and have been locked in a low-simmering conflict for decades.It’s not a very cheery relationship. More often than not they have managed their considerable disagreements through threats, hostage-taking, economic blackmail, bombings and assassinations. The conflict began shortly after Iran’s Islamic revolution, when students stormed the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, holding Americans hostage for 444 days, in an expression of anger for Washington’s quarter-century of support for the dictatorial monarch it installed after a 1953 CIA-backed coup. The animosity continued during the 1980s, when Tehran’s allies bombed US embassies and military barracks, and the US torpedoed Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf. In the 1990s, the US sought to strangle and isolate Iran with sanctions, and Tehran did its part to blow up the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that was supposed to herald the start of a new Middle East. In the 2000s, the administration of George W Bush again ratcheted up the sanctions on Iran, threatening it with military action over its nuclear programme as it pursued its stillborn project to bring democracy to the Middle East, by way of Iraq.Iran responded by handing out explosively formed penetrators to its proxies in Baghdad, where they devastated US armoured vehicles. Both sides launched cyberattacks against each other. Israelis, likely with US acquiescence, gunned down and blew up nuclear scientists in Tehran’s streets.Accompanying the steady drumbeat of bombs was shrill rhetoric, each side’s threats and outrageous antics strengthening hardline counterparts. President Barack Obama and his team sought to end the cycle with the nuclear deal, which was meant to serve as a cornerstone for improving relations. Mr Trump withdrew from the deal a year ago, promising to pressure Iran into submitting to “a better deal” that would encompass Tehran’s missile programme and its support for militant groups. Ripping up the nuclear deal and resuming sanctions, the two countries’ relations have returned to default settings.As the US has increased pressure, attempting to strangle Iran’s economy, Tehran has begun to respond. US decisions to remove waivers on all international oil trades with Iran coupled with the designation of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation “created the consensus within the Iranian leadership that they need to escalate or impose some costs for the US behaviour”, according to Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, adding: “The US has gone so far in cornering Iran that Iran is already in a state of war when it comes to the economic landscape.”Iran already perceives itself as under attack, surrounded by US military hardware and personnel in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Caucasus, and strangled by sanctions. And the Trump administration has described Iran as the source of much of the world’s woes, calling it the world’s number one backer of terrorism and blaming it for everything from backing the Taliban to strengthening Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Both Ayatollah Khamenei and Mr Trump have said they don’t want to push for an all-out war. But the US has begun positioning hardware and personnel in preparation for any attack. Iranian officials, including major general Hussein Salami, the newly appointed chief of the Revolutionary Guards, have boasted in recent days that Iran too has set up networks, allies and infrastructure all over the region to exact costs on the US and its allies for Washington’s pressure campaign. Sunday’s rocket attack towards the US embassy in Baghdad was seen as a message to the Americans, although there is no solid evidence it was necessarily directed at the outpost and it has as yet been unclaimed. One European diplomat involved in Iranian affairs said they expected more “messages through proxies increasing in the coming weeks”.European officials have assured themselves that Mr Trump will restrain the more hardline players in his orbit, including his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, who has long sought regime change in Iran and has publicly advocated for a campaign of airstrikes against the country. Asked about Mr Trump’s latest tweet, threatening to destroy the entire Iranian nation, the European official quipped: “Which one? There are 10 a day.”Others are less convinced of distance between the Trump and Bolton and other hardliners’ positions on Iran, or that it even matters what either thinks. Once the US scuttled the nuclear deal and chose the path of pressure, the longstanding dangerous state of affairs – the one Obama sought to dismantle – was inevitable .“What is taking place now was all too predictable,” US Democratic Party lawmaker Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS News on Sunday, citing the administration’s decisions to pull out of the nuclear deal, label the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organisation and up the rhetoric. “All of these policy decisions have led us to a state where confrontation is far more likely. When you take a series of steps that ratchet up tensions, you shouldn’t be surprised when the intelligence tells you, hey, tensions have been ratcheted up.”
Three local publications devoted their Sunday editions to essays from women, ranging from fear to grappling with personal beliefs People walk to the Alabama state capitol during the March for Reproductive Freedom against the state’s new abortion law, in Montgomery, Alabama, on 19 May. Photograph: Michael Spooneybarger/Reuters Three major Alabama newspapers devoted their Sunday editions to letters from women across the state, offering an expansive look into the reactions after a nearly all-male state legislature passed the nation’s strictest abortion ban last week. The Alabama Media Group, which operates the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press-Register, filled their Sunday papers with 200 essays from Alabama women of various backgrounds, ages and political leanings. The essays were also available as a package online under the title “It’s time to hear Alabama’s women”. Though the state was “the talk of the nation last week”, wrote Alabama Media Group’s vice-president, Kelly Ann Scott, in an introduction to the series, “missing from many of those conversations were the voices of women from this state”. Scott continued that in less than 24 hours, more than 200 Alabama women wrote in with their perspectives. We asked women across the state to share their experiences and thoughts on what it's like to be a woman in Alabama today. Today, we share their stories with you.It’s time to hear Alabama’s women https://t.co/e3TMlMtJvc pic.twitter.com/uarBG2MENF— AL.com (@aldotcom) May 19, 2019 “They are women who live here, and some who have left,” she said. “Those who have prayed for this very law, and those who now live in fear. Mothers, trying to understand the message this law sends to their daughters and sons. And women who are angry that a majority of men in the state legislature spoke for them.” All 25 Alabama senate votes in favor of the ban, which criminalizes almost all abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest, came from white men (the four women of the state senate voted against). Alabama’s female governor, Kay Ivey, signed the bill into law Wednesday night. Several groups, including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, have promised to sue, probably tying up the law in court for months. The essays illustrate a range of feeling and frustration over the law’s passage. Some women expressed anger at what they called the hypocrisy of the legislature’s “pro-life” position. “If they really believed every life was precious, they wouldn’t have allowed Alabamians to die at an alarming rate from accidents, childbirth and preventable medical conditions,” wrote Tabitha Isner, who is running for chair of the Alabama Democratic party. Ala Rep. want you to interpret this new abortion law as proof that they will go to any length to save lives...They care about life, but they care about it less than they do their 2nd amendment rights,” from Ala. Democratic Party chair candidate @TabithaK https://t.co/EcDwnyZXnB— Abbey Crain (@AbbeyCrain) May 19, 2019 “This abortion ban puts myself, my friends and future generations in danger. Not to mention any victims of sexual assault or rape,” said Isabel Hope, a teenager in Tuscaloosa. “I don’t feel safe walking alone ever. How am I supposed to feel knowing that if something were to happen, I would have no options?” Others grappled with their personal beliefs and the implications of the ban, which will disproportionately impact low-income and black women. “I am pro-life, yet I still find it problematic to legally force my personal views upon others, particularly when I know economic disenfranchisement and systemic racism await too many black children once they are born,” wrote Idrissa Snider. “These issues plague the quality of life for black children every day in our state. “Pro-life for Black women means our children are granted just as much of an opportunity to thrive and succeed in this country as others — once they are here.I am pro-life, yet I still find it problematic to legally force my personal views upon others...” https://t.co/yJGkPR3g9w— Abbey Crain (@AbbeyCrain) May 19, 2019 One woman, Rachel Hauser, wrote that the ban’s passage compelled her to share the story of her sexual assault for the first time. “If I had become pregnant from that incident, I would have had an abortion,” she said, noting that she was “thankful” to have the option of emergency contraception at the time. In her introduction, Scott said the Alabama Media Group was restricting online comments on the essays to keep their voices “heard instead of debated”. “No one should ignore their voices,” she said.
The biggest threat appeared to be flash flooding from torrential rains that accompanied the storms, forecasters said.
A gang of gunmen reportedly attacked a bar in the capital of Brazil's northern Pará state Sunday afternoon, and authorities said 11 people were killed.The state security agency confirmed late Sunday only that six women and five men died in the incident in the Guamá neighborhood of the Pará state capital, Belém.The G1 news website said police reported that seven gunmen were involved in the attack, which also wounded one person. The news outlet said the attackers arrived at the bar on one motorcycle and in three cars.In late March, the federal government sent National Guard troops to Belém to reinforce security in the city for 90 days.Brazil hit a record high of 64,000 homicides in 2017, 70% of which were due to firearms, according to official statistics.Much of Brazil's violence is gang related. In January, gangs attacked across Fortaleza, bringing that city to a standstill with as commerce, buses and taxis shut down. (AP)See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr.
The HUD secretary faced a tough hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday.
This immaculate 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback is estimated to sell at British auction for $95K. It’s hard not to whisper Steve McQueen’s name when presented with a Ford Mustang 390 GT Fastback, even if it isn't a 1968 model. The American classifieds may provide evidence of eye-watering sums being traded for healthy Fastback specimens, but it’s not always the case in Great Britain.
U.S. and European chipmakers fell sharply on Monday amid worries the Huawei Technologies suppliers may suspend shipments to the Chinese firm due to a U.S. crackdown. The selling came after Nikkei Asian Review reported that Infineon had halted shipments to Huawei after Washington added the world's No. 2 smartphone maker to a trade blacklist last week, imposing restrictions that will make it difficult to do business with U.S. companies. Reuters reported that Alphabet Inc's Google had suspended some business with Huawei and Lumentum Holdings Inc, seen as a major supplier of Apple Inc's face ID technology, said it had discontinued all shipments to Huawei.
Ford plans to cut 7,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its global workforce, as part of a reorganization as it revamps its vehicle offerings, the company said Monday. The reorganization will involve some layoffs and reassignments and should be complete by the end of August, a Ford spokeswoman said. Ford has been phasing out most sedan models in the United States as more consumers have opted for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.
The Department of Defense said Tuesday that potential threats from Iran have been "put on hold" thanks to precautionary measures taken by the U.S.“We have put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans,” Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan said at the Pentagon.The U.S. deployed four B-52 bombers, Patriot air-defense missiles, and the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier-strike group to the Persian Gulf earlier this month amid fears that Iran was transporting short-range ballistic missiles in the region. Shanahan cited “indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces” in justifying the move.The State Department last week ordered all non-critical government employees to leave Iraq, saying the tensions with neighboring Iran could endanger Americans in the area. Additionally, a rocket was fired Sunday night which landed less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, and no casualties occurred."There haven't been any attacks on Americans," Shanahan confirmed. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region.""I just hope Iran is listening,” Shanahan added, vowing that any attack by Iran on U.S. assets "will be met obviously with great force."
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan acknowledged that federal officials did alert local leaders of the possibility of sending migrants.
What does America need to save its troubled F-35 stealth fighter?Turkey, that’s what.Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan recently warned that the multinational F-35 program, of which Turkey is a member, would fail if Turkey were excluded. Turkey is facing sanctions, including being dropped from the F-35 program if it goes ahead with purchasing Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, which has raised Washington’s fears that F-35 secrets might be leaked to Russia. The U.S. has stopped shipping equipment to Turkey for that nation’s planned purchase of 100 F-35s, while the first two aircraft officially delivered to Turkey are still in the United States.For its part, Ankara is adamant that it has a right to purchase both American stealth fighters and Russian anti-aircraft missiles, despite the fact that the S-400 is one of the most likely Russian weapons to be used against the F-35. “We were surely not going to remain silent against our right to self-defense being disregarded and attempts to hit us where it hurts,” Erdogan said at a Turkish defense trade show. “This is the kind of process that is behind the S-400 agreement we reached with Russia.”“Nowadays, we are being subject to a similar injustice - or rather an imposition - on the F-35s ... Let me be frank: An F-35 project from which Turkey is excluded is bound to collapse completely.”
BAGHDAD (AP) — Leading Iraqi Shiite figures warned Monday against attempts to pull their country into a war between the U.S. and Iran, saying it would turn Iraq into a battlefield yet again, just as it is on the path to recovery.
Sweden reopened the rape investigation last week. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 after Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. "I request the District Court to detain Assange in his absence, on probable cause suspected for rape," Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said in a statement on Monday.
After being raped by a co-worker two years ago, Samantha Blakely had an abortion. The 25-year-old Blakely is among women speaking out after the conservative southern US state adopted the toughest anti-abortion legislation in the country. The Alabama bill, which takes effect in November unless it is blocked in the courts, places a near-total ban on ending a pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest.
The Ford Mustang is an American automotive icon known the world over. Ford’s pony car is the four-wheeled embodiment of the American dream. Petty’s Garage is well-known for its work on modern Mustangs, enhancing their performance and producing limited edition special models.
China’s navy has a new problem: not enough names for its rapidly growing fleet of warships.“China is running out of provincial capitals to name new destroyers, and it might have to turn to other big domestic cities, which reflects the country's rapid naval development in recent years,” according to Chinese newspaper Global Times.The People’s Liberation Army Navy recently named its first Type 055 destroyer the Nanchang, which is the capital city of East China's Jiangxi Province.One of the three other Type 055 destroyers will be named Lhasa, the capital of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, according to Chinese media. That just leaves Nanning and Taipei as the names of provincial capitals for destroyers (Taipei is Taiwan’s capital, though Taiwan has not yet declared independence as a separate nation from China).Which means non-capital cities will have to bequeath their names to Chinese destroyers. The latest destroyer is named Qiqihar, which is a non-capital city in in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. A few ships have been named after major cities, such as the Shenzen, a Type 051 destroyer.“Chinese destroyers and frigates should be named after big and medium Chinese cities, according to the naval vessels naming regulation,” Global Times said. “This means naming of destroyers does not necessarily have to use provincial capitals, as it was a non-binding tradition.”
A wild, rugged, mountainous region of Slovakia dotted with plunging waterfalls and lakes and hiking trails has been named the top European destination of 2019 by the travel experts at Lonely Planet.
Bernie Sanders appears to be the favorite to secure Ocasio-Cortez’s prized endorsement in the Democratic presidential primaryCongresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez told the Guardian: ‘I’m not close to an endorsement announcement any time soon.’ Photograph: Joshua Roberts/ReutersAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive US congresswoman and social media sensation, has said she would be “hard pressed” to endorse the frontrunner, Joe Biden, in the Democratic presidential primary.The statement is the latest sign of the left’s apathy towards the former vice-president, who has surged ahead of the Senator Bernie Sanders and other rivals in recent polls.Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, appears to be the favourite to secure 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez’s prized endorsement but she said she was still some way off making a decision.“I’m not close to an endorsement announcement any time soon,” she told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I’m still trying to get a handle on my job. It seems like ages but I’m just five months in and we have quite some time. The debates are in the summer and our first primary election for the entire country isn’t until next year.” Asked if she would consider endorsing Biden, widely seen as a centrist, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I’d be hard pressed to see that happen, to be honest, in a primary.”Biden, comfortably leading every opinion poll, came under fire last week when Reuters reported he was pursuing a “middle ground” approach to the climate crisis. He later distanced himself from the implication.Ocasio-Cortez criticised politicians seeking “a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives”. Sanders, running second in most polls, tweeted that there was “no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy”.If and when Ocasio-Cortez does endorse a candidate, Sanders probably remains the favourite to secure her support. She was an organiser for his 2016 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. The pair appeared at a rally in Washington last week to support the Green New Deal climate plan.In a short interview on Tuesday the congresswoman, who has more than 4 million Twitter followers, also reiterated her demand for Donald Trump’s impeachment. “I think that the grounds have been there for quite some time but the case is really getting to a larger point that we haven’t seen before,” she said.Democratic leaders are putting the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, under pressure to move ahead with the process. Ocasio-Cortez added: “I know that the conversation is really changing this week in the caucus and so we’ll see where the speaker lands.”
It’s a dilemma that only grew more pressing on Tuesday, when former White House Counsel Don McGahn defied a congressional subpoena by declining to testify before the House Judiciary Committee at the direction of the White House. The impeachment process would strengthen Democrats’ legal case for enforcing subpoenas, but it would open them to political attacks from Republicans who already say they are rushing toward a predetermined outcome -- and one that would be rejected in the GOP-controlled Senate. The White House has been goading Democrats into opening an impeachment proceeding by fighting many of the current subpoenas on the grounds they’re not related to a clear legislative purpose.
A man, believed to be Russian, who sparked a mass evacuation of the Eiffel Tower by scaling the iconic Paris landmark has been admitted to a psychiatric unit, legal sources said Tuesday. The man caused chaos Monday and the closure of the monument to tourists by spending six hours clinging to the outer metal framework of the Eiffel Tower. An investigation has been opened for unauthorised entry into a cultural monument, a judicial source said.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):
PHOENIX (AP) — A Border Patrol agent in Arizona sent texts calling immigrants "savages" and "subhuman" the month before using his patrol vehicle to knock over a Guatemalan man who was trying to flee, prosecutors say.
The crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March killed all 157 passengers and crew aboard and followed the death in October of 189 people on a Lion Air 737 MAX which plunged into the ocean off Indonesia in similar circumstances. Dozens of families have sued Boeing over the Lion Air crash, and several lawsuits have been lodged over the Ethiopian crash near the capital Addis Ababa, which led airlines around the world to ground the Boeing 737 MAX. The lawsuit on behalf of Nadege Dubois-Seex, whose husband Jonathan Seex was a Swedish and Kenyan citizen and chief executive of the Tamarind Group of Companies, was filed in a U.S. District Court in Chicago, her lawyer said on Tuesday.
Columbine survivor Austin Eubanks became a nationally known speaker on the dangers of addiction. His family says he "lost his battle" this weekend.