• US weather service issues highest tornado warnings in two years
    News
    The Independent

    US weather service issues highest tornado warnings in two years

    More than two million people in Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle are in harms way after the National Weather Service's Storm Prevention Centre announced a threat level-five warning - their highest - for violent tornadoes as well as warnings for significant hail and flooding lasting into Monday night.They've also designated the storm a 'Particularly Dangerous Situation' or PDS, their most dire classification. This is the first time in two years that the National Weather Service has issued such high warnings for a storm. According to the SPC, the probability of all three weather types is 95%. The only other storm to have had such high probabilities in the SPC's history, was an Alabama storm in 2011, the centre pointed out. Marble-sized hail has already been reported in Oklahoma and baseball sized hailstones are a possibility.In anticipation of the storm Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, closed down schools for the day, while Tinker Air force Base evacuated some of its aircraft, CNN reported. Veteran storm chaser Mike Smith cautioned others against braving the storm. "To: StormChasers, I believe I am the only one of the original, 1972, chasers still chasing. But, I will not be out today. It is too dangerous. The tornadoes will be difficult to see and too dense & flooding could cut off escapes." he wrote in a tweet.The storm comes on the 6th anniversary of the 2013 Moore tornado that killed 24, including 9 children, in the town of Moore, Oklahoma.Over the weekend 52 other tornadoes hit seven states across the country.

  • Trump: U.S. will respond with 'great force' if Iran attacks interests
    Politics
    Reuters

    Trump: U.S. will respond with 'great force' if Iran attacks interests

    "I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will." His comments came as two U.S. government sources said the United States strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to, and possibly encouragement from, Iran fired a rocket on Sunday into Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. The sources, who are familiar with U.S. national security assessments and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States was still trying to establish which militia fired the Katyusha rocket on Sunday and the extent, if any, of Iranian involvement.

  • China's Navy Is Growing So Fast Its Running Out of Names For Its Warships
    World
    The National Interest

    China's Navy Is Growing So Fast Its Running Out of Names For Its Warships

    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.”

  • Is It Cheaper To Buy A 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback From Britain?
    Lifestyle
    motorious

    Is It Cheaper To Buy A 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback From Britain?

    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.

  • Rex Tillerson Secretly Meets With House Foreign Affairs Committee to Talk Trump
    Politics
    The Daily Beast

    Rex Tillerson Secretly Meets With House Foreign Affairs Committee to Talk Trump

    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.

  • Huawei founder says US underestimates company
    Business
    AFP

    Huawei founder says US underestimates company

    Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei on Tuesday shrugged off US attempts to block his company's global ambitions, saying the United States underestimates the telecom giant's strength. Ren spoke to Chinese media days after President Donald Trump issued orders aimed at thwarting Huawei's business in the United States, the latest salvo in a months-long effort to stop the company's charge to the top of the leaderboard in next-generation 5G technology. "The current practice of US politicians underestimates our strength," Ren said, according to transcripts from state-run media.

  • Prosecutors: Agent called migrants savages before hitting 1
    News
    Associated Press

    Prosecutors: Agent called migrants savages before hitting 1

    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.

  • Austria's Kurz hopes to sidestep scandal to stay in power
    World
    Reuters

    Austria's Kurz hopes to sidestep scandal to stay in power

    It just might work if the public believes his disavowal of his former allies in the Freedom Party (FPO) and the maths go his way in September, when Austrians are expected to vote in a snap election brought about by the latest FPO transgression. The only other party that could have given him a majority in parliament are the Social Democrats, with whom a coalition appears highly unlikely for now.

  • Comrade Sanders Targets Charter Schools
    Business
    National Review

    Comrade Sanders Targets Charter Schools

    Few things offend Bernie Sanders as much as people escaping from command-and-control government systems, even minority students whose parents are desperate to get their kids a decent education.The socialist wants to turn George Wallace on his head and not block black children from attending traditional public schools, but block them from exiting those schools for something better.  The New York Times wrote a long, devastating report the other day on the then-Burlington, Vt., mayor’s love affair with the Sandinistas in the 1980s. So many decades later, his reflex is the same: If the Sandinistas wouldn’t favor it, he’s not inclined to like it much either. That goes for charter schools that, yes, are publicly funded, but still too flexible and unregulated for refined socialist tastes. Over the weekend, Sanders unveiled his education plan. He wants to end for-profit charter schools (about 15 percent of all charters) and impose a moratorium on new public funding of charters, while taking steps to impose a one-size-fits-all regulatory regime on existing charters.Sanders thus seeks to kneecap what has been an astonishingly successful experiment in urban education because it doesn’t fit nicely within his ideological preconceptions.That Sanders says he wants to do this to advance the principle that “every human being has the fundamental right to a good education” is hilariously perverse. The comrades will have a good chuckle over that one.Charter schools aren’t the product of a libertarian conspiracy. They fall short of the vouchers favored by conservatives to allow parents to get access to private schools. Charters receive public money but have more leeway to develop policies outside the regulatory and union straitjacket of traditional public schools. Charters had bipartisan support before a Vermont socialist became one of the party’s thought leaders. Bill Clinton won the first-ever lifetime achievement award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Promoting charters was a hallmark of Barack Obama’s education agenda and a signature of Cory Booker’s mayoralty in Newark, N.J.Not all charters are created equal. Some don’t serve their students well, especially online charter schools, and the performance of suburban and rural charter schools hasn’t been very impressive. It’s the charter schools in urban areas with the worst traditional public schools that have excelled. According to a well-regarded 2015 study by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, students in urban charter schools got the equivalent of 40 additional days of math instruction and 28 additional days of reading annually. The numbers for African-American students in poverty were even better. Charters in Newark and Boston have seen enormous academic gains.In New York City, the Success Academy founded by Eva Moskowitz — one of the foremost education reformers of our time — has eliminated racial and economic achievement gaps.It’s amazing what schools can do when they impose discipline, have the highest expectations, and focus with a laser intensity on instruction. Anyone interested in the education of minority students should seek to build on these oases of excellence, rather than cut them off. But the teachers unions hate charters, and they are a much more powerful potential cadre in the Sanders “revolution” than poor black kids. Sanders suggests that charter schools somehow increase segregation. This is nonsense, as Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine points out. Urban charter schools reflect the segregation of their neighborhoods where they are located — just like traditional public schools do.The polling shows that minority parents get what Sanders (and white progressives) refuses to understand. A solid majority of black and Hispanic Democrats have a favorable view of charters, while white Democrats have an unfavorable view by a 2-1 margin. It is doubtful how much of his anti-charter agenda Sanders would be able to enact if elected, since much of the action is at the state and local level. That he’s hostile to these schools should, regardless, redound to his shame. © 2019 by King Features Syndicate

  • Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran. Is John Bolton driving the US into a conflict anyway?
    Politics
    USA TODAY

    Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran. Is John Bolton driving the US into a conflict anyway?

    The view that John Bolton is driving Trump into military confrontation with America's principal foe in the Middle East is spreading across the globe.

  • Could One of America's Allies Take Down the F-35 Program?
    Business
    The National Interest

    Could One of America's Allies Take Down the F-35 Program?

    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.”

  • 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback Restoration Is A Work Of Art
    Lifestyle
    motorious

    1967 Ford Mustang Fastback Restoration Is A Work Of Art

    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.

  • PHOTOS: Gun attack at bar in Brazil
    World
    Yahoo News Photo Staff

    PHOTOS: Gun attack at bar in Brazil

    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.

  • Mountain region of Slovakia named best destination in Europe 2019: Lonely Planet
    Lifestyle
    AFP Relax News

    Mountain region of Slovakia named best destination in Europe 2019: Lonely Planet

    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. 

  • Russian bombers, fighters intercepted off Alaska: US military
    World
    AFP

    Russian bombers, fighters intercepted off Alaska: US military

    US fighters intercepted six Russian military aircraft in international airspace west of Alaska, and shadowed them until they exited the area, the North American Air Defense Command said Tuesday. The Russian aircraft included two Tu-95 strategic bombers, which were intercepted Monday by two F-22 fighters, the command said. A second group of two Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters were also intercepted by a pair of F-22 fighters, it said.

  • US Border agent accused of hitting migrant with truck after using racial slurs
    News
    The Independent

    US Border agent accused of hitting migrant with truck after using racial slurs

    A US Border Patrol agent charged with allegedly hitting a migrant with a truck had a long history of making hostile statements about border-crossing immigrants, say prosecutors.Matthew Bowen, 39, allegedly texted another border agent with the message: “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!” He also said migrants were “disgusting subhuman s*** unworthy of being kindling for a fire” in November 2017. Less than two weeks later, prosecutors say, Mr Bowen hit one such migrant with his truck, coming inches away from running the man over – and then lied about the incident in a report.The texts came to light in filings last month in the US District Court in Tucson, Arizona, as Mr Bowen's lawyer fought to suppress a flurry of messages in which the agent used slurs and made light of violence by agents.But Mr Bowen's views are hardly extraordinary, argued his lawyer, Sean Chapman. Rather, his sentiments are “commonplace throughout the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector,” Mr Chapman wrote, adding that such messages are “part of the agency's culture.”The Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol did not immediately return a message about the texts, though it told The Arizona Daily Star that agents are “held to the highest standards, and any action of misconduct within our ranks will not be tolerated”.The inflammatory messages are the latest public relations challenge for an overwhelmed agency facing a massive wave of asylum seekers at the southern border and regular allegations from immigration and civil rights groups of abusive behaviour towards migrants.In the dozens of texts introduced in a 4 April filing, Mr Bowen uses racial slurs and insults like “s*** bags” to refer to migrants. He often used the word “tonk”, which some agents claim is an innocent acronym, the The Arizona Republic reported.Others say is a slur derived from the sound of hitting an immigrant on the head with a flashlight.In one text exchange, an unnamed agent asked Mr Bowen, “Did you gas hiscorpse (sic) or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect.”Mr Bowen responded: “Guats are best made crispy, with olive oil from their native pais”, using the Spanish word for “country” that doubles as an insult towards Guatemalans, the Daily Star reported. In another text, he refers to “mindless murdering savages”.The criminal case against Mr Bowen dates to the morning of 3 December 2017, when a US Customs and Border Protection camera operator spotted a 23-year-old Guatemalan man named Antolin Lopez Aguilar, who was suspected of jumping the border fence in Nogales, according to a federal indictment.As Lopez sprinted to a nearby gas station, Mr Bowen and two other agents responded in separate vehicles.While one agent hopped out and found Lopez hiding under a semi-truck, Mr Bowen circled the station in his Border Patrol-issued Ford F-150.When the migrant tried to run back towards the border, prosecutors say, Mr Bowen “accelerated aggressively” in his truck. He hit Mr Lopez twice from behind, knocking him down the second time and screeching to a stop “within inches” of running him over, according to the police. Mr Lopez was treated at the hospital for abrasions and later sentenced to 30 days in federal prison for illegally entering the country, the Republic reported.Prosecutors say that Mr Bowen later filed a false report about what happened that morning. In text messages included in the court filing, he repeatedly complains about facing scrutiny over the incident.“I bumped a guat with a truck while driving about 7 mph,” he wrote in one text. “No injury at all and tonk refused medical.”In another, he wrote that “If I had to tackle the tonk I would still be doing memos”, adding: “I wonder how they expect us to apprehend wild... runners who don't want to be apprehended?"One day after the incident, he texted with Agent Lonnie Swartz, who would later be acquitted of manslaughter for firing 10 rounds into an unarmed Mexican teen as agents were being hit by rocks thrown across the border. He texted Mr Swartz that the incident was “just a little push with a ford bumper”.Prosecutors have argued in court filings that the texts show that Bowen had “great disdain” for the migrants he policed at the border, the Daily Star reported. But Chapman countered that such language was so common among border agents that they say “nothing about Mr. Bowen's mind-set”.Mr Bowen has pleaded not guilty to charges of deprivation of rights under colour of law and falsification of records in a federal investigation. Mr Chapman did not immediately respond to a message. Mr Bowen, who was hired in 2008, was put on indefinite leave without pay after his charges were filed in May 2018. His trial is scheduled to start on 13 August. The Washington Post

  • Republican Justin Amash faces party's wrath after call to impeach Trump
    Politics
    The Guardian

    Republican Justin Amash faces party's wrath after call to impeach Trump

    Congressman was dismissed by fellow Republicans and rebuked by Trump after saying he engaged in ‘impeachable conduct’ * Follow the latest in US politics – liveJustin Amash on 28 March 2017. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/APAs the only Republican in Congress to call for the impeachment of Donald Trump, Justin Amash is facing his own party’s wrath.In a series of tweets on Saturday, the Michigan congressman said attempts to obstruct justice as outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election amounted to “impeachable conduct”. He also accused the attorney general, William Barr, of misleading the US public.In the 48 hours that followed Amash’s intervention, the five-term libertarian was rebuked by the president, dismissed by Republican colleagues and challenged from the right in his district.Jim Lowe, a Michigan state representative, said on Sunday he would run for Amash’s seat in the Republican primary next year.“I am a pro-Trump, pro-life, pro-jobs, pro-second amendment, pro-family values Republican,” Lowe said in a statement. “Justin Amash’s tweets yesterday calling for President Trump’s impeachment show how out of touch he is with the truth and how out of touch he is with people he represents.”Trump said he was “never a fan” of the congressman he called “a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy”.Trump insisted Mueller’s report had found “no collusion” and “no obstruction”. A redacted version of the Mueller report made public last month found no conspiracy between Trump and Russia but laid out extensive evidence of contacts between aides and Russians and detailed 11 instances in which Trump or his campaign may have attempted to obstruct justice.Mueller did not charge Trump with obstruction, instead punting the issue to Congress. Barr chose to clear Trump of obstruction himself, before Congress had seen the report. The House and Senate have reacted in dramatically partisan fashion. Amash’s tweets therefore broke the mold. Here are my principal conclusions: 1\. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2\. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3\. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4\. Few members of Congress have read the report. — Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 18, 2019“While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances,” he tweeted, saying that unlike many of his colleague he had read the 448-page report in full, “the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.”In a demonstration of the hold Trump maintains over the Republican party, Amash was swiftly and comprehensively rejected by his own colleagues.Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, accused him of “parroting the Democrats’ talking points on Russia”. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, questioned if he was truly a Republican.“What he wants is attention in this process,” McCarthy, a staunch ally of Trump, told Fox News on Sunday. “He’s not a criminal attorney. He’s never met Mueller. He’s never met Barr. And now he’s coming forward with this?“It’s very disturbing. This is exactly what you would expect from Justin. He never supported the president. And I think he’s just looking for attention.”Amash, who was elected in the Tea Party election of 2010, has often bucked his party on key legislation. Nonetheless, he has voted with Trump most of the time and is aligned with the conservative House Freedom Caucus.His comments on impeachment will contribute to debate among Democrats, despite party leaders’ belief that the process would be both politically risky and guaranteed to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate.On Sunday Adam Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee, told CBS: “What may be pushing towards impeachment has less to do with Justin Amash and more to do with the administration engaging in a maximum obstructionism campaign against Congress.”But the Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who has sponsored a resolution to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump, invited Amash to join her.“You are putting country first, and that is to be commended,” she wrote on Twitter. “We both took an oath to uphold the US constitution.”

  • U.S. eases curbs on Huawei; founder says clampdown underestimates Chinese firm
    Business
    Reuters

    U.S. eases curbs on Huawei; founder says clampdown underestimates Chinese firm

    The U.S. Commerce Department blocked Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from buying U.S. goods last week, a major escalation in the trade war between the world's two top economies, saying the firm was involved in activities contrary to national security. The two countries increased import tariffs on each other's goods over the past two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said China had reneged on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations. On Monday, the Commerce Department granted Huawei a license to buy U.S. goods until Aug. 19 to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphones, a move intended to give telecom operators that rely on Huawei time to make other arrangements.

  • The U.S. Is Outplaying Iran in a Regional Chess Match
    World
    National Review

    The U.S. Is Outplaying Iran in a Regional Chess Match

    In the first two weeks of May, U.S.–Iran tensions appeared to be careening toward war. In an escalating series of warnings, the U.S. asserted that an attack by Iran would be met with unrelenting force. Iran eventually responded with its usual bluster about being prepared for a full confrontation with Washington. But on the ground the Middle East looks more like a chessboard, with Iran and its allies and proxies facing off against American allies. This state of affairs was brought into sharp relief when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels launched a drone attack on Saudi Arabia and a rocket fell near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.U.S. media have tended to focus on the role of national-security adviser John Bolton in crafting the administration’s policy — and whether America would actually go to war with Iran. Iranian media have also sought to decipher exactly what the Trump administration is up to. According to Iran’s Tasnim News, the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Hossein Salami told a closed session of Parliament that the U.S. was involved in a “psychological war” with Iran, predicting the U.S. didn’t have enough forces to actually attack Iran yet.In the complex game of wits being played between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime, it appears that the U.S. temporarily checked Iran’s usual behavior. Iran prefers bluster in rhetoric with a careful strategy of extending its influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, knowing that any real battle with U.S. forces will result in Iranian defeat. Tehran can’t risk massive retaliation against its allies or the regime at home for fear that it will lead to instability and the destruction of all it has carefully built up in the last years. Iran is suffering from the effects of recent nationwide floods and from shortages due to sanctions, so it can’t afford a total war, and its allies in Iraq and Lebanon are in sensitive positions of power. In the past, Iran benefited from its opaque system of alliances and its ability to threaten western powers and attack U.S. forces with proxies, even seizing U.S. sailors, without fear of reprisal. It learned in the past that the U.S. preferred diplomacy, but the current administration appears to have put Tehran on notice.The question is what can be learned from the escalating tensions. If Iran thinks Washington isn’t serious, or if it senses that domestic opposition to Washington’s saber-rattling is building, Iran may call America’s bluff. But if Iran thinks that Trump’s team really will retaliate, it will tread carefully in all the areas of the Middle East where U.S. allies and Iran’s proxies rub up against one another.To understand the chessboard, we must look at the Middle East the way Iran does. Since the 1980s, Iran’s Islamic revolution has been increasing its influence in the region. This brought Iran into vicious conflict with Iraq in the 1980s, and for a while Iran saw few major geopolitical successes. However, the weakening of the Lebanese state and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 created opportunities for Iran to exploit local militia allies and gain power. It did this in Lebanon through Hezbollah, an armed terrorist organization that has seats in the Lebanese parliament. It also did this in Iraq through a plethora of militias, many of whose leaders had served alongside the IRGC in the 1980s. Today those Shiite militias are called the Popular Mobilization Forces and they are an official paramilitary force of the Iraqi government. They have threatened the U.S., and U.S. intelligence allegedly showed them positioning rockets near U.S. bases earlier this month.In Yemen, meanwhile, Iran has worked closely with the Houthi rebels, who are being fought by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates and the government of Yemen. (That coalition is controversial; in April, Congress attempted to withdraw support for the Yemen war.) The Houthis have fired Iranian-designed ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia and used Iranian-made drones. Iran is also active in Syria, not only in support of the Syrian regime’s war against the now mostly defeated rebels, but also using bases to threaten Israel.The U.S. sees Iran as inseparable from its cobweb of allied militia groups and proxies, many of which are supported by the IRGC. The U.S. designated the IRGC a terrorist organization in April and repeatedly has warned Iran that any attack by it or its proxies will be met with a response.Iran now wants to assure its own people that war isn’t likely through media stories about how the Trump administration isn’t serious. This is in contrast to the usual Tehran bluster and threats, even historic harassment of ships in the Persian Gulf and harassment of U.S. forces in Iraq. Iran’s sudden quiet could, of course, be the calm before the storm, but it is more likely a reflection of the regime’s sudden confusion about U.S. policy. This is a good thing for American interests. Iran needs to be kept guessing about U.S. intentions. It needs to tell its proxies to stop threatening U.S. forces in Iraq, as the Defense Department says they have done as recently as March. The U.S. gained the upper hand in its recent escalation against Iran by playing Iran’s game of bluster and support for allies on the ground. If Washington wants to continue to keep Iran in check, it needs to keep up the pressure.

  • Apple offered to buy Tesla back in 2013 for more than it’s worth today
    Business
    BGR News

    Apple offered to buy Tesla back in 2013 for more than it’s worth today

    For years, analysts have maintained that Apple needs to move past the iPhone and look for additional revenue streams. Consequently, many analysts over the years have proposed that Apple would be well advised to make a blockbuster acquisition and snatch up a company like Netflix or Tesla.Interestingly enough, it turns out that Apple actually did make an effort to acquire Tesla six years ago at a valuation of $240 a share. Incidentally, Tesla's share price has been reeling lately and is currently hovering in the $200 range. Word of Apple's efforts to acquire Tesla was brought to light by analyst Craig Irwin of Roth Capital Partners who revealed the interesting tidbit on CNBC (via Electrek) earlier today."Around 2013, there was a serious bid from Apple at around $240 a share," Irwin said."This is something we did multiple checks on," Irwin added. "I have complete confidence that this is accurate. Apple bid for Tesla. I don't know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible."Notably, there have been rumblings over the years regarding Apple's interest in Tesla, but this is the first time we've seen a report that Apple was legitimately trying to make a serious play for the electric automaker.You might also recall reports from a few years back which revealed that Elon Musk, sometime in mid-2013 -- sat down for a meeting with Apple's mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica and, rumor has it, Tim Cook himself.Apple, of course, has been busy working on its own car initiative -- known as Project Titan -- for the past few years, though it remains to be seen if anything concrete ever manifests from its efforts. Early reports hinted that Apple was set on designing and building its own car, though a plethora of technical challenges ultimately resulted in a few rounds of layoffs and employees being shifted over to other projects. Last we heard, Apple's Project Titan is still ongoing but is now focused on autonomous systems as opposed to designing a car from the ground up.Interestingly, and somewhat uncharacteristically, Tim Cook confirmed this during an interview a few years ago. "We're focusing on autonomous systems," Cook said in 2017. "It's a core technology that we view as very important."Lastly, with Morgan Stanley recently noting that Tesla shares may sink to $10/share in a worst-case scenario, it will be interesting to see if Apple might swoop in and pick up the company at a huge discount.