• 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.

  • 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.

  • Ukraine's New Leader Sets Snap Parliamentary Election for July
    World
    Bloomberg

    Ukraine's New Leader Sets Snap Parliamentary Election for July

    (Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s new leader started a two-month countdown to snap parliamentary elections as the TV comedian-turned-politician tries to consolidate power after his rapid rise to power.

  • With shelters at 'max' California border agents drop migrants at bus station
    News
    Reuters

    With shelters at 'max' California border agents drop migrants at bus station

    U.S. Border Patrol in the El Centro area of southern California said it began to drop migrants off at San Bernardino's Greyhound Station on Wednesday after it ran out of room to hold them. "It was a decision that was made because they couldn’t take any more families and obviously we cannot keep them in custody for much longer because we are at capacity," said Miguel Garcia, acting assistant chief patrol agent. Apprehensions of migrant families in California's El Centro sector rose 383 percent in the seven months through April from a year earlier as record numbers of mainly Central Americans crossed the border, Border Patrol data shows.

  • Fears rise China could weaponise rare earths in US tech war
    World
    AFP

    Fears rise China could weaponise rare earths in US tech war

    The US has hit China where it hurts by going after its telecom champion Huawei, but Beijing's control of the global supply of rare earths used in smartphones and electric cars gives it a powerful weapon in their escalating tech war. A seemingly routine visit by President Xi Jinping to a Chinese rare earths company this week is being widely read as an obvious threat that Beijing is standing ready for action. Xi's inspection tour "is no accident, this didn't happen by chance," said Li Mingjiang, China programme coordinator at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore.

  • 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.

  • Police arrest suspect who allegedly killed 1 officer, wounded 2 others
    U.S.
    Yahoo News Video

    Police arrest suspect who allegedly killed 1 officer, wounded 2 others

    A man who opened fire on police responding to a domestic disturbance report, killing one officer and wounding two others, was arrested on Monday and charged with capital murder, authorities said. Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, was being held without bond in the shooting death of Auburn, Ala., Officer William Buechner, who had been with the police division for more than 13 years.

  • AP Explains: How Yemen's rebels increasingly deploy drones
    World
    Associated Press

    AP Explains: How Yemen's rebels increasingly deploy drones

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In Yemen, the high-pitched whine of drones has been a part of life for over 15 years, ever since the first U.S. drone strike here targeting al-Qaida in 2002. But now, Iran-backed Houthi rebels increasingly deploy drones in Yemen's brutal civil war.

  • 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.”

  • After Huawei, U.S. could blacklist Chinese surveillance tech firm - media
    Business
    Reuters

    After Huawei, U.S. could blacklist Chinese surveillance tech firm - media

    The U.S. administration is considering Huawei-like sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision, media reports show, deepening worries that trade friction between the world's top two economies could be further inflamed. The restrictions would limit Hikvision's ability to buy U.S. technology and American companies may have to obtain government approval to supply components to the Chinese firm, the New York Times reported https://nyti.ms/2MfgBS3 on Tuesday. The United States stuck Huawei Technologies on a trade blacklist last week, effectively banning U.S. firms from doing business with the world's largest telecom network gear maker, in a major escalation in the trade war.

  • Democratic Rep. Tells Acting DHS Chief: Migrant Kid Deaths Under Your Watch Are ‘Intentional’
    News
    The Daily Beast

    Democratic Rep. Tells Acting DHS Chief: Migrant Kid Deaths Under Your Watch Are ‘Intentional’

    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/CSPANThe acting head of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday was accused of overseeing the “intentional” deaths of five migrant children, in an aggressive line of questioning by a Democratic member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Rep. Lauren Underwood, an Illinois Democrat serving her first term, called the deaths the logical result of “a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration,” an assertion that Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan disputed as “an appalling accusation.”McAleenan, who was first tapped to replace outgoing secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April, previously served as commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, where he was an architect of the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families. That policy, Underwood said, as well as a spate of recent deaths of children in DHS custody, amounts to more than simple administrative negligence.“People keep dying, sir. People keep dying,” Underwood said at the conclusion of five minutes of aggressive questioning, disputing that overcrowding and lack of access to medical treatment at migrant detention facilities is the result of a lack of appropriations. “Congress has been more than willing to provide the resources and work with you to address the security and humanitarian concerns, but at this point, with five kids that have died, 5,000 separated from their families, I feel like—and the evidence is really clear—that this is intentional. It’s intentional.”DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Blames Migrant Girl’s Death in Border Patrol Custody on Her FamilyAs colleagues protested her characterization, Underwood continued, calling the deaths “a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration, and it’s cruel and inhumane.”McAleenan, who co-authored a memo to then-Secretary Nielsen asserting that Homeland Security could “direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted,” protested Underwood’s remarks.“That’s an appalling accusation, and our men and women fight hard to protect people in our custody every single day,” said McAleenan, adding that Congress providing adequate resources “would have prevented this from happening.”Republican committee members—as well as one Democrat, Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan—voted to strike Underwood’s remarks from the congressional record.On Monday, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy became the fifth minor to die in U.S. government custody since December after being kept in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility for more than a week. Federal law requires minors to be held in Border Patrol stations, which are not equipped to house children or the infirm, for no longer than 72 hours.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.

  • Eiffel Tower climber 'admitted to psychiatric unit'
    World
    AFP

    Eiffel Tower climber 'admitted to psychiatric unit'

    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.

  • Oklahoma reels, Missouri declares state of emergency from storm, floods
    News
    Reuters

    Oklahoma reels, Missouri declares state of emergency from storm, floods

    Rescue crews using boats pulled at least 50 people from rising water as heavy downpours inundated roads and homes, Oklahoma Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Keli Cain said, although there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries. Only the tops of cars engulfed by water were could be seen in video footage of roadways near Oklahoma City, and some houses were entirely surrounded by floods. "It's real dangerous," said Ross Reuter, a spokesman for Canadian County, where 10 people were rescued.

  • Marlen Ochoa-Lopez murder: Baby boy cut from mother's womb opens eyes for the first time
    News
    The Independent

    Marlen Ochoa-Lopez murder: Baby boy cut from mother's womb opens eyes for the first time

    A baby boy, cut from his mother's womb after her murder last month, opened his eyes for the first time on Tuesday as he fights for his life in a Chicago hospital.The mother, 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, was nine months pregnant when she was killed last month. Clarisa Figueroa and her daughter Desiree Figueroa have been arrested as suspects.According to police, the pair had lured Ochoa-Lopez to their home under the pretext of offering her baby clothes.After strangling Ochoa-Lopez, the two allegedly cut the unborn baby out of her womb. Police said that they believe the elder Figuaroa had hoped to raise the child as her own after the recent death of her own son. Both Figueroas have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Clarissa's boyfriend, Piotr Bobak, has also been arrested and charged with concealing a homicide.The baby, who was removed from the womb almost two months premature, has been fighting for his life ever since.Sunday however, a picture emerged of the little boy in the arms of his father, Yovany Lopez, apparently taken shortly after he had opened his eyes for the first time, CNN reported."We were just praying and praying and he opened his eyes, and his dad said, 'Oh my God, he opened his eyes!'" Cecilia Garcia, a student pastor who is assisting the family and is the one who took the photo, told CNN.Garcia, said she was horrified when she first heard about the killing, but believes that the country has united in support of the family."She's evoked the whole nation of people, pouring their love out for this family," Garcia said in reference to Marlen. "He's a single dad now, and we're praying this baby makes it."

  • New laws bring confusion, uncertainty for abortion clinics
    News
    Associated Press

    New laws bring confusion, uncertainty for abortion clinics

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Abortion clinics are facing protesters emboldened by a flurry of restrictive new state laws as they reassure confused patients that the laws have yet to take effect, abortion providers said.

  • 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.”

  • Washington's Huawei reprieve triggers relief rally in bruised EU chip stocks
    Business
    Reuters

    Washington's Huawei reprieve triggers relief rally in bruised EU chip stocks

    Shares in European semiconductor companies, one of the most sensitive sectors to the global trade tensions, recovered from their worst day in 4-1/2 months on Tuesday after the White House backtracked overnight on tough limits on China's Huawei. AMS, STMicroelectronics and Germany's Infineon shot higher - between 2-5.6% - in early deals after Washington temporarily eased trade limits on China's Huawei Technologies, in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers. The technology index was up 1% at 0741 GMT, recovering some of the 2.8% lost on Monday as investors shunned the sector amid worries that Huawei suppliers would lose business or have to sever ties with the world's No. 2 smartphone company due to tough U.S. restrictions imposed last week.

  • Ministers Plot to Thwart May as PM Keeps Fighting: Brexit Update
    World
    Bloomberg

    Ministers Plot to Thwart May as PM Keeps Fighting: Brexit Update

    Chief whip Julian Smith met rank-and-file MPs for just two minutes in Parliament today. May’s chief whip will meet the executive committee that represents rank-and-file Conservative MPs at 5:30 p.m, according to people familiar with the situation.

  • Iran 'threat' has diminished, says US defense secretary
    Politics
    The Guardian

    Iran 'threat' has diminished, says US defense secretary

    Patrick Shanahan credits US show of forceRemarks appear to be a sign tension is easing This handout picture released by the US navy shows an F/A-18E Super Hornet landing on the flight deck of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf. Photograph: MC3 Jeff Sherman/AFP/Getty Images The acting US defence secretary has claimed that the alleged threat from Iran has receded as the result of an American show of force in the Middle East. “We’ve put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans,” Patrick Shanahan told reporters before briefing Congress on the situation in the Persian Gulf and the military deployments that the US said were a response to a danger of imminent attack. The arrival of an aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships was recently accelerated, and B-52 bombers were sent to Qatar. Tensions increased with mysterious sabotage attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, and drone strikes on Saudi oil installations, claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Nerves in the region were put even more on edge on Sunday by Donald Trump’s tweeted threat that any conflict with the US would mean “the official end of Iran”. The remarks from Shanahan appeared to be a sign that tensions were easing. Asked what he meant by saying that the threat was “on hold”, the acting defence secretary said: “There haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold. “That doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away,” Shanahan added. “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.” The Trump administration did not make public the intelligence it claimed showed an imminent Iranian threat to the US in the Middle East. An investigation is under way into the sabotage attacks on four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last week. The UK and Norway are helping the US with the inquiry, which was expected to report on Monday, but has been delayed for reasons that have not made clear. One of the tankers attacked was Norwegian-flagged. The secretary of state, spoke on Tuesday with the country’s foreign minister, Ine Søreide, about the incident. A European diplomat said: “We are very careful not to make attribution for recent attacks unless we are certain.” Officials briefing the media have also claimed that overhead photography showed missiles being loaded on to dhows on the Iranian coast, and chatter about potential attacks on US facilities and personnel in Iraq. The state department withdrew non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil. It was unclear what Iran’s aim was supposed to be in loading missiles on to dhows. Experts said that it would be very difficult to fire a missile from a small boat and if the intelligence reports were true, it was more likely they were being shipped to the Houthi movement in Yemen, or moved for safekeeping. Later reports suggested that the Iranian military deployments and discussion of targets could have been contingency measures for a possible response in the event of a US attack on Iran, seen as increasingly likely in recent months with the apparent ascendancy of John Bolton, the ultra-hawk national security adviser, in foreign policymaking. The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Joseph Dunford, were expected to brief the House and Senate on Iran on Tuesday afternoon. Bolton was not on the list of speakers. “My take is that the Iranians saw an attack coming and they prepared to strike back and that caused alarm in the White House and particularly with the president,” said Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, who now teaches at Georgetown University. “The line sold to Trump by Bolton and Bibi Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman is he could strike Iran, show US dominance, and not risk anything. Iran showed it was preparing to strike back. Trump is smart enough to know that a war would be devastating, and not just for his political interests.” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued that the current defusing of tensions showed that the US response had worked. “The entire point behind America’s military repositioning in the region was to dampen the prospects of escalation,” Taleblu said. “And while it may have worked for now, Washington will need to make sure its message of resolve is similarly interpreted in the future. The Iranians have a habit of continually testing for weaknesses and deficiencies.”

  • British Steel collapses; thousands of jobs could go
    World
    AFP

    British Steel collapses; thousands of jobs could go

    British Steel collapsed on Wednesday after the government said last-ditch talks with its owners failed to secure a full financial rescue. The High Court in London ordered British Steel Limited into compulsory liquidation, a statement said. "British Steel Limited was wound-up in the High Court" on Wednesday, meaning its assets would be sold to help pay debts.