Anne SpeckhardBAGHDAD—The sound of an explosion echoed through the Green Zone on Sunday night around 9:00 p.m., a reminder that this most secure part of the Iraqi capital is not, in fact, all that safe. The projectile appears to have been aimed at the United States embassy and, after the blast, embassy sirens went off, accompanied by repeated warnings blaring on loudspeakers instructing everyone to take immediate cover. Within the hour the missile was reported to have been fired from the Amana bridge in Baghdad, missing its likely intended target and landing in an empty field near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with no casualties reported.What the Last War With Iran Tells Us About the Next OneBut for a brief and highly fraught moment alarms were going off in Washington, as well, where the much-publicized threat of Iranian “proxy” attacks on U.S. interests and personnel, and the American response positioning bombers and aircraft carriers, have conjured the specter of a new Middle Eastern war. One breaking news service breathlessly reported National Security Adviser John Bolton “just seen arriving at the White House amid rocket attack possibly aimed at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.”President Trump, meanwhile, tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” It is not clear if he was responding to the rocket, a Katyusha that might have been fired by any number of players in Iraq, or to threatening rhetoric by some Iranian officials, or both.In any case, non-essential American personnel at the embassy had already been ordered to depart days earlier, many moving to posts in nearby countries to continue their work, and the U.S. embassy was already expecting a possible attack.Our team of researchers for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) landed in Baghdad on May 14, 2019, the day before the U.S. State Department issued the security alert to the “non-essentials” in Baghdad and Erbil, recommending they “depart Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible, avoid U.S. facilities within Iraq, monitor local media for updates, review personal security plans, remain aware of surroundings.” An earlier security alert on May 12 advised all U.S. citizens of heightened tensions in Iraq and the requirement to remain vigilant. It recommended not traveling to Iraq, avoiding places known as U.S. citizen gathering points, keeping a low profile and, once again, being aware of your surroundings.For those of use who have been visiting Iraq since 2006, this seems at once familiar and strange. Is the threat greater now than it was when the U.S. embassy was housed in Saddam’s former palace, and frequently underwent mortar fire? In those days none of the 5,000 embassy personnel were ordered home. Despite President Trump saying he does not want war, does this action signal that something more than just mortar fire is about to come? A former senior diplomat who served in Iraq following the 2003 invasion warned that if the U.S. or Israel had decided to launch air strikes on Iran, emptying the embassy might be a smart move. Iran could strike back at a close and convenient target—the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad—and its ballistic missiles would be much more dangerous and difficult to withstand than mortars or Katyushas.According to a senior official in the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) the rocket Sunday night was launched by the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah. If it came on Iranian orders, the lone, ineffectual projectile may have been intended as a pin-prick provocation testing reactions without triggering full-fledged war. Other recent incidents—a drone attack on a Saudi pipeline; minor explosions on Saudi and other oil tankers—could fall into the same category.Iraq, liberated from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein by the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, has come under increasing Iranian influence ever since, and the Iran-backed militias played a key role fighting the so-called Islamic State after the national army virtually imploded in 2014. They have since become a major element in the Iraqi defense apparatus, even though some 5,000 U.S. military personnel are on the ground training and working with other elements of the Iraqi military.The threat inside Iraq to U.S. personnel was revealed in part to Iraqi leaders during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s surprise visit here on May 7. The secretary is reported to have told Iraqi officials that U.S. intelligence detected that Iranian-backed militias moving missiles near bases housing American forces. Reuters reported that, according to a senior Iraqi official privy to the substance of the talks, Pompeo asked the Iraqi government to rein in the Shiite militias. Pompeo also expressed U.S. concern about these militias’ increased presence and influence in Iraq and warned that the U.S. would use force to tackle the security threats if necessary, without first consulting Baghdad. Iraq's pro-Iranian military factions have long been a concern for U.S. personnel deployed in the region. Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a radical Shiite militia in Iraq has, for example, long been cooperating with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a group that was just declared by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. The newly appointed IRGC leader, Hossein Salami, replied that his people are proud to be called terrorists by President Trump while also threatening the U.S. and Israel.The Iraqi militia, Nujaba, also was added by the U.S. State Department to the U.S. list of global terrorist organizations on March 7 this year and its leader Akram Kaabi was sanctioned. Iran’s Qasem Soleimani is the Mastermind Preparing Proxy Armies for War With AmericaNujaba has been demanding that U.S. troops leave Iraq for quite some time. On May 12, Nujaba’s leaders proclaimed, "Confrontation with the United States will only stop once it is eliminated from the region, along with the Zionist entity,” while also stating that Iraqi resistance factions are ready to target U.S. interests in Iraq.The Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, which our source says was behind the Sunday night rocket attack, warned in February 2018 that it might engage in armed confrontation with US forces in Iraq at any moment. According to one Iraqi source, the Kataib Hezbollah is one of the militias that recently placed missiles near U.S. military bases. The New York Times reported the the U.S. government was picking up an increase in conversations between the Revolutionary Guards and foreign militias discussing attacks on American troops and diplomats in Iraq.The New York Times also reported that American officials cited intelligence from aerial photographs of fully assembled missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf as cause for the U.S. administration to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran. This created concerns that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would fire them at United States naval ships or American commercial ships.An Iraqi source confirmed on May 18 that ExxonMobil was evacuating its personnel of 30 to 50 employees from Basra, Iraq, and that the Bahrain embassy had also evacuated its employees from both Iraq and Iran. And U.S. embassies disseminated a warning from the Federal Aviation Agency that U.S. commercial airliners flying over the waters of the Persian Gulf risk being misidentified and by implication shot down amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.A potential conflict much larger than Iranian-backed Shia militias throwing mortar fire at the now fortress-like U.S. Embassy appears to be brewing amid credible intelligence coupled with heated anti-American rhetoric. Yet, security threats to U.S. personnel serving in Iraq are nothing out of the ordinary and date back to the 2003 U.S. invasion. At the height of its activities, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had thousands of personnel, including contractors. They regularly suffered all sorts of threats from IED attacks when they ventured out on the road, RPG fire when they used helicopters, snipers when they were out in public view and intermittent but regular mortar fire that rained down on the temporary trailers that served as housing near the old Saddam palace where they worked. One mortar penetrated a window to the bathroom of the Deputy U.S. Ambassador’s office, situated inside the palace, destroying the brick wall around the window. It was later bricked up completely. The walkway from the trailers to the palace was mortared so often and so hard that it was nicknamed “death alley” by embassy personnel serving there.While embassy personnel received danger and hardship pay, none were ordered home during those years, and danger was considered a part of the assignment. IED’s and mortars occasionally killed embassy personnel, but that did not stop the mission. At present, the U.S. Embassy Baghdad is housed in a complex on a closed street that only badged officials can enter. The grounds are heavily walled walled and difficult to enter and inside, the buildings appear strongly built to withstand assault. In Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, which also fell under the non-essential personnel evacuation order, a restaurant nearby was attacked by a car bomb in 2015, killing three non-Americans. But, while less robustly built, the consulate also is behind a concrete walled-off security space.U.S. Embassy diplomatic personnel posted in both Baghdad and Erbil infrequently leave their fortresses and when they do travel around Iraq, their security requirements require using armored cars, wearing bullet proof vests and flack helmets and traveling with armed security guards, sometimes with chase and lead cars in a convoy.Likewise, U.S. Embassy Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil are not family postings—diplomatic personnel serve for one or two years, leaving their family members behind. The new embassy building, not far from the old one, was planned during the time of frequent attacks and was undoubtedly built to withstand mortar storms. Long and short-range ballistic missiles however constitute a whole different threat and it’s not publicly known if the new embassy has bomb-hardened resistant bunkers to protect embassy personnel.Whether U.S. embassy non-essential personnel will return to post anytime soon remains to be seen, and given the dangers such personnel have faced in the past and the fortress in which they currently serve, why they were really ordered home is also still an unanswered question. With ships coming to the region and troops readying for potential travel, serious troubles may well be on the horizon.While the saber rattling on both sides continues, Baghdad has also made clear that it doesn’t want to become the battlefield.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Strokosch claimed the agency was not alerted about the case until May 9, amidquestions about who had custody of the child and could make medical decisionson his behalf, the Associated Press reports
A tornado tore through a neighborhood near Tulsa International Airport on Tuesday as a powerful storm triggered flash flooding and washed out roads across parts of Oklahoma.
SHANGHAI/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States has temporarily eased trade restrictions on China's Huawei to minimize disruption for its customers, a move the founder of the world's largest telecoms equipment maker said meant little because it was already prepared for U.S. action. The U.S. Commerce Department blocked Huawei Technologies 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.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was sworn in Monday, won a resounding electoral victory last month on pledges to end decades of corruption and resolve the deadly conflict fomented by Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014. “There will be serious legal debates about the terms of parliament’s dissolution,” Yuriy Yakymenko, an analyst at the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies in Kiev, said by phone. On Monday, the second-largest party, the bloc of outgoing President Petro Poroshenko, said it would be prepared for a snap ballot, as long as such a step is justified.
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 man who survived the 1999 Columbine school shooting has died at his home in Colorado.Austin Eubanks, who worked as an advocate for fighting addiction, died overnight in the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County coroner Robert Ryg said.His cause of death is currently unknown but no foul play is suspected and an autopsy will be carried out on Monday.Mr Eubanks’ family said he had “lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face”.“We thank the recovery community for its support,” they said in a statement.“As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time.”Mr Eubanks was 17 when two gunmen entered Columbine High School’s library on 20 April 1999 and opened fire. The teenager was hit in the hand and the knee during the shooting, in which 13 people were killed, according to The Denver Channel.At the time the massacre was the deadliest high school shooting in US history.Mr Eubanks said he became addicted to the painkillers prescribed for his injuries in the aftermath of the shooting.He later worked at an addiction treatment centre and travelled across the US, telling his story.“I think that it’s really important that – not as survivors of trauma but survivors of addiction – speak out and they share their story,” he told Denver7 in 2016.“I remember... hitting multiple low points in my life and thinking there was no way out and I just want people to know there is a way out.”“Helping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin, and we plan to continue his work,” Mr Eubanks’ family said in a statement.Additional reporting by agencies
A man has been charged in the abduction of an 8-year-old girl who was snatched from a street in Fort Worth, Texas, as she walked with her mother. Fort Worth police say the girl was found safe Sunday at a hotel in nearby Forest Hill. (May 20)
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.
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.
Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, was arrested Monday following a massive manhunt that involved multiple police agencies and aircrafts.
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.
The trade war with China has reached new heights in the past few weeks, as the Trump administration recently announced that US companies will be banned from buying equipment from certain Chinese companies. Huawei's name wasn't explicitly mentioned, but it was obviously implied that China's biggest tech company is included on the list. Separately, the US government also issued a ban that prevents Huawei from dealing with US tech companies, whether it's for parts procurement or software licenses. The first effects of that decision are already here, as Google has already said it will comply with the ban, effectively revoking Huawei's access to the version of Android that everybody wants. Several chipmakers, including Intel and Qualcomm, have also reportedly cut ties with Huawei for the time being.On top of that, a report reveals that top officials from the US intelligence community have been meeting with tech execs, universities, and trade organizations to brief them about the security perils related to doing business with China.The briefings began last October and have been held in California and Washington, The Financial Times reports (via The Verge), with US intelligence informing those in attendance about the cyber threats and the theft of intellectual property risks that come with dealing with China.Among those giving the briefings was Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, the report notes. The meetings reportedly included the sharing of classified information, which is an unusual element for such meetings. It's unclear what kind of information was shared with tech execs during these meetings, and what companies attended them.Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the politicians who organized the meetings, confirmed their existence. "The Chinese government and Communist party pose the greatest long-term threat to US economic and national security," Rubio said. "It's important that US companies, universities, and trade organizations understand fully that threat."
Created by the custom shop Himalaya, this Defender is a Land Rover like you've never seen before-complete with a Chevy V8 and a Jeep steering box.From Popular Mechanics
Heeding Trump's instructions to ignore a subpoena from the Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, McGahn failed to show up for scheduled testimony before the panel on Thursday morning. Undeterred in a growing conflict with Trump over congressional powers to oversee his administration, committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced he has issued fresh subpoenas to former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, the former chief of staff to McGahn. The subpoenas seek testimony and documents in connection with the committee's probe into whether Trump obstructed Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Trump upped the ante in his trade dispute with China last week, announcing moves to curb Huawei’s business that are starting to have ramifications for other companies around the world. "This is wrong behavior, so there will be a necessary response," Zhang Ming, China’s envoy to the EU, said in an interview in Brussels on Monday.
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."
“Does the mission require a cloaking device or is it OK if the threat sees it but can’t do anything about it?”State-run Chinese media is claiming that the People’s Liberation Army has been able to track the U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighters over the East China Sea. While the Chinese report might be easily dismissed as propaganda—it is not beyond the realm of possibility. In fact—it’s very possible that China can track the Raptor. Stealth is not a cloak of invisibility, after all. Stealth technology simply delays detection and tracking.(This first appeared in 2016.)First off, if a Raptor is carrying external fuel tanks—as it often does during “ferry missions”—it is not in a stealth configuration. Moreover, the aircraft is often fitted with a Luneburg lens device on its ventral side during peacetime operations that enhances its cross section on radar.That being said, even combat-configured F-22s are not invisible to enemy radar, contrary to popular belief. Neither is any other tactical fighter-sized stealth aircraft with empennage surfaces such as tailfins—the F-35, PAK-FA, J-20 or J-31. That’s just basic physics.
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):
LONDON/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Time to abandon the Huawei phone? Google said on Monday it would comply with an order by U.S. President Donald Trump to stop supplying Huawei, meaning it would no longer be able to offer its popular Android apps to buyers of new Huawei phones. The order to U.S. companies could affect tens of millions of consumers in Europe, its biggest market outside mainland China.
Ford plans to cut 7,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its global salaried workforce, as part of a reorganization as it revamps its vehicle offerings, the company said Monday. The downsizing will involve some layoffs and reassignments of white-collar staff 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.
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.
Upgrade anything from your home tech to backyard grill this Memorial Day weekend. From Popular Mechanics
Ukraine’s new president dismissed parliament and called a snap election just moments after being sworn into office on Monday. Volodymyr Zelensky, whose Servant of People party has no representation in the current parliament, also used his inaugural address to promise an end to the war in the east of the country and asked MPs to fire several key officials including the current defence minister. “All my life I tried to do all I could so that Ukrainians laughed,” Mr Zelensky, a television comedian, told MPs during a ceremony in the parliament in Kiev. “Now I will do all I can so that Ukrainians at least do not cry any more.” Mr Zelensky, 41, won the presidency last month with a landslide run-off victory against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014. He had no prior political experience, and he was mostly known for his role in a television comedy ‘Servant of the People’, in which he played a school teacher who accidentally becomes president of Ukraine after ranting against corruption. He named his party after the TV show. Zelenskiy greets his supporters as he walks to take the oath of office ahead of his inauguration ceremony Credit: REUTERS Critics say he has given few specific details about his plans for presidency and have questioned his links to Ihor Kolomoisky, a billionaire oligarch who had fallen out with the previous government. On Monday he dispensed with the traditional motorcade and arrived at the parliament building on foot, he stopping to pose for selfies and high-five his cheering supporters who gathered outside. Inside, he delivered a punchy and at times confrontational speech in which he said his priority would be ending the war, which has claimed at least 13,000 lives since Russia sent troops across the border to support a separatist uprising in 2014. "I'm ready to do everything so that our heroes don't die there," he said. "I'm ready to lose my popularly and, if necessary, I'm ready to lose my post so that we have peace," he said. He said he would begin by demanding Russia release Ukrainian prisoners. When one MP heckled for switching from Ukrainian into Russian in an appeal to residents in the east, he snapped back: "Thank you for continuing to divide our people". He also spoke against a deep-rooted culture of corruption among the government officials, saying politicians themselves had created “the opportunities to bribe, steal and pluck the resources.” He suggested the MPs should lift their own right to immunity from prosecution and demanding the dismissal the defense minister, the head of the Security Service, and the prosecutor general. The next elections for the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s single-house parliament, were scheduled to take place in October. Mr Zelensky said they would be brought forward to July. The move appears designed to help his party win a majority of seats before the surge of popularity on which he rode to office dissipates. In a symbolic move Volodymyr Groysman, the current prime minister, said he would resign Wednesday, inviting Mr Zelenskiy to take full responsibility for the country. If parliament accepts his resignation, he will remain as a caretaker prime minister until the snap election. Russian media reported that no officials were invited to the ceremony from Moscow. The Kremlin said Vladimir Putin would not congratulate Mr Zelensky on his electoral victory until there was progress in ending the war.
US officials have issued a 90-day reprieve on their ban on dealing with Chinese tech giant Huawei, saying breathing space was needed to avoid huge disruption. A Commerce Department filing said the delay does not change the ban imposed by President Donald Trump on national security grounds, an action with major implications for US and Chinese technology firms. Instead, it grants a temporary license that will allow Huawei to continue doing business with American firms.