The first impeachment hearings of the week brought more bad news for the White House, as two officials who listened directly to a call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine testified they found it unusual, while a witness called by Republicans defended the honor of former Vice President Joe Biden and said calling for an investigation into him was “unacceptable.” But there were elements in Tuesday's testimony that offered some support to the narrative favored by House Republicans. Jennifer Williams was a staffer for the 2004 George W. Bush campaign before moving into a nonpolitical foreign service position and now serves as a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
An ammunition dealer who acknowledged selling hundreds of incendiary tracer rounds to the gunman who killed nearly 60 people at a Las Vegas music festival two years ago pleaded guilty on Tuesday to manufacturing bullets without a license. Douglas Haig, 57, of Mesa, Arizona, became the first and only person arrested and charged in connection with the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre, which ended when the gunman, Stephen Paddock, killed himself. Haig told reporters following his arrest last year that none of the surplus military ammunition he sold to Paddock in September 2017 was ever fired during the killing spree, which ranks as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the key Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday to show Washington's "commitment" to freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said, amid tensions with Tehran. The group's move through the strategic waterway separating Iran and the United Arab Emirates towards the Gulf was scheduled, and unfolded without incident, the US Navy said in a statement. It was the first time a US aircraft carrier group went through the strait since Iran downed a US drone in June in the same area.
Five American journalists sued the U.S. government Wednesday, alleging border authorities violated their First Amendment rights by inspecting their cameras and notebooks and questioning them extensively about their coverage of last year's migrant caravan. The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union recounts the experiences of the freelance photographers and seeks to test the limits of U.S. officials' broad authority to question anyone, including journalists, entering the country. While KNSD, the NBC affiliate in San Diego, reported on the existence of the dossier in March, the journalists have never shared such detailed accounts of how they were treated by U.S. and Mexican officials.
Nearly three-fourths of transgender and gender non-conforming Americans slain in the last three years were killed with a firearm, according to data published this month by the gun violence prevention advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. The data sheds grim new light on the role of guns in what's been called an epidemic of violence against transgender Americans, as advocates honor the victims with nationwide vigils Wednesday during the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The data is available for the first time publicly via EveryStat for Gun Safety, the group's database detailing gun deaths in America.
After nearly 12 hours of testimony, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff concluded Day 3 of public impeachment inquiry hearings with impassioned remarks.
Russia's much-feared Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire is getting a new upgrade and is adding a new long-range supersonic missile called the Kh-32. The upgrade will allow the massive jet to once again hit allied targets across the North Atlantic region just as the Backfire once did during the Cold War. The bomber and its new weapon will be delivered to the Russian Aerospace Forces in October.
The Indian Army plans to buy just 1,800 state-of-the-art sniper rifles and 2.7 million rounds of ammunition -- less than a third of its total requirement -- driven by budgetary constraints and the need to speed up deliveries, people with knowledge of the matter said. The military pruned its original requirement of 5,720 sniper rifles and 10 million rounds of ammunition, which would have cost $140 million, to prioritize spending and advance the purchase of more modern equipment, they said, asking not to be identified as the information isn't public. Indian Army spokesman Aman Anand said he had no comment to offer on the change in procurement plans.
China has many prisoners of conscience but perhaps none like Wang Yongzhi. Five years ago, according to newly leaked documents, the Communist Party official was assigned the task of forcing tens of thousands of minority Uyghurs into indoctrination camps in western China. The party leaders wanted to eradicate Muslim culture and to show “absolutely no mercy” in doing so.
In his questioning of David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, Ratcliffe reprised a now familiar defense of the president, that putting a hold on military aid to Ukraine was done out of concern about corruption in the country. The reasons for the hold in summer 2019, during Ukraine's ongoing war with Russia, were not communicated either publicly or within the diplomatic and national security bureaucracy. Citing other recent instances in which congressionally approved U.S. foreign aid had been withheld without explanation, Ratcliffe asked Hale, “So, having no explanation for why aid is being withheld is not uncommon?
Alumni of the Obama administration reacted with disbelief and outrage to a claim from White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham that incoming Trump administration officials found insulting notes left behind for them in their offices. “We came into the White House, I'll tell you something,” said Grisham during a local radio interview Tuesday morning, as reported by CNN's Abby Phillip. In the nearly three years since the presidential transition, no Trump administration officials have mentioned the notes or produced any photos that would support Grisham's charge.
An Arizona jury on Wednesday found a human rights activist not guilty of harboring two migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, after the U.S. government prosecuted him for giving them food, water and shelter in the desert. The Tucson jury took just over two hours to decide that Scott Warren, 37, a geography professor, provided the men with legal humanitarian aid in January 2018 and did not deliberately conceal them from U.S. Border Patrol. A previous jury was unable to decide whether he broke the law by letting the men stay in a building near Ajo, Arizona, to recover from a two-day trek.
A North Carolina county removed a Confederate statue from a historic courthouse early Wednesday, joining the handful of places around the state where such monuments have come down in recent years despite a law protecting them. Preparations began Tuesday night to carefully dismantle the statue of a soldier outside the historic Chatham County courthouse, where it had stood since 1907, and continued for hours overnight, said county spokeswoman Kara Lusk Dudley. The removal comes months after Winston-Salem officials removed a Confederate statue from land there that had passed into private hands.
A sketch of the young girl whose remains were found at a softball field in Delaware in September was released this week by authorities to help solve the mystery of her death. Smyrna Police Department investigators said they hope the facial reconstruction sketches prompt tipsters to come forward with either the girl's identity or possible suspect information. The department is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Delaware Division of Forensic Science on the case.
Washington D.C.) The Navy has laid the keel for its first new, Flight III DDG 51 surface warfare destroyer armed with improved weapons, advanced sensors and new radar 35-times more sensitive than most current systems, changing attack and defensive options for the surface fleet. Navy Flight III Destroyers have a host of defining new technologies not included in current ships such as more on-board power to accommodate laser weapons, new engines, improved electronics, fast-upgradeable software and a much more powerful radar. The Flight III Destroyers will be able to see and destroy a much wider range of enemy targets at farther distances.
Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on Twitter The South African government's selection of a white executive to head the state power utility has outraged some unionists and politicians who see the move as a setback to efforts to address the nation's racial disparities. Andre de Ruyter, 51, is due to become chief executive officer of debt-stricken Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. on Jan. 15 and will be the first white person to be assigned the post on a permanent basis since Allen Morgan retired in early 2001. Jacob Maroga, who was Eskom CEO from 2007 to 2009, and Dan Marokane, the utility's former head of group capital, were among the black contenders.
After Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) accused South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of being woefully inexperienced when it comes to national security and foreign policy, Buttigieg fired back by saying he would never have met a "murderous dictator" like she did. In 2017, six years after the start of the Syrian Civil War, Gabbard traveled to the country to meet with its leader, Bashar al-Assad. The United States considers him a war criminal who killed his own citizens, and facing criticism for her trip back home, Gabbard refused to denounce Assad or apologize for the meeting.
In his opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union — who has been widely seen as the impeachment inquiry's most consequential witness — put President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the center of the effort to pressure the president of Ukraine to carry out Trump's political agenda. His testimony supported the accounts by other witnesses that Trump sought to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
Austrian Nobel literature prize winner Peter Handke on Wednesday defended his vocal support for Serbs in the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia, but said he "never bowed down" before Slobodan Milosevic. The Swedish academy's pick last month triggered outrage in the Balkans and beyond because of Handke's admiration for the late Serbian strongman. As well as for his literary works, Handke was widely criticised for speaking at the 2006 funeral of Milosevic, who died awaiting trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
For three days last week, anti-government protesters camped out at Hong Kong's sprawling Polytechnic University prepared for what they feared might be a bloody, even deadly, battle with police. In the university's heart, littered with smashed glass and covered in revolutionary graffiti spray-painted on the walls, the black-clad demonstrators in gas masks sawed metal poles into batons and practiced firing rocks from a makeshift catapult. Nearby, others ferried around crates of petrol bombs and wrapped arrows in cloth to set aflame.
The son of former German president Richard von Weizsaecker was stabbed to death while he was giving a lecture at a hospital in Berlin where he worked as a head physician, police said Wednesday. A 57-year-old German man is in custody after he jumped up from the audience at the Schlosspark-Klinik and attacked Fritz von Weizsaecker with a knife on Tuesday evening. Von Weizsaecker died at the scene from a knife wound to the neck despite immediate attention from colleagues, said Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors.
In her reelection video for Cook County State Attorney released Tuesday, Kim Foxx concedes that she mishandled the high-profile prosecution of Empire actor Jussie Smollett. The truth is, I didn't handle it well,” Foxx says in the video. I own that.
A former California nanny will serve 30 years in federal prison for filming child pornography with at least five victims under his care, authorities said Monday. Travis Elconin convinced families and friends to hire him as a caretaker, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California said in a press release, then sexually abused their children. The 35-year-old Burbank resident also advertised his nanny services online, according to court documents detailed in the release.