• Iraq caught in the middle of US-Iran face-off
    Politics
    AFP

    Iraq caught in the middle of US-Iran face-off

    Scarred by two decades of conflict, Iraq finds itself caught in the middle of a US-Iranian tug-of-war, fearing it could pay the price of any confrontation between its two main allies. Analysts say third parties may seek to exploit the latest spike in tensions between Tehran and Washington to spark a showdown that serves their own interests. Iraq "pays a disproportionate tax on Iranian-American tensions and (has) an unenviable front-line position in any future conflict between the two," said Fanar Haddad, an Iraq expert at the National University of Singapore.

  • Fifth Migrant Child Since December Dies in Border Patrol Custody
    News
    National Review

    Fifth Migrant Child Since December Dies in Border Patrol Custody

    A 16-year-old boy from Guatemala passed away Monday after being apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, the fifth migrant child to die in Border Patrol custody since December, according to CBP.“The men and women of CBP are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family,” read a statement from acting CBP commissioner John Sanders. “CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”Customs and Border Protection said that the boy crossed the southern border illegally, and was arrested on May 13 near Hidalgo, Texas and placed in Border Patrol's Weslaco Station in the Rio Grande Valley Sector."Yet another child has died in US government custody," said Ashley Houghton, tactical-campaigns manager at Amnesty International USA. "This death, which comes days after the administration released a proposal to make it even more difficult for people to seek safety in this country, leads us to wonder how many deaths it will take for the administration to ensure the safety and security of children."Amnesty International, which advocates for undocumented immigrants, called for an independent investigation into the child's death and demanded the Trump administration end the detention of minors, saying, "it is dangerous and cruel to detain people, particularly children, in crowded and unsanitary conditions for seeking protection."After border authorities faced severe backlash when a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala died in their custody in December, the Department of Homeland Security said it was "begging" parents not to bring their children across the border illegally.Apprehensions at the southern border have spiked this year. 8,975 unaccompanied children and a record 53,077 family units crossed the border without authorization in March.

  • 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.

  • World
    Reuters

    Eiffel Tower climber in custody after daring ascent

    Rescuers successfully talked down a man who scaled the upper heights of the Eiffel Tower on Monday, forcing the monument's evacuation, and handed him over to police. Television channels ran live shots as rescuers perched on the 324-metre (1,063-foot) tower's wrought-iron struts, just below the highest viewing platform, tried to persuade the unknown man to give himself up. The lattice tower, named after its designer and builder Gustave Eiffel, is one of the world's most recognisable landmarks.

  • 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.

  • Secret Service Officers Are Being Sent to the Border
    News
    The Daily Beast

    Secret Service Officers Are Being Sent to the Border

    Jose Luiz Gonzalez/ReutersThe U.S. Secret Service is now participating in a not-so-secret undertaking: dealing with the influx of migrants at America’s southern border. According to a communication from the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters reviewed by The Daily Beast, the small law enforcement agency has sent personnel to the border already and is looking to send more in the coming weeks. The move came in response to a directive then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sent out earlier this spring asking each component of the department to find volunteers and dispatch them to the border. Even though it’s most closely associated with the White House, the Secret Service—along with a host of other entities and agencies—is a component of DHS. And as a result, it’s shipping people south. A DHS spokesperson did not dispute this reporting. “As we have consistently said, the Department is considering all options to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” said the spokesperson. “We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem. As part of this effort, it is our responsibility to explore fiscal mechanisms that will ensure the safety and welfare of both our workforce and the migrant population, which is also reflected in the supplemental request submitted to Congress.”The Daily Beast reported last week that the arm of DHS that handles threats to America’s cybersecurity and critical infrastructure, called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has struggled to find enough volunteers to head to the border and fulfill DHS headquarters’ request. The agency works to secure election systems, schools, and places of worship—all of which face acute threats. Besides protecting the president, the first family, and other prominent government figures, the Secret Service also conducts criminal investigations. Its focuses include financial crimes and cybersecurity threats. The diversion of law enforcement and national security personnel to the border has concerned some congressional Democrats, who say it may be a misuse of limited government resources. But pushing back against the dramatic increase in people trying to enter the U.S. through the southern border has become has become a singular priority of President Trump. In both March and April, law enforcement officials apprehended more than 100,000 people trying to enter the U.S., according to DHS statistics. During the Obama administration, the agency was beset by scandal: Washington socialites slipped past agents and crashed the president’s first state dinner; a Secret Service agent told his counterparts to stand down after a man fired a gun at the White House, thinking the sound came from a car backfiring; an agent who traveled to Amsterdam with the president to protect him got drunk and passed out in a hallway; and more, as NBC News has detailed. 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.

  • 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.

  • Trump reacts angrily to New York Times report on Deutsche Bank transactions
    Business
    The Guardian

    Trump reacts angrily to New York Times report on Deutsche Bank transactions

    * Paper detailed staff concerns over Trump and Kushner entities * President claims he doesn’t need banks or money from RussiaDonald Trump described the reporting as ‘phony’ and called Deutsche Bank ‘very good and highly professional’. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesDonald Trump sought on Monday to discredit a New York Times report that Deutsche Bank employees flagged concerns over transactions involving legal entities controlled by the president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.The Times said the nature of the transactions was not clear and that the bank ultimately took no action. Some of the transactions involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, some in Russia.Trump claimed he did not “need or want banks” and does not receive money from Russia.Congress and New York state are investigating the relationship between Trump, his family and Deutsche Bank, and demanding documents related to any suspicious activity.Trump has sued in court in an attempt to block House subpoenas for his financial records that were sent to Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the accounting firm Mazars.The Times report said anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.Citing five current and former Deutsche Bank employees, the report said executives at the German-based bank, which has lent billions to Trump and Kushner companies, rejected the advice and the reports were never filed.Earlier this month, the Times obtained tax information which showed his businesses lost more than $1bn from 1985 to 1994. Trump has refused to release more recent tax returns or to comply with House subpoenas for them.Trump rejected and ridiculed that story. In his Monday tweets, he claimed not to need banks as he “made a lot of money and buys everything for cash”.He also said the “fake media … always uses unnamed sources (because their sources don’t even exist)”.But one former Deutsche Bank employee, Tammy McFadden, who reviewed some of the transactions, spoke to the Times on the record. She said she was fired last year after raising concerns about the bank’s practices, the Times said.McFadden said concerns she raised included contacts between Kushner Companies and Russian individuals in summer 2016. Deutsche Bank has been fined for laundering billions of dollars for Russians.In his report on Russian election interference released in redacted form last month, special counsel Robert Mueller did not find that Trump conspired with Moscow. But he did lay out extensive contacts between Trump aides and Russia.On Monday, Trump tweeted: “The new big story is that Trump made a lot of money and buys everything for cash, he doesn’t need banks. But where did he get all of that cash? Could it be Russia? No, I built a great business and don’t need banks, but if I did they would be there.”Trump also called the Times reporting “phony” and called Deutsche Bank “very good and highly professional”.Deutsche Bank denied the report but it contributed to shares falling to a record low. Shares in the German lender were down by 2.8% at the time of writing. The bank was recently forced to abandon merger plans with Commerzbank. It has also struggled to turn around its corporate and investment arms.The Times said the transactions in question, some of which involved Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to the former bank employees.Compliance staff members who reviewed the transactions prepared suspicious activity reports they believed should be sent to a unit of the US treasury that polices financial crimes, according to the newspaper.A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization told Reuters “the story is absolute nonsense”.“We have no knowledge of any ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank. In fact, we have no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank,” she said.The newspaper said a Kushner Companies spokeswoman called any allegations of relationships involving money laundering “made up and totally false”.

  • Hospital that treated baby cut from womb investigated
    News
    Associated Press

    Hospital that treated baby cut from womb investigated

    CHICAGO (AP) — The agency that licenses and inspects health care facilities in Illinois has started an investigation of a suburban Chicago hospital where doctors treated a baby brought in by a woman claiming to be his mother, a spokeswoman for the agency said Tuesday. The woman was charged weeks later with killing the actual mother and cutting the child from her womb.

  • Ukraine's Zelenskiy calls early elections as he disbands parliament in first act as president
    World
    The Telegraph

    Ukraine's Zelenskiy calls early elections as he disbands parliament in first act as president

    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.

  • 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.”

  • DHS: 2018 saw increase in migrant naturalizations
    U.S.
    FOX News Videos

    DHS: 2018 saw increase in migrant naturalizations

    Does this mean President Trump's immigration crackdown is working? Ron Meyer and Chuck Rocha weigh in.

  • Ocasio-Cortez says it is time to open impeachment inquiry against Trump
    Politics
    Reuters

    Ocasio-Cortez says it is time to open impeachment inquiry against Trump

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted calls for Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings, instead backing continued investigations of Trump and his administration by numerous congressional panels instead. "I think it’s time for us to, at the very least, open an impeachment inquiry ... we’ve been given no choice I think, in this scenario," Ocasio-Cortez said outside the House of Representatives. The report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller stopped short of declaring that the president obstructed justice, but it also did not exonerate him.

  • Tornado season has been wild, and more storms are coming
    News
    USA TODAY

    Tornado season has been wild, and more storms are coming

    The deadly and destructive 2019 tornado season has been above-average, and shows no signs of letting up.

  • Researchers say a tiny planet slammed into the Moon a long time ago
    Science
    BGR News

    Researchers say a tiny planet slammed into the Moon a long time ago

    Earth's Moon only ever shows us one face. It's locked into its current orientation, with a permanent nearside and farside, but it wasn't until the Apollo missions that scientists were able to see just how different the two sides really are. The nearside, with its sea of dark gray basins standing in contrast to the brilliant white powder that covers the rest of its face, varies dramatically from the farside, which is marked with countless smaller craters in a more uniform distribution.The debate over how the Moon's split personalities developed has raged for decades, but new research seems to indicate that one of the possible explanations does indeed hold water. The theory, that Earth's Moon was struck by a tiny dwarf planet long ago, is the subject of a new research paper published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.Using computer models to simulate what may have happened to the Moon's surface long ago, researchers suggest the most likely scenario seems to be the collision between the Moon and a very large body. The impact of a dwarf planet as large as 480 miles across would have struck what we see today as the Moon's nearside at a speed of 14,000 miles per hour.This theory stands in contrast to other proposed explanations, including the theory that Earth may have once had not one Moon, but two. The two-moon theory suggests that Earth's moon duo may have at one point collided and merged, leaving the Moon as we see it today looking oddly unsymmetrical.The dwarf planet collision scenario assumes that whatever the body that struck the Moon was, it was in its own path around the Sun and just happened to be in the right place at the right time to strike Earth's natural satellite. This, the researchers say, would also explain why the crust on the farside of the Moon is different than that of its nearside."We demonstrate that a large body slowly impacting the nearside of the Moon can reproduce the observed crustal thickness asymmetry and form both the farside highlands and the nearside lowlands," the paper explains. "Additionally, the model shows that the resulting impact ejecta would cover the primordial anorthositic crust to form a two‐layer crust on the farside, as observed."

  • Alabama rape victim speaks out against anti-abortion bill
    News
    AFP

    Alabama rape victim speaks out against anti-abortion bill

    After being raped by a co-worker two years ago, Samantha Blakely had an abortion. The 25-year-old Blakely is among women speaking out after the conservative southern US state adopted the toughest anti-abortion legislation in the country. The Alabama bill, which takes effect in November unless it is blocked in the courts, places a near-total ban on ending a pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest.

  • 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

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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. 

  • Austrian cabinet fractures as Kurz ousts far-right minister
    World
    Reuters

    Austrian cabinet fractures as Kurz ousts far-right minister

    Kurz, a conservative, ended his coalition with the nationalist Freedom Party (FPO) on Saturday after leader and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache was caught in the apparent sting operation offering to fix state contracts for a woman posing as a Russian oligarch's niece. The fight took a new turn when Kurz told reporters he would propose to Austria's President Alexander Van der Bellen removing Interior Minister Herbert Kickl from office after Kickl refused to go voluntarily, as Strache did.