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|Hunter Biden, son of former VP, to leave Chinese board|
|Mon, 14 Oct 2019 01:46:39 -0400|
Facing intense scrutiny from President Donald Trump and his Republican allies, Hunter Biden says he will step down from the board of directors of a Chinese-backed private equity firm at the end of the month as part of a pledge not to work on behalf of any foreign-owned companies should his father win the presidency. Biden, the 49-year-old son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, revealed his plan Sunday in an internet post written by his attorney, George Mesires, who outlined a defense of the younger Biden's work in Ukraine and China, which has emerged as one of Trump's chief lines of attack against Hunter's father despite no proof of impropriety. "Hunter makes the following commitment: Under a Biden Administration, Hunter will readily comply with any and all guidelines or standards a President Biden may issue to address purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, including any restrictions related to overseas business interests.
|HK leader ditches meeting Ted Cruz, says the U.S. senator|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 06:53:29 -0400|
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam scrapped a scheduled meeting with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the highest profile U.S. politician to visit the city since anti-government protests broke out more than four months ago, the senator said on Saturday. Lam had requested that the afternoon meeting be completely confidential and Cruz refrain from speaking with the media about it, Cruz told journalists in Hong Kong. "She seems to misunderstand how free speech operates, and also how freedom of the press operates," said Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas.
|Iran vows response to attack on tanker off Saudi coast|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 06:33:18 -0400|
Iran vowed on Saturday not to let an attack on one of its oil tankers off the coast of Saudi Arabia to go unanswered, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said clues had been uncovered as to who was behind what he called a "missile attack" on the Sabiti tanker. "Maritime piracy and wickedness in international waterways... will not be left unanswered," he said, quoted by ISNA.
|BEHOLD: Is China's DF-26 Missile a Real Threat to U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers?|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 12:00:00 -0400|
|Girl scales replica of Trump’s 'un-climbable' border wall|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 14:35:24 -0400|
|Police: Woman killed by 6-foot log pushed off cliff in Ohio state park; 2 teens charged|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 17:46:28 -0400|
|German police investigate bitcoin transfer to synagogue killer|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 10:12:17 -0400|
German police are investigating a bitcoin transfer made to the far-Right extremist behind Wednesday’s terror attack in Halle to determine if the man possessed a broader support network. German media outlet Spiegel reports that a transfer of 0.1 bitcoin – approximately €750 (£660) – was made to alleged attacker Stephan Balliet in the lead up to the attack. Police said the transfer came from an unknown source. Balliet told police interrogators that he had received the money from someone whom he had communicated with on the internet, but that he did not know who they were. Questions were raised as to how Balliet, who had been unemployed for a significant period of time in the lead up to the attack, was able to fund the attack, including buying the materials for his home-made weapons. As reported by Spiegel, the man told investigators that the weapons were cheap to manufacture, primarily as he constructed them from basic raw materials. He told police he bought steel worth €50, cartridge cases for €25 and a telescope for €20 to manufacture the weapons, which he based on designs released online by British pro-gun activist Philip Luty "The further investigations will deal in particular with the question of whether other persons were involved in the act or its preparation alongside Stephan Balliet", said a spokesman for the Federal Criminal Police Office. The 27-year-old Balliet was active in far-Right chatrooms, with police suspecting he was radicalised online. Balliet uploaded a manifesto outlining his motives, details of his weapons and indications as to the nature of his plans in the lead up to the attack.
|Harry Dunn: US woman allegedly involved in crash does not have diplomatic immunity, says Foreign Office|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 10:54:00 -0400|
The US diplomat’s wife allegedly involved in a crash which killed a teenager does not have diplomatic immunity, the Foreign Office has said.A letter, that appears to have been sent by foreign secretary Dominic Raab to Harry Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, says: “The question remains when such immunity comes to an end, regardless of any waiver.
|The Latest: Powerful typhoon reaches greater Tokyo area|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 21:26:42 -0400|
Helicopters are plucking people from their flooded homes as rescue efforts went into full force in wide areas of Japan, including Tokyo, after a powerful typhoon unleashed heavy rainfall, leaving at least four dead and 17 missing. Typhoon Hagibis made landfall south of Tokyo Saturday and moved northward. Several train service in the Tokyo area resumed early morning.
|Mattis: Trump's troop pullout will lead to 'disarray' in Syria and Isis resurgence|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 09:44:11 -0400|
* Ex-defense secretary calls resurgence of Isis ‘a given’ * Kurds say 785 Isis affiliates escape camp after Turkish shellingJames Mattis declined the opportunity to directly criticise his former boss, Donald Trump. Photograph: Leah Millis/ReutersThe former defense secretary James Mattis has said Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border has increased the chances of a resurgence of Islamic State. But the retired general passed up an opportunity to directly criticise the president.“If we don’t keep the pressure on,” Mattis told NBC’s Meet the Press, “then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”After Mattis’s remarks were released, the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said 785 foreign individuals affiliated with Isis had escaped the camp where they were being held, following heavy Turkish shelling.Trump announced the US withdrawal on Monday after a call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The surprise announcement prompted widespread accusations of a betrayal of Kurds allied to the US in war-torn Syria. Turkey, which regards some Kurdish groups as terrorists, swiftly attacked. The president also said Erdoğan would visit the White House.Trump faced stringent attacks from both sides of the aisle. In Washington on Saturday night he held his ground, telling the conservative Values Voter Summit he was “an island of one”.“We have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers, we have to bring them home,” he insisted. “It’s time. It’s time.”> If we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back> > James MattisOn Sunday morning, Trump warmed to his theme. The president said it was “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish border, for a change”, amid a stream of tweets that included a startling statement: “Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”In more measured tones, defense secretary Mike Esper told CBS’ Face the Nation “it’s a very terrible situation over there” but insisted roughly 1,000 US troops would be evacuated in a “deliberate withdrawal”.US forces are not yet out of harm’s way. The Washington Post reported that Turkish forces which shelled an area where US special forces troops remained on Friday had known for months they were there.Brett McGurk, the former US envoy to the global coalition against Isis who resigned over Trump’s attempts to withdraw from Syria, told the Post: “Turkey wants us off the entire border region to a depth of 30km [20 miles]. Based on all the facts available, these were warning fires on a known location, not inadvertent rounds.”Turkey is facing threats of US sanctions – reiterated by Trump in his speech on Saturday night – unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its Nato allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports and the Arab League has denounced the operation.But airstrikes and shelling continue in Kurdish areas and harrowing scenes among panicked and grieving refugees are being reported worldwide. More than 130,000 people have been displaced from rural areas around Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain as a result of the fighting, the United Nations said. Turkish forces and their Syrian allies seized large parts of the town of Suluk, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday, the fifth day of the offensive.On Saturday, CNN reported that earlier this week Gen Mazloum Kobani Abdi, head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, told a senior US diplomat: “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered.”Also on Saturday, another SDF commander told a press conference: “The protection of Isis prisons will not remain our priority. The defence of our soil will be prioritised if [the] Turkish military continues its attacks.”On Sunday, the Kurds said some Isis prisoners had escaped. In an apparent reference to Turkish-backed Syrian insurgents, the Kurds said mercenaries attacked a camp where Isis “elements” attacked guards and opened the gates.“The brutal military assault led by Turkey and its mercenaries is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands from families of Isis,” the Kurds said, adding “some were able to escape after bombardments that targeted” the camp.Mattis discussed the threat of an Isis resurgence on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, in an interview to be broadcast in full on Sunday.“It’s in a situation of disarray right now,” he said in excerpts released by the broadcaster. “Obviously, the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. And we’ll have to see if they’re able to maintain the fight against Isis. It’s going to have an impact. The question is, how much?”Asked if the US would regret Trump’s decision, Mattis said: “We have got to keep the pressure on Isis so they don’t recover.“We may want a war over. We may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the ‘enemy gets the vote’, we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”Trump said this week any militant prisoners escaping from camps guarded by Kurds “will be escaping to Europe”. He also said the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us in Normandy, for example”.Mattis’s apparent disinclination to directly criticise the president, even as Syria spirals into ever worse chaos as a result of US actions, is in keeping with his approach since resigning in December 2018.The retired US Marine Corps general has said he has a “duty of silence” regarding the president he served. That commitment has held despite Mattis having resigned, like McGurk, in response to an earlier attempt by Trump to pull US troops from Syria and in protest at his treatment of America’s allies.In September, Mattis published a memoir, Call Sign Chaos. The book skirted his service to Trump, focusing instead on his career in the US armed forces.
|Israel asks Putin to pardon U.S.-Israeli jailed for Moscow airport transit drugs|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 09:38:47 -0400|
Israel asked Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to pardon a U.S.-Israeli woman given a 7.5-year jail sentence for drugs found in her luggage as she transited through a Moscow airport. Naama Issachar's case has opened up an unusually public rift between Israel and Russia. Issachar was arrested in April during a layover in flights from India to Israel.
|EU Seeks to Halt U.S. Tariffs Over Airbus Aid in Last-Gasp Plea|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 14:17:59 -0400|
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. The European Union made a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. to refrain from triggering retaliatory tariffs over illegal subsidies to Airbus SE, warning of economic harm to both sides and repeating a call for a negotiated solution.European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told her U.S. counterpart, Robert Lighthizer, that his plan to hit $7.5 billion of EU goods ranging from planes to whiskey with duties would compel the EU to apply countermeasures in a parallel lawsuit over market-distorting aid to Boeing Co. U.S. levies would make a negotiated settlement harder to reach, she said.“I strongly believe that imposing additional tariffs in the two aircraft cases is not a solution,” Malmstrom said in an Oct. 11 letter to Lighthizer seen by Bloomberg News. “It would only inflict damage on businesses and put at risk jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, harm global trade and the broader aviation industry at a sensitive time.”The World Trade Organization is due to give final approval for U.S. retaliation in the Airbus case on Monday, allowing tariffs to kick in as planned on Friday.The trans-Atlantic dispute over aircraft aid risks fraying a trade truce struck between the U.S. and EU in July 2018. At the time, both sides pledged to try to scale back commercial barriers and avoid a repeat of tit-for-tat tariffs that began with President Donald Trump’s duties on European steel and aluminum on U.S. national-security grounds.The WTO cases over subsidies to Airbus and Boeing are 15 years old. Because of the calendar, the U.S. is entitled to strike first and the EU would follow suit sometime in 2020.Malmstrom gave no sign in her letter to Lighthizer that an idea floated in some EU circles for quicker European retaliation is gaining ground. The idea weighed was to hit back by invoking an unrelated, older WTO case against a now-defunct U.S. tax break given to companies, including Boeing, via subsidiaries known as foreign sales corporations.Instead, Malmstrom said the EU’s planned countermeasures of $12 billion would be applied “when the time comes on the parallel Boeing case.”Aside from causing economic harm, hastier European retaliation could undermine the EU’s claim to be working to uphold the WTO system that Trump’s protectionism is shaking.“We are ready to negotiate a settlement for both the Airbus and the Boeing case addressing remaining compliance obligations on both sides, putting these cases behind us,” Malmstrom said.To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at email@example.com, Tony Czuczka, Linus ChuaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
|Can The U.S. Army's Latest Air Defense System Handle 21st Century Warfare?|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 16:37:00 -0400|
|Canadian Snowbird plane crashes during Atlanta air show|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 15:54:44 -0400|
|Norwegian Cruise Line passengers demand refunds after ship skips several scheduled stops|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 14:31:10 -0400|
|Mother to sue over 'wrongful removal' of children by Dutch social services|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 12:28:57 -0400|
A mother who says her two children were wrongfully taken into care shortly after their ninth birthday by Dutch social services intends to launch legal action against the authorities who handled the case. On March 23, 2012, Nikolai and Anastasia Antonova were removed from their mother’s care. Among the reasons cited for their removal was that the children spoke their mother Jelena’s native language Russian at home, not Dutch. Social workers also claimed their mother might flee with them to Latvia to escape the children’s estranged father. The children had “severely conflicting loyalties” to their parents, social workers who were working closely with their father said. The children had previously said they were frightened of their father and did not want to see him again. The original care order was instituted for a year but was subsequently extended on several occasions. Ms Antonova alleges that the children were held without the right legal permission. The Dutch Court of Appeal made repeated rulings that the children should be reunited with their mother but these were overturned when the child protection board, part of the justice ministry, sought the extension of the care order in a lower family court. The family’s case was first highlighted by the late Christopher Booker in a series of columns for The Sunday Telegraph. The case was also raised in the European parliament in March 2014. MEPs were shown a video of the children being taken away from their home, captured by their brother Ilja Antonovs. The children were eventually permanently reunited with their mother in November 2014 after two years and eight months when a judge ruled that they should never have been removed from their mother’s care. The order followed a report from a family psychologist Dr De Jong who concluded that Ms Antonova was not guilty of neglect. Jelena Antonova was subsequently granted permission to question, under oath, social workers who handled the case and officials from two different authorities connected to the children’s care. On June 18 and September 2 Ms Antonova questioned social workers and is now preparing to sue three parties linked to the ordeal; Salvation Army Youth Protection, the Ministry of Justice and Security and the youth protection service of Gelderland province. During the questioning, a number of flaws in the conduct of youth care emerged, the family claims. They are now suing the three parties for the “unlawful and careless removal of the children”, claiming they are liable “for the damage suffered and to be suffered” by the family. Youth Protection said it is prohibited from commenting on individual cases. The Netherlands Salvation Army said it does not respond to individual cases but pointed out that Salvation Army Youth Protection always acts under the instruction of the Dutch legal authorities. The Ministry of Justice and Security and Gelderland youth protection did not respond to repeated requests for comment this week.
|France 'worried' after nearly 800 IS relatives escape Syrian camp|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:32:32 -0400|
France said Sunday it was "worried" after Kurdish authorities reported that hundreds of relatives of foreign jihadists had escaped from a displacement camp in northern Syria in an area under Turkish assault. France has been hit by a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015, many claimed or inspired by the Islamic State group, and has expressed concerns that a Turkish assault on Kurdish forces at the helm of the fight against IS in Syria would bolster the radicals. "Of course we are worried about what could happen and that is why we want Turkey... to end" the assault "as quickly as possible", government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye told France 3 television.
|Police: No evidence of shooting after Florida mall lockdown|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 21:54:18 -0400|
Reports of possible shots at an upscale Florida mall sent panicked people running and triggered a lockdown for several hours Sunday, but a SWAT team's search found no evidence of any shooting and police issued an all-clear after nightfall. One person was injured, apparently leaving the mall in Boca Raton, police said. Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander said Sunday evening that authorities conducted a sweeping search but found no evidence to confirm the initial reports.
|USS Ford Will Set Sail With Only 2 Out of 11 Weapon Elevators|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 12:00:00 -0400|
|Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action|
|Sat, 12 Oct 2019 21:51:04 -0400|
In a joint declaration, climate scientists, physicists, biologists, engineers and others from at least 20 countries broke with the caution traditionally associated with academia to side with peaceful protesters courting arrest from Amsterdam to Melbourne. Wearing white laboratory coats to symbolise their research credentials, a group of about 20 of the signatories gathered on Saturday to read out the text outside London's century-old Science Museum in the city's upmarket Kensington district. "We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and non-violent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law," said Emily Grossman, a science broadcaster with a PhD in molecular biology, who read the declaration on behalf of the group.
|Portland antifa activist killed in hit and run, police say|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:40:37 -0400|
City’s antifascist group says death of Sean D Kealiher, 23, was not ‘related to fascist activity’ and police did not specify a motiveThe Multnomah county medical examiner determined the cause of death to be homicide, caused by blunt force trauma. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman/ReutersA Portland antifascist activist was killed in the early hours of Saturday in an apparent hit-and-run near Cider Riot, a cidery and taproom popular with the city’s anarchist left that has been the scene of conflict with rightwing groups. According to the Portland Police Bureau, the car involved was fired upon and crashed into a nearby building. Its occupants fled the scene. Police said in a statement that the 23-year-old victim, Sean D Kealiher, was taken to a local hospital by associates. The Multnomah county medical examiner determined the cause of death to be homicide, caused by blunt force trauma. Police said homicide squad detectives would investigate and called on witnesses to come forward. Kealiher was a prominent participant in antifascist and anti-Trump protests in Portland, speaking and marching in opposition to events held by rightwing groups. His activities occasionally attracted the attention of rightwing bloggers and social media personalities. Rose City Antifa, the city’s longest-standing antifascist group, said in a tweet addressing Kealiher’s death that it “was not related to fascist activity”. Police did not specify a motive. Portland mayor Ted Wheeler and the Oregon Democratic party, outside whose building the incident happened, expressed condolences on Twitter. Memorial tributes were laid at the site. Six men, including Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, are awaiting trial on charges arising from a violent incident at Cider Riot on 1 May. In an affidavit in support of Gibson’s arrest warrant, police officer Brad Kalbaugh described the group approaching Cider Riot “in an effort clearly designed to provoke a physical confrontation”. Multiple videos of that incident show punches, thrown drinks and pepper spray being exchanged. One of the men awaiting trial, Ian Kramer, is alleged to have struck a woman with a baton, fracturing her vertebra. More video appears to show members of the group planning violence ahead of the brawl. Gibson and the other men are charged with riot. Some face felony assault charges.Cider Riot’s owner, Abram Goldman-Armstrong, has commenced a $1m lawsuit against Gibson and several others. Goldman-Armstrong’s lawyer, Juan Chavez, says his client has been subject to “homophobic and antisemitic” harassment since the suit was filed.
|Kellyanne Conway: Joe Biden is now seen in the news as Hunter Biden's father, not Obama's vice president|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 11:00:29 -0400|
|Meet the Massive Ordnance Penetrator: The Air Force's Newest Bunker Buster Bomb|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 22:00:00 -0400|
|Billionaires Could Face Tax Rates Up to 97.5% Under Sanders|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 23:00:00 -0400|
(Bloomberg) -- Billionaires may have much more to fear from a Bernie Sanders presidency than they do from an Elizabeth Warren administration, according to two economists advising both candidates.That’s one of the conclusions of a new interactive website developed by University of California, Berkeley professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.If Sanders had his way, they calculate that the 400 richest Americans, on average, would have an effective tax rate of 97.5%. That includes not only their income, but also a wealth tax that whittles away at the family fortune.The 97.5% average effective tax rate under his plans compares with 23% now and 62% under Warren’s proposals, according to the two economists. Sanders and Warren have both pitched wealth taxes, which is a key reason that their plans tax billionaires so much more. Warren’s wealth tax places a 2% levy on fortunes above $50 million and a 3% levy on assets more than $1 billion. Sanders’ plan goes further, and starts taxing wealth of $32 million at 1%, increasing to an 8% tax on fortunes above $10 billion.“With the wealth tax, you get directly at the stock instead of hitting the flow of income, making it a much more powerful de-concentration tool than income taxes,” Saez said in an email about Sanders’ tax, which Sanders has said would cut the number of billionaires in the country in half in 15 years.The calculations by Saez and Zucman cover state, local and federal taxes and also treat health insurance premiums that individuals pay as a tax, arguing that they are one of main drivers of inequality in the U.S.If a Democrat wins in 2020, wealthy Americans would fare best if it were Joe Biden, even though the former vice president would hit the rich with a markedly bigger tax burden -- an effective average rate of 30.6%, or more than 7 percentage points higher than they face now under President Donald Trump.Read More: Why Taxing the Rich Is Popular But Isn’t Always Easy: QuickTakeLarge tax increases on the rich have been a key topic in the 2020 Democratic primary as candidates have looked for proposals that would lessen inequality and raise lots of revenue to pay for expensive social programs, such as expanded health care and free college tuition.The economists released an interactive website Sunday that lets users select different tax rates to see how levies on various income groups are increasing. Saez and Zucman are also releasing a book on Tuesday, “The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay,” making the case for large tax increases on top earners.All major Democratic candidates have called for higher taxes on the wealthy, including raising the income tax rates or increasing levies on capital gain income. Sanders, Warren and Senator Kamala Harris have also floated levies on stock and bond trades.Taxes on the wealthy have historically been popular with voters. For decades a majority of polls have shown that people think the wealthy pay too little in taxes. Gallup found in April that 62% of people say that “upper-income” individuals pay too little in taxes.To contact the reporters on this story: Rich Miller in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Laura Davison in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
|Pennsylvania middle school teacher placed on leave after racist rant in school parking lot|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 22:39:54 -0400|
|Kurds announce deal with Damascus as Turkey pushes deep into Syria|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 23:58:10 -0400|
Syria's Kurds have announced a groundbreaking deal with Damascus on a Syrian troop deployment near the border with Turkey, as Ankara presses a deadly cross-border offensive that has sparked an international outcry. The announcement on Sunday came as the United States ordered the withdrawal of almost its entire ground force in Syria. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the move to withdraw 1,000 US troops came after Washington learned that Turkey was pressing further into Syria than expected.
|Big changes to grueling Special Forces course draw scrutiny|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 09:02:38 -0400|
The overnight land navigation test is just one hurdle in the grueling, monthslong course to join the Army's elite Special Forces, and using the light violates the rules. "We got a light!" barks an Army instructor from the front seat of his truck as he patrols the woods. For the nearly 200 candidates scrambling through Hoffman Forest at Camp Mackall, the struggle to become a Green Beret is real.
|Water Finds Its Level as Fox News Hires Dictator-Loving, Deep State-Loathing John Solomon|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 12:45:11 -0400|
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyOver the weekend, Fox News announced that it had made a new hire: John Solomon, the self-proclaimed journalist at the heart of the unfolding scandal involving Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani, and the impending impeachment of Donald Trump. It’s not hard to see why Fox executives may have wanted to bring him aboard. Solomon’s work has underpinned the entire cascade of lies the White House and Trump in particular have pushed over the past few weeks. Solomon’s writings—including those most recently at The Hill, where he worked until last month—are drenched in innuendo and mischaracterizations, all in service of attacking Trump’s political opponents. Solomon is already a regular Fox News fixture. He appeared on Fox News’s The Story show last week to claim that he was being victimized by “McCarthy-like” attacks. As Mother Jones noted on Solomon’s hiring—which coincided with Giuliani claiming that the man deserves a Pulitzer—Solomon’s “alliance with pro-Trump forces” is now “official.”Leaked Memo: Colleagues Unload on John Solomon, the Journo Who Kicked Off Trump’s Ukraine ConspiracyFor many, Solomon remains far from a household name: a relatively obscure journalist who worked until recently at a relatively obscure outlet pushing relatively obscure stories about relatively obscure countries. But for those who’ve followed his work (which includes a long-ago stint at Newsweek and The Daily Beast), his role in the entire unfolding national nightmare—and the fact that he provided a willing platform to lies and half-truths coming out of Ukraine—wasn’t a surprise. This is a man, after all, about whom the Columbia Journalism Review wrote not one, not two, but three separate takedowns. (One headline: “John Solomon Gives Us Less Than Meets the Eye — Again”). The most recent topped out at nearly 5,000 words, highlighting Solomon’s “history of bending the truth to his storyline,” as well as his “hyping [of] petty stories” and his outsized habit of “massaging facts to conjure phantom scandals.” Complaints from colleagues tailed Solomon wherever he went; as one former co-worker said about Solomon’s work, “Facts be damned.” Small wonder that, as The Daily Beast reported last week, staffers at The Hill were “enraged” by his presence at the publication. But there was one kind of friend on whom Solomon could always count, and who could always count on Solomon’s support in return: post-Soviet officials, oligarchs, and lobbyists looking to launder their image and spin their narrative. We’ve seen this most clearly over the past few months, as Solomon’s coverage of Ukraine has gained a national audience—and completely fallen apart under the most basic scrutiny. To take one example, Solomon’s writing lent credence to the notion that the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, had given a Ukrainian prosecutor a “do-not-prosecute” list. One problem: there’s no evidence the list ever existed, and the prosecutor himself eventually walked back the claim entirely.But the damage was already done: The White House this year canned the ambassador, who’s since been personally targeted by Trump as some kind of henchman in former Vice President Joe Biden’s machinations. (For good measure, Solomon this weekend described Ukraine’s successful 2014 revolution to oust corrupt strongman Viktor Yanukovych as a “coup.”) But Ukraine was far from the only post-Soviet state where crooked actors and dirty money looked for, and found, help from Solomon. A couple years ago, while I was a graduate student at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, focusing on post-Soviet affairs, I patched together a Master’s thesis on how post-Soviet kleptocrats whitewash their reputations for American audiences. And there, in the middle of a lobbyist-led campaign to clean up the image of Azerbaijan—one of the most heinous, most kleptocratic governments in the world—sat none other than John Solomon. In 2015, Solomon was an editor at The Washington Times. His tenure there just so happened to coincide with the paper becoming one of the go-to outlets for Azerbaijan’s lobbyists to lie about the brutal Azeri regime’s supposed graces—including pieces that failed to disclose that the authors were on the Azeri dole, like one column by former GOP Congressman Dan Burton, written while he was lobbying for Azerbaijan. Solomon took some responsibility in that case when contacted by The Washington Post, claiming the lack of disclosure was just an oversight. And when I spoke with Solomon in the context of my research, telling him that one of the pieces—which claimed that “few places in the world… are as welcoming to Americans as Azerbaijan”—still didn’t note it was written by a pro-Azeri lobbyist, he told me that he’d add the disclaimer in. But four years later, the article remains unchanged—and anyone reading it would think the author was simply interested in the pleasures and pastimes of Azerbaijan, and not that he was a paid-off hack. In the years since, I—like many familiar with his work—have looked askance at anything that Solomon has published, never taking it at face value. And rightfully so, as we’ve recently seen out of Ukraine. Solomon is still massaging facts, and he’s still conjuring phantom scandals. And now he’s been hired by Fox News for his efforts. And federal filings may provide a hint of who Solomon might help whitewash next. According to documents filed with the Department of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) database, Solomon’s 2015 push to include a raft of pro-Azeri material in The Washington Times just so happened to coincide with his meetings with Azeri lobbyists. (The subject of those 2015 meetings: “Azerbaijan public relations.”) Fast-forward to 2019, and as FARA further outlines, Solomon was also in contact with Lanny Davis—a man who, until recently, was working on behalf of Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Accused by American authorities of massive bribery and described by the DOJ as an alleged “upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime,” Firtash is currently fighting extradition from Austria to the United States. For help, Firtash recently hired conspiratorial pro-Trump lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova – both of whom have joined Rudy Giuliani in working to dig up Ukrainian dirt on Biden. (Firtash also just so happens to publicly loathe Biden.)There are no FARA filings yet listed on any communications between Toensing, diGenova, and Solomon. But we already know that Solomon was emailing at least some of his stories before publication at The Hill to Toensing and diGenova—as well as to Lev Parnas, the now-arrested bagman and associate of Giuliani, who also happens to be working for Firtash. So if you see Solomon, whom Politico recently described as an “all[y]” of the two lawyers, beginning to spin Firtash as some kind of wronged businessman—someone unfairly targeted by the Obama administration, perhaps—don’t be surprised. After all, something like that would fit squarely within Solomon’s track record as a kleptocrat’s favorite spin-man, no matter the cost—and no matter the consequences. 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.
|Malaysia to study impact of India's planned trade action|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 22:13:14 -0400|
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said his government will monitor the trade situation with India, which is reported to be considering trade curbs on the Southeast Asian nation over his criticism of actions in Kashmir, news wire Bernama reported. Government and industry sources told Reuters last week that New Delhi is looking for ways to limit palm oil imports and other goods from Malaysia, in retaliation for Mahathir's speech at the United Nations in September when he said India had "invaded and occupied" Jammu and Kashmir. Malaysia had said it did not receive "anything official" from India.
|Serial killer's victim portraits could help crack cold cases|
|Sun, 13 Oct 2019 14:37:18 -0400|
Most of the women in Samuel Little's hand-drawn portraits seem to be frowning. Little, whom the FBI identified this month as the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, produced startlingly detailed likenesses of dozens of women he says he strangled over the course of more than three decades. Now the FBI is publicizing his portraits — hoping that someone, somewhere, will recognize the face of a long-lost loved one in an image drawn by the killer himself.