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Angry Islamists besiege Pakistan’s independent newspaper

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 22:45

Angry Islamists besiege Pakistan’s independent newspaperDozens of angry Islamists swarmed the building of an independent Pakistani newspaper in the capital, Islamabad, blocking its entrance for several hours, threatening the staff and demanding its editor be hanged, the paper reported Wednesday. A simultaneous protest also took place Tuesday evening in the southern port city of Karachi, where the Islamists gathered at the Press Club, demanding that Dawn’s editor Zaffar Abbas and publisher Hameed Haroon be hanged. In a statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists urged Pakistan to prevent protests against the newspaper from turning violent and investigate death threats to its staffers.

Are China's 'Unsinkable Aircraft Carriers' in the South China Sea In Trouble?

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 22:30

Are China's 'Unsinkable Aircraft Carriers' in the South China Sea In Trouble?“Rumors suggest the new islands’ concrete is crumbling and their foundations turning to sponge in a hostile climate. And that is before considering what a direct hit from a super-typhoon might do.”

North Korea's Kim in new horse ride through winter snows

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 22:27

North Korea's Kim in new horse ride through winter snowsNorth Korean media published fresh pictures Wednesday of leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse on a sacred mountain, imagery that experts say is heavy with symbolism and may indicate a policy announcement. The photos come as nuclear talks with the United States are stalled and with a looming end-of-year deadline set by North Korea for some kind of concession from Washington. Kim -- in a black leather trenchcoat he has worn recently to open a flagship construction project and supervise a weapons test -- was pictured leading a squad of riders in a white forest near Mount Paektu.

Why Iran's 'Stealth' Qaher 313 Is Nothing to Fear

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 22:15

Why Iran's 'Stealth' Qaher 313 Is Nothing to FearA sad excuse for a plane.

Iraq Is Facing a Familiar Problem

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 22:00

Iraq Is Facing a Familiar Problem(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has been here before. Fifteen years ago, after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq had toppled the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the country’s senior-most cleric helped guide his people toward a system of representative government. Now, having himself helped to topple the latest iteration of that government, Sistani knows his flock is again looking to him for political guidance.He does not relish the responsibility. Sistani, 89, represents the so-called “quietist” school of Shiite Islam, which takes the view that senior clerics must not dabble in politics. For much of his adult life, he has argued against the notion of “vilayat-e-faqih,” or rule by the Islamic jurist, promoted by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and practiced in Iran since the 1979 revolution.But the dire political circumstances in Baghdad may require Sistani to take on a more active role than he’d like. Sistani has said Iraq needs fresh elections and wholesale constitutional reforms, but has been careful to avoid suggesting specific changes. That, in his view, is the business of the country’s political class.But there’s the rub. Iraq’s politicians have demonstrated little interest in change, and Sistani himself bears some responsibility for the dysfunction that has come to characterize the country’s parliament. Every government since the fall of Saddam has had his blessing; every prime minister has sought and received his approval. Indeed, the latest premier, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a man with no party or constituency of his own, could not have got the job without Sistani’s benediction. Although Iraqis might reasonably begrudge Sistani for the incompetence and venality of their political elite, they seem inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, not least because of his personal probity and the prestige of his office, which is arguably the highest in Shiite Islam. But the protesters who have kept up pressure on the government for weeks on end — braving bullets, teargas and truncheons — may lose their patience with Sistani if he remains in his comfort zone, on the sidelines.  Indeed, it may take all of the Grand Ayatollah’s clout to offset the Iranian influence on Iraqi politics. Tehran has already dispatched its formidable enforcer, Major General Qassem Soleimani, to participate in the negotiations over Abdul-Mahdi’s departure. It will likely take more than Sistani’s personal prestige to keep Soleimani at bay. In the rough-and-tumble world of Baghdad politics, where parties routinely use militias for leverage, Iran can call on a wide array of armed groups. Tehran’s politician of choice is Hadi al-Amiri, who commands the Badr Organization, which is both a paramilitary and a political party. Amiri’s only rival for political power is the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has positioned himself as an Iraqi nationalist. Both men are Shiites, but Sadr’s nationalist credentials give him some traction with the Sunni minority, which is distrustful of Amiri’s Iranian ties. Sadr’s militia is the Mahdi Army, which makes up in numbers what it lacks in firepower and discipline.   In political terms, Sadr and Amiri cancel each other out. Sistani has previously avoided endorsing either of them, preferring Abdul-Mahdi as a compromise. It was a disastrous choice: Abdul-Mahdi had neither the political nous to manage a fractious parliament nor the administrative skills to run the country.Even if parliament heeds Sistani’s call for constitutional reforms, Iraq will need an interim leader. And so, again, the Grand Ayatollah faces the choice of Sadr and Amiri. Backing the leader of the Badr Organization would amount to putting Iraq firmly under Iranian control, betraying the aspirations of the protesters. Although of Iranian descent himself, Sistani has in word and deed been loyal to Iraq.But taking sides with Sadr will not sit well with Sistani, either. The younger man is unpredictable and given to violent outbursts; he has articulated no coherent vision for what Iraq ought to be, much less a plan to fix its economic and political problems. There is no reason to believe he — or anyone from his party — will make a good administrator, especially at a time of national upheaval. Sistani’s preference will be to wait for another compromise candidate to emerge. But that cop-out may no longer be available: The protesters are in no mood for a long, drawn-out political process. And it may well be that there are no untainted politicians left in Baghdad.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy Lavin at tlavin1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Crazy Fact: South Korea Still Uses Russian Tanks

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 22:00

 South Korea Still Uses Russian TanksWhat are the pros and cons?

Trump Revives Threat of Force Against North Korea’s ‘Rocket Man’

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 19:37

Trump Revives Threat of Force Against North Korea’s ‘Rocket Man’(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump revived both his “Rocket Man” nickname for Kim Jong Un and the threat of military force against North Korea, in the latest sign of rising tensions ahead of Pyongyang’s year-end deadline.Trump revisited the name he once used to mock Kim just hours after North Korea said it was preparing a “Christmas gift” for the U.S. if the administration failed to meet its demands by year-end for concessions in nuclear talks. Kim has repeatedly warned in recent months he could take a “new path” in relations with the U.S., while resuming ballistic missile launches.“He definitely likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him ‘Rocket Man,’” Trump said Tuesday during a NATO summit in the U.K., adding: “We have the most powerful military we’ve ever had, and we’re by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don’t have to use it, but if we do, we’ll use it. If we have to, we’ll do it.”Despite resuming weapons tests, Kim has refrained from detonating nuclear bombs or launching missiles capable of carrying them to the U.S. while pursuing unprecedented talks with Trump. North Korea’s deadline puts one of Trump’s biggest foreign policy achievements on the line just as he gears up for re-election.Any shift by Kim could come as soon as the North Korean leader’s annual New Year’s address, which he has previously used to ratchet tensions up and down. The ruling Workers’ Party announced a rare meeting in Pyongyang later this month “to discuss and decide on crucial issues” due to the “changed situation at home and abroad.”While Trump and Kim have held three face-to-face meetings and lavished each other with praise over the past two years, they’ve achieved little beyond a vague promise to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” North Korea has continued to expand a nuclear weapons program that it sees as a vital deterrent against the threat of American invasion.During their detente, Trump and Kim have held back from the threats and personal insults they flung at each other in 2017 as North Korea conducted a series of weapons tests. The president notably used the “Rocket Man” moniker in September of that year while threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” during a speech to the United Nations. North Korea has referred to Trump as a “dotard.”Kim has balked at U.S. demands for the dismantlement of his weapons program while Trump has so far rejected North Korea’s calls for greater sanction relief. The most recent working-level talks between the two sides in October broke down, with North Korea’s envoy accusing the American side of arriving “empty-handed.”Although Kim hasn’t tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in more than two years, he has reminded the region of his growing military threat with tests of shorter-range missiles, including another volley last week. North Korea responded to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s complaints about the launches with a harshly worded commentary, saying that he “may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future and under his nose.”On Tuesday, Trump also highlighted a key source of friction between the U.S. and its South Korean allies: the president’s demands for more military funding. American negotiators walked out of cost-sharing talks in Seoul last month, after South Korea rejected the administration’s demands for as much as a five-fold increase to the approximately $1 billion it currently pays.Trump said those talks had make progress, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether he was talking about an agreement for the current year or the period ahead.“Last year, I asked them to pay more and they agreed,” Trump said. “And nobody knows this -- I’ll say it now, I think, for the first time -- but they agreed to pay approximately $500 million a year or more for protection.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon HerskovitzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

George Nader Used Straw Donor for Over $3M in Illegal Campaign Contributions in 2016: Feds

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 19:15

 FedsGeorge Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and a witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into 2016 Russian interference, has been indicted for allegedly conspiring to pour more than $3 million in illegal campaign contributions into the 2016 presidential election. According to the Justice Department, Andy Khawaja—the CEO of a California-based credit card processing company—conspired with Nader to conceal the source of over $3.5 million in contributions made to the political committees linked to a 2016 presidential candidate. The Justice Department did not specify which presidential candidate or committees received the donations. While the donations were made under the names of Khawaja, his wife, and his business, the contributions were allegedly funded by Nader.As Khawaja and Nader arranged these payments, Nader is accused of reporting to an official of a foreign government on his efforts to gain influence with the unnamed candidate and other political figures with the donations.The Associated Press reported that Khawaja gave over $4 million to Clinton's campaign and to other Democrats, but he pivoted to throwing money at President Trump after he won the 2016 election, donating $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee—which got him an Oval Office picture with Trump. Nader, who is currently in prison on child porn charges, forged ties with the Trump campaign in 2016 and was known to act as an intermediary in setting up meetings between members of Trump's campaign and foreign officials. Federal prosecutors say Khawaja also conspired with six other men to hide his own excessive contributions to a number of political committees. Khawaja allegedly attempted to hide over $1.8 million in contributions between March 2016 through 2018 with those six men, identified by the Justice Department as Roy Boulos, Rudy Dekermenjian, Mohammad Diab, Rani El-Saadi, Stevan Hill and Thayne Whipple.The Justice Department alleges that these donations enabled Khawaja to host a private fundraiser for a 2016 presidential candidate and a fundraising dinner for one elected official in 2018. Neither the candidate nor the official were named by federal prosecutors. Khawaja is currently a commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. According to the website, he was appointed to the commission by Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-NY). His company, Allied Wallet, had previously come under scrutiny over accusations it helped shady businesses get past banking systems through the use of “sham websites and dummy companies."Khawaja was charged with 35 counts in the 53-count Nov. 7 indictment, including counts of conspiracy, making conduit contributions, making false statements, and obstruction of a grand jury investigation. Nader was also charged with conspiring to make conduit contributions. He was questioned extensively as part of Mueller's investigation due to his connections and efforts to sway the Trump White House. He was later arrested and charged with sex trafficking.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.

Gaza fields, ravaged by Israeli herbicides, bloom again

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 19:03

Gaza fields, ravaged by Israeli herbicides, bloom againFor four years, he said, Israeli planes regularly sprayed herbicides along the border which scorched his crops, and he fears it could resume at any time. Israel says it sprays only on its side of the border, to clear a buffer zone of hiding places for potential Palestinian attackers. Israel and the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas, which controls the strip, have fought three wars since 2008, with regular cross-border clashes since the last round in 2014.

Elon Musk testifies in his own defense during explosive opening day of defamation trial over 'pedo guy' tweet

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 18:49

Elon Musk testifies in his own defense during explosive opening day of defamation trial over 'pedo guy' tweetTesla chief executive Elon Musk testified that he was "upset" by an interview Vernon Unsworth gave to CNN, saying, "I insulted him back."

Lobbyist known for Trump ties charged with steering illegal contributions to Clinton

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 18:34

Lobbyist known for Trump ties charged with steering illegal contributions to ClintonGeorge Nader, a witness in the Mueller investigation, has acted as an informal conduit between the president’s top advisers and Middle Eastern interests.

Relatives of massacred Americans say Mexico needs help

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 18:24

Relatives of massacred Americans say Mexico needs helpRelatives of nine U.S. dual citizens slaughtered in northern Mexico last month said Tuesday that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador prayed with them for the safety of the country and pledged to visit the region. Julian LeBaron said that during the family’s Monday meeting with López Obrador and his Cabinet at Mexico City’s National Palace, officials assured them that “at least four” suspects have been detained in the Nov. 4 killings. “We just bowed our heads” and “prayed for the president and the country, for peace and good will, and to protect our loved ones, and protect our country,” LeBaron said.

Some of the many people Trump has denied knowing

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 17:49

Some of the many people Trump has denied knowingDonald Trump said Tuesday that he "didn't know Prince Andrew." It's not the first person he has had trouble remembering.

House overwhelmingly passes bill to sanction Chinese officials over abuse and detention of Muslims in Xinjiang, further spiking tensions with China

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 17:46

House overwhelmingly passes bill to sanction Chinese officials over abuse and detention of Muslims in Xinjiang, further spiking tensions with ChinaThe bill, called The Uighur Act of 2019, condemns human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in China's autonomous Xinjiang.

Court declines to intervene in upcoming Tennessee execution

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 16:48

Court declines to intervene in upcoming Tennessee executionTwo days before a Tennessee prisoner’s scheduled execution, the state’s Supreme Court has denied request for more time to consider the possible bias of a juror who helped hand down the original death sentence decades ago. It’s a method selected by three out of the five past death row inmates put to death since Tennessee started resuming executions in August 2018. This omission, Hall’s attorneys argue, deprived the 53-year-old Hall of a fair and impartial jury — a right protected in both the Tennessee and U.S. constitutions.

Joe Biden declares he doesn't need Obama's endorsement to win the 2020 primary

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 16:39

Joe Biden declares he doesn't need Obama's endorsement to win the 2020 primaryBiden also claimed he held more events for black voters during President Barack Obama's campaigns than Obama did.

'More to come' on Jimmy Hoffa disappearance, US attorney says

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 16:35

'More to come' on Jimmy Hoffa disappearance, US attorney saysThe case, depicted in Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," is "unresolved," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said.

Learn About Russia's 'Version' of the B-52 Bomber

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 16:30

Learn About Russia's 'Version' of the B-52 BomberThe Tu-95 might be sixty years old, but it's still in use because it does the job few planes can.

Schiff says phone records show Nunes may have been 'complicit' in Ukraine affair

Yahoo News - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 16:09

Schiff says phone records show Nunes may have been 'complicit' in Ukraine affairHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday that phone records unearthed in the impeachment investigation raised questions about whether his Republican counterpart on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, might have been “complicit” in a White House plot to pressure Ukraine.


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