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Author Ta-Nehisi Coates Criticized Mitch McConnell for Saying Slavery's Effects Were in the Past

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 14:33

Coates passionately rebutted McConnell at a House hearing on reparations Wednesday


Schiff: House in the dark about DOJ’s 2016 campaign spying probe

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 14:31

Attorney General Bill Barr said he wanted to find out whether there was inappropriate government “spying” on the Trump campaign.


Iranian Official Downplays Possibility of Military Confrontation with U.S.

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 14:25

A top Iranian official on Wednesday predicted that no military conflict with the U.S. was coming, despite the Trump administration's decision to send more troops to the Middle East amid tensions with Tehran.“There will not be a military confrontation between Iran and America since there is no reason for a war,” said Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, according to state media outlet IRNA.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of being behind last week's attacks on two oil tankers — laden with “Japan-related cargo,” according to Japan’s Trade Ministry — in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. Navy responded to the attacks, offering assistance after a series of explosions that partially destroyed the tankers and injured their crew members.Iranian defense minister Amir Hatami on Wednesday doubled down on his denial that Iran was responsible for the attacks, saying, “the accusation against Iran is totally a lie and I dismiss it firmly,” according to the Iranian Fars news agency.Shamkhani echoed Hatami's rhetoric, pointing the finger back at the U.S. "Accusing other countries has turned into a common practice among U.S. officials as they try to pressure other counties," he said.On Monday, the Pentagon announced the U.S. will send 1,000 more troops as well as additional military resources to the Middle East "for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats."“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said.The same day, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization announced that the country plans to flout the restrictions on uranium stockpiling under the the nuclear deal signed with the Obama administration in 2015, which the Trump administration backed out of in May of last year.Earlier this month, Iran’s supreme leader said the U.S. would be powerless to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons should it desire to develop them, adding that no further negotiations with American leaders are forthcoming.


Rabbi calls Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's comments on concentration camps 'absurd'

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 14:00

Abraham Cooper says Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should not be weaponzing history.


Oklahoma medical examiner testifies in state opioid lawsuit

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 13:47

Oklahoma's chief medical examiner shared tragic details about the opioid-related deaths of about three dozen residents during testimony in the state's lawsuit alleging drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and some of its subsidiaries contributed to the epidemic. Dr. Eric Pfeifer testified Tuesday that the tragic narratives represent only a small portion of the autopsies his office has performed in recent years as overdose deaths skyrocketed. Attorney General Mike Hunter, who filed the case in 2017, has said curbing and ending the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma could cost billions of dollars.


The Stealth Sniper: The F-22 Raptor Has a New Job

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 13:45

The flying branch only bought 187 operational Raptors — out of an original goal of 381. The F-22 also won’t fly into the 2060s without upgrades. Three years ago, four F-22 Raptors taking part in the second-wave of the U.S.-led coalition’s opening airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria dropped their bombs. It was the first time the stealthy fifth-generation fighters had ever engaged in combat. The coalition’s war planners also used the F-22s to leverage their low-observable profiles — and far-reaching sensors — while escorting non-stealthy fighters in case Syrian fighters or air-defense systems engaged.Fortunately, the Syrian military held its fire.Fast forward to today, and F-22 Raptors are still flying over Iraq and Syria and have shifted almost fully into that latter role, according to Air Force Magazine. “When we first got here, we were 95 percent precision strike. And now we’re probably 95 percent air superiority,” Lt. Col. “Shell” — a callsign — of the 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron told the magazine.This first appeared in October 2017.


9/11 responder who appeared with Jon Stewart on Capitol Hill is now in hospice care

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 13:23

Lou Alvarez, a 53-year-old former NYPD detective who testified alongside Jon Stewart at last week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorizing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, says his cancer has worsened.


As Gulf tensions rise, Israel's Netanyahu warns 'enemies'

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:50

With tensions rising between Israel's ally the US and its archfoe Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Jewish state's enemies not to test it Wednesday, his office said. "I hear our neighbours from the north, south and east threatening our destruction," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office after he observed a large-scale military excercise in the north of the country. "I say to our enemies: The Israeli army has very great destructive power.


Man charged in threat to kill gays at St. Louis Pride parade

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:40

A suburban St. Louis man accused of telling organizers of the city's Pride parade that he would shoot and kill as many gays as possible at the LGBTQ celebration before turning the gun on himself has been charged with making a terrorist threat, according to court documents. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Edward Terry, 49, of Overland, was charged Tuesday. Marty Zuniga, vice president of PrideFest, said the organization works "hard to produce an event that is safe for all participants." The Pride parade in downtown St. Louis draws hundreds of thousands of people every year and is scheduled to take place June 30.


Senate Appropriations Committee approves $4.6B for border

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:33

The measure passed with a 30-1 vote, with only Sen. Jeff Merkley opposed.


Schiff: 'Time and patience are running out' for Mueller testimony

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:12

Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday said U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller must testify before Congress about his Russia investigation. "In terms of Bob Mueller, he is going to have to testify. Mueller’s report, released publicly in April, found Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and that Trump’s election campaign had multiple contacts with Russian officials.


Joe Biden on racist colleague: 'He never called me boy'

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 11:34

Joe Biden dismissed criticism from “the new New Left” wing of his party that his approach to politics is “old-fashioned” by fondly recalling his experience of “civility” in the Senate as he served with two segregationist senators.


U.N. Reveals Contents of Secret Tape of Khashoggi’s Brutal Last Moments

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 11:18

Huseyin Aldemir/ReutersThe top line out of the new United Nations report released Wednesday on the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is that there is “credible evidence” that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and other high-level officials are personally liable for the grisly murder. But the 101-page report also shows that while Khashoggi was certainly a wanted man, the kingdom may not have conspired to kill him as a first choice but rather did so as a Plan B, according to the findings by Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard. Instead, they hoped to take him back to the kingdom to face Mohammed bin Salman personally. When it seemed clear he would not cooperate, they killed him. Saudi Arabia has 11 yet-unidentified people on trial for the murder and is seeking the death penalty for five of them. But Callamard says the trial is a farce and fails to meet international standards. She calls for it to be suspended and for an independent investigative team to look into the kingdom’s involvement instead. Khashoggi’s body has never been found. “Nothing new,” Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of foreign affairs of Saudi Arabia tweeted in response to the report. “The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility.” Yet Callamard reveals never-before-known information about Khashoggi’s final moments—and WARRANTS A WARNING ABOUT THE EXTREMELY GRAPHIC DETAILS FOR READERS ABOUT WHAT IT CONTAINS. Here, some of the U.N. report’s most important findings: Khashoggi Wasn’t Destined to Die in TurkeyCallamard writes that the interception and murder of Khashoggi was the result of an “elaborate mission involving extensive coordination and resources,” but that it was not necessarily meant to happen in Turkey. Khashoggi was under surveillance in Canada and was sought by the Saudi authorities. “When the opportunity arose, an operation was launched in Riyadh, managed at high levels of the Saudi government,” she writes. “The operation involved multiple flights, including two private jets, one under diplomatic clearance. It entailed training, with two Saudi attachés from Istanbul flying to Riyadh for ‘top secret,’ ‘urgent’ training and preparation, and it required planning and execution in Istanbul.”Callamard also points to what she calls “deceptive countermeasures” that include the booking of tickets for the killing squad’s families and the use of a tour company to book hotel rooms with sea views, which would imply they were there for leisure. “The fact that a team was put together and operational within 48 hours tends to point to a ‘Special Operation’ scenario, with core team members already appointed and in place, ready to act whenever the order comes. Such a level of preparation is unlikely to have occurred otherwise.” Plans for His Assassination Began the Minute He Asked the Consulate for a Marriage CertificateKhashoggi and his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, tried to avoid all contact with Saudi officials, but could not be legally married in Turkey without an official document from the kingdom. Khashoggi and Cengiz first tried to obtain the certificate at the Saudi consulate in Washington, D.C., but were told it must be done in the country where he would marry. The journalist was so concerned about his safety, he and Cengiz showed up unannounced at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in September 2018. They were told to come back on Oct. 2, 2018. The special rapporteur says that immediately after he left the consulate, cables were sent to Riyadh and plans were put in place for the Oct. 2 visit. “According to Turkish Intelligence, even before Mr. Khashoggi’s plane took off from Istanbul at 14:40, information that he had been at the Consulate, and would return on October 2, had been relayed to Riyadh,” the report states, and then goes on to describe the plans that were captured on wiretaps referring to the crown prince wanting to put a top official on the job. “He is saying that the mission is a duty. He is asking for him for just four-five days. They will arrange everything including accommodation. Send me his number. I will send it to them an hour later. They will get in touch.” Khashoggi Was Told There Was an Interpol Arrest Warrant on Him and He Must Return to Saudi ArabiaWhen Khashoggi returned on Oct. 2, he was greeted at the consulate by someone he clearly knew, according to wiretaps heard by the rapporteur, who described the initial conversation as cordial. Then he was taken to a room and told by security chief Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb he would have to go back to Saudi. “We will have to take you back. There is an order from Interpol. Interpol requested you to be sent back. We are coming to get you.” Khashoggi is heard saying, “There isn’t a case against me. I notified some people outside; they are waiting for me; a driver is waiting for me.” A short time later, Khashoggi admits there is no driver but his fiancée is waiting. The report then relays a conversation caught by Turkish surveillance. Saudi Officials Made Khashoggi Write to His SonAccording to the transcript, Mutreb asked whether Khashoggi had phones.Khashoggi replied, “Two phones.”“Send a message to your son,” a man is heard saying. “Which son? What should I say to my son?” Khashoggi asks before the room goes silent.“You will type a message—let’s rehearse; show us,” the man can be heard saying. “What should I say? See you soon? I can’t say kidnapping.” Then the man tells Khashoggi to “cut it short” before directing him, “Take off your jacket.” “How could this happen in an embassy? I will not write anything,” Khashoggi pleads. “Cut it short,” the man says again.  “I will not write anything,” he says again.“Type it, Mr. Jamal. Hurry up. Help us so that we can help you because at the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don’t help us you know what will happen at the end; let this issue find a good end.” A few minutes later, Khashoggi is heard saying, “There is a towel here. Are you going to give me drugs?” “We will anesthetize you,” the man said before struggles can be heard. The Killers Struggled to Knock Out the JournalistThe rapporteur described sounds of struggle caught on the secret Turkish surveillance tape, which she assumes is the injection of a sedative. During the scuffle, a man asks, “Did he sleep?” Another replies, “He raises his head.” The first man then says, “Keep pushing.” Another replies, “Push here; don’t remove your hand; push it.” After the injection, the report surmises that the officials then suffocated him by placing his head in a plastic bag. Others caught on the secret tape spoke of a rope, but they could not determine whether a rope was indeed used. “Sounds of movement and heavy panting could be heard in the remainder of the recordings,” the report states. “The sound of plastic sheets (wrapping) could also be heard. Turkish Intelligence concluded that these came after Mr. Khashoggi’s death, while the Saudi officials were dismembering his body. The Turkish Intelligence assessment identified the sound of a saw at 13:39. The Special Rapporteur and her delegation could not make out the sources of the sounds they heard.” The Killers Improvised Some of the WorkAt a certain point in the surveillance tape, before Khashoggi had been brought to them, the voice of Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, the forensics doctor, can be heard preparing the other men about how to move Khashoggi’s heavy body, according to the report. As the men discuss the work at hand, including how to dismember the journalist, one mentions leather bags, another cutting through skin.“My direct manager is not aware of what I am doing,” Tubaigy then says. “There is nobody to protect me.” Later in the conversation, Mutreb stops and tells the others to listen, then asks if the “sacrificial lamb” has arrived at the consulate.An unnamed voice then responds, “He has arrived.” The Forensic Specialist Was on Tap to Remove the Evidence if Khashoggi Had to Be Killed, Not to Kill HimThe report contradicts denials by a Saudi prosecutor that no forensic specialist had been in Turkey at the time of the killing. It also contradicts initial press reports that Tubaigy was there to do the killing. Instead, the report asserts that he was there on standby in case the special team had no choice but to kill the journalist. Callamard writes that the leader of the mission “contacted a forensics expert to join the team for the purpose of removing evidence from the scene in the case force had to be used to return the victim. The forensics expert joined the team without the knowledge of his superiors.” A Turkish Collaborator Was ‘on Call’ in Case Khashoggi Had to Be Killed The original intent was to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, but a detailed contingency plan was put in place in the event he would not go willingly. “After surveying the Consulate, the head of the negotiation team concluded that it would not be possible to transfer the victim by force to the safe location in case the negotiations with him to return failed,” the report says, referring to Khashoggi. “The head of the negotiation team decided to murder the victim if the negotiations failed.” The complex investigation by both the U.N. and Turkish officials agreed that the murder was carried out “after a physical altercation with the victim where he was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death.” There Is No Way the Plan Was Hatched by Team Who Carried it OutThe special rapporteur concludes that due to the complexity of the murder, the number of people involved, and the disdain for Khashoggi by the kingdom, there is no way the murder was the act of those who committed it, as Saudi officials suggest by holding a secret trial.“The presence of the pathologist on the 15-man team is relevant to determining what the original intent of the mission was by those who commissioned it,” Callamard writes. “His presence suggests one of three options: 1) that murder was the primary intent of the mission; 2) that murder was planned after several days of interrogation; or 3) that murder was the immediate second option should Mr. Khashoggi refuse to return to Saudi Arabia.”As a result, she concludes: “It would appear improbable that any leader of a special operations team would unilaterally change the mission to murder without authorization from his superiors. A unilateral decision to kill, in defiance of orders, would seem only to put the team, and particularly the team leader at risk. It is hard to accept the theory that the 15-persons team leader planned this murder without any authorization from superiors in Riyadh.” The Individual Team Members May Not Have Been Told They Would Have to KillCallamard believes that it is possible that not all of the 15 people involved in the murder were aware of the plan. “Experts consulted have suggested that special-operations team members are usually all aware of the precise roles they will play and that they usually knew the exact purpose of the mission,” she wrote. “However, it is not known whether those conventions applied here. It is the special rapporteur’s understanding that some of the individuals on trial in Saudi Arabia are disclaiming any advance knowledge that Mr. Khashoggi was to be killed.” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Should Be InvestigatedThe U.N. rapporteur suggests on several occasions that the current trial in Saudi Arabia against 11 unidentified people should be halted and that the focus of the investigation should instead turn to top Saudi officials.“The special rapporteur addresses the question of credible evidence warranting further investigation of high-level officials currently not being criminally charged, specifically Saud Alqahtani, and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. No conclusion is made as to guilt,” she writes. “The only conclusion made is that there is credible evidence meriting further investigation, by a proper authority, as to whether the threshold of criminal responsibility has been met.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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High school graduates fall ill during trip to Dominican Republic

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 11:06

A group of high school graduates are the latest to fall ill in the Dominican Republic.


'The biggest joke in politics': Trump campaign chief disses 2020 polling

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 11:03

"The country is too complex now just to call a couple hundred people and ask them what they think," Brad Parscale said.


Egypt: UN office tries to politicize Morsi's courtroom death

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 11:00

Egypt said Wednesday that the U.N. human rights office was trying to politicize the death of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who collapsed inside a Cairo courtroom during his trial this week. Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president who hailed from the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, was buried under heavy security early on Tuesday, a day after his dramatic collapse and death inside a Cairo courtroom. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called Tuesday for a "prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation" into Morsi's death on Monday.


Huge iPhone X Plus Looks Like the One to Beat

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 10:35

Apple is betting that its biggest upcoming iPhone might just prove to be the most popular.Credit: Tom's GuideThe tech giant has ordered 45 million 6.5-inch OLED panels and 25 million 5.8-inch OLED panels, according to a report from Korean news outlet The Bell. Apple has also placed an order for 30 million 6.1-inch LCD panels for a cheaper version of its iPhone X, according to the report, which was earlier discovered by 9to5Mac.While the orders don't necessarily translate to sales predictions and can change over time, if they're accurate, it would suggest that Apple believes its iPhone X Plus will be the most popular version of all the handsets it releases this year. It also suggests that the iPhone X follow-up will be its least-popular model.Rumors have been swirling for months that Apple is working on three new iPhones for this year. The base model is expected to be a 6.1-inch LCD-based handset that will feature an iPhone X-like design and come with the most affordable price tag of the bunch. Apple's iPhone X, which is equipped with a 5.8-inch screen, is also getting a refresh, according to reports. And Apple will complement those handsets with the 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus, which will come with the same design as the iPhone X, but have a much larger screen.MORE: Case Maker Just Leaked the iPhone of Our DreamsThere had been speculation that Apple would sell more LCD models this year than any other. After all, the company's iPhone X has its biggest screen of all time and its highest price tag but isn't as popular as the cheaper iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Some had suggested the same might happen with this year's slate of iPhones.But Apple appears to be basing its decision on older iPhone launches that saw the larger versions attract more shoppers than the smaller and cheaper models. Apple ostensibly believes that customers will follow the same path with the iPhone Xs this year and opt for a larger version if it's available.Of course, price also matters here. And it's believed that Apple will keep all of its models under the $1,000 mark to start, with the iPhone X going for $899 and iPhone X Plus retailing for $999. The base LCD model will be less, but exactly how cheap is unknown. See also : Best iPhone X Alternatives * The Most Anticipated Smartphones - New Phones Coming Out * The Best iOS Apps You're Not Using (But Should Be) * 9 New iOS 12 Features That Make Your iPhone Better


Galaxy Note 10 leak reveals a futuristic feature you won’t find on any iPhone

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 10:12

The Galaxy Note 10, now expected to launch on August 7th, is hardly a secret anymore. We've seen plenty of leaks that have confirmed the phone's design and even the sky-high price tag has been outed. The Note 10 will come in two sizes, both featuring the same Infinity-O display that will have curved edges with tiny top and bottom bezels. In many ways, the Galaxy Note 10 will be similar to the Galaxy S10 when it comes to specs, but an insider now claims the phone will have a futuristic feature that no other popular smartphone has -- not even the iPhone. If this rumor is accurate, it will give Samsung an advantage over almost all competitors out there when it comes to design.Ice Universe, a reliable Samsung leaker, explained on Twitter that the Note 10 will have bezels as narrow as the iPhone, and that's possible thanks to a new display innovation: Sound on Display (SoD) tech.https://twitter.com/UniverseIce/status/1141244216992866304Instead of having to place a speaker at the top of the phone, Samsung can turn the screen itself into a speaker. This tech has been in the making for quite a while, and Samsung is one of the two companies that can pull it off. The other one is LG, which launched its LG V8 ThinQ earlier this year, the world's first phone with SoD tech. LG, however, hasn't been able to match Samsung for a long time when it comes to flagship smartphone sales.The Galaxy S10 still features a speaker at the top. It's almost invisible, but it's there. SoD screens will allow Samsung and every other company that sources OLED screens from Samsung Display to further reduce the size of their top bezels.The iPhone 11, meanwhile, isn't expected to drop the front-facing speaker anytime soon, and certainly not this year on the iPhone 11. Apple is rumored to stick with the same iPhone X notch design for at least one more generation of handsets, which means the front speaker isn't going anywhere for the time being. Google's Pixel 4, one other highly anticipated handset of the second half of 2019, will also have a speaker at the top, right in the middle of a pretty thick top bezel.


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