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Vladimir Putin says Russia will target US if it places missiles in Europe

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 11:42

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will target the US with new nuclear weapons if it deploys missiles to Europe following the demise of a major arms control treaty. In an annual speech to the federal assembly, the Russian leader on Wednesday accused Washington of planning to deploy intermediate-range missiles to the continent following its withdrawal from a bilateral agreement banning those weapons. This would put the missiles within a 10-minute flight from Moscow, creating a serious threat to Russia and compelling it to consider “symmetrical and asymmetrical actions” in response, he said.  “Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons that can be used not only against those territories posing a direct threat to us, but also against those territories where the decision-making centres are,” Mr Putin said, referring to the United States.  Russia and the United States have had hundreds of nuclear missiles pointed at each other since the Cold War, but Mr Putin's speech also detailed a bevy of new weapons Russia is developing, including hypersonic weapons and a nuclear-powered underwater drone. His comments marked an escalation in rhetoric from earlier this month, when he announced only a “symmetrical” response to Donald Trump's suspension of US participation in the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. Besides ceasing to observe the agreement, Russia would create a land-based version of its Kalibr cruise missile, he said at the time. Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, far left, is a longstanding opponent of arms control agreements Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP Washington has long argued that Moscow's 92M79 missile is banned by the INF treaty. But Russia has claimed that US missile defence in Romania and a similar system planned for Poland are in violation of the agreement.  Last month, the authorities even showed journalists and foreign military attaches a cruise missile canister and launcher outside Moscow to try to dispute the US accusations. A leaked US intelligence report later claimed that this equipment had nothing to do with the 92M79. In Wednesday's speech, Mr Putin again argued that US missile defence launchers in Romania could pose an offensive threat by firing Tomahawk cruise missiles and claimed that “target missiles” developed for defence shield exercises were intermediate-range missiles in disguise.  The United States needs to “do away with the illusion” that it could “achieve absolute military superiority with the help of global missile defence,” he said, touting several new weapons first announced in his address to the federal assembly last year.  The Avangard system, a hypersonic glider that can carry a nuclear warhead, and Peresvet laser weapon will enter deployment by the end of 2019, he said.  Moscow showed a cruise missile canister to journalists and military attaches in an attempt to argue its 9M279 missile did not violate the INF treaty Credit: Pavel Golovkin/AP Meanwhile, Russia is testing a nuclear-powered cruise missile and underwater drone that Mr Putin has claimed will have unlimited range, as well as a heavy intercontinental ballistic missile. The drone has been called a “doomsday weapon” because it could potentially destroy swathes of the US seaboard. But Washington said last year that the “unlimited range” cruise missile had crashed during tests. Seven new submarines and five new long-range warships will be launched, and 16 more such ships will be constructed by 2027, he added.  But Mr Putin tried to walk a fine line between boasting of new weapons development and promising to solve economic problems faced by the population, which took up most of the speech. One in five Russians now live in poverty, and polls show trust in Mr Putin has fallen following an unpopular hike in the pension age.  While claiming the Zircon missile in development could fly at nine times the speed of sound, he noted that it could be deployed on ships and submarines outfitted for the Kalibr and “won't be expensive for us”.  Mr Putin said Moscow was open to arms control talks and doesn't want confrontation, but warned that US leaders should “count the range and speed of our perspective weapons systems” before deploying new arms against Russia.  Elsewhere in the speech, the Russian president promised state aid for large families to try to reverse population decline, an effort he dubbed “more children, fewer taxes”. He also promised to fight poverty and increase access to healthcare and education in far-flung regions.


Southwest apologizes to travelers for spike in cancellations and delays, blames union

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 11:12

Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven apologized to travelers and said the union that represents its mechanics has a "history of work disruptions.''


First lawsuit filed in Covington Catholic case, student seeking $250M from the Washington Post

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:37

The defamation lawsuit filed on behalf of Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann alleges the teen has suffered permanent harm to his reputation as a result of the paper's malice; Doug McKelway reports.


Working While Receiving Social Security Disability

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:35

To become eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. "It is possible to qualify for Social Security disability benefits and still work in a limited capacity," says Nick Ortiz, a board-certified Social Security disability attorney and owner of Ortiz Law Firm in Pensacola, Florida. Read on for a look at what's involved with Social Security disability benefits, as well as the rules related to working while receiving benefits.


Shamima Begum: What could happen to the Isil bride?

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:29

The Home Office has stripped jihadi bride Shamima Begum of her British citizenship, but the ongoing saga of what will happen next to her and her days-old son remains up in the air.  International law forbids nations from making people stateless by revoking their only citizenship, prompting speculation that Begum held dual citizenship through her Bangladeshi parents. On Wednesday morning, Begum's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said his client does not have dual nationality, but the Home Office told The Telegraph laws in Bangladesh means the teenager automatically retains dual citizenship until she is 21.  Her family say they will consider "all legal avenues to challenge this decision", and Begum herself said that she may think about trying to travel with her terrorist husband to his home country of Holland to claim citizenship there.  The case has prompted fresh discussions over how Britain manages those returning or attempting to come back from Syria, once gripped by the tyranny of Islamic State (Isil). Begum was one of three schoolgirls, along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, from Bethnal Green Academy who left the UK in February 2015. She married an Isil fighter and on Sunday have birth to her third child at a refugee camp in northeastern Syria. Her first two children died. Begum's family has pleaded for the 19-year-old to be shown mercy and to be allowed to return to east London. But what options do authorities have in such instances? Remain in Syria If Begum is not repatriated, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could hand her over to neighbouring Iraqi forces, Middle East Correspondent Josie Ensor explains. The Telegraph is aware of at least three cases, including European citizens, where male Isil suspects have been transferred from Syria to Iraq to face trial. This would be a controversial option as Baghdad has the option to impose the death penalty, which the UK opposes. Foreign detainees are currently being held by the SDF in an area of Kurdish self-rule in northeastern Syria. The SDF has said that they do not have the money or resources to hold them forever. Islamic State losing its grip on Syria They have warned that if Turkey invades, which it has threatened, it could see the prisoners being set free in the chaos. The Syrian Kurds are also in talks with the Syrian government about ceding some of their territory, which could see some foreign prisoners being handed over to the regime. A third option - Mustafa Bali, the SDF spokesman, has called for an international court to be set up in Syria. This would see them tried by international judges in Syria but return home to serve their sentence. However, sources at the UN say it would be difficult if not impossible to set up such a court in Kurdish-held territory without the authority of the Syrian government. Bangladesh dual citizenship The Telegraph understands that the Home Office made the decision to revoke Begum's British citizenship based on Bangladeshi law.  There, until the age of 21, it is understood the Isil bride automatically retains dual nationality due to the fact her parents are both from the country.  At the age of 21, a child born to Bangladeshi parents has the right to waive their right to dual nationality, but not before. The complication lies in how she gets to Bangladesh - where it is understood her father is currently living - and how she proves that she is Shamima Begum.  The teenager has never visited the country and does not have a Bangladeshi passport. Her old British passport is invalid due to her citizenship being revoked and she has previously said she used her sister's passport to travel to Syria back in 2015.  One possible option for her would be to travel to Turkey via the notoriously penetrable border with Syria and present herself to the Bangladeshi embassy.  But officials in Dhaka may well appeal the Home Office's decision to make Begum their responsibility, insisting that she has never even been to the country.  Attempt to gain Dutch citizenship Begum married Isil fighter Yago Riedjik in Syria having travelled to the Middle East from Bethnal Green in east London in 2015. His whereabouts are still unknown, but when asked what she might do next, the Isil bride told ITV News: "Another option I might try with my family is my husband is from Holland and he has family in Holland. "Maybe I can ask for citizenship in Holland. If he gets sent back to prison in Holland I can just wait for him while he is in prison." This would need a number of elements to align for it to even be a possibility.  First, Holland would have to accept to take Riedjik back, having left the country to become a terrorist in the Middle East.  Yago Reidjik The country doesn't offer to help its citizens in Syria who are willing to return, and if they report to an embassy, they would be transported to Holland, arrested and prosecuted.  A foreigh fighter with dual nationalities deemed a threat to national security - like Britain - can have their Dutch citizenship and passport revoked.  If that happens, Begum would have to follow him. But her British passport is - as it stands - invalid. And she previously said she had travelled to Syria on her sister's passport, which has since been taken from her.  Dutch legislation dictates that a spouse or partner wishing to live in Holland would need a residence permit, and in order to be eligible for a permit - they must have a valid passport or other travel documents.  Somehow, if she manages to make the 2,000-mile journey from Syria to Holland, the Dutch authorities would have to accept that she and Riedjik are married.  The pair were wed within the confines of Islamic State a matter of weeks after she arrived. It is highly unlikely there is paperwork to prove they are legally married, and even if there is, the Dutch authorities would have to accept it as binding.  Home Office decision is rescinded  As the Home Office's letter states, Shamima Begum and her family have the right to appeal the decision.  Her lawyer Tasnima Akunjee's rhetoric all along suggests he will help his client fight any move to strip her of her British citizenship.  The letter to the Begum family Credit: ITV News If judges side with Begum, deciding Sajid Javid had no right to revoke her British citizenship because it renders her stateless - the Government would be back to square one.  The appeal might not necessarily need to happen. If, as Begum's lawyer suggests, the Isil bride is currently stateless - the Home Office would be forced to reverse it stance.  In that scenario, all these options are once again back on the table.  Sent to Guantánamo Bay As revealed by Ben Riley-Smith, Robert Mendick and Laura Fitzpatrick on The Telegraph's front page on Friday, the United States is planning to send British Isil fighters to Guantánamo Bay amid frustration at the UK's failure to take responsibility for its homegrown terrorists. Senior US officials believe Guantánamo can house more than 50 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters, including the two surviving British members of the so-called "Beatles" terrorist cell that executed Western hostages. It has emerged that the vast majority of Islamist fighters returning to the UK from Syria have been placed on "secretive" government rehabilitation schemes rather than prosecuted. Despite British concern, Guantánamo Bay is being readied in the run-up to Donald Trump's withdrawal of US troops from Syria as soon as April. There is acute frustration within the Trump administration over how Britain and other western European countries are refusing to take back their foreign fighters for prosecution in their own courts. Returning jihadis: What other countries do Arrest and prosecution Home Secretary Sajid Javid previously said those who make it back "should be ready to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted". But authorities have faced difficulties obtaining evidence to prove someone committed crimes in Syria.  Most recently, The Isil Beatles have caused the Government enormous problems. Two of the four suspected terrorists' fate has been left in limbo as the UK and the US play tug-of-war with where they will end up in court.  The Home Office previously blocked their return, and they could end up in an American federal court facing the death penalty after the CPS said there was "insufficient evidence" for them to be tried in the UK.    uk drops opposing of death pen Figures disclosed in the Commons last year suggested that only around one in 10 returnees has been prosecuted over "direct action" in Syria, although ministers say a significant proportion of those who have come back were assessed as no longer being of national security concern. New legislation which passed last week made it an offence to enter or remain in overseas terror hotspots, officially termed "designated areas". Managed return to UK Powers known as temporary exclusion orders (TEOs) were introduced in 2015. They can last for up to two years and can be imposed on those suspected of involvement in terrorism abroad, making it unlawful for them to return to the UK without engaging with authorities. The powers were unused in 2016, while nine TEOs were issued in 2017. Isil schoolgirls' journey into Syria TPIMs Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) allow the Home Secretary to impose a range of disruptive measures on individuals who are suspected of posing a threat to security but who cannot be prosecuted, or, in the case of foreign nationals, deported. Restrictions can include relocation to another part of the country, electronic monitoring and limits on the use of phones and computers. As of the end of August, six TPIMs were in force. Deradicalisation back in Britain Returnees could be referred to the Government's £40 million a year Prevent programme, which aims to stop people being drawn into terrorism. There were 7,318 individuals referred to Prevent in 2017/18. The schoolgirl who turned to Isil In most cases, referrals are found to require no further action or passed to other services, but when authorities conclude there is a danger the person could be drawn into terrorism, they can be supported through a voluntary scheme known as Channel. Prevent is backed by ministers and police, but has been described as "toxic" by critics, and the Government announced earlier this year that it would be independently reviewed.


Obama joined by Curry to tell minority boys 'you matter'

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:21

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Former President Barack Obama and Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry told a roomful of minority boys on Tuesday that they matter and urged them to make the world a better place.


How to Determine Whether a Warehouse Club Membership is Worth It

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:20

Warehouse clubs such as Sam's Club, Costco and BJ's Wholesale Club are marketed to consumers as great places to find bargains on all kinds of goods, particularly items sold in bulk. Many discount grocers offer comparable prices on the goods you can find at a warehouse club. For most customers, there are three major areas that will provide enough savings throughout the year to pay for a warehouse club membership.


May Suffers First Brexit Defections as Three Tories Quit

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 09:23

Prime Minister Theresa May was hit by three high-profile defections from her Conservative Party on Wednesday as Brexit cracks open the mold of mainstream British politics. Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston, and Heidi Allen will now sit alongside the eight former Labour politicians who quit their party to form the new “Independent Group” in Parliament earlier this week.


Designer Karl Lagerfeld to be cremated without ceremony

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 09:05

Karl Lagerfeld will be cremated without ceremony and his ashes are likely to be scattered with those of his mother and lover, his label said Wednesday. "His wishes will be respected," a spokeswoman for his Karl Lagerfeld brand told AFP a day after the legendary designer died at the age of 85. Lagerfeld had previously said that his ashes would be mixed with those of his longtime lover, the French dandy Jacques de Bascher, who died of AIDS in 1989.


Who Are the 11 U.K. Lawmakers in the Independent Group?

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:58

Four MPs – three Conservative and one Labour – have joined the seven lawmakers who resigned from Labour on Monday. While the opposition party politicians quit in protest at its position on Brexit and allegations of antisemitism, the former Conservatives are primarily focused on Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of of the divorce from the European Union.


With Top Investor in Jail, Putin Hits at Business Climate

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:21

(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said honest business people shouldn’t have to live under “constant fear of criminal prosecution,” days after the arrest of one of the country’s top foreign investors.


Netanyahu-Putin meeting in Russia postponed

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:02

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have postponed a planned meeting Thursday in Moscow for talks on Iranian military activity in Syria, an Israeli official said. The two leaders would speak by phone on Thursday instead, the official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday, adding that a new date for the meeting would be set as soon as possible. The official gave no reason for the postponement, but Israeli media said it was related to Netanyahu's strategizing with allied right-wing parties for April 9 elections ahead of a Thursday deadline for electoral lists to be submitted.


3 Conservative U.K. Lawmakers Defect to New Independent Group Over 'Disastrous Handling of Brexit'

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 07:50

The trio accused the Conservative Party of abandoning the political center ground


As Vatican meets on sex abuse, Pope must defrock Guam's Apuron, groups say

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 07:10

Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron was found guilty of 'certain accusations' of crimes related to the sexual abuse of minors. He has appealed the ruling.


7 features we want to see in a redesigned 2019 MacBook Pro

Macworld - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 07:00

I’m daring to believe we’re living in one of the best years for the Mac in ages. A recent report from trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo brims with rumors regarding everything from a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an “all-new design” to a 32-inch 6K standalone Apple monitor. There may even be a 32GB upgrade for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and it looks as though we’ll finally be getting the modular Mac Pro.

But it’s that “all-new design” that intrigues me the most. Kuo didn’t offer many specifics, so I’ve allowed my imagination and wishlist to run wild. For the most part, I’ve left out hardware upgrades—such as a better graphics card (like the Vega)—and focused on the general user experience. With these changes, I believe Apple could recapture some of the wonder the MacBook used to spark in years past.

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Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders Have a Plan to Kill the Stock Market

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:30

Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Bernie Sanders of Vermont want to penalize “self-indulgent” corporations that buy back their own stock. In a recent article in the New York Times, they argued that when companies repurchase shares, not only do the vast majority of Americans not benefit, but income inequality is exacerbated since only wealthy shareholders and corporate management profit.Despite decades of extraordinary success that the United States has enjoyed and that we enjoy today, Schumer and Sanders believe that something sinister is taking place in the corporate world. They call buybacks a form of “corporate self-indulgence.” Why? Because> corporate boardrooms have become obsessed with maximizing only shareholder earnings to the detriment of workers and the long-term strength of their companies. . . . Companies, rather than investing in ways to make their businesses more resilient or their workers more productive, have been dedicating ever larger shares of their profits to dividends and corporate repurchases.Now even some Republicans are getting on board. Florida senator Marco Rubio has suggested changes in the tax law to discourage buybacks because he says they “inflate” the prices of stock “at the expense of future productivity & job creation.”These senators don’t seem to fully understand that the purpose of a business is to allocate resources in a way that maximizes per share results over the long run. To think that this can be achieved at the expense of workers, at the expense of investing in research, at the expense of developing new and better products, at the expense of investing in equipment to both lower the cost and increase the quality of production, etc. is sophomoric. This underscores their lack of knowledge about investing and financial markets.Companies have several options with regard to the use of excess cash. They can (1) retain the funds in the company, (2) invest in the capital needed to grow the company, (3) make acquisitions, (4) pay out the excess cash in the form of dividends, or (5) repurchase shares from existing shareholders.These senators see little value in share buybacks, but they should listen to Warren Buffett, who is unequivocally a long-term investor. His financial success is a result of making exceptional long-term investments in resilient companies. Unlike Schumer and Sanders, Buffett is an enthusiastic proponent of utilizing excess cash to repurchase shares when conditions are favorable (or opportune).Here is what he said in his 1984 annual report: “The companies in which we have our largest investments are all engaged in significant share repurchases at the times when a wide discrepancy exists between price and value.” He has made this point repeatedly throughout the years. These companies repurchase shares and continue to grow, continue to invest in research, in capital that will improve the quality and lower the cost of products. He has even bought back $1 billion of shares of his own company, Berkshire Hathaway, not because he is “self-indulgent” but because he thinks the firm is undervalued.Schumer and Sanders—and in some cases they are joined by Rubio—provide two main reasons we are in a stock buyback “crisis”:> First, stock buybacks don’t benefit the vast majority of Americans.> > Second, when corporations direct resources to buy back shares on this scale, they restrain their capacity to reinvest profits more meaningfully in the company in terms of R&D, equipment, higher wages, paid medical leave, retirement benefits and worker retraining.The first point is utter nonsense. More than 100 million average Americans own stock. Americans invest in mutual funds and index funds and buy and sell stock every day. Tens of millions more have 401K plans, and most union pension funds have hundreds of billions of dollars invested in stocks.The second point is equally absurd. A corporate board of directors is elected by shareholders, the owners of the company. When a board makes the decision to repurchase shares, it is a sign of confidence in the firm’s long-term profitability. It raises share values, which obviously benefits shareholders and puts firms in better financial shape — which also benefits the employees. Essentially, Schumer and Sanders believe, and Rubio seems to believe, that they have the right to tell the owners of a corporation the best way to allocate their profits.Studies show that firms that buy back their own shares have strong long-term growth.Consider Apple. It has become the most valuable company in the world. This exceptional success was achieved because of the enormous investments they made to develop revolutionary products. Companies cannot develop revolutionary products by underpaying talented workers or without investing billions of dollars in research, factories, and equipment. Not incidentally, Apple has repurchased billions of dollars of its own stock.The hyper-competitiveness and efficiency of U.S. companies is a major reason that unemployment is at a near 50-year low. Today, no company can survive if its workers are treated poorly. Walmart, which Schumer and Sanders attacked in their article, and many other companies recently raised their wage rates substantially, starting with entry-level positions.What is most disturbing about Schumer and Sanders’s proposal is their hubris in believing that they know how every company should handle its excess cash better than the CEOs, the boards of directors, and shareholders do. That is a rather all-encompassing statement. One would be hard-pressed to find a more vivid example of what Friedrich Hayek called “the fatal conceit,” the distorted notion that one knows more than is knowable. Would Buffett invest in a company if Schumer and Sanders were in charge of allocating its resources?We doubt it. Who in their right mind would?If approved, what Schumer and Sanders propose would not only hurt U.S. companies. It would harm the entire U.S. economy and financial system. It would raise the cost of capital for companies. What they advocate would tell domestic and foreign investors that our government is interfering with how companies allocate their resources.What is the difference between going after a large company with lots of shareholders and a small company with one owner? How long before Senators Schumer and Sanders tell the tire-shop owner that he has not paid his employees enough and that therefore he has withdrawn too much of the profit as an owner distribution?Every shareholder and business owner in America should rise up in loud protest against what these senators are proposing.Thomas A. Smith is the president of the Smith Foundation and ran a successful investment company for 40 years. Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks.


Israel should apologize to Poland in Holocaust row: U.S. ambassador to Warsaw

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:00

The row, initially sparked by media reports suggesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Poles of complicity in the Holocaust, deepened on Monday after the comment by his minister Israel Katz, who also labeled Poles anti-Semites. Katz's words led Poland to pull out of a planned summit of central European states in Israel. U.S. ambassador Georgette Mosbacher, asked if Katz should apologize, said the comment "warrants an apology".


Sonarworks True-Fi review: The promise of studio-quality sound from average headphones

Macworld - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:00
True-Fi will correct your headphone's frequency anomalies with the click of a button.

It’s time for Apple to get back into the smart home in a big way

Macworld - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:00

Apple’s current strategy in the home tech market is a bit murky. It launched the HomePod and Apple TV 4K in 2017, and HomeKit support seems to have become much more widespread lately, but it also killed the AirPort line of products and has stood by as competitors like Google and Amazon snap up companies like Nest and Eero.

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The Latest: Smollett gave false information in 2007 case

Top Stories - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 05:35

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the attack reported by Jussie Smollett (all times local):


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