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  • Schiff mauls Cipollone on impeachment trial's first day

    Golocal247.com news

    President Trump’s lawyers were caught off-guard as the lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, launched into a passionate and comprehensive set of arguments about why the House impeached Trump.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:37:10 -0500
  • Arizona mother arrested on suspicion of killing her three young children

    Golocal247.com news

    A 22-year-old woman was arrested and booked into jail on Tuesday on suspicion of killing her three young children, city police said, after the bodies were found inside her south Phoenix home. The suspect, Rachel Henry, was taken into custody by Phoenix police early on Tuesday after admitting that she harmed the children, said Sergeant Mercedes Fortune of the Phoenix Police Department. Responders found the three children unresponsive, and were unable to resuscitate them.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:00:22 -0500
  • New charge filed against Michigan lawmaker who reportedly said boys could 'have a lot of fun' with reporter

    Golocal247.com news

    The sexual harassment allegation, filed by a Michigan state senator, comes as Peter Lucido faces investigation over remarks to a reporter.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:41:14 -0500
  • US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwise

    Golocal247.com news

    The U.S. ambassador to South Korea has some unusual explanations for the harsh criticism he's faced in his host country. Or a Japanese ancestry that raises unpleasant reminders of Japan's former colonial domination of Korea? Many South Koreans, however, have a more straight-forward explanation for Harry Harris' struggle to win hearts and minds in Seoul, and it's got more to do with an outspoken manner that they see as undiplomatic and rude.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 04:24:21 -0500
  • ‘Sorry for Lying to You for 13 Years’: Iranian State TV Host Turns on Regime after Ukrainian Jet Downing

    Golocal247.com news

    A number of Iranian TV hosts and other public personalities have denounced the regime in the wake of Iran's missile strike on a Ukrainian passenger jet that killed 176 people after the military mistook the jet for an enemy target."Apologies for lying to you for 13 years," state TV host of "Good Morning Iran" Gelareh Jabbari posted on Instagram last Monday. "It was very hard for me to believe our people have been killed, forgive me for believing this late."The post, which was seen by NBC News, has since been deleted.Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran's most popular actors and a star of the Oscar-winning 2016 movie The Salesman, also criticized the regime in a post to her 5.8 million Instagram followers."We are not citizens, we are captives, millions of captives," Alidoosti wrote. That post has also been deleted."The Islamic Republic is facing the worst legitimacy crisis in its 40-year history, and the pressures are mounting from every angle," Afshin Shahi, associate professor of Middle East politics at Bradford University, England, told NBC. "The gap between the state and society has widened to an extreme extent."Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down the plane after several days of official denials. U.S., Canadian and European intelligence had already indicated the plane was shot down in a missile strike.Several hours earlier, Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles at U.S. positions in Iraq, in retaliation for the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. The Iranian military later said the strikes were not intended to kill U.S. troops.However, the Pentagon later acknowledged that 11 Americans were injured in the strikes, and were being treated for concussive symptoms.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 15:14:52 -0500
  • Russia admits its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile is suffering from 'childhood diseases'

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    The weapon which is expected to eventually arm the country's newer frigates is apparently experiencing developmental challenges.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:11:36 -0500
  • Zimbabwe Opposition Vows Rolling Protests Over Economy

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on TwitterZimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change will hold a series of demonstrations this year over the government’s failure to address the deteriorating economy.The southern African nation had the continent’s fastest-shrinking economy last year, after Libya, and its annual inflation rate was outpaced globally only by Venezuela, International Monetary Fund estimates show. Zimbabwe is grappling with shortages of food, fuel and foreign-exchange, while its inability to pay for adequate electricity imports and breakdowns at power plants have led to outages of as long as 18 hours a day.“This year is going to be a year of demonstrations and action,” MDC leader Nelson Chamisa told party supporters in the capital, while outlining their plans for this year.” This year it must be known that demonstrations are coming. It is time to fight for Zimbabwe we all want and have been dreaming of.”Previous protests by anti-government activists have resulted in brutal repression. At least 18 people have been killed in demonstrations since Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power in November 2017.To contact the reporter on this story: Godfrey Marawanyika in Harare at gmarawanyika@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at gbell16@bloomberg.net, Paul Richardson, Alastair ReedFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:30:59 -0500
  • Washington state man who traveled to China is first U.S. victim of coronavirus

    Golocal247.com news

    The patient, identified only as a man in his 30s, fell ill over the weekend after traveling to his hometown in China and was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Monday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee told reporters at a press conference in Seattle. "This is not a moment of high anxiety," Inslee said, reporting that the man was listed in satisfactory condition at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington and not known to have infected anyone else.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:40:15 -0500
  • The real problem with McConnell's impeachment rules

    Golocal247.com news

    The principle behind guaranteeing a speedy trial is that the accused, then presumed innocent, should not endlessly languish behind bars for a crime he perhaps did not commit. But those ignorant of the concept might be forgiven if, first introduced to it via the rules proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for President Trump's impeachment trial, they came away convinced it meant the proceedings must be done at double time, charging toward a verdict even if it requires marching straight through the night.McConnell's proposed rules, to be voted on after amendments and debate Tuesday evening, have two chief features, of which the compressed timeline is but one. His dictate that each side — the House impeachment managers and the president's defense team — will have 24 total hours, to be used within three calendar days (up from the initially suggested two), to present their respective cases has won him the title "Midnight Mitch" as well as accusations of willfully obscuring the trial's content from the American people, most of whom (quite sensibly) will not track its proceedings at the very late or very early hours this schedule may necessitate.This timeline is stupid. It is also willfully difficult. But it's mostly a mere annoyance. The 24-hour limit is the same as that used in former President Bill Clinton's trial in 1999. Arguments then were completed before the 24 hours were up, and the shifts in media coverage in the years since make hearings at even the smallest hours much less clandestine. The tweets and highlight videos and summary listicles will be there for us in the morning.It's the other feature which poses the real problem: Under McConnell's rules — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will surely try to change them, though he is unlikely to succeed — witnesses may not be called and evidence collected in the House impeachment inquiry may not be presented unless approved in a vote taken after the 24-hour opening arguments are done and have been followed by 16 hours for questioning and four hours for deliberation. Four Senate Republicans have expressed an interest in hearing from witnesses, which would be more than enough to tip that vote in Democrats' favor, but we won't know their final decision until the arguments, questions, and deliberations are complete.This plan has two major flaws. First, it will impede the impeachment managers' ability to make their most persuasive possible case because they won't know whether they'll be able to introduce documentary evidence and call witnesses as desired. That uncertainty is debilitating, as it would be in any attempted argument. Second, it will require the impeachment managers to use a significant portion of their 24 hours pushing for permission to bring in additional witnesses and documents instead of talking exclusively of their case against Trump. They'll have to leave off working to persuade the Senate of the president's guilt to make space for procedural disputes.I have described consequences for the impeachment managers, but were this trial not already decided — in fact, if not in oath — the negatives here would apply to Trump's defenders, too. Had they any uncertainty about how the Senate might decide, the president's team would protest just as loudly as the Democrats. They too would denounce the hobbling effect of unpredictability which a delayed vote on witnesses and documents introduces to the preparation process, and they too would object to having to convince the Senate to allow summons of people and papers to bolster their case. They won't, because partisanship has already rendered the verdict.Absent a realistic chance for different rules, it might be better (which is to say, still bad) if McConnell dispensed with the post-deliberation vote and prohibited witnesses and documents from the outset. What would be lost in the chance that the vote will go in favor of a better-informed trial would be gained in permitting the 24-hour arguments to focus solely on the case proper with a presentation undistorted by false hope of further evidentiary support.Instead, whatever witnesses and evidence aren't allowed at trial will be endlessly examined on television news and Twitter, new bombshells dropping every hour and forgotten the next, all of us pretending deep interest in people whose names were new to us a day ago and whose import we can't quite remember, a papier-mâché of facts slurried together and shaped around the conclusions we've already reached.Perhaps McConnell's short timeline for this largely pointless exercise is a mercy after all: If we can't get anything like justice, we might as well get it over with.More stories from theweek.com The Saudi crown prince reportedly personally hacked Jeff Bezos' phone. He may have done the same thing to Jared Kushner. Senate tables Chuck Schumer's first impeachment amendment along party lines White House counsel falsely claims Adam Schiff blocked Republicans from attending classified impeachment meetings

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:41:24 -0500
  • AOC criticises Democratic Party: ‘We don’t have a left party in the United States’

    Golocal247.com news

    New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained that the Democratic party does not represent the political left in the United States, calling the organisation a “centre or centre-conservative” party that “can’t even get a floor vote” on nationalising health care.She said: “We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare for All — not even a floor vote that might get doubled down.”

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 10:32:14 -0500
  • Elizabeth Warren says half her cabinet will be women

    Golocal247.com news

    Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday promised to appoint women or nonbinary people to at least half of the top positions in the executive branch if she wins the presidency.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:13:21 -0500
  • Homeless Oakland Moms Cut Deal to Buy House They Squatted In

    Golocal247.com news

    A group of homeless mothers evicted and arrested after squatting in an empty Oakland residence have reached an agreement to buy the home in a radical conclusion to a struggle that shone a renewed spotlight on the Bay Area’s dire housing shortage. The women, known collectively as Moms 4 Housing, occupied a house in West Oakland from November until Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies removed them in a pre-dawn raid on January 14. Cops also arrested two of the women, along with two men on the scene. Around the same time as that eviction raid, hundreds of supporters gathered at the house to express solidarity with the mothers’ rallying cry of “housing is a human right.” On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Moms 4 Housing announced that the women—who were released from jail last week—reached an agreement to purchase the property from its owner with the help of a local nonprofit, Oakland Community Land Trust. “This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community. Today we honor Dr. King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations,” said Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who was living in the home.Eviction Squad Tosses Moms on Street in Ultra-Rich Bay AreaThe house, owned by the Southern California real estate company Wedgewood, had remained empty for two years, even as homelessness in Oakland rose by nearly half in the same time period. Members of Oakland’s city council had urged the company to make a deal with the mothers to end the dispute. In a statement, the company said, “Wedgewood is thankful for the outpouring of support for our company throughout the illegal occupation of our Oakland property. We appreciate the local, state and national support for property owners as well as the public’s support for non-violent discussion and action.” Activists who worked with the mothers were quick to brandish the outcome as not just a win but a precedent they might repeat.“The moms fought for all of Oakland,” said Carroll Fife, director of the Oakland chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. “Now Wedgewood has pledged to work with the City of Oakland’s Housing and Community Development Department and the Oakland Community Land Trust to negotiate a first right of refusal program for all Oakland properties they own and we will hold them to it.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 15:32:55 -0500
  • The Navy Has a Plan to Stop Ship-Killer Missiles

    Golocal247.com news

    The threat keeps building from nations like Russia, China, Iran and many others.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:28:00 -0500
  • Police: Dad strangles coyote to defend family under attack

    A coyote attacked a pair of dogs, bit a woman and skirmished with a vehicle before being killed by a father defending his family on a walk Monday, police said. The same coyote is likely connected to three attacks that happened relatively close together and throughout the course of an hour, Kensington Police Chief Scott Cain said Monday. Police say they believe the coyote attacked a vehicle on a roadway in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, bit a 62-year-old woman and her dogs on a porch in Kensington and then attacked a family walking on a trail in Exeter.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 09:24:38 -0500
  • You Should Get an Electric Fireplace

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    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500
  • The US Air Force recently acquired a new $64 million Gulfstream private jet for VIP government officials — see inside

    Golocal247.com news

    The US president isn't the only government official that flies in a VIP plane operated by the US Air Force.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:53:00 -0500
  • 'I stayed alive to tell' - Auschwitz's dwindling survivors recount horrors of Nazi death camp

    Golocal247.com news

    A strip of skin tattooed with the Auschwitz death camp number 99288 sits in a silver frame on a shelf in Avraham Harshalom's living room. As the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation on Jan 27, 1945, nears, Harshalom, 95, is very clear about why he kept it. Harshalom is one of some 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:14:38 -0500
  • Giuliani associate in campaign cash probe seeks Barr recusal

    An associate of Rudy Giuliani charged with illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. political campaigns has asked Attorney General William Barr to recuse himself in the case and appoint a special prosecutor. The request is made in a letter filed Monday in the docket of the federal campaign finance violation case brought by New York prosecutors against Lev Parnas. The letter signed by defense lawyer Joseph Bondy came a day before the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump was scheduled to start.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:25:47 -0500
  • Heather Heyer's mom owns guns and says Democrats in Richmond, Virginia, are going too far

    Golocal247.com news

    Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, a Virginia woman killed at a white nationalist rally, doesn't back proposed gun restrictions in Virginia.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 15:36:56 -0500
  • Photos surface showing convicted Nazi guard Demjanjuk at Sobibor

    Golocal247.com news

    New photos have emerged which for the first time show convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk at the Sobibor death camp, a Berlin archive confirmed Monday, although he always denied ever being there. Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of nearly 30,000 Jews at Sobibor by a German court in 2011. According to the Berlin-based Topography of Terror archive, photos of Demjanjuk are among a newly discovered collection of more than 350 snaps which give "detailed insight" into the camp in German-occupied Poland.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:36:42 -0500
  • 30 Doormats That Will Wow Visitors

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    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:30:26 -0500
  • Mothers who occupied vacant Oakland house will be allowed to buy it

    Golocal247.com news

    Intervention of California governor helps Moms 4 Housing group score victory in fight against state’s homeless crisisThe homeless mothers who took over a vacant house in Oakland, California, and occupied it for almost two months will be allowed to purchase the property – a major victory in a movement working to keep such homes out of the possession of speculators.The group Moms 4 Housing entered the house on Magnolia Street on 18 November with the intent to stay. The house had sat vacant for more than two years before it was purchased in July at a foreclosure auction for $501,078 by Wedgewood Properties, a real estate investment company with a history of buying up foreclosed-upon houses cheaply, evicting the tenants, renovating the homes and then putting them back on the market at much higher prices.Housing advocates say companies such as Wedgewood fueled the housing crisis that now grips the state, which needs anywhere between 1.8m and 3.5m new housing units by 2025. More than 15,500 units remain vacant in Oakland alone, according to the latest US Census Bureau data, while 4,071 people are homeless. House-flipping has led to rapid gentrification, which then in turn led to the widespread displacement of black residents.In Oakland, 78% of the homeless population reported that their last place of residence before becoming homeless was within county limits. Seventy per cent were black.Moms 4 Housing chose the Magnolia Street house in part to try to force Wedgewood to negotiate the sale of the home back to the community.“This is what happens when we organize, when people come together to build the beloved community,” Dominique Walker, one of the mothers who lived in the house with her two children, said in a statement, on the day that America marked Martin Luther King Day. “Today we honor Dr King’s radical legacy by taking Oakland back from banks and corporations.”With the housing and homelessness crisis worsening each day, the mothers received widespread support for their cause, from local lawmakers to California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who praised the activists.Moms 4 Housing had brought the issue to court, but a judge ruled in favor of Wedgewood. Sheriff deputies arrived in the early hours of 15 January to evict them, arresting two of the mothers and two of their supporters.Wedgewood has maintained that the mothers had committed a criminal act in breaking into the house, and the house legally belonged to the company.“Wedgewood has always been and continues to be open to thoughtful and purposeful discussions,” spokesman Sam Singer said in a statement.“After regaining possession of Magnolia Street, we engaged in discussions with governor Gavin Newsom, mayor Libby Schaaf and councilman Larry Reid. These led to progress that everyone should agree is a step in the right direction in helping to address Oakland’s homelessness and housing crisis.”

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 19:07:24 -0500
  • Not Good: This Report Warns China Could Beat America in a Fight by 2049

    Golocal247.com news

    If not sooner.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:00:00 -0500
  • Photos of starving lions in Sudan spark campaign to save them

    Golocal247.com news

    One of the five lions at Khartoum's Al-Qureshi Park is believed to have died.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 22:35:34 -0500
  • Jeff Bezos’s Phone Hacked by Saudi Crown Prince: Report

    Golocal247.com news

    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's phone was hacked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018, five months before the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.According to the report, Bezos and bin Salman were having a friendly discussion on Whatsapp when on May 1 bin Salman sent the Amazon CEO a video file. That file was likely infected with malware, and in a matter of hours large amounts of data were extracted from Bezos's phone.Bin Salman is currently attempting to open Saudi Arabia to western investment and wean the country's economy off its dependence on oil. However, the prince is suspected of involvement in the murder of Khashoggi, which occurred at the Saudi embassy in Turkey.Khashoggi, a columnist at the Bezos-owned Post, was critical of the Saudi regime and allied himself with an organization funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia's rival in the Persian Gulf.If confirmed, the hack into Bezos's phone would also raise questions regarding how the National Enquirer tabloid received text messages between Bezos and his mistress in early 2019, including photos of the two in various revealing states.On February 7, Bezos published the photos online to prove that American Media Inc., the owner of the Enquirer, was attempting to blackmail him to stop the Amazon CEO's investigation into how the Enquirer obtained the text messages in the first place."Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks and corruption," Bezos wrote at the time. "I prefer to stand up, roll this log over and see what crawls out."

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:12:21 -0500
  • Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas: NTV

    Golocal247.com news

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas, after Ankara signed a maritime agreement with Libya last year, broadcaster NTV reported. Turkey has been a major source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:54:31 -0500
  • 4 wild stories we've learned so far from 'A Very Stable Genius,' a new book on the Trump White House

    Golocal247.com news

    The book tells never-before-heard stories about the Trump White House, and confirms anecdotes that were detailed in other books and reporting.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 16:39:16 -0500
  • Iranian attending college in Boston is denied entry to US

    Golocal247.com news

    An Iranian student attending college in Boston was denied entry to the U.S. and ordered to immediately fly back to his native country, despite a court order temporarily staying his removal, immigration lawyers and civil rights groups said Tuesday. Shahab Dehghani, a 24-year-old economics student at Northeastern University, arrived in Boston with a valid student visa but was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at Logan International Airport, according to his lawyer Kerry Doyle.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 12:05:28 -0500
  • Signs of life at 'no-man's land' around Philippine volcano

    Golocal247.com news

    A desolate landscape of ash dunes and bare trees left by the eruption of the Philippines' Taal volcano lay in contrast with a few signs of life at ground zero of the disaster on Tuesday. The island site was buried by massive deposits of ash when Taal erupted last week and remains under a mandatory evacuation order due to a feared bigger blast. Authorities have said any outward signs of an imminent eruption have been weak over the past several days.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:48:52 -0500
  • South Korea Mulls North Korea Visits Despite U.S. Pushback

    (Bloomberg) -- South Korea is considering different ways to allow its people to travel to North Korea despite a U.S. warning to proceed with caution in visiting a country under extensive international sanctions.The Unification Ministry said Monday the government is looking at measures that include allowing South Koreans to go to North Korea directly through previously established land crossings or going through a third country in a tour group. The latter option would help South Koreans travel to major cities in North Korea, including the capital Pyongyang.The tourism initiative comes after the South Korea presidential office last week criticized U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris for suggesting that the U.S. government should be consulted first. The latest dispute added to heightened tensions between the allies over U.S. demands for South Korea to pay more for hosting American troops.Harris said tourism is allowed under sanctions but some of things visitors take with them could be prohibited under the sanctions, which were imposed on North Korea to punish it for its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.South Korea Should Consult U.S. on North Korea Tours, Envoy SaysTourism allows cash-starved North Korea to obtain hard currency and significant flow of money to Kim Jong Un’s regime could undermine President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to squeeze its economy through sanctions. Moon has called for a resumption of projects with North Korea seeing them as a way to establish trust and security on the heavily armed peninsula.North Korea’s Kim has pushed for increased tourism and in an address to mark the new year highlighted one of his pet projects in the coastal city of Wonsan, which has been undergoing a tourism face-lift. For months Pyongyang has rebuffed Moon’s calls for talks, telling South Korea to stay out of the way in its dealings with Trump and advising Seoul to “behave prudently” and “not to be reduced to a fool heading nowhere.”Kim last year also threatened to tear down South Korean-built structures at a resort constructed at North Korea’s Mt. Geumgang, delivering a blow to Moon’s plans to bring back the now-frozen project once seen as a symbol of reconciliation.Kim Jong Un Deals Blow to South Korean Plans for Joint ResortIn 2008, South Koreans were ordered to vacate the resort after a 53-year-old woman vacationer who wandered close to a North Korean military facility in the area was shot and killed. More than 2 million South Koreans had visited the scenic mountain site located near the border before it was shut down. Tourists paid a fee to enter North Korea and Pyongyang took a cut on all the money the South Koreans spent on food, lodging and tours. The U.S. raised worries at the time that North Korea used funds from Mt. Geumgang to help pay for its weapons programs.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 Herskovitz, Peter PaeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 01:32:50 -0500
  • Twisted Christians Sentenced a Man to 12 Years in Prison Over a Cell Phone Charge in Mississippi

    Golocal247.com news

    Brian K. Burns was sworn in as a Mississippi Circuit Court judge in early January, one of the last appointments made by outgoing hardline Republican Governor Phil Bryant. Before becoming a judge, Burns had prosecuted just 11 cases in the entirety of his legal career, leading fellow attorneys from his district to register “grave concerns about Burns’s lack of trial experience,” according to his hometown newspaper. In one of those cases, he’d succeeded in sending an African-American man to jail for 12 years merely for possessing a cellphone in a local jail—a sentence so extreme that Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Leslie King wrote that it “seems to demonstrate a failure of our criminal justice system on multiple levels.” The defendant, Willie Nash, is a 39-year-old father of three currently serving his decade-plus sentence in one of Mississippi’s worst prisons. By any reasonable reading of the trial court record, Nash’s real crime seems to have been a lack of detailed knowledge about Mississippi’s lengthy list of codes and statutes. While in the custody of the Newton County jail after a misdemeanor arrest in August 2017, Nash asked a guard to charge his cellphone. The officer’s testimony later affirmed that Nash handed over his smartphone “voluntarily,” as if he “wasn’t trying to hide anything,” and even “said thank you”—unlikely behavior for someone knowingly committing a felony—before also providing his phone’s passcode. Officers later discovered, according to court records, that Nash’s last outgoing text had been to his wife, informing her that he was “in jail.” Nash was then charged with violating a law prohibiting possession of any “unauthorized electronic device, cell phone or any of its components or accessories” in correctional facilities, a statute that carries a penalty of three to 15 years.The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the 2018 decision last week, noting that while the lower court’s sentence against Nash’s is “obviously harsh,” it still “falls within the statutory range.” Presiding Justice King wrote a special concurring opinion “to voice [his] concern over this case as a whole.” In it, the jurist notes that “Nash’s behavior was that of a person who did not know” he was not supposed to have the phone, “as he voluntarily showed the officer his phone and asked the officer to charge it for him.” He goes on to point out that it is likely the jail’s “booking procedure was not followed”—Nash’s intake officer was never called to testify—which explains how Nash entered the jail with a “large smartphone that would have likely been impossible to hide during a strip search.” The jurist responds to the lower court’s citation of Nash’s two previous burglary convictions by noting that Nash had remained out of trouble for a decade after he’d served seven years for the most recent conviction in 2001, which “evinces a change in behavior.” While King makes clear he agrees with the state Supreme Court’s decision establishing the legality of Nash’s sentence, his opinion questions the morality of Judge Mark Sheldon Duncan harsh sentence and prosecutor Burns’s pursuit of it. “[Nash] has a wife and three children who depend on him,” King writes. “Combining this fact with the seemingly innocuous, victimless nature of his crime, it seems it would have been prudent for the prosecutor to exercise prosecutorial discretion and decline to prosecute or to seek a plea deal. In that same vein, it would have been prudent for the judge to use his judicial discretion in sentencing to sentence Nash to a lesser sentence than that of twelve years. Cases like Nash’s are exactly why prosecutors and judges are given wide discretion.”That’s not how prosecutors and judges in Mississippi have used that discretion.A Justice Department report ranks the state’s incarceration rate as the third highest in the country, after Louisiana and Oklahoma. Even as the national prison population has been on the decline, the number of people imprisoned  in Mississippi has increased over the last five years, and currently stands at roughly 19,000. One reason for that rise may be the number of former prosecutors who then ascend to Mississippi’s bench—from which they continue to prosecute. Like Burns, Nash’s sentencing judge, Mark Duncan, is a former prosecutor, who served as District Attorney for Mississippi’s Eighth District for nearly 15 years. Additionally, while 38 percent of Mississippi’s population is black—the largest share of any state—its prosecutors and judges are white and male, as in the rest of the country. Today, the state that lynched the most African-Americans now locks up its black citizens. According to a 2018 ACLU report, 1 in 30 black men in Mississippi is in jail, while a 2019 report from FWD.us finds that “1 in 7 black Mississippians has a felony conviction.” “This is a guy who has no history of violence,”  said Robert McDuff, director of the Mississippi Center for Justice’s Impact Litigation Project. “His only prior criminal convictions were burglary convictions that were nearly 20 years old or older. I mean this guy's obviously not a career criminal. He was in jail on a misdemeanor charge when this cellphone was found…. So, yeah, clearly he's not a violent person—he’s not a danger if he's on the streets. It's just ridiculous to be sentencing him to 12 years in prison,”. McDuff was also a defense lawyer for Curtis Flowers, a black Mississippi man who has been prosecuted six times for the same crime by Doug Evans, a white district attorney. In December, after 23 years in prison, Flowers’s most recent conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that Evans and his team had undertaken a “relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals.”“In Mississippi we are facing a crisis of overcrowding in the prisons,” McDuff told me. “There are not enough guards to supervise the prisoners. This recently has broken out in violence, in chaos, and conditions that are unsafe both for prisoners and for staff. And a large part of the reason for this is because the judges are sending nonviolent people like Mr. Nash to prison when they just don't need to be there.”Nash has been imprisoned since December 2019 in the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, which ProPublica described in a 2019 report as “a violent tinderbox.” One inmate set another on fire last August, leaving him with second-degree burns. Another inmate described a separate incident in which prisoners begged guards to stop a fight that ultimately ended in the death of an inmate. “We had beat on the cell doors for hours, trying to summon help… all the officer in the tower would do is yell over the P.A. speaker for us to ‘shut the hell up.’” The report went on to describe a place where danger is a constant threat, as “the prison struggles to meet the fundamental duties of a correctional facility, with surging violence and, now, a lockdown barring visits entering its seventh month. Rather than counting inmates, as required, some guards are reportedly falsifying those counts, an internal prison memo says. The state has sharply cut its spending on prisons over the last few years. Along the way, the number of guards at the three state-run prisons has plummeted, from 905 in July 2017 to 627 two years later, even as the number of inmates has remained the same. Vacancies abound, largely because the pay is so low. South Mississippi Correctional Institution, known as SMCI, now has an inmate-to-correctional officer ratio of 23 to 1, far higher than that of other states or the federal prison system.”On January 3, Burns was officially sworn in as a judge for Mississippi’s Eighth Judicial District. The new judge told a local news outlet that in his new job, he planned to rely on one idea above all others. “Prayer,” Burns said. “Lean on the lord. Cast all your burdens upon him. Pray, pray, pray. He will provide the answer.”It was Duncan—the sentencing judge who told Nash he should “consider himself fortunate” he’d only been sentenced to 12 years, given his long-ago non-violent convictions—who administered the oath to Burns, Nash’s zealous prosecutor. At the ceremony, Duncan deemed Burns a “highly intelligent, sharp lawyer” who will make an “outstanding circuit judge.” Duncan said that he and Burns had spoken about their shared Christian faith, and how God had “put us there to use the gifts he has given us to administer to those who are around us. Brian and I talked and he agreed with that assessment. He told me he trusted God to put him wherever he was supposed to be.” The judge added, “We’ve enjoyed a lot of great conversations about golf and time on the golf course as well. Golfers will tell you that you can find out a lot about a person on the golf course. Golf has a way of exposing a person’s true character. As much as legal skills are required to do the job of judge, a person’s character may be even more important.” 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 04:42:28 -0500
  • 2 inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison

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    Two inmates were killed Monday night at an understaffed Mississippi prison that has been shaken by other deadly violence in recent weeks. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the deaths Tuesday but did not immediately release the names of the latest inmates killed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. The department said it is investigating the deaths.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:32:51 -0500
  • What you need to know about China's Wuhan coronavirus and how it could affect you

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    A virus in China has killed six people, infected more than 200, and spread to the US. Here's what you need to know about the disease.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:46:00 -0500
  • Security guard 'definitely saved lives' by killing shooter at Kansas City bar, police say

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    A Missouri security guard was lauded as a hero after shooting a gunman who killed one person and wounded 15 outside a Kansas City nightclub.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:04:34 -0500
  • French workers turn to sabotage as transport strike flags

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    French energy workers protesting against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform plans cut power to Paris' wholesale food market on Tuesday in the latest of a series of sabotage and wildcat actions as a weeks-long transport strike loses momentum. The deliberate sabotage of power supplies underlines the determination of left-wing unions after a wave of strikes and street protests since early December failed to force Macron to back down. The hard-left CGT union's energy branch said it was responsible for an early-morning power outage at Rungis, the world's largest wholesale fresh food market.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:09:01 -0500
  • Trump's lawyers confirm their impeachment playbook is to argue the charges are 'constitutionally invalid' and should be tossed

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    Sources working with President Donald Trump's legal team said the charges were "frivolous and dangerous" but declined to provide details.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 14:13:44 -0500
  • Indonesia says 5 citizens kidnapped by Philippine militants

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    Indonesian authorities said Tuesday that five of the country's citizens have been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:31:08 -0500
  • Iran MP: $3 million reward for 'whoever kills Trump': ISNA

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    An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who killed President Trump and said Iran could avoid threats if it had nuclear arms, ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday amid Tehran's latest standoff with Washington.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 07:50:08 -0500
  • Why Did North Korea Sink the South Korean Warship Cheonan in 2010?

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    What was the point of this terrible act?

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:50:00 -0500
  • Nigerian military clears thousands from Lagos waterfront

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    Nigerian navy personnel shot in the air Tuesday as they sought to clear a waterfront community of 10,000 people in the latest mass-eviction around economic hub Lagos. Bulldozers rumbled into Tarkwa Bay, a semi-rural area on an island in the city of some 20 million, as part of an operation the military say is aimed officially at stopping the looting of nearby oil pipelines. AFP correspondents heard gunfire during the operation.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:21:28 -0500
  • Boeing Hiked Fourth-Quarter Lobby Spend in 737 Max Crisis

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    (Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co.’s spending on federal lobbying rose to $3.4 million in the last quarter of 2019 as the embattled plane-maker faced new threats in Washington after its 737 Max jetliner was grounded following two fatal crashes.The aerospace giant’s lobbying outlay in the last three months of 2019 jumped 8% compared with the third quarter as the company’s crisis over the 737 Max deepened.Former chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg faced a bipartisan pummeling in two days of testimony in late October, with even GOP stalwarts like Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, delivering blows. That performance was the beginning of the end for Muilenburg, who was ousted in late December and replaced with David Calhoun.The same month, the company was publicly rebuked by Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson for a litany of grievances. The agency complained that Boeing’s projections for returning the 737 Max to service were too optimistic and amounted to an attempt to put pressure on the regulator, according to an email the agency sent to lawmakers.A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on the company’s lobbying spending.Boeing said Tuesday that the grounded 737 Max won’t be cleared to fly until the middle of this year, months later than previously anticipated, in a new delay that will add to the company’s financial burden. The FAA hasn’t set a time frame for completing work on the Max.Boeing’s shares fell 3.3% to $313.37 at the close in New York, the biggest decline on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the lowest closing price in more than a year.The FAA grounded the 737 Max in March of 2019 after two crashes within five months killed 346 people. Representative Rick Larsen, the Democrat who represents Boeing’s Seattle industrial hub, is spearheading a House investigation of the Max crashes with Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat.For decades, Boeing has spread big money around Washington, but the company struggled to shore up its image last year.Lawmakers have accused Boeing of putting shareholders ahead of safety and questioned the design lapses behind a flight-control system that played a role in two fatal Max crashes. The company at times also clashed with federal regulators, though its interactions with FAA mostly aren’t considered lobbying under the law.Boeing’s fourth-quarter lobbying spend was down 12% compared with a year earlier. Overall Boeing spent $13.8 million on federal lobbying last year, down 9% from what it spent in 2018. Congress is mulling whether to rein in a decades-old program that delegates some certification work to aircraft manufacturers including Boeing. Though the FAA retains the ultimate responsibility for ensuring safe designs, Boeing approved features of the 737 jetliner with little input from the agency.Earlier this month, key lawmakers vowed to change the system following the release of internal Boeing documents showing employees discussed deep unease with the 737 Max and the flight simulators used to train pilots on the new jetliner, while also mocking senior managers and regulators in messages.(Updates with Boeing comment in fifth paragraph)\--With assistance from Bill Allison, Julie Johnsson and Alan Levin.To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Nix in Washington at nnix1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Jon MorganFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:52:22 -0500
  • Amanda Knox posts selfie in old prison uniform as her 'something old' to prepare for wedding

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    With just 40 days left until her wedding, like many a bride-to-be, Amanda Knox has a long to-do list to get through before the big day.Ms Knox revealed a unique "something old" in a post on Instagram as she knuckles down to get through the tasks at hand – her old uniform from her time in an Italian prison.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 12:39:45 -0500
  • Can school choice exclude religious schools? High court weighs in.

    The Supreme Court will hear a case Wednesday in which families say a scholarship was shut down because religious schools were among the options.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 10:20:52 -0500
  • Don't shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremony

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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Western global powers to include China in their multilateral system and treat Beijing equally rather than freeze it out and risk slipping into a Cold War-style bipolar order. Speaking after receiving a prize at the American Academy in Berlin, attended by former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, Merkel said China's economic success posed challenges. "Of course we also have to build up fairness, of course we have to practise multilateralism such that the rules apply to everyone," she said.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:50:46 -0500
  • Kellyanne Conway says Martin Luther King Jr. would have opposed Donald Trump's impeachment

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    Kellyanne Conway's comments to NBC News came the day before the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is expected to begin.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:24:51 -0500
  • Legislator proposes gun restrictions, gets threatening memes

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    An Ohio state representative who has proposed gun restrictions said he found memes that he considers threatening printed out and placed in his mailbox. Rep. Casey Weinstein, a Democrat from Hudson, said he returned to his home last week after a few days away to find in his mailbox a stack of printed memes tied with a gold string, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. The memes were mostly anti-Democrat, and some were threatening, according to Weinstein.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:41:56 -0500
  • Meet the General Who Ran Soleimani’s Spies, Guns and Assassins

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    They're the Quds Force officers who tracked and killed Iraqis working with the U.S.-led coalition, hunted those deemed hostile to Iranian influence through a council of assassins, and smuggled the spies, money, weapons, and secrets into Iraq that sowed chaos across the country during the American occupation. Qassem Soleimani first gained the attention of Western media through his role in instigating a campaign of covert violence against the U.S. in Iraq which cost the lives of over 600 American troops. But underneath the now famous Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps icon, other officers managed the war that first made Soleimani notorious. For a period during the mid-2000s, one of those officers was Brigadier General Ahmed Foruzandeh, who rose to command the Ramazan Corps, part of the Guard’s elite Quds Force, after cutting his teeth in the unit running guerrilla warfare operations during the Iran-Iraq war.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to America“Although Qassem Soleimani was the architect of that broader strategy, it was his lesser known lieutenants who ran and oversaw the operations,” Dr. Afshon Ostovar, a scholar at the Naval Postgraduate School, said. “Foruzandeh was one of the top Quds Force operatives in the field in Iraq, yet his name was hardly known at the time.” Declassified documents obtained by The Daily Beast through the Freedom of Information Act offer new details of Foruzandeh’s campaign of violence in Iraq during the latter 2000s. They show how Foruzandeh and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) funneled guns, money, and spies into Iraq and assassinated both Americans and Iraqis. And they offer hints that the man who helped Iran kill hundreds of Americans throughout the Iraq war may not have actually retired years ago as he let on, but continued to consult for his former boss long after the war ended.Iranian and American media alike have treated Foruzandeh’s old boss, the former Quds Force commander Soleimani, with something approaching hagiography. In profiles and obituaries, he’s cast as a legendary “shadow commander” possessed of superhuman abilities and cunning, a judgment not entirely supported by Soleimani’s colleagues. By contrast, declassified documents obtained by The Daily Beast and other sources paint a more prosaic picture of Foruzandeh. Like a number of Quds Force personnel, Foruzandeh’s career in Iraq drew on nothing more mystical than relationships and experience. His first brush with the world of covert operations in the Iran-Iraq war met with middling success and the guerrilla warfare effort he supported barely moved the needle in the conflict. But by the time the U.S. showed up on Iran’s doorstep, Foruzandeh had been carrying out guerrilla warfare and covert operations across the Iran-Iraq border for nearly 20 years with some of the same people and organizations. “They clearly have, one, home court advantage. Two, these guys have been doing special operations in the region for their entire adult life and they’re veterans of the brutal Iran-Iraq war,” Doug Wise, a former CIA officer and station chief in Baghdad, told The Daily Beast of Iranian Quds Force officers who worked on Iraq. “These guys are worthy adversaries. They’re not 10 feet tall. They have human and physical limitations but extraordinary experience in conducting the operations that they were required to conduct,” Wise said. * * *“Big picture,” Col. Donald Bacon, then the chief of special operations and intelligence information for the coalition, said in a 2007 press conference, “the Ramazan Corps is the organization that does operations here in Iraq to—they use it to—they're the ones who transit in the weapons, the funding and help coordinate Iraqi militia extremists into Iran to get them training and then get them back into Iraq.”Ramazan was the Quds Force unit in charge of causing chaos in Iraq and, at least for a time, Foruzandeh was its commander. The unit, which dated back to the Iran-Iraq war, divided its forces between a handful of sub-commands along the Iraqi border. Foruzandeh had worked in Fajr command, based in Ahwaz, Iran, which handled operations in Basra and southern Iraq, working his way up to deputy commander of Ramazan.By 2007, as violence in Iraq peaked, intelligence reports surveyed Iranian covert operations in Iraq as the U.S. turned its attention away from the Sunni jihadist insurgency and towards the violence instigated by Iran and its proxies. The documents include raw reporting marked as "not finally evaluated intelligence" from sources whose motivations are described as "based on favorable experiences with U.S. forces and desire to rid Iraq of destructive foreign influences" but they track broadly with what U.S. officials have said about Ramazan Corps and its personnel.Taken together, they show a sprawling campaign of covert violence with Foruzandeh and the Ramazan Corps in charge.The documents spend considerable space detailing the elaborate process by which the Iranian-overseen “Golden Death Squad” targeted, approved, and carried out assassinations against Iraqis they viewed as obstacles. The unit, the report wrote, “consists of Iranian intelligence leadership that provide guidance and funding to Iraqis that are recruited from [Jaish al-Mahdi], Badr Corps, the Al-Fadilah Party, and other Shia Iraqi parties and militias that conduct assassination operations against former Ba'ath party members, Iraqis that are working with the [Coalition Forces], and Iraqis that are not supporting Iranian influence in Iraq.”Iranian officers shuttled Iraqi members of the assassination teams to Ahwaz, Iran, the headquarters of Ramazan’s Fajr command, for training. The 10-day long course included instruction from Iranian officers on “information collection to support the targeting of coalition forces in Iraq, assassinations, and the use of indirect fire systems such as Katyusha rockets and mortars.” Iran also trained its proxies in the use of “what is described as very sophisticated explosives that can penetrate [Coalition Forces'] armor,” an apparent reference to the notorious Iranian-made explosively formed projectiles which killed and maimed hundreds of American troops. When it came time to decide who would be killed, Quds Force officers set up a process for adjudicating assassination targets, giving Iraqi allies a role in the process, according to the documents. “Iraqis that are agents of the Iranians are allowed to produce lists of Iraqis that are to be assassinated,” it notes. “Most of these Iraqis that are authorized to make decisions regarding who is to be killed by the Golden Death Squad are members of the Iraqi government and security forces.” Meetings of the hit squad reportedly took place at the Basra governor’s office where members of Basra police intelligence would "routinely attend.”Iranian intelligence officers also nominated their own targets for assassination. Their names were handed to a member of the Iranian-backed Badr militia. The Iranian officer who passed the targets along—his name is redacted in the report—is described as “a Persian Iranian that is fluent in Iraqi Arabic and has a southern Iraqi accent due to the years he has spent in Iraq."Those slated for assassination included not just former Baathists but Iraqis who worked with the U.S.-backed coalition. The documents recount how one Quds Force officer, assigned to Ramazan’s Fajr command in southern Iraq, ran an Iraqi agent who photographed coalition informants for the IRGC. The unnamed Quds Force officer then “passe[d] the pictures to Iraqis that he tasks and funds to kill those identified by [redacted's] reporting and pictures."In at least one case, Foruzandeh reportedly intervened to help one of his militia allies after coalition officials arrested them. Mehdi Abdmehd al-Khalisi allegedly ran the Muntada al-Wilaya militia, a small, Iranian-backed Shiite militia implicated in the murder of a number of former Baathist officials and an attack on coalition troops. When coalition officials arrested al-Khalisi in 2005, senior Iraqi officials began pressuring the coalition to release him. A classified cable leaked by WikiLeaks show that informants told the U.S. that al-Khalisi had been communicating with Foruzandeh about attacks on British forces in Iraq’s Maysan governorate via encrypted telegrams as early as 2003. After his arrest, the cable says that an informant of “unknown reliability” reported that Foruzandeh “has authorized an expenditure of up to $500,000 for operations to secure Mr. al-Khalisi's release, and that senior [Iraqi Transitional Government] officials have received telephone calls from the Brigadier requesting assistance.” Along with the assassinations came Iranian weapons and trainers. Reporting by the Long War Journal first sketched out Ramazan’s “rat lines” in Iraq and documents obtained by The Daily Beast note that the unit oversaw a “complex smuggling apparatus from Ahwaz, Iran into Iraq" that included "weapons, information, financial support, and Iranian intelligence officers." The money, guns, and Iranian personnel began their journey in Ahwaz and were handed off to smugglers at the border with Iraq.Iranian intelligence officers would vet smugglers for loyalty and to ensure that they had a "pre-existing relationship with the [Iraqi border police] because of their tribal relationship"—a relationship that nonetheless "usually involves a pre-arranged bribe." Once across the border, smugglers toting money, guns, and Iranian personnel were “typically met by a reception element that represents a Shia militia group that the operation support package was built for."In the ports of southern Iraq, Ramazan agents smuggled weapons via hidden compartments in the fuel tanks of fishing boats, according to the documents. As violent as Foruzandeh’s tenure in occupation-era Iraq war was, he wasn’t entirely averse to covert diplomacy. Ahmed Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi lobbyist who helped push the Bush administration to war in Iraq, met with Foruzandeh in the spring of 2004, according to a 2008 biography of Chalabi by journalist and former Daily Beast senior correspondent Aram Roston. At the time, Chalabi had transitioned from pro-war lobbyist to an Iraqi member of parliament and was seeking to accommodate himself to Iran’s newfound influence in Iranian politics.  Some time after the meeting, the U.S. learned that Iranian intelligence had suddenly realized American spies were reading their cable traffic and had broken their codes. A few months later, American intelligence officials told The New York Times they believed Chalabi had walked into the Iranian embassy in Baghdad and blown the operation to the station chief of Iranian intelligence at the embassy. Chalabi denied any involvement in the leak but the incident led the Bush administration to end its relationship with him.* * *Foruzandeh’s father worked for the Abadan oil company and when he left the company, his family of 13 sons and daughters moved to Khorramshahr, just across the border from Basra in Iraq. His son Ahmed was an early supporter of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, a stance which earned him a stint in prison at university—thanks to the ruling Shah’s secret police—and the revolutionary bonafides that came with it when the Shah’s government was ousted.In the early days of the Islamic Revolution, Foruzandeh worked with the IRGC to identify and arrest Arab dissidents in Khorramshahr opposed to the new government. His knowledge of the area, proven commitment to the regime, and background in underground work made him a natural fit for intelligence when the Iran-Iraq war started.“After Iraq's invasion, he was the intelligence chief of the Khorramshahr unit that later played a key role in re-taking the city from the Baathists in 1982,” Amir Toumaj, an Iran researcher who’s written extensively on the Quds Force, explained of Foruzandeh. “His biography states that he started developing a relationship with Hassan Bagheri around the time of Khorramshahr's fall and sent him reports,” Toumaj says. Bagheri, the founder of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence service, was killed during the war but went on to become one of Iran’s most famous “martyrs.” His brother, Mohammad, is now Iran’s highest-ranking military officer and it was those kinds of connections that would help pave Foruzandeh’s ascent to the highest ranks of the IRGC.Trump, Iran, and Where ‘The Forever War’ Was Always HeadedLater in the war, Foruzandeh left his position in Khorramshahr’s 22nd Badr Brigade and joined the Ramazan Corps. The unit was designed to work with dissident groups in Iraq and carry out guerrilla operations behind enemy lines while the otherwise static style of trench warfare that characterized the Iran-Iraq conflict played out. At Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters, where Foruzandeh first worked, the unit carried out operations with Iraqi Shiite groups like the Badr Brigade, a group of exiled dissidents and former prisoners of war. The militia was originally “conceived by the Iranians as an adjunct to the IRGC-QF Ramazan Corps,” according to a 2005 State Department cable, and drew support from their political arm, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war, radio broadcasts from Tehran hailed operations by the “Ramazan Headquarters” which claimed assassination attempts with “Iraqi mujahidin” on Saddam’s interior minister Samir al-Shaykhali in Baghdad, the “revolutionary execution” of a Ba’ath Party official in Baghdad’s Mansur neighborhood, and having set fire to one of Saddam’s Baghdad palaces "used for pleasure by Ba'ath party officials and senior officers of that regime.”Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters and the Badr Brigade didn’t do much to change the tide of the war. It ended in a bloody stalemate in 1988, more of exhaustion than because of guerrilla daring. One of the Ramazan Corps’s most valuable relationships actually lay farther north with Kurdish forces from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The group carried out strikes deep into Iraqi Kurdish territory with Ramazan’s backing, including a 1986 raid on Iraqi oil infrastructure in Kirkuk (later memorialized in a cheesy Iranian action flick, Kirkuk Operation).But the relationships forged by Ramazan with Iraqi Shia militants would prove useful to both the Revolutionary Guards and Iran years down the road when groups like Badr took on an important role in Iraqi politics and security. When the war ended, both Ramazan Corps and Foruzandeh remained focused on Iraq, particularly during the Shia uprising against Saddam at the end of the Persian Gulf War. One Iranian news account put Foruzandeh in charge of working with Iranian-backed militias to support the uprising “in order to speed up the support of the Iraqi Mujahideen” because his unit, Ramazan’s Fajr headquarters, was closest to the revolt in Basra.There’s not much evidence about how Foruzandeh spent his time in the interim between America’s first two wars in Iraq. The most evidence available is a fragmentary report from Saddam-era intelligence documents captured by the U.S. after the war that shows Foruzandeh running an agent inside a camp for the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian dissident cult group which fought on behalf of Iraq during the war and carried out a series of terrorist attacks in Iran.* * *Not many senior Ramazan Corps veterans appear to have retired. Iraj Masjedi, another Quds Force Iraq veteran, took over as Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad in 2017. Abdul Reza Shahlai, who served in Iraq during the occupation alongside Foruzandeh, is now at 63 years old reportedly the top Quds Force officer in Yemen and was unsuccessfully targeted in a U.S. airstrike there the same night that special operations forces killed Soleimani.After the U.S. wound down its occupation in Iraq, Foruzandeh, gray-haired and portly, gave every impression of having retired and contented himself with the hobbies of old age, despite a U.S. sanctions designation on him during the war. He told an Iranian news outlet that he’d retired from the Quds Force in 2008, and was working on an oral history project about his hometown. In public, he spent his spent time shuffling between memorial ceremonies for fallen comrades. It doesn’t appear to be true.Another declassified intelligence document obtained by The Daily Beast offers hints that Foruzandeh may not have retired after all. The report, an account of senior Iranian officials’ participation in a museum project "documenting lessons learned from the Iran-Iraq war," suggests he kept at least a consulting role in Quds Force operations. In describing the background of officials present at the meeting, the report says Foruzandeh still dabbled in "management of personnel and logistic support to IRGC-QF external activities." Iran’s Khorasan province “has been recently added to his portfolio." Iran’s Khorasan province borders northwest Afghanistan and by 2013, the Obama administration had already been arguing for years that Quds Force officers were secretly supporting the Taliban in order to weaken U.S. and NATO forces in the country. There are some reasons to be skeptical of the declassified report. The sources claim that Foruzandeh was appointed a director of Iran’s Iran-Iraq war museum, but he’s not listed by the museum as an official or referred to as such in news accounts. It’s also dated around the same time Foruzandeh gave an interview to an Iranian news outlet announcing that he was working on a history project about his hometown’s role in the Iran-Iraq war.Still, other evidence suggests Foruzandeh was still in the irregular warfare business.In 2014, one of Foruzandeh’s closest colleagues in the Quds Force, fellow brigadier general and Ramazan Corps veteran Hamid Taghavi, was killed by ISIS in Iraq. The death came as a surprise, not least because Taghavi was one of the highest-ranking IRGC officers killed in Iraq since the Iran-Iraq war. Like Foruzandeh, Taghavi was also supposed to have left active duty. Instead, he was in Iraq supporting a Shiite militia loyal to Iran, Sayara al-Khorasani, and organizing Iran’s fight against ISIS.“Commander Taghavi was retired. No one thought he’d go to Iraq and be able to play a role in the mobilization and organization of the [Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units militia],” Foruzandeh told a meeting of Ahwaz city officials after his death. Taghavi’s death hit Foruzandeh hard and he would break down in tears recounting his comrade’s life when talking to reporters. In one interview, Foruzandeh suggested he’d been in contact with Taghavi by phone shortly before his death and offered advice for his work standing up pro-Iranian militias after ISIS took Mosul“He came to the place where we were stationed,” Foruzandeh said without elaborating. “We told him about the situation in Iraq, the characteristics of the conflict, the various Iraqi groups, and the challenges that existed. The Iraqi forces had deficiencies that needed to be addressed.” Taghavi was concerned about Iranian-backed militias’ performance during operations in Jurf al-Sakhar, an Iraqi town captured by ISIS and taken back during a brutal operation coordinated by the Quds Force. “He believed that unless these forces received better training they would suffer severe casualties. The casualties these forces suffered were generally due to a lack of proper military training. They didn’t know how to move, what to do when they’re under fire from the enemy, how to provide cover when attacking, or even how to clear traps and contaminants from an infected area,” Foruzandeh recalled.One of the last public glimpses of Foruzandeh comes from an unlikely source: Facebook. Foruzandeh doesn’t appear to have a profile, but his acquaintances identified him in pictures during a 2016 visit to meet with Iraqi officials from Maysan Province. The photos show a grandfatherly Quds Force officer with his trademark scowl described as an “advisor” to Iran’s Supreme Leader, a tailored visiting dignitary in a place where decades before he was once a spry, hunted guerrilla in hand-me-down fatigues.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.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:51:31 -0500
  • Why America Stores 50 B61 Nuclear Bombs in Turkey

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    Seems like a questionable idea.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 05:00:00 -0500
  • The married couple who created a wacky sex button went on 'Shark Tank' and the investors didn't understand why it even exists

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    LoveSync, a device that lets you silently indicate to your partner you're in the mood for sex, went viral in 2019 and was heavily mocked online.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:41:52 -0500
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