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Houthi Drones Strike Big Saudi Refineries Trigger Huge Fires

Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched drone attacks on the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field Saturday, sparking huge fires and halting about half of the supplies from the world’s largest exporter of oil. The attacks were the latest of many drone assaults on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure in recent weeks, but easily the most damaging. They raise concerns about the global oil supply and likely will further increase tensions across the Persian Gulf amid an escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. The attacks resulted in “the temporary suspension of production operations” at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The fires “were controlled,” the statement said, and no workers were injured. The fires led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies, according to the statement, which said part of that would be offset with stockpiles. The statement said Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, would provide updated information in the next 48 hours. The Iranian-backed Houthis, who hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other territory in the Arab world’s poorest country, took responsibility for the attacks in the war against a Saudi-led coalition that has fought since 2015 to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni government. But the U.S. blamed Iran, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeting, “There is no evidenceContinue reading

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Benjamin Netanyahu - Israel Politics News Headlines

A visibly frantic Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the fight of his political life as the country heads to national elections for the second time this year. With Netanyahu locked in a razor tight race and facing the likelihood of criminal corruption charges, a decisive victory in Tuesday’s vote may be the only thing to keep him out of the courtroom. A repeat of the deadlock in April’s election, or a victory by challenger Benny Gantz, could spell the end of the career of the man who has led the country for the past decade. Netanyahu’s daily campaign stunts have helped him set the national agenda — a tactic the media-savvy Israeli leader has perfected throughout his three decades in national politics. But it may well be the things he can’t control — including a former political ally turned rival and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip — that bring him down. Throughout the abbreviated campaign, Netanyahu has seemed to create new headlines at will. One day he is jetting off for meetings with world leaders. The next, he claims to unveil a previously undisclosed Iranian nuclear site. Then he vows to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Nearly every day, he issues unfounded warnings about the country’s Arab minority “stealing” the election, drawing accusations of incitement and racism. “Netanyahu is always worried. That’s why he has survived this long,” said Anshel Pfeffer, a columnist at the Haaretz newspaper and author of a recent biography of Netanyahu. “EveryContinue reading

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Mohammad Baqeri - Iran News Headlines

Iran’s top military commander says the country’s military stands ready to defend its interests and protect its security in the Persian Gulf. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully ready under the current circumstances to defend its security and interests in the Persian Gulf,” Chairman of Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said while addressing cadets in China’s PLA National Defense University in Beijing on Thursday. “History shows that we have never initiated [an act of] aggression or a war and will not do so, but we will firmly defend our security and sovereignty in case of any aggression or intervention by foreigners,” he added. The senior military commander further reiterated Iran’s position that security of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, through which passes a major portion of all oil globally consumed, should be provided by regional states and not the foreigners. He said the presence and deployment of forces from the US and other Western countries, and plans like the already failed US-led coalition in the Persian Gulf purportedly seeking to boost security in the region, have and will have no result but aggravated insecurity. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has done its share of ensuring security of this sensitive region through the years and would continue to do so,” said Mohammad Baqeri, adding, “However, it views the military presence of foreign powers as a major challenge to the security of the region.” He said Iran’s policy for establishing regionalContinue reading

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US Democrats 2020 Candidates

Thirty new students are from Arizona, and nearly 100 moved from California. But the small town of Prosper, Texas, is expecting more growth — a lot more — so it built a $53 million high school football stadium outside Dallas, just two years after finally getting a Walmart. The scoreboard is 63 feet (19 meters) tall, the biggest at any Texas high school, and on a Saturday night it blared Aerosmith’s “Dream On” as band mom Lisa DeMarco settled into one of the 12,000 seats. She’s heard “a few liberals” have moved in but doesn’t know any. “It’s a red state. I love the Second Amendment part of it, and I don’t like the fact there’s a lot of people talking blue,” said DeMarco, herself a newcomer from Georgia. By holding Thursday’s presidential debate in Houston, Democrats are out to show the rest of the country they can finally win again in Texas, propelled by fast-changing suburbs like Prosper that are beginning to trend more liberal after decades of Republican dominance. But for Democrats, the transformation may not come by 2020. For years in Texas, Democrats have counted on shifting demographics, especially a soaring Hispanic population and more left-leaning voters moving in from other states, to turn the state blue. But even after big gains in 2018 — including flipping two congressional districts — conservative bastions like Collin County reflect the difficult task still ahead. Although Democrats might finally break GOP control of the statehouse and are encouraged that fiveContinue reading

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Koizumi Shinjiro Japanese Political Leader, Japan

Japan’s Shinzo Abe Wednesday appointed new foreign and defence ministers and promoted a popular rising political star, in a cabinet reshuffle that fuelled speculation over the prime minister’s successor. The spectacular appointment as environment minister of the telegenic Shinjiro Koizumi, the 38-year-old son of much-loved former PM Junichiro, set tongues wagging in Tokyo political classes as the Abe era draws to a close. “Abe intends to start an open race to pick the next prime minister or even the one after that,” said SMBC Nikko Securities chief market economist Yoshimasa Maruyama. A darling of the Japanese media, Koizumi received blanket coverage for his recent marriage to television broadcaster Christel Takigawa, which was announced at the prime minister’s office. He is the third-youngest minister appointed to the cabinet in Japan since the end of World War II, in a country where seniority is prized in politics and many other walks of life. Despite intense media spotlight, he has been coy on expressing his view on the issues of the day and there will be close scrutiny over his policies on nuclear power, particularly on whether he will break with his father’s anti-nuclear stance. “I hope Mr Shinjiro Koizumi will tackle global issues such as ocean plastics and climate change not with worn-out approaches but with the new ideas of the young generation,” Abe said. “He is more seasoned than I was in my 10th year” (since being elected). I hope he will secure results,” said the prime minister. ‘New challenge’ AbeContinue reading

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Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal, El Pollo, The Chicken, Venezuela, Spymaster

The two intelligence agents scoured the sun-kissed faces of holidaymakers at Madrid’s airport until they spotted the 5½-foot bald man. Traveling under a disguised identity, Hugo Chávez’s long-time spy chief and one of the U.S.’s most wanted drug fugitives had just landed in Spain that Monday morning in March. Nicknamed “El Pollo” (“The Chicken”), retired Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal had traveled from the Dominican Republic after breaking ranks with Venezuela’s socialist administration and supporting Juan Guaidó, the U.S.-backed opposition leader. From the Spanish capital he hoped to leverage contacts and knowledge of the Venezuelan deep state to mount a military-backed rebellion against President Nicolás Maduro. Five months later, the former spymaster is in deep trouble. To the frustration of many in the opposition who have secretly tried to flip senior members of Venezuela’s military, Carvajal was arrested days before a failed barracks rebellion on April 30. On Thursday, judges in Madrid will consider whether to extradite him to the U.S. to face federal charges of cocaine trafficking. Carvajal’s fate is being closely followed by others in the Venezuelan security forces looking to defect. If somebody like the former spy, accused of collaborating with terrorist groups and smuggling several tons shipments of drugs into the U.S., could find redemption, there would be hope for others as well. The U.S. has promised senior Venezuelan officials they will be rewarded and see sanctions lifted if they turn decisively against Maduro. The Trump administration’s special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, even suggested Spain couldContinue reading

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Donald Trump - USA Headline Story Now

President Donald Trump said that US peace talks with the Taliban are “dead” and that he is ramping the war back up after canceling secret talks with the Afghan insurgents at his weekend retreat. “They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead,” Trump said at the White House about the long-running attempt to reach an agreement with the Taliban and extricate US troops following 18 years of war. The announcement followed Trump’s dramatic cancelation of a top-secret plan to fly Taliban leaders in for direct talks at the Camp David presidential facility outside Washington. Driving another nail into the coffin of what had appeared to be nearly finalized negotiations, Trump said that a US military onslaught on the guerrillas was back up at its fiercest in a decade. “Over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!” he wrote in a tweet. On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “we’ve killed over a thousand Taliban in just the last 10 days.” Whiplash Trump angrily denied that the whiplash effect of his sudden shifts on Afghanistan was causing turmoil. Until this weekend, there had been steadily mounting expectations of a deal that would see the United States draw down troop levels in Afghanistan. In return, the Taliban would offer security guarantees to keep extremist groups out. But then on Saturday, Trump revealed that he had canceled an unprecedented meeting between the Taliban andContinue reading

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John Bercow vs Boris Johnson - UK News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he would not request an extension to Brexit, hours after a law came into force demanding that he delay Britain’s departure from the European Union until 2020 unless he can strike a divorce deal. For the second time in a week, lawmakers then rejected Johnson’s request to try to break the deadlock through an early national election. With the future of Brexit mired in uncertainty, parliament was suspended until Oct. 14, sparking tense scenes in the House of Commons where opposition lawmakers held signs reading “silenced” and yelled “shame on you” at Johnson’s ruling Conservatives. Johnson appeared to have lost control of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union with the approval of the law, which obliges him to seek a delay unless he can strike a new deal at an EU summit next month. EU leaders have repeatedly said they have not received specific proposals ahead of an EU summit on Oct. 17 and 18, at which Johnson says he hopes he can secure a deal. “This government will press on with negotiating a deal, while preparing to leave without one,” Boris Johnson told parliament after the result of the vote on an early election. “I will go to that crucial summit on October the 17th and no matter how many devices this parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive to get an agreement in the national interest … This government will not delay Brexit any further.” Opposition Labour Party leaderContinue reading

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Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe Politics Today

The family of Zimbabwe founder Robert Mugabe is pushing back against the government’s plan to bury him at the National Heroes Acre monument in Harare and wants him to be buried in his home village instead, three relatives told Reuters. Zimbabweans have been confused about when and where they would get to pay their last respects to Mugabe since his death in a Singapore hospital on Friday after a long illness. Mugabe had dominated Zimbabwean politics for almost four decades from independence in 1980 until he was removed by his own army in a November 2017 coup. Revered by many as a liberator who freed his people from white minority rule, Mugabe was vilified by others for wrecking one of Africa’s most promising economies and ruthlessly crushing his opponents. The Zimbabwean government said in a memo sent to embassies on Sunday that it planned to hold a state funeral for Mugabe in the National Sports Stadium on Saturday, with a burial ceremony on Sunday, but it did not say where the burial would be held. The choice of Mugabe’s resting place has been a topic of discussion since the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported last month that Mugabe would snub the offer of a burial at National Heroes Acre – a site reserved for the country’s heroes – because he felt bitter about the way he was removed from power. If Robert Mugabe is buried in Kutama village, 85 km (52 miles) from Harare, it would be a major rebuke ofContinue reading

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Juan Orlando Hernandez - Honduras

In a closet-sized underground hip-hop studio in one of the deadliest neighborhoods in Honduras’ capital, Leonardo Sierra believes nothing will change in his country until the United States decides it should. In the 28-year-old’s assessment, it is Washington — fearing a leftist alternative in this Central American country important to U.S. drug and migration policy — that is keeping unpopular President Juan Orlando Hernández propped up even as U.S. prosecutors call him a co-conspirator in his brother’s drug-trafficking case and protesters call for him to step down. From the depths of Tegucigalpa’s gang-controlled La Travesía neighborhood to the halls of the nation’s congress, Hondurans wonder how long the U.S. government can stick with Hernández. While their president jets off to Washington for meetings and photo ops, average Hondurans are glued to the slow drip of revelations coming from a federal courthouse in Manhattan. Hernández has said the allegations in the U.S. come from drug traffickers seeking revenge against him, but U.S. prosecutors promise will provide evidence in a trial scheduled for October showing that Hernández harnessed his brother’s drug-trafficking connections to propel his own political fortunes. “Particularly in this country the influence of the United States is decisive,” said Raul Pineda Alvarado, a political analyst and former three-term congressman from Hernández’s National Party. “If the U.S. decides Juan Orlando Hernandez is more trouble than he is worth his days will be numbered; if it doesn’t, he could finish his term,” Pineda said. Many Hondurans still cite the U.S. government’s decisionContinue reading

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Avigdor Lieberman - Benjamin Netanyahu - Gadi Eisenkot - Israel News

Avigdor Lieberman entered Israeli politics as a loyal protégé of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Now, the maverick politician could be the one to topple his former mentor. Lieberman, a burly, tough-talking immigrant from the former Soviet Union, forced Israel’s unprecedented second election of the year and is poised to be the kingmaker again. Polls suggest Netanyahu won’t be able to form a coalition government without Lieberman’s support. Lieberman has played hard to get. “I don’t have to join at any cost,” he told Channel 12 news over the weekend. “The prime minister’s policy is simply submission to terrorism.” For years, Netanyahu and Lieberman have had a roller-coaster relationship. Lieberman, once Netanyahu’s chief of staff, has held a series of senior Cabinet posts and was often a staunch partner. But he’s has also been a rival, critic and thorn in Netanyahu’s side. In a high-stakes gamble, he passed up the post of defense minister in Netanyahu’s government following April’s election, leaving the prime minister without a parliamentary majority and forcing the Sept. 17 do-over vote. Their dispute, over what Lieberman says is excessive influence of ultra-Orthodox religious parties, has become a central issue in the current campaign. Lieberman says he will insist on a secular unity government between Netanyahu and his main challenger, Benny Gantz, in order to push out ultra-Orthodox parties. But Netanyahu says his former ally’s real goal is to oust him from office, and Lieberman is suddenly discovering newfound support from those who hope he does just that.Continue reading

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Donald Trump Phone Call - US News Today

President Donald Trump’s weekend tweet canceling secret meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and Afghan leaders just days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is the latest example of a commander in chief willing to take a big risk in pursuit of a foreign policy victory only to see it dashed. What had seemed like an imminent deal to end the war has unraveled, with Trump and the Taliban blaming each other for the collapse of nearly a year of U.S.-Taliban negotiations in Doha, Qatar. The insurgents are promising more bloodshed. The Afghan government remains mostly on the sidelines of the U.S. effort to end America’s longest war. And as Trump’s reelection campaign heats up, his quest to withdraw the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan remains unfulfilled — so far. Trump said he axed the Camp David meetings and called off negotiations because of a recent Taliban bombing near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that killed a U.S. service member, even though nine other Americans have died since June 25 in Taliban-orchestrated violence. But the deal started unraveling days earlier after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani postponed his trip to Washington and the Taliban refused to travel to the U.S. before a deal was actually signed, according to a former senior Afghan official. Trump’s secret plan for high-level meetings at the presidential retreat in Maryland resembled other bold, unorthodox foreign policy initiatives — with North Korea, China and Iran — that the president has pursued that haveContinue reading

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America Chlorinated Chicken

The European Union has long refused to import poultry from the United States that is routinely rinsed with chemical washes to kill germs. But the United Kingdom’s planned exit from the EU is putting the practice back in the spotlight, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson even taunting Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by calling him a “chlorinated chicken.” The term has come to sum up concerns that Britain could be pressured to accept to looser food safety standards when negotiating its own post-Brexit trade deals. Unlike in the EU, the use of antimicrobial sprays and washes is widespread in the U.S. chicken industry. Companies apply them to kill germs at various stages during processing, such as when carcasses are de-feathered, gutted or any other point when feces could splatter and spread germs like salmonella. The chemicals used in rinses have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and their use is limited to specified amounts. The agency says the rinses are present in finished products at insignificant levels. The U.S. chicken industry says the use of chlorine has declined to about 10% of the country’s plants, as other chemicals have become more common. It says the rinses help improve food safety, but that it’s difficult to completely rid raw chicken of salmonella and campylobacter germs, which don’t sicken birds and are commonly found in their guts. “Chicken and campylobacter are best friends,” said Ashley Peterson of the National Chicken Council, an industry group. Campylobacter (kam-pih-loh-BAK’-tur) isn’t widely knownContinue reading

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Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe Politics Today

Robert Mugabe, the former leader of Zimbabwe forced to resign in 2017 after a 37-year rule whose early promise was eroded by economic turmoil, disputed elections and human rights violations, has died. He was 95. His successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed Mugabe’s death in a tweet Friday 6 September 2019, mourning him as an “icon of liberation.” He did not provide details. “Cde Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Mnangagwa said. Mugabe, who took power after white minority rule ended in 1980, blamed Zimbabwe’s economic problems on international sanctions and once said he wanted to rule for life. But growing discontent about the southern African country’s fractured leadership and other problems prompted a military intervention, impeachment proceedings by the parliament and large street demonstrations for his removal. The announcement of Mugabe’s Nov. 21, 2017 resignation after he initially ignored escalating calls to quit triggered wild celebrations in the streets of the capital, Harare. Well into the night, cars honked and people danced and sang in a spectacle of free expression that would have been impossible during his years in power and reflected hopes for a better future. On the streets in the capital, Harare, on Friday people gathered in small groups sharing the news. “I will not shed a tear, not for that cruel man,”Continue reading

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Donald Trump - USA Politics News Headlines

The House Judiciary Committee is escalating its impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump, preparing a vote as soon as next Wednesday to establish procedures for hearings the panel hopes to hold this fall. The details are still being negotiated, but a procedural vote next week could set rules for the hearings, according to a person familiar with the plan. The person requested anonymity because the resolution is still being worked out and the person wasn’t authorized to discuss it. The rules could include allowing staff to question witnesses; allowing some evidence to be presented in closed sessions to protect sensitive materials; and allowing the president’s counsel to respond in writing to evidence and testimony, among other guidelines. The vote would be similar to procedural votes taken at the beginning of the impeachment investigations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, according to the person. Tentative details of the resolution were discussed on a call with members of the committee Friday as they prepare to return to Washington next week after a six-week recess. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said just before the recess that the committee is already in an impeachment investigation as it has called multiple witnesses related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and sued the White House for blocking testimony. The vote would make clear that the committee is indeed serious about moving forward with an impeachment probe, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged caution to members, saying earlier this month that theContinue reading

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US Democrats

As Democrats try to win control of the White House and the Senate in 2020, they face a geographical puzzle — the path to the presidency may conflict with the one to a Senate majority. Democrats’ best shot at the White House is to win back their old turf — the Rust Belt states heavy with working-class white voters who have become increasingly difficult to hold in the party’s tent. But the path to winning the Senate travels through what many believe is the Democrats’ territory of the future. College-educated suburbanites, young people and minorities make up the winning coalition in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina, the states where Democrats will need to pick up seats to wrest control of the Senate from the GOP. The tensions between the two contests — the two paths to two different victories — highlight the geographic concerns that have long bedeviled Democrats. The party has successfully built support in the growing West and Sun Belt states, but not yet enough to put the fight over the Rust Belt in the rearview mirror. “They’re kind of stuck between their past and their future,” said William Frey, a demographer at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “It’s an interesting conundrum.” For Democrats wrestling with picking their nominee, it’s more than just a head-scratcher. Senate races and presidential races are linked — Senate candidates rarely win when their party’s presidential candidate loses their state. If the party wants to win the White House andContinue reading

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