The U.S. military on Friday released a video it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. Iran denies being involved, accusing the U.S. instead of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze Thursday by an explosion. The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke. While Iran has denied being involved in the attack, Tehran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the “Tanker War,” when the U.S. Navy escorted ships through the region. The black-and-white footage, as well as still photographs released by the U.S. military’s Central Command on Friday, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous. A Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulled alongside the ship and removed the mine, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said. “The U.S. and the international community stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation,” Urban said. “The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East.
The Kremlin said on Thursday the Russian military was closely tracking U.S. plans to beef up its forces in Poland and taking steps to ensure Russia’s national security was not threatened by what Moscow regards as a betrayal of trust. U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to Polish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday that he would deploy 1,000 extra U.S. troops to Poland as well as surveillance drones, a step sought by Warsaw to deter potential aggression from Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would not stand by idly. “The Russian military is tracking these announcements very closely, is analysing the information, and is doing what is necessary so that such steps in no way threaten the Russian Federation’s security,” Peskov said. Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian deputy foreign minister, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying that Trump’s move probably reflected “aggressive” intentions. The U.S. deployment is certain to further sour already poor U.S.-Russia relations ahead of a G20 summit in Japan this month, at which Trump and President Vladimir Putin might meet. Putin said in an interview, published earlier on Thursday, that relations between Moscow and Washington were getting worse and worse. MORE TROOPS The United States plans to add around 1,000 troops to its existing rotational presence of around 4,500 personnel in Poland and to set up a sprawling network of military infrastructure, including joint combat training centres and a divisional headquarters. The U.S. Air Force will also deploy a squadron of MQ-9 Reaper Intelligence, Surveillance,
"Today, the Democrats maintained their shameless, weekly attacks on this Administration without consideration for the truth," Wilbur Ross, who as head of Commerce oversees the Census, said in a statement. "Here's the bottom line: The Democrats have continued to attack this Administration on dubious grounds, and they aren't going to let the facts get in the way of their own concocted stories."
Iran’s foreign minister warned the U.S. on Monday that it “cannot expect to stay safe” after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran, taking a hard-line stance amid a visit by Germany’s top diplomat seeking to defuse tensions. A stern-faced Mohammad Javad Zarif offered a series of threats over the ongoing tensions gripping the Persian Gulf. The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s decision over a year ago to withdraw America from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Trump also reinstated tough sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil sector. “Mr. Trump himself has announced that the U.S. has launched an economic war against Iran,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said. “The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping that economic war.” Zarif also warned: “Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it.” For his part, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas insisted his country and other European nations want to find a way to salvage the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But he acknowledged there were limits. “We won’t be able to do miracles, but we are trying as best as we can to do prevent its failure,” Maas said. However, Europe has yet to be able to offer Iran a way to get around the newly imposed U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, a July 7 deadline — imposed by Iran — looms for Europe to find a
As a Michigan field organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, Mike McDermott trained volunteers to knock on doors and call voters, helping the Vermont senator upset Hillary Clinton in a crucial Midwestern state. But as the 2020 campaign heats up, McDermott is all-in for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, creating a Michigan for Warren PAC to raise early money for her efforts and promoting her campaign through a website and Facebook page. While he’s still a Sanders fan, McDermott sees Warren as a fresher face who’s more electable and doesn’t have the baggage of a 2016 loss. “It’s really 1a and 1b for me,” McDermott said. “With Warren, I think there’s more crossover appeal. She doesn’t have 2016 branded on her.” That sentiment represents the new challenge facing Sanders, who is in second place in most national polls behind Joe Biden. The former vice president has eaten into Sanders’ base with appeals to blue-collar union voters. But Warren is emerging as another threat, winning over voters such as McDermott with a raft of proposals that sometimes go further left than those backed by Sanders. Warren and Sanders are vying to become the progressive alternative to Biden, a competition that’s especially pivotal in the Midwest. The region is critical to Democratic hopes of regaining the White House in 2020, and Sanders’ campaign wrote in an April memo that he’s “by far the best positioned candidate to win” in three upper Midwest states that handed President Donald Trump the White House. The
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of course, is the 29-year-old bartender who last year upset the No. 4 House Democrat in a New York City primary and became one of this Congress’ most buzzy and even influential figures. Her startling victory sent shivers through incumbents and has helped galvanize liberals eager for more fresh Democratic faces in 2020.
The Trump administration granted two authorizations to U.S. companies to share sensitive nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia shortly after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October, a U.S. senator who saw the approvals said on Tuesday. The timing of the approvals is likely to heap pressure on the administration of President Donald Trump from lawmakers who have become increasingly critical of U.S. support for Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Khashoggi, a native of Saudi Arabia, left in 2017 to became a resident of the United States where he published columns in the Washington Post critical of the kingdom’s leadership. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, where Jamal Khashoggi lived, called the timing of the approvals “shocking” and said it adds to a “disturbing pattern of behavior” of the administration’s policy on Saudi Arabia. The Department of Energy granted the first part 810 authorization on Oct. 18, 16 days after Khashoggi was killed. The second occurred on Feb. 18. U.S. authorities have concluded that responsibility for Khashoggi’s death went to the highest levels of the Saudi government. Riyadh has denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved. The authorizations were among seven granted to U.S. companies by Trump’s administration since 2017, as Washington and Riyadh negotiate a potential wider agreement to help Saudi Arabia develop its first two nuclear power reactors. The Energy Department has kept information in the approvals to Saudi Arabia confidential, citing protection of business
President Donald Trump announced late Friday that he had suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country “has agreed to take strong measures” to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States. But the deal the two neighbors agreed to falls short of some of the dramatic overhauls the U.S. had pushed for. A “U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration” released by the State Department said the U.S. “will immediately expand the implementation” of a program that returns asylum-seekers who cross the southern border to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated. Mexico will “offer jobs, healthcare and education” to those people, the agreement stated. Mexico has also agreed, it said, to take “unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the country, especially on its southern border with Guatemala. And Mexico is taking “decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks,” the State Department said. The move puts to an end — for now — a threat that had sparked dire warnings from members of Trump’s own party, who warned the tariffs would damage the economy, drive up prices for consumers and imperil an updated North American trade pact. Trump’s Friday night tweet marked a sharp reversal from earlier in the day, when his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters: “Our position has not changed. The tariffs are going forward as of Monday.” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López
“If they are going to open the program up in these numbers and they can’t even manage the influx facility that they have in a humane way, then compounding that is going to be disastrous,” said Holly Cooper, an attorney at the Immigration Law Clinic at University of California, Davis who represents detained youth.
After two days of intense criticism, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reversed course Thursday and declared that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions. “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment” that makes it more difficult for some women to access care, Joe Biden said at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Atlanta. The former vice president’s reversal on the Hyde Amendment came after rivals and women’s rights groups blasted him for affirming through campaign aides that he still supported the decades-old budget provision. The dynamics had been certain to flare up again at Democrats’ first primary debate in three weeks. Biden didn’t mention this week’s attacks, saying his decision was about health care, not politics. Yet the circumstances highlight the risks for a 76-year-old former vice president who’s running as more of a centrist in a party in which some skeptical activists openly question whether he can be the party standard-bearer in 2020. And Biden’s explanation tacitly repeated his critics’ arguments that the Hyde Amendment is another abortion barrier that disproportionately affects poor women and women of color. “I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said, opening a speech dedicated mostly to voting rights and issues important to the black community. “I want to be clear: I make no apologies for my last position. I make no apologies for what I’m about to say,”
“I really like her, sincerely. She’s down to earth and approachable. She’s not proud or cocky,” Gaines said. “I could see this is a person who, if elected president, will do a great job, not only in the mental health area but primarily in listening to people and understanding their needs and then getting to work on trying to help them.”
Joe Biden is under fire from his Democratic presidential rivals and women’s rights advocates for his defense of a decades-old prohibition on federal money paying for abortions. Most Democratic White House hopefuls reflect their party’s latest platform calling for the outright repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which traces back to a compromise made when Biden was a young Delaware senator in the years after the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalized abortion nationwide. But a Biden campaign spokesman said Wednesday that the former vice president supports the measure, though he “would be open to repealing it” if abortion access is further threatened by restrictive state laws, like those recently passed in Georgia and Alabama. The hedging prompted intraparty outcry, with top Democrats reaffirming their commitment to abortion rights and scrapping the Hyde Amendment. The pushback marked the first significant instance in which virtually the entire crowded 2020 field united to critique Biden, who has emerged as an early Democratic front-runner . New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has campaigned as an unapologetic feminist, tweeted “reproductive rights are human rights, period. They should be nonnegotiable for all Democrats.” On Capitol Hill, California Sen. Kamala Harris told The Associated Press she was “absolutely opposed to the idea that a woman is not going to have an ability to exercise her choice based on how much money she’s got.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, during an MSNBC town hall in Indiana, said Biden was wrong to support the abortion funding restriction. “Women