Art News - Worldwide

El Chapo: Mexico president calls life sentence ‘inhumane’ as drug lord moved to supermax prison

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 08:21

The Mexican president has described Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s life sentence as “inhumane” after the notorious drug lord was sent to live out his remaining years in a supermax prison in Colorado.Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in the US plus 30 years after being found guilty of running a murderous criminal enterprise, having already escaped Mexican prisons twice.In his home country, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador referred to sentences like the one handed to Guzman to be served in a “hostile jail” as "hard” and “inhumane", adding that it made life no longer worth living.The 62-year-old had been protected by an army of gangsters under the Sinaloa cartel, which he founded in 1989, up until his most recent incarceration.In 1993 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico, however he was able to bribe guards to receive favourable treatment while also managing the cartel from inside his cell through his brother, who ran the cartel in his absence.In 2001 he escaped from the maximum-security Puente Grande prison in Jalisco, reportedly in a laundry basket.Some 13 years later he was imprisoned for a second time, but escaped again through a tunnel running 30ft beneath the Toluca prison showers to a house under construction a mile away.In 2016 he was arrested after a gunfight in Los Mochis before being extradited to the US, where he has remained since.Guzman has lodged frequent complaints about the conditions of his detention in the US, describing it as “torture”.Just hours after his sentencing, Guzman was flown by helicopter to USP Florence Admax, a top security prison in Colorado dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”.His fellow prisoners include the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Terry Nichols, who was convicted of being an accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.“I drink unsanitary water, no air or sunlight, and the air pumped in makes my ears and throat hurt,” he said at his sentencing. “This has been psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day.” It comes as the Mexican president, who took office in December last year, introduces a militarized police force to help limit violence across the country as cartels splinter and smaller groups fight to consolidate territory.In 2016 the drug wars in the country made it the second deadliest place in the world, while in 2018 Mexico broke its own homicide record with 28,816 murder cases opened across the year.Mr Obrador added: “I also have many victims in mind, it’s something very painful.”An opinion poll hosted by Mexican newspaper Reforma found that 52 per cent of people surveyed believed Mr Obrador’s attempts to limit crime in the country were lacking, while 55 per cent said they believed he was failing to reduce violence in the country.

School Board Votes to Paint Over George Washington Mural In San Francisco

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 08:05

The San Francisco Board of Education unanimously voted last month in favor of painting over a George Washington mural series on a school wall depicting Washington standing over a Native American’s corpse and another in the company of slaves on his Mount Vernon estate.“This is reparations,” Education Board Commissioner Mark Sanchez said in a KQED report when asked about the estimated $600,000 price tag for its removal. It could reportedly take a year to complete.  The 1,600-square-foot mural series titled “Life of Washington” was painted on San Francisco’s George Washington High School in 1936 by a Russian-American artist and Stanford University art professor Victor Arnautoff.It was funded by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration and shows a variety of scenes from Washington’s life. School district spokeswoman Laura Dudnick confirmed that although only two mural pieces stand out as offensive to members of the community, the board’s decision would apply to all 13 panels of the mural. School board members had to decide whether to cover and preserve the painting using panels or textile, or completely erase it by painting over it. Buckling under pressure from those who find the images offensive to certain members of the school community, the board decided to paint over it. Advocates for removing the mural included local high school students, George Washington High School graduates, and Native Americans.

Bosnia buries 86 victims of 1992-95 war recovered from grisly ravine

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 07:40

Thousands of relatives from Bosnia and across Europe gathered in the village of Hambarine for the burial of 86 Bosniak Muslims on Saturday, 27 years after they were killed and dumped in a ravine in one of the most gruesome incidents of the Bosnian war. The victims, mainly prisoners from the war-era detention camps for non-Serbs near the town of Prijedor, were told they were being released in a prison exchange but instead were driven to the Koricani Cliffs in central Bosnia, lined up by the edge of the ravine and shot by Bosnian Serb forces in August 1992. Jasna Elezovic, standing by five coffins draped in green cloth which held the remains of her father, brother, two cousins and uncle in the nearby Kamicani graveyard, said their bodies were found only last year.

The Return of the Godfather: The Old Mafia Is New Again

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 05:47

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyROME–Five fleshy, bare-chested men in tight swimsuits on a dinghy doesn’t normally garner much attention in the bay of Palermo, Sicily. But it did last August when American mobster Thomas Gambino, 47, and Italian mafioso Tomasso Inzerillo, 72, were among those on board. They were overheard discussing how to divvy up the profits from the suspicious sale of Caribbean property that New York-based Gambino crime family boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali had recently unloaded. Hitman Handed License Plate to Mob Boss Before Shooting Him to DeathItalian investigators working with the FBI had planted bugs to catch anything they might say. Now, finally, the joint operation had a solid lead to a connection between the once omnipotent American crime family and the power-hungry Sicilian clan.Central command for the joint operation sent officers to the Dominican Republic and redoubled their surveillance in New York and Sicily, launching the investigation dubbed “New Connection” that netted 19 men in raids of both crime syndicates this week in Palermo, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. Among those arrested in Italy was Thomas Gambino who happened to be back in Sicily for a “family vacation.”The police used WhatsApp, the encrypted international messaging service, to launch the raids. “In Palermo, it’s 3am, and muggy. In New York, it’s 9pm and looks like it might rain,” the Palermo anti-mafia police said at a press conference about the arrests. “A WhatsApp message is sent to the joint squad. It’s the sign the Italian police and their FBI colleagues have been waiting for because from Sicily to the U.S., the old Mafia has returned.”What the cops uncovered during the investigation that led to this week’s arrests was a growing link between the Sicilian and New York mobs that centered on money laundering, drugs and extortion. At one point in phone taps over the last year Gambino can be heard telling his Sicilian counterparts, “We can definitely do business here,” according to police transcripts seen by The Daily Beast. But the criminal collaboration—and the joint Italian-FBI investigation—was nearly thrown into chaos when Cali was gunned down in front of his Staten Island, New York, home last March. In the hours after the hit, investigators on both sides of the Atlantic were concerned that it could have been a Sicilian mobster warning the American clan to stay away. But as it turned out Cali was gunned down by a Donald Trump-supporting MAGA flunky, Anthony Comello, who allegedly just wanted to date his daughter.“It was a huge relief that it was so random,” an Italian anti-Mafia investigator told The Daily Beast.The Boss of Bosses Dies. Will Sicily’s Mafia Turn to the U.S. for Leadership?Cali, who was born in Sicily and married into the Inzerillo family at a young age, was known as the “Ambassador” between clans in New York and Palermo. He was the tie that bound the Gambino crime family and the Cosa Nostra’s once powerful Inzerillo clan, and police waited to find out what his death ultimately would mean. With Cali’s support from America, the Inzerillo family was on a trajectory back to power after the boss of bosses Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina died in prison in late 2017. In the 1980s, before his arrest, Riina launched what is known as the Second Mafia War, ordering deadly hits on the heads of the strongest Palermo crime families who threatened his dictatorial power. Among those he killed was the then-powerful Palermo crime boss Salvatore Inzerillo, whose family then fled in self-imposed exile to New York. While in the States, investigators say, the Inzerillo mobsters worked covertly with the Gambino crime family to line their pockets and help fund their return to power in Sicily one day—all the while allegedly promising the Gambino crime family its due reward for the help. Riina was serving out several life sentences in solitary confinement when he died, but he still held sway among the Cosa Nostra’s fractious clans, and he still wanted all the Inzerillos dead. Riina’s death finally provided the opening the Inzerillos had been waiting for to make a grab for power. Several Gambino crime family members had already moved to Palermo permanently after Riina’s death to reap the benefits of the close ties that were sure to come with the Inzerillo clan’s return to power. It was all going to plan until “Franky Boy” Cali was killed. “It could have gone either way, they could have severed ties or made them stronger in his memory,” the anti-Mafia police source said. “In the end they worked harder ‘for Franky’.”The merged clans soon strengthened their hold on companies dealing with wholesale food supplies, gambling outlets and online betting through which they engaged in extortion, loan sharking and money laundering. More than a dozen businesses, from casinos to car dealerships in Sicily and New York state, were sequestered as part of the “New Connection” joint operation. “The investigation has registered the strong bond established between Cosa Nostra of Palermo and U.S. organized crime, with particular reference to the powerful Gambino crime family of New York,” Italian investigating prosecutor Roberto Tartaglia said in a statement after this week’s arrests. “Those Riina wanted dead were creating a special link between Palermo and New York.”Even with the 19 arrests, no one assumes the battle against organized crime is over. “They were the losers who ran away so they wouldn’t be killed by Riina,” Palermo police commissioner Renato Cortese said when he announced the arrests. “They continue to be losers.”      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.

Facebook’s Former Security Chief Says It’s ‘Reasonable’ To Assume China Is Infiltrating Google

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 05:32

Facebook’s former security chief Alex Stamos suggested Tuesday that it is very possible that China and Russia have subverted Google’s employees.“It is completely reasonable to assume that MSS and SVR have subverted employees at all the major tech companies,” Stamos said in a Twitter threadTuesday, noting tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s accusations that China’s Ministry of Security “likely” infiltrated Google.“This is part of the threat model for all competent tech security teams when building internal controls, monitoring and response,” he added. Thiel, a high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump, criticized Google’s work with the Chinese during a speech Sunday to the inaugural National Conservatism Conference.“How many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI? Does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?” Thiel asked at the conference.He added: “Is it because they consider themselves to be so thoroughly infiltrated that they have engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the U.S. military.” Thiel, who sits on the board of Facebook, suggested his questions warrant the attention of federal investigators.

9-year-old girl dies after bounce house blown into power lines

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 05:27

A 9-year-old Reno girl has died from injuries she suffered when strong winds blew an inflatable bounce house with three children inside into power lines last weekend.

The U.S. Government Has Found a Devious Way to Hire More Bureaucrats

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 05:22

These salaries are underwritten by the $235 billion the federal government lays out to nonprofits each year. To constrain the growth of central government, conservatives have fought to keep down the number of federal bureaucrats.This strategy has failed.Since the 1960s, the number of federal employees has remained constant at about 2 million, yet federal power has greatly expanded.This phenomenon arises because Washington has outsourced many civil service functions to contractors, nonprofit groups, and lower levels of government.According to New York University professor Paul Light, the true size of the federal government’s “blended workforce” is now somewhere between 7 million and 9 million people.The biggest portion of the blended federal workforce consists of federal contractors. Today, there are about 3.7 million federal contractors—almost twice as many as there were in the 1960s.These contractors fill a wide range of functions: security in war zones, statistical analyses, janitorial services, management consulting, and almost everything in between. Many of these functions were once performed by the largely blue-collar federal workforce of the mid-20th century.

Will Taiwan Get the New F-16V Fighters It Desperately Wants?

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 05:00

On July 8, the U.S. State Department announced it would approve a $2.2 billion arms deal with Taiwan including 108 Abrams main battle tanks and 250 Stinger man-portable surface-to-air missiles—a deal which elicited new sanctions from Beijing on the companies involved. But the announcement was more notable for what the approval didn’t include—a nearly done-deal for sixty-six F-16V jet fighters built fresh off the F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina.This would have been the first sale of new Western combat jets to Taiwan since 1992—a fact not unrelated to Beijing’s claims that sales of jet fighters to the “renegade province” constitute a redline.This stance caused three prior U.S. presidents to shy away from additional jet sales, but from the beginning, the Trump administration has proven consistently willing to disregard Beijing’s sensitivities regarding Taiwan. The absence of the F-16V deal from the July 8 approval was likely linked to U.S.-China negotiations to end a simmering trade war. Perhaps the Trump administration delayed or canceled the F-16V approval to avoid sabotaging the talks, or is withholding the jets as a possible bargaining chip to extract concessions from Beijing.For now, the deal’s fate remains uncertain as Taipei and its allies in Congress lobby strongly for it to proceed.Taiwan’s Precarious Status

Alleged American ISIS Sniper Brought Home by the Defense Department to Face Charges

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 04:49

An American citizen who allegedly served as a sniper for ISIS and became a leader for the terrorist group is expected to appear in federal court on Friday after being returned to the United States by the Defense Department, officials said.Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, who was born in Kazakhstan and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, is charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS, the Justice Department announced on Friday.A U.S. official confirmed to Task & Purpose that the Defense Department had transported Asainov from Syria to the United States. Asainov had been in the custody of Syrian Democratic Forces.No further information about the military's role in transporting Asainov, to the United States was immediately available.Asainov is accused of leaving Brooklyn in December 2013 to fight for ISIS in Syria, a Justice Department news release says. After becoming an ISIS sniper, he was promoted to become an "emir" in charge of training fighters how to use weapons and also tried to recruit someone else to leave the United States and become an ISIS fighter.Prosecutors claim Asainov tried to buy a scope for his rile by paying roughly $2,800 to a confidential informant, the news release says."Asainov subsequently sent the confidential informant two photographs depicting the defendant holding an assault rifle fitted with a scope," the news release says. "He messaged one associate exclaiming, in reference to ISIS, 'We are the worst terrorist organization in the world that has ever existed' and stating that he wished to die on the battlefield."

Twice-Deported Illegal Alien Charged With Three Murders — Two Were Children

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 04:10

An illegal immigrant from Guatemala, who has twice been deported, was arrested Tuesday in connection to the murders of an Iowa woman and her two children.Marvin Oswaldo Escobar-Orellana, 31, was arrested after he allegedly shotthe family with which he lived in Des Moines, Iowa, and called 911 on himself. Orellana is the suspect in the murder of 29-year-old Rossibeth Flores-Rodriguez and her two children, Grecia Daniela Alvarado-Flores, 11, and Ever Jose Mejia-Flores, 5, according an Associated Press report.Orellana was deported in both 2010 and 2011, and convicted of illegal entry. He crossed the border around Laredo, Texas, was sentenced to 15 days in jail and ordered not to return — a command by which he did not abide, ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer confirmed with AP. (RELATED: ICE Released List Of Illegal Immigrants Accused of Crimes After Local Police Ignored Detainers)Orellana allegedly killed the family after an argument ensued in their shared home, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. He then dialed 911 and allegedly fabricated a story about Rodriguez killing the two children, saying he had to kill her in self-defense, the AP reports.Investigators are uncertain about why the murders occurred, but they did not buy Orellana’s story.

The 1 Way Russia Could Help China Build a Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 04:00

It appears that China is relying on Russian know-how and experience to develop the reactor for its first nuclear aircraft carrier. As the South China Morning Post reports, China appears to be studying the nuclear reactors on Russia’s largest icebreakers, an approach that the Soviet Union also took when it planned to build nuclear carriers in the 1980s. Specifically, Russia has invited China to bid on the construction of a new class of nuclear icebreaker, necessarily requiring the development of surface-ship based reactors. This approach stands in contrast to how the United States and France developed nuclear reactors for their largest carriers, but probably represents the best choice for China at this point. History: To appreciate what’s at stake in China’s pursuit of nuclear-powered surface warships, it’s important to review the experience of the United States and the USSR. After the successful development of the USS Nautilus and the Skate class nuclear attack submarines (as well as the merchant ship NS Savannah) provided proof-of-concept regarding nuclear propulsion, the USN began to evaluate nuclear power for surface warships. The first USN nuclear surface warship was the cruiser USS Long Beach, commissioned in 1961. Long Beach was powered by 2 C1WS reactors, generating around 120 MW, enough power to produce a speed of 30 knots for the 17,000-ton cruiser hull. The USN rapidly followed up with USS Enterprise, powered by 8 A2W reactors, each quite similar in construction and output to the C1W. Those reactors generated 120 MW each, translating to 280,000 SHP, driving the 100,000-ton Enterprise at up to 33 knots.

Why ‘Adversity’ Shouldn’t Be a New Advantage in College Admissions

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 03:57

“It’s misleading. How do you measure an ‘adversity score’ anyway?”Martin Smith, a professor at Rowan University and an alumnus from the University of Pennsylvania, shared his thoughts over the College Board’s recent unveiling of an “overall disadvantage level”—in shorthand, an “adversity score”—to supplement students’ SAT scores.“You can’t manufacture equal outcomes when everyone isn’t given the same resources,” he said.Smith hails from a small town in rural Tennessee, a place that knows disadvantage all too well, yet he was less than optimistic about the new score supplement that’s meant to help less-privileged students stand out compared with their better-off peers during the college admissions process.On a scale of 1 and 100, a student’s adversity score will indicate several factors that colleges should take into account when considering a candidate for admission.The purpose of the adversity score is to be an indicator to college admissions officers of the socioeconomic difficulties that a particular candidate might have faced during his or her formative school years.Any setbacks that might result in a seemingly low score might actually accrue to a student’s advantage when realizing the student’s comparative disadvantage relative to other national and international candidates.An op-ed essay in the Atlantic magazine argues that despite the problems the new adversity score faces, it is a “long-overdue” innovation and a step in the right direction.

UPDATE 7-Iran says it seized tanker after collision, UK calls move a "hostile act"

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 01:54

GENEVA/LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - Britain denounced the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf as a "hostile act" on Saturday, rejecting Tehran's explanation that it had seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident. Friday's action by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the global oil trade's most important waterway has been viewed in the West as a major escalation in three months of confrontation that took Iran and the United States to the brink of war.

Iran crisis: British oil tanker seized in Strait of Hormuz as UK shipping warned to avoid area in Gulf

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 01:41

Stena Impero seized in Strait of Hormu​z on Friday night A second tanker, Mesdar, was stopped before being released Jeremy Hunt says seizures "unacceptable", holding a COBR meeting Government warns UK shipping to avoid area Analysis: Boris Johnson could face early test as Iran 'exploits' political uncertainty US developing 'coalition' of navies to protect ships amid Iran tensions Two British oil tankers were seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday night, in a major escalation of tensions in the Gulf. The British-flagged Stena Impero had been en route to Saudi Arabia, but abruptly changed course and began sailing towards the Iranian island of Qeshm, data relayed by maritime tracking services showed. The 30,000-tonne ship “went dark”, meaning its transponder was turned off, at 4.29pm UK time and nothing has been heard from her or her 23 crew since. A second oil tanker, the British-operated, Liberian-flagged Mesdar, was intercepted by the Guards about 40 minutes after the course shift by Stena Impero, and was held for some time before being allowed to resume navigation.  HMS Montrose, the Type-23 frigate, was understood to have been dispatched to help the Stena, but was minutes too late.  Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “extremely concerned by the seizure of two vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz”.  British oil tanker seized in the Gulf Mr Hunt said he was attending a Cobra meeting to determine the UK’s response and what could be done to secure their release, adding that the seizures were “unacceptable”. He said it was understood there were no British citizens among the two crews. "We remain deeply concerned about Iran's unacceptable actions which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation," a Government spokesman said after the meeting. UK vessels have been advised to "stay out of the area" of the Strait of Hormuz for an "interim period", the spokesman said, adding: "As the Foreign Secretary has said, our response will be considered and robust and there will be serious consequences if the situation is not resolved." US President Donald Trump said Iran was showing its true colours and warned that it was in “big trouble".   Northern Marine, a Clyde-based subsidiary of the Stena Impero’s Swedish owner Stena AB, said a “hostile action” had preceded the vessel’s change of course on Friday afternoon. The company issued a statement saying it had been “approached by unidentified small craft and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters”.  Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said in a statement that they stopped the Stena Impero at the request of the maritime authority in the Iranian province of Hormozgan on suspicion that it had “violated international maritime law”, but did not elaborate.  Iran tensions | Read more The head of Iran’s port authority was quoted by Guards-affiliated Tasnim news agency as saying: “We received reports of the British oil tanker, Stena Impero, causing problems, and therefore asked the military to guide the tanker towards Bandar Abbas harbour.” They said the Mesdar, whose transponder was also turned off, was briefly held and cautioned about “environmental regulations” before it was let go. On Saturday,  Iran's Fars news agency claimed the Stena Impero was in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and ignored its distress call. All 23 crew on the tanker were now at Bandar Abbas port and would remain on the vessel until the end of an investigation, Fars quoted an official as saying. "It got involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat... When the boat sent a distress call, the British-flagged ship ignored it," the head of Ports and Maritime Organisation in southern Hormozgan province, Allahmorad Afifipour, told Fars. "The tanker is now at Iran's Bandar Abbas port and all its 23 crew members will remain on the ship until the probe is over." Stena Bulk said the ship was "in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations." "There are 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality," said Erik Hanell, president and chief executive of Stena Bulk. He said there had been no reported injuries. Tracking data showed the Stena Impero was in the same area that a United Arab Emirates-based vessel was detained on Sunday and where a British vessel, the British Heritage, was blocked by Iranian forces earlier this month. The move appeared to be in retaliation for Britain's seizure of the Iranian Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar earlier this month. Rising tensions between UK, US and Iran British authorities seized the Iranian Grace 1 supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, on suspicion it was carrying crude to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. The fate of the tanker has been at the centre of escalating tensions between the UK and Iran and was seen as a pawn in the standoff between the Islamic Republic and the West. Mr Hunt had hinted that the UK would release the ship if Iran promised its cargo would not go to the Syrian regime. The Foreign Secretary said talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had been productive.  However, a court in Gibraltar on Friday extended for 30 days the detention of the vessel, which was carrying two million barrels of oil. Tensions have been building for weeks in the Persian Gulf. On July 10, HMS Montrose intervened to drive three Iranian military vessels that were attempting to divert the British Heritage.  Iran seized a Panama-flagged ship on Sunday, it alleges, for “smuggling oil to foreign countries”. Mystery surrounds the capture as no country has come forward to claim the ship or its cargo. The US claimed on Thursday to have downed an Iranian drone that had been flying too close to one of its navy ships. Iran denied the claims. Oil prices rose on Friday night after the tankers were seized.   The Trump administration is trying to block Iran’s exports to put pressure on it to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal it abandoned last year. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if it cannot export its oil.  6:41AM Boris Johnson could face early diplomatic test Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker couldn’t have come at a worse time for the UK - and Tehran knows it.  While Theresa May has days left as Prime Minister, her foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been in the midst of a leadership election campaign to replace her. His rival, Boris Johnson, is the favourite to win the Tory battle, but the former foreign secretary will be carrying diplomatic baggage if he enters Number 10.    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the start of their meeting in Tehran in 2017 Credit: AP “The timing from a transition viewpoint is awful,” said Dr Euan Graham, an expert in maritime security and Executive Director of La Trobe Asia.  “It could be an instant early test of Johnson’s crisis management skills, or lack thereof, if the issue is unresolved and he becomes PM next week.” Read the full analysis.  6:37AM Oil tanker was involved in 'accident', Iran claims Iranian media claims the Stena Impero was in an accident with a fishing boat before being detained on Friday. All 23 crew seized on the tanker are now at Bandar Abbas port and will remain on the vessel until the end of an investigation, Iran's Fars news agency reported on Saturday, quoting an official.  "It got involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat... When the boat sent a distress call, the British-flagged ship ignored it," said the head of Ports and Maritime Organisation in southern Hormozgan province, Allahmorad Afifipour. "The tanker is now at Iran's Bandar Abbas port and all of its 23 crew members will remain on the ship until the probe is over." 5:11AM US official plays down seizure An American military official has played down the latest escalation in the region, calling it a foreseeable response to Britain's seizure of the Iranian tanker near Gibraltar.  In a discussion with journalists at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, Lt. Gen Robert P. Ashley Jr., the top military intelligence officer, said: “They look for things that are proportional in nature. They aren’t looking to go to war but at the same time they are looking to project strength.” “They’re not looking to do something that is going to spiral out of control because war is not what they’re looking for,” Ashley said. “But at the same time, their decision calculus is they’ve gotta do something in response.” My story coming soon...— Katie Bo Williams (@KatieBoWill) July 19, 2019   3:54AM 'This is precisely how Iran negotiates' Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution, has told AFP that the recent events involving Tehran are "the exact opposite of odd." "This is precisely how Iran negotiates: the unctuous charm of (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad) Zarif paired with a punch in the face from the (Revolutionary Guards). They are two sides of the same coin, complementary and coordinated." Nicholas Burns, US ambassador to NATO during President George W. Bush’s administration, suggested resurrecting a 1980s policy of having tankers accompanied by military escorts in the Gulf. “We should form an international coalition of democratic countries to escort every single commercial vessel through the gulf,” Burns told Bloomberg in an interview in Colorado. “The Iranians are an outlaw, they’re acting like an outlaw country, they’re trying to shut down one of the major waterways in the world and then hold us up on it and blackmail us.” 2:56AM Saudi Arabia to host US forces The US Defence Department has confirmed that Saudi Arabia will host US forces in the region, saying it would deploy troops and resources to the country to "provide an additional deterrent" in the face of "emergent, credible threats." The gesture comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran in the Gulf,  as well as the seizure of the British oil tanker in the region. The decision on hosting US forces aims "to increase joint cooperation in defence of regional security and stability and to preserve its peace", the state news agency (SPA) reported, quoting a Ministry of Defence official, without giving further details. US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (C-L), Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), shakes hands with Saudi military officers during his visit to a military base in al-Kharj in central Saudi Arabia on Thursday Credit: AFP   A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the deployment would include about 500 US military personnel in Saudi Arabia, and is part of a boost in the number of US troops in the Middle East that the Pentagon announced last month. In June, the Pentagon said it would deploy 1,000 troops to the Middle East but did not say where they were going. Saudi Arabia has not hosted US forces since 2003 when they withdrew following the end of the war with Iraq.  2:13AM What has led to this seizure? The seizure of the Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz is the latest episode to contribute to rising tensions between the UK, US and Iran in the region. Here is a timeline of recent incidents involving the three nations: Rising tensions between UK, US and Iran   1:28AM Government warns UK shipping to avoid Strait of Hormuz After a COBR meeting this evening, the government is urging UK shipping the avoid the Strait of Hormuz region. “We remain deeply concerned about Iran's unacceptable actions which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation.  We have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period.  “As the Foreign Secretary has said, our response will be considered and robust and there will be serious consequences if the situation is not resolved. “We remain in close contact with our international partners and there will be further meetings over the weekend." 12:57AM Oil tanker was 'in full compliance of regulations' The British operator of the Stena Impero was in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations, a spokesman has said. Iran's state news agency IRNA quoted a military source as saying the vessel had turned off its tracker, ignored warnings from the Revolutionary Guards and was sailing in the wrong direction in a shipping lane. "There are 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality," said Erik Hanell, President and Chief Executive of the operator, Stena Bulk. "There have been no reported injuries and the safety and welfare of our crew remains our primary focus." The ship "is no longer under the control of the crew and remains uncontactable", he added. British oil tanker seized in the Gulf   12:45AM Corbyn says Trump fuelled risk of conflict Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, responding to the seizure of two British tankers by Iranian forces, said: "The seizure of these vessels is unacceptable, and the tanker that remains under Iranian control must be released. Escalation risks a slide into an even deeper conflict. "President Trump's decision to tear up the Iran nuclear deal fuelled the risk of full-scale conflict. "A negotiated reinstatement of the nuclear deal through the UN is essential to wind down tensions and defuse the threat of war in the Gulf." 12:12AM US sought 'coalition' of navies to protect ships amid Iran tensions Hours before the hijacking of the British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, America's special representative for Iran was explaining its position to diplomats in Washington, Josie Ensor reports.  Some 100 envoys took part in the briefing by Brian Hook, who outlined the Trump administration's initiative for maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran released footage on Friday from what it said was the "downed drone" Credit: AFP Mr Hook said tensions had risen sharply and necessitated the need for a "coalition" of navies to protect their ships through the strait. Read the full story. 11:52PM US intensifying air patrols in region US Central Command says the US has intensified air patrols over the Strait of Hormuz in response to the Iranian seizure of a British tanker. A Central Command spokesman, Lt. Col. Earl Brown, says a small number of additional patrol aircraft are flying in international airspace to monitor the situation. He also says Central Command's naval arm has been in contact with U.S. ships operating in the area to ensure their safety. 11:22PM Stena Impero 'surrounded by four vessels and helicopter' Mr Hunt said the Stena Impero was surrounded by four vessels and a helicopter, and is heading into Iranian waters. The second ship - the Mesdar - was surrounded by 10 speedboats, Mr Hunt told Sky, though said it was "not clear yet" whether it had changed course. He said he had spoken to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo this evening about the situation and had tried to speak to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif but he is on a plane. "I will speak to him as soon as I can", Mr Hunt said. 11:21PM Hunt warns of  'serious consequences' Mr Hunt warned there would be "serious consequences" if the situation is not resolved quickly. He told Sky News: "We will respond in a way that is considered but robust and we are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences." Asked if he could rule out military intervention, Mr Hunt said: "We're not looking at military options - we're looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation - but we are very clear that it must be resolved. "Freedom of navigation in the Gulf is absolutely essential. If that freedom of navigation is restricted, Iran is the biggest loser and so it is in their interest to resolve this situation as quickly as possible and we will do everything we can to do that." 10:31PM Tanker released? Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency said Iran's Revolutionary Guards had not captured the Mesdar. "Despite reports, the ship has not been seized...and was allowed to continue its course after being warned about safety issues by Iranian forces," the report said. A spokesman for Norbulk Shipping UK confirmed the crew of the Mesdar are "safe and well" and the vessel has been "allowed" to continue its voyage. 9:16PM Is it rash to sail through the Strait? Sir Richard Dalton, former British ambassador to Iran, suggested the owners of the Stena Impero had been "rash" in sailing the tanker through the Strait of Hormuz. Speaking to Sky News, he said Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had promised retaliation following the detention of Iran's Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waving to the crowd during a ceremony attended by Iranian clerics in the Iranian capital Tehran, on July 16 Sir Richard said: "With hindsight, it's easy to say that this was a somewhat reckless act by the owners, given that there was no British naval vessel in the vicinity." He said the Iranians had "lost their cool" despite recent "constructive discussions" over the Grace 1. Sir Richard added: "I don't think the Iranians will continue to try to seize British vessels given they have got what they want, which is something to hold in a negotiation with Britain about their cargo held, they consider illegally, in Gibraltar." 9:07PM UK Chamber of Shipping calls for increased protection for vessels Bob Sanguinetti, the CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping, says:  “We condemn unreservedly the capture of Stena Impero as she transited  the Strait of Hormuz earlier today.  The action by those involved is in violation of international regulations which protect ships and their crews as they go about their legitimate business in international waters. “Our priority is for the safety and welfare of the crew.  We call on the UK Government to do whatever is necessary to ensure their safe and swift return. An Iranian navy boat trying to control fire from the Norwegian-owned Front Altair tanker, said to have been attacked in the waters of the Gulf of Oman in June “This incident represents an escalation.  Whilst we call for measured response, it is also clear that further protection for merchant vessels must be forthcoming to ensure enhanced security to guarantee free flow of trade in the region.” 9:03PM Donald Trump being kept informed President Donald Trump said he would "talk to the UK" about the incident. “We heard about it,” he said. "We don’t have many tankers going in.”  Donald Trump said he is being kept abreast of developments "This only goes to show what I'm saying about Iran: Trouble, nothing but trouble," he said. Trump said "Iran is showing their colors" and "in big trouble right now" because its economy has been crippled by U.S. economic sanctions. The U.S. has asked Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in past weeks to contribute financially and militarily to a Trump administration proposal called the Sentinel Program - a coalition of nations working with the U.S. to preserve maritime security in the Persian Gulf and keep eyes on Iran. 8:54PM Foreign Secretary responds Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “I’m extremely concerned by the seizure of two vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz. “I will shortly attend a COBR meeting to review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels - a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel. “Their crews comprise a range of nationalities, but we understand there are no British citizens on board either ship. Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary “Our Ambassador in Tehran is in contact with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the situation and we are working closely with international partners. “These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.” 8:50PM Crew from multiple countries Our Political Editor, Gordon Rayner, writes: A Government source said the crews on board the two ships are “a range of nationalities” but no Britons are among the crews of either ship.  A Conta meeting due to start at 10.30 tonight will be chaired by either Jeremy Hunt or David Lidington.

Aliens, 10,000-year-old UFOs and gravity waves: What do we actually know about Area 51?

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 01:28

More than 1.5 million people have now signed a Facebook page calling for a "storming" of Area 51, the secretive US military base in the Nevada desert on September 20. If all goes according to plan those who turn up will run ninja-style into the facility, which has no fences around it, looking for signs of alien life being hidden by the US government. If they don't all get shot what they might find is anyone's guess. What is Area 51 really? Area 51 is an assembly of buildings and an airstrip built around a salt flat called Groom Lake. It is part of the Nevada Test and Training Range, which is the biggest air and ground military testing area in the Western world, stretching over nearly three million acres. That's about twice the size of Devon. According to the US military it is excellent for simulating a "flexible, realistic and multidimensional battlespace". They won't say much else about it. In the mid-1950s the CIA began using the area to test U-2 spy planes, and later the development of the B-2 stealth bomber. A historic landmark sign indicate that the area was the Nevada test site for nuclear weapons near the Area 51, near Amargosa Valley, Nevada Credit: Rex It was only in 2013 that the existence of Area 51 within the testing range was officially acknowledged. The CIA was forced to release documents about it when Dr Jeffrey T. Richelson, an academic at George Washington University, successfully applied for information on the U-2 programme under the Freedom if Information Act. Dr Richelson died in 2017. But at the time he told the New York Times there was an "overlap" between U-2 testing and UFO sightings. "You had these high-flying aircraft in the air being the cause of some of the sightings,” he said. How did Area 52 become synonymous with UFO sightings? People in Nevada have reported them since the 1950s. In June 1959 a local newspaper, the Reno Evening Gazette, interviewed a police officer who had seen something "bright green in colour, and descending toward the Earth at a speed too great to be an airplane." Many more were to follow. Then, the conspiracy theorists found a champion. In a 1989 television interview Bob Lazar claimed to have been a physicist working on “reverse engineering” of alien spaceships. Lazar claimed to have worked at S4, a place just south of Area 51. The only reason any of us know anything about Area51 is because of Bob Lazar. Thank you Bob for everything you've done. So happy to see Area 51 trending right now.— jon.bonomo (@thefootgeneral) July 12, 2019 He claimed there were nine UFOs of differing types.  One was like a “jello mould” and another like a flat disc. They were allegedly fuelled by a substance called moscovium, which was used to create a gravity wave. Aliens had been visiting Earth for thousands of years and came from a star system called Zeta Reticuli, he claimed. Lazar has continued his claims. Speaking last year he described the inside of one of the UFOs thus: “It’s a very ominous feeling because everything is one colour. It’s like a dark pewter colour. “There are no right angles anywhere. It’s as if somebody took a model and fashioned it out of wax and then heated it just for a short time so everything melted. "Everything looks like it’s fused together. Everything has a radius, a curvature where two items meet. It’s a really weird looking thing." He said one of them was "ancient” - perhaps 10,000 years old - and had been recovered from an archaeological dig. Then Hollywood ran with it... Hollywood became obsessed with UFOs. From Simon Pegg and Nick Frost meeting an alien called Paul, to Will Smith learning to fly an alien spaceship at Area 51 - and punching an alien in the face. Mulder and Scully from the X-Files witnessed strange goings on at Area 51 too. It has all led to a booming local alien tourism industry. The “Extraterrestrial Highway” runs nearby and Rachel, Nevada has styled itself the  “UFO Capital of the World”. A vehicle moves along the Extraterrestrial Highway near Rachel, Nevada, the closest town to Area 51 Credit: AP How did the plan to storm it come about? It was a joke. But now some people are taking it seriously. The Facebook page says: “They can't stop all of us. Let's see them aliens. We can move faster than their bullets.” According to Jackson Barns, who started it: “Then the Rock Throwers will throw pebbles at the inevitable resistance (we don’t want to hurt them, we just want to annoy them enough to not shoot). “P.S. Hello US government, this is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan. I just thought it would be funny and get me some thumbsy uppies on the internet.” View this post on Instagram You guys ready?!?! ������������ (US government, dis is a joke) astrology astrologymemes aries taurus gemini cancer leo virgo libra scorpio sagittarius capricorn aquarius pisces area51 area51memes area51meme stormarea51 stormarea51theycantstopallofus A post shared by Astrologeez (@capricornyio) on Jul 15, 2019 at 10:48am PDT Two nearby hotels are already booked up. What is the military saying? They are not amused. A US Air Force spokesman said: "The United States Air Force is aware of the Facebook post. Any attempt to illegally access military installations or military training areas is dangerous.” “We would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces. “The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.” Thornton T. Barnes, a former intelligence officer who worked at Area 51, said: “In the real world, Area 51 is a remote rectangular no-fly area. A sign indicates the entrance of the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada Credit: Rex “The possibility of one million or more people storming Area 51 will require the participants to brave and survive trespass through an aerial gunnery and bombing range heavily utilised for electronic combat ranges, aircraft control and warning. “In doing so, they must traverse ordnance impact areas in addition to the Air Force’s live-fire activities.” He added: “There are no, and have never been, aliens or extraterrestrial craft at Area 51, period!” Even Bob Lazar thinks it’s a bad idea. He wrote on Instagram: “I do not support this movement. “The only place there was ever any alien technology was at Site S4, south of Area 51 proper. That was 30 years ago. S4 may have moved decades ago or it’s possible it’s no longer being used for the project."

North Korea slams Japan over its trade spat with Seoul

Yahoo - Art News - Sat, 07/20/2019 - 01:04

North Korea's state media has slammed Japan for its recent trade restrictions against Seoul over wartime slavery disputes, accusing Tokyo of "destroying the trend of peace" on the Korean peninsula. After South Korea's high court ordered Japanese firms that used forced labour to compensate Korean victims, Tokyo earlier this month restricted the export of several chemicals to South Korea that are crucial to its world-leading chip and smartphone companies. South Korea's left-leaning President Moon Jae-in, who favours engagement with Pyongyang, has said Tokyo's actions are "politically motivated" and have caused an "unprecedented emergency" for Seoul's export-driven economy.

Oliver Stone Asks Vladimir Putin to Be His Daughter’s Godfather

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 23:13

Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/GettyFilmmaker and conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone has made no secret of his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, but now he has taken it to a whole new level by trying to make him his 22-year-old daughter’s godfather. “Does she want to become an Orthodox Christian?” Putin asked when Stone floated the idea during a sit-down in the Kremlin. “We’ll make her that [Orthodox],” Stone replied, according to a transcript of the interview put out by the Kremlin Friday. Putin appeared to wriggle his way out of the proposal (“You have to ask her,” he said) before Stone went on to complain about “American culture,” taking particular issue with what he described as a focus on gender identity and people labeling themselves as “transgender” and “cisgender.” Stone quickly steered the conversation toward a controversial 2013 Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda” among minors, a law which experts say has prompted a surge of homophobic violence in the country. “It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law,” Stone said. The interview, transcripts of which were released Friday, took place in mid-June, shortly before Stone announced the upcoming premiere of his new documentary Revealing Ukraine, which purports to “investigate” the “ongoing Ukrainian crisis” but seems instead to serve as a promotional spot for pro-Russian Ukrainian politician and Putin ally Viktor Medvedchuk. The “documentary” has been hyped up by Russian state media, where it premiered on Friday.  It was also due to air on Ukraine’s 112 TV channel, which Medvedchuk reportedly took control of late last year, but the station said it was forced to cancel the broadcast after protests. Stone has claimed his dabblings in Ukraine offer viewers a new perspective on the 2014 Maidan revolution and war in Donbass that he says “Western media has largely ignored,” but that “perspective” has relied solely on claims fed to him by pro-Russia politicians, Putin allies, and Putin himself. In his sit-down with the Russian president, Stone vacillated between spouting off common Kremlin propaganda on Ukraine and fawning over Putin as a “peacemaker.” After echoing the Kremlin conspiracy theory that the pro-Russian leaders in Kyiv accused of gunning down innocent protesters in the 2014 revolution were actually framed in some vast conspiracy that may or may not have involved former U.S. President Barack Obama, and that Ukraine, not Russia was to blame for interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Stone expressed concerns about Putin’s emotional well-being. “You sound very depressed, much more depressed than last time,” he said, later adding, “I am very worried about you.” The two ended the interview by taking a parting picture together. Oliver Stone’s Latest Piece of Pro-Putin Propaganda May Be His Most Shameless Move YetRead 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.

Ex-jihadist Tania Joya now fights to 'reprogram' extremists

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 23:09

Tania Joya has devoted her life to "reprogramming" extremists and reintroducing them into society -- a process she understands well as a "former Islamic jihadist" herself. "My aim is for them to feel a sense of remorse and to train them so that they can be good citizens once they are released from prison, so they can adjust to society," Joya said during a visit to Washington, to present a project on preventing extremist violence. Born in 1984 near London to a Muslim Bangladeshi family, Joya grew up confronted by racism and the struggles of integration.

Taiwan says it will treat Hong Kong asylum seekers humanely

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 22:19

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she would follow "humanitarian principles" in dealing with asylum seekers from Hong Kong, which has been roiled by pro-democracy protests. Tsai made the comments after Radio Free Asia reported that more than a dozen protesters from Hong Kong have fled to Taiwan.

1 killed, 4 injured when Alaska flight aborted on takeoff

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 21:53

A Maryland man visiting Alaska with his family was killed and one of his three children was critically injured Friday after their floatplane's takeoff was aborted. Alaska State Troopers identified the deceased man as Joseph Patenella, 57. The critically hurt child was flown to Anchorage for treatment, along with two other family members.


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