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Iran's top leader strikes defiant tone amid month of turmoil

Iran's top leader strikes defiant tone amid month of turmoilIran's supreme leader lashed out at Western countries as he led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years, dismissing “American clowns” who he said pretend to support the Iranian nation but want to stick their "poisoned dagger” into its back. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used his rare appearance at the weekly prayers to deliver a fiery address in which he insisted Iran would not bow to U.S. pressure after months of crushing sanctions and a series of recent crises — from the American killing of a top Iranian general to Iran's accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane. Khamenei said the mass funerals for Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this month, show that the Iranian people support the Islamic Republic despite its recent trials.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 6:04 PM

Kidnapped US teen rescued by police thanks to Snapchat

Kidnapped US teen rescued by police thanks to SnapchatA California teen who had been drugged and kidnapped was rescued by police this week after using Snapchat to alert her friends to her abduction. One man was arrested as he left the motel in San Jose, in northern California, where the girl was being held and two other suspects were taken into custody on Wednesday, police said in a statement.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 3:46 PM

UK's Johnson, France's Macron reiterate commitment to Iran nuclear deal

UK's Johnson, France's Macron reiterate commitment to Iran nuclear dealBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated their commitment on Sunday to the Iran nuclear deal and agreed a long-term framework was needed, Downing Street said on Sunday. "On Iran, the leaders reiterated their commitment to the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and also acknowledged the need to define a long-term framework to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon," a Downing Street spokeswoman said in a statement after the two met on the sidelines of a Libya summit in Berlin.

POSTED JANUARY 19, 2020 9:07 AM

Spain's Balearic Islands crack down on alcohol-fuelled holidays

Spain's Balearic Islands crack down on alcohol-fuelled holidaysSpain's Balearic Islands passed a bill Friday aimed at clamping down on alcohol-fuelled holidays in the Mediterranean archipelago which bans happy hours when drinks are offered a discount and open bars. "This is the first law adopted in Europe which restricts the sale and promotion of alcohol in certain touristic areas," the regional government of the Balearic Islands which have long been a magnet for young German and British tourists, who often drink heavily and enjoy rowdy late-night clubbing. The restrictions will apply to three areas with a reputation for excess: San Antoni on the island of Ibiza and El Arenal and Magaluf -- which has been nicknamed "Shagaluf" because of its reputation for drunken casual sex -- on Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic's four islands.

POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 12:07 PM

ICE ups ante in standoff with NYC: 'This is not a request'

ICE ups ante in standoff with NYC: 'This is not a request'Federal authorities are turning to a new tactic in the escalating conflict over New York City's so-called sanctuary policies, issuing four “immigration subpoenas” to the city for information about inmates wanted for deportation. “This is not a request — it's a demand,” Henry Lucero, a senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, told The Associated Press. Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration said Saturday the city would review the subpoenas.

POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 7:23 PM

Body of woman who was missing for almost 6 years found in car submerged in NJ river

Body of woman who was missing for almost 6 years found in car submerged in NJ riverVanessa Smallwood of Maple Shade, N.J., was 46 at the time of her disappearance. She was identified in a statement from New Jersey State Police.

POSTED JANUARY 19, 2020 12:05 AM

The 25 Best PSP Games

The 25 Best PSP Games

POSTED JANUARY 19, 2020 9:00 AM

China Thinks It Can Nuke American Cities. Should We Worry?

China Thinks It Can Nuke American Cities. Should We Worry?World War III is no joke...

POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 5:00 PM

A plane slid off the runway and more than 800 flights were canceled as winter weather hit the Midwest

A plane slid off the runway and more than 800 flights were canceled as winter weather hit the MidwestAuthorities issued alerts for areas across the Northeast as blizzard conditions were forecasted to New York and New England over the weekend.

POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 1:49 PM

Trump Trial to Open With Questions Unanswered on Ukraine ‘Favor’

Trump Trial to Open With Questions Unanswered on Ukraine ‘Favor’(Bloomberg) -- “Read the transcript!”That’s the rallying cry of President Donald Trump and supporters who say he did nothing wrong in the Ukraine impeachment saga.Democrats countered that the White House readout of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president offers strong evidence of his guilt. The key line they point to is this: “I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump tells President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.With Trump set for trial starting Tuesday in the Senate after his impeachment in the House, that 16-minute call is Exhibit A for both the president and his opponents.Weeks of House testimony underscored that many of Trump’s aides and envoys were disturbed by the call and broader administration efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden, including by withholding almost $400 million in assistance the ally desperately wanted to counter Russian aggression. Fiona Hill, the top National Security Council adviser on Russia at the time, said her boss, John Bolton, called the effort a “drug deal.”But the House proceedings didn’t answer all the questions about what happened. And even though the president blocked key witnesses from testifying and defied a subpoena for Ukraine-related documents, new allegations and evidence keep emerging.The impeachment debate ultimately revolves around whether the president’s request was an abuse of power -- co-opting a foreign power for political purposes -- or just an indelicate effort to get an ally to tackle corruption. Just this week, a nonpartisan congressional oversight agency ruled the aid freeze was illegal, a finding the White House immediately rejected.Here’s what’s still unknown going into the impeachment trial:Is there a ‘smoking gun’?Despite testimony from 17 witnesses in both private and public hearings, there’s still no ironclad proof that Trump personally ordered the aid to Ukraine withheld -- and an Oval Office meeting sought by Zelenkskiy unscheduled -- until the Ukrainian leader committed to the Biden investigation.Officials who could speak to that issue -- acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Bolton -- effectively refused to testify in the House impeachment hearings. Bolton now suggests he’d be open to testifying in the Senate, but Trump has said he’ll claim executive privilege if his former aide tries.The accusation of a quid pro quo was actually bolstered by Mulvaney, who told reporters pressing him about the Ukraine allegations that, yes, the president was using foreign policy to pursue his domestic political needs.“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney said. “And I have news for everybody. Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.”Mulvaney later said his comments were taken out of context, but the damage was done.Will new evidence be admissible?House Democrats chose not to challenge Trump’s refusal to allow key witnesses to testify, which could have tied up the impeachment process in the courts for months. Instead, they made the White House refusal to cooperate the core of the second article of impeachment referred to the Senate, calling it obstruction of Congress.But even as House Democrats were preparing to ceremoniously march those two articles of impeachment over to the Senate, information damaging to the president continued to emerge.Among the most explosive new revelations are claims by Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who was running a parallel U.S. foreign policy when it came to Ukraine. With Parnas’s help, Giuliani pressed for months to get Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, ousted.“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night. “I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”The president says he doesn’t know Parnas, dismissing a series of photos of the two of them together as just the typical glad-handing all political leaders go through at public events.What is U.S. policy toward Ukraine now, and who controls it?One of the most revelatory themes of the impeachment trial was how Giuliani, claiming he was acting with Trump’s authority, wrested U.S. policy toward Ukraine away from the career diplomats and political appointees who were nominally in charge of it.Giuliani has shown no sign of backing down from his pursuit of Biden, and his attacks on Ambassador Yovanovitch: Soon after the impeachment hearings ended in the House, he flew back to Ukraine to press ahead with what he said were new lines of investigation.And while Pompeo insists he’s proud of U.S. policy and its focus on a strong partnership with Ukraine, the president’s own convictions haven’t changed a bit.“The tragedy is the president has not changed his view,” said Mark David Simakovsky, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “If anything, he’s dug in further.”How much did Russia know about -- and fuel -- Trump’s efforts?Intelligence experts were aghast when Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, revealed in his testimony that he had called Trump on an unsecured mobile phone line from a cafe in Kyiv. The conversation was loud enough for others at the table to listen in. And that was just one of several phone calls he made to the president discussing their strategy toward Ukraine.It’s highly likely Russia was tracking those calls -- as well as the many communications from Giuliani and his own associates -- and looking for an advantage in its standoff with Ukraine.“You have Rudy on an open line, Sondland on an open line,” said Andrew Weiss, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Russia must have been abundantly aware of how the Americans were cutting the Ukrainians free.”In addition to the unsupported allegation that Biden intervened in Ukraine to prevent a corruption investigation of his son -- who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company -- Giuliani and Trump have entertained a conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to help Democrat Hillary Clinton. That’s the reverse of the finding by U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled to help Trump.It’s also widely accepted that Russians helped sow U.S. divisions over matters like race and gun violence heading into the 2016 campaign. Did they do the same with Trump and Ukraine looking ahead to 2020?How will it end?Impeachment supporters would need 67 votes in the Senate to convict Trump, which almost certainly won’t happen. No Republican in the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump, and while some in the Senate may agree to allow new witnesses like Bolton to testify, the threshold for convicting Trump for what the Constitution calls “high crimes and misdemeanors” is high.Regardless, Democrats say it’s their duty to carry forward, and they seem to hope that the case against Trump will help sway voters in November.“No president should be getting away with what the president, President Trump, has been getting away with,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who oversaw Trump’s impeachment, said Thursday after the articles against him were delivered to the Senate. The trial starts Tuesday.To contact the reporter on this story: Nick Wadhams in Washington at nwadhams@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at, ;Kevin Whitelaw at, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 6:00 AM

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