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'Horrific for all': Pentagon intelligence chief says Iran does not want war

'Horrific for all': Pentagon intelligence chief says Iran does not want warA U.S. Marines helicopter takes off from the flight deck of the USS Boxer during its transit through Strait of Hormuz. ASPEN, Colo. — As tensions in the Persian Gulf continued to ramp up on Friday afternoon amid news that Iran had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, concluded that Iran does not want to start a war with the U.S. or its allies. Answering a question posed by CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto in Aspen, Colo., about the latest incident, Ashley declined to give a specific response to the news, but later said that none of the United States’ major adversaries or competitors, including Iran, China and Russia, wants to start a war.

POSTED JULY 19, 2019 7:19 PM

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

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

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 8:21 AM

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

Alleged American ISIS Sniper Brought Home by the Defense Department to Face ChargesAn 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."

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 4:49 AM

Iraq Kurds arrest two suspects in killing of Turkish vice consul

Iraq Kurds arrest two suspects in killing of Turkish vice consulIraqi Kurdish authorities announced Saturday they had arrested two suspects involved in the murder of three people, including a Turkish diplomat, in the regional capital Arbil this week. The autonomous region's security council first said its counterterrorism unit had arrested "the main perpetrator" Mazloum Dag, a 27-year-old from Turkey's Diyarbakir region. The council had put out a wanted notice for Dag a day earlier in connection to Wednesday's killing of Turkish Vice Consul Osman Kose and two Iraqi nationals.

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 12:19 PM

Ex-NRA Ad Firm: Um, Wayne LaPierre is Lying

Ex-NRA Ad Firm: Um, Wayne LaPierre is LyingLucas Jackson/ReutersIn a new filing against the National Rifle Association, lawyers for ad agency Ackerman McQueen suggest that longtime NRA executive Wayne LaPierre is lying about a critical moment in the gun rights group’s recent leadership shake up. At issue is multi-million-dollar litigation between the NRA and its ex-ad firm. In court filings of its own, the NRA has alleged that Oliver North, the groups's former president, was ousted in part because he withheld information from the NRA about payments he took from Ackerman McQueen, which had served as the gun rights group’s primary ad contractor until just months ago. The NRA claims North kept the nature of his deal with Ackerman McQueen a secret from LaPierre and the gun group’s leadership. But in a July 16 filing that was reviewed by The Daily Beast, Ackerman McQueen alleges that LaPierre himself helped negotiate the deal between their firm and North. And they hint that they have documentation to prove it. In a statement, the NRA denied the suggestions. “The facts are clear – Mr. LaPierre and the NRA had no idea that Col. North was negotiating to become an employee of Ackerman McQueen,” said Andrew Arulanandam, managing director of NRA Public Affairs. “And to the extent Col. North was pushing a contrived narrative about Mr. LaPierre and the NRA, he was conflicted. He was an employee of Ackerman at the time he was allegedly scheming with the agency to unseat Mr. LaPierre.”  It’s a messy new chapter in the months-long legal battle between the NRA and the ad firm it used for more than three decades. And it comes as the gun group has jettisoned senior staff and faced revolts from grassroots activists and donors. “LaPierre negotiated the terms of the North Contract directly with Lt. Col. North and a detailed term sheet was sent to AMc [Ackerman McQueen] for completion of the formal agreement,” the filing reads. The NRA’s then-treasurer, Wilson “Woody” Phillips, also reviewed and approved North’s contract with the firm, according to the filing, and the NRA board’s audit committee green-lit the contract as well. “On at least two occasions, counsel for the NRA has reviewed the North Contract,” the filing adds. NRA Pulls the Plug on NRATVAckerman McQueen’s insistence that NRA officials were aware of the contract with North is directly at odds with the contention the NRA made in a suit it filed against the ad agency in April. North was ousted from the NRA that month during the group’s annual meeting and has since accused LaPierre of gross mismanagement and making highly questionable expenditures. The NRA, meanwhile, has alleged that North tried to oust LaPierre in a coup. And in a separate suit in May, it accused Ackerman McQueen of breach of contract by leaking information about both LaPierre and the NRA’s finances. Ackerman McQueen had been a central force behind the NRA’s evolution from a gun rights group to a conservative cultural institution. As part of that mission, the ad firm helped launch and manage NRATV, the NRA’s recently shuttered internet-video arm. The NRA has alleged in court that Ackerman McQueen had refused to share its analytics with the gun group. But In its July 16 filing, Ackerman McQueen claims that the opposite is true. “Two days before the lawsuit was filed, LaPierre was in AMc’s office and was in attendance for the presentation of the NRATV analytics,” it reads. “LaPierre walked out of the meeting.” A spokesperson for the NRA’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The filing indicates that the fight between the NRA and Ackerman shows no signs of losing steam. Earlier this week, longtime NRA director of public affairs Jennifer Baker left the group. And a month ago, the group parted ways with its longtime top lobbyist, Chris Cox. 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.

POSTED JULY 19, 2019 1:46 PM

1 killed, 4 injured when Alaska flight aborted on takeoff

1 killed, 4 injured when Alaska flight aborted on takeoffA 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.

POSTED JULY 19, 2019 9:53 PM

Gabbard, AOC join lawmakers to call on Puerto Rican governor to resign over corruption scandal

Gabbard, AOC join lawmakers to call on Puerto Rican governor to resign over corruption scandalRep. Tulsi Gabbard has joined a growing chorus of lawmakers calling for the resignation of the Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 12:19 PM

Ahead of U.S. deadline, Mexico minister has fulfilled migration enforcement pledge

Ahead of U.S. deadline, Mexico minister has fulfilled migration enforcement pledgeMexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Friday that Mexico has followed through on its commitment to the United States to reduce migration from Central America, as a deadline in a bilateral pact approaches. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Mexico City to discuss migration and trade with Ebrard on Sunday, a day before the end of a 45-day period in which the Mexican government pledged to significantly lower the number of people trying to cross the U.S. border illegally.

POSTED JULY 19, 2019 4:18 PM

A Passenger Was Fined $105,000 and Banned for Life for 'Extremely Disruptive Behavior' on an Airplane

A Passenger Was Fined $105,000 and Banned for Life for 'Extremely Disruptive Behavior' on an AirplaneShe was also banned for life by British budget carrier Jet2

POSTED JULY 19, 2019 4:09 PM

UK 'asked US not to sabre rattle over tanker seized by Iran'

UK 'asked US not to sabre rattle over tanker seized by Iran'The UK is believed to have asked its US ally to initially refrain from making inflammatory public statements about the seizure of the Stena Impero by Iran as they sought a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Donald Trump was noticeably muted in his immediate response and Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said little in the immediate aftermath. Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, spoke with his counterpart Mike Pompeo, who was in Argentina, on Friday night. British and US officials continued to speak through the night on Friday. White House officials did not push back on reports that the UK conveyed a message to the US that it wanted to try to de-escalate the situation. Mr Trump had already spoken to Boris Johnson on Thursday, although it was not clear whether they discussed Iran. The following day, when asked about the Stena Impero, Mr Trump did not give his usual full-throated response to acts of Iranian aggression, instead saying he had "heard about it" and would "work with the UK" Mr Pompeo was asked about Iran during an interview in Argentina late on Friday, but aid only: "We’re doing everything we can in the United States to de-escalate with Iran. We want them simply to cease being the world’s largest state sponsor of terror." The softened tone also came as Mr Trump confirmed he had authorised Rand Paul, the anti-interventionist Republican US senator, to speak to Iranian officials Mr Paul wants to become Mr Trump's "go-between" with Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, and asked Mr Trump for permission duding a round of golf a week ago. A helicopter hovers over British-flagged tanker Stena Impero near the strait of Hormuz Credit: Reuters Mr Trump confirmed late on on Friday: "Rand is a friend of mine. And Rand asked me if he could involved.  The answer is yes. We'll see what happens. Iran is showing their colours. It's going to work out very nicely." However, there are also suggestions that, in private, Mr Trump has become increasingly frustrated with the Iran situation in recent days. He is believed to have been displeased at the reluctance of Iran's top leaders to meet with him, especially since he stepped back from a planned military strike last month. There were indications of that frustration during his muted response on Friday when he said: "This only goes to show what I'm saying about Iran. Trouble. Nothing but trouble." Meanwhile Lt Gen. Robert Ashley, head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, said he believes Iran "does not want war," and "the outcome would be very horrific for all". Iran was aiming to drive a wedge between the Us and its European allies, he said Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, he added: “What you see is an attempt to break that status quo, to look to divide us with our European powers." The US is already monitoring its commercial cargo ships in the Strait of Hormuz using military aircraft. Meanwhile, Russia accused the US of “taking advantage” of rising tensions in the region to deploy hundreds of extra troops to Saudi Arabia. Around 500 are being  being sent  to the Prince Sultan Air Base, east of Riyadh, Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev said: "Neither Iran nor the United States, by and large, are interested in a real war. However, the game of nerves and the raising of stakes will continue." Germany's called the seizure of the British tanker an "unjustifiable intrusion" on shipping which "further exacerbates an already strained situation." A German foreign ministry spokesman said: "Another regional escalation would be very dangerous, it would also undermine all ongoing efforts to find a way out of the current crisis." France condemned the seizure and said it "harms the needed de-escalation of tensions." A US defence official told CNN the US is using armed military aircraft to monitor American commercial cargo ships on their passage through the strait, which can take eight hours. There were no further details given and it was not clear whether the monitoring was being extended to non-US ships.

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 2:41 PM

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