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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge sail in the Arabian Sea
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge sail in the Arabian Sea May 17, 2019. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Handout via REUTERS.

May 23, 2019

By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Defense is considering a U.S. military request to send about 5,000 additional troops to the Middle East amid increasing tensions with Iran, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Tehran and Washington have this month been escalating rhetoric against each other, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to try to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero and beef up the U.S. military presence in the Gulf in response to what he said were Iranian threats.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the request had been made by U.S. Central Command, but added that it was not clear whether the Pentagon would approve the request.

The Pentagon regularly receives – and declines – requests for additional resources from U.S. combatant commands throughout the world.

One of the officials said the requested troops would be defensive in nature.

It is unclear if any specific request will ultimately be presented to the White House. The request for 5,000 additional troops was first reported by Reuters.

This appeared to be the latest request for additional resources in the face of what U.S. officials have said are credible threats from Iran against U.S. forces and American interests in the Middle East.

The United States has not publicly shown any evidence of what the specific intelligence on the Iranian threat is.

The Pentagon declined to comment.

“As a matter of longstanding policy, we are not going to discuss or speculate on potential future plans and requests for forces,” Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said on Wednesday.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Tuesday that while threats from Iran in the Middle East remained high, deterrence measures taken by the Pentagon had “put on hold” the potential for attacks on Americans.

The U.S. military accelerated the deployment of a carrier strike group to the Middle East, and sent bombers and Patriot missiles to the region earlier this month in response to what Washington said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.

U.S. government sources told Reuters last week they believe Iran encouraged Houthi militants or Iraq-based Shi’ite militias to carry out attacks on tanker ships off the United Arab Emirates.

Trump has warned that Iran would be met with “great force” if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran’s youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilization.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; editing by Rosalba O’Brien and G Crosse)

Source: OANN

A logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is seen at its headquarters in Hsinchu
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is seen at its headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan August 31, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

May 23, 2019

HSINCHU, Taiwan (Reuters) – TSMC, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, said on Thursday its shipments to China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd are not affected by U.S. action aimed at curbing the telecom equipment maker’s access to American technology.

The comment was made by spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun at the TSMC 2019 Technology Symposium in Taiwan’s tech hub of Hsinchu.

TSMC, formally Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd, previously said it would maintain supplies to Huawei for the time being, and that it was assessing the impact of Washington’s decision to limit access to goods incorporating U.S. technology.

(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: India's PM Modi gestures as he is presented with a garland during a thanksgiving ceremony by BJP leaders to its allies at the party headquarters in New Delhi,
FILE PHOTO: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he is presented with a garland during a thanksgiving ceremony by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders to its allies at the party headquarters in New Delhi, India, May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo

May 23, 2019

By Alasdair Pal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India began counting hundreds of millions of votes in its general election on Thursday, with a coalition led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party already preparing to form the next government.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is expected to surpass the 272 seats needed to command a majority in the lower house of parliament, six of seven exit polls showed on Sunday.

Their predicted margin of victory is larger than surveys indicated in the run-up to the vote, when most polls showed the NDA would be the largest alliance but would fall short of an overall majority.

Counting of the more than 600 million votes began at 8 a.m. local time (0230 GMT) and trends were expected to be known by noon. Final results are due by Thursday evening.

Modi was under pressure when he began campaigning, losing three state elections in December amid rising anger over farm prices and unemployment.

However, campaigning shifted towards India’s relationship with nuclear-armed rival Pakistan after a suicide car bomb killed 40 Indian police in the contested Kashmir region in February, to the benefit of the right-wing BJP, analysts said.

“National security became the discussion,” said Harsh Pant, a political analyst at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi. “It allowed the BJP to shirk some issues where it was weak.”

The BJP has also capitalised on the star power of Modi, a frenetic campaigner, as well as superior financial resources.

It outspent the main opposition Congress Party by six times on Facebook and Google advertising, data showed, and by as much as 20 times overall, sources told Reuters earlier this month.

“The longer election certainly helps Modi: he loves contact with the people,” Pant said. “The BJP’s electoral machinery is also much more effective on the ground.”

India election live blog: https://reut.rs/2UnGjar

VICTORY PREPARATION

The NDA held a meeting on Tuesday, at which Modi was garlanded with flowers by members of the alliance, to discuss its policy agenda for its second term in power. It has promised to double farmers’ income and boost infrastructure spending over the next five years.

Several opposition leaders attempting to unseat Modi have urged voters to wait for the final results, calling the exit polls “gossip”.

“Do not get demoralised by the fake exit polls doing the rounds,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi said in a message to party workers posted on social media on Wednesday.

The opposition alliance has also protested to India’s Election Commission over the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in the count, which they alleged could be tampered with, and requested a delay to counting while votes were tallied with a backup paper audit trail.

The commission rejected the opposition’s demands on Wednesday.

Around 500 masked people carrying guns and machetes attacked a polling team and forcibly took away EVMs in the remote northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, Reuters reported on Wednesday, although the election was widely considered by international observers to be free and fair .

Indian stocks posted their biggest gain since September 2013 on Monday and could rally further on Thursday if the trend is confirmed, according to a Reuters poll.

“Markets will heave a big sigh of relief as it favours continuity and familiarity in terms of roll-out of policies,” said Ajay Bodke, CEO at financial services firm Prabhudas Lilladher.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal, additional reporting by Indradip Ghosh and Vivek Mishra in BENGALURU; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Nick Macfie and Paul Tait)

Source: OANN

A New Jersey man allegedly sought to help the terror group Hamas and threatened to bomb Trump Tower in New York City as well as “shoot everybody” at a pro-Israel demonstration, federal investigators alleged.

Jonathan Xie made his initial court appearance on Wednesday in Newark, N.J. The 20-year-old was charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, making false statements and transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.

Xie allegedly sent $100 to a person he thought was associated with a faction of Hamas last December, and a few days later, posted on his Instagram account that he was “pretty sure it was illegal but I don’t give a damn,” according to a criminal complaint.

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He also allegedly did not mention the donation on security forms he filled out when he tried to join the U.S. Army.

The U.S. attorney’s office also said that Xie posted on Instagram he wanted to bomb the Trump Tower in New York and the Israeli Embassy.

A person wearing a black ski mask, later identified as Xie, allegedly said in an Instagram video that he was against “Zionism” and the “neo-liberal establishment,” according to the criminal complaint. It also said he responded to a question by saying he would join Hamas “if I could find a way.”

Later in the video, Xie allegedly displayed a gun and said “I’m going to shoot everybody” at a pro-Israel march.

HUNTING AYMAN AL ZAWAHIRI: WHERE HAS THE AL QAEDA LEADER BEEN HIDING FOR 18 YEARS?

After a trip to Trump Tower in April where Xie was observed by FBI surveillance, he posted photos of the building along with his intent to bomb it, according to the complaint.

“Okay so I went to NYC today and passed by Trump Tower, then I started thinking about bombing it and I was imagining that the explosion would kill Trump and then I started laughing hysterically,” the complaint stated Xie allegedly wrote. “I forgot to visit the Israeli embassy in NYC… I want to bomb this place along with Trump Tower.”

Xie, who entered the courtroom in shackles, did not say anything during Wednesday’s brief hearing, aside from saying he understood the judge’s instructions.

He was ordered held without bail because the judge ruled Xie was a threat to the community. His public defender didn’t say whether he would file a motion for a bail hearing.

His parents attended the proceeding but declined to speak with reporters.

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Xie faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the terrorism charges.

Fox News’ Ben Evansky in Newark and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

No Democrat can win the party’s 2020 presidential nomination without supporting President Trump’s impeachment, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham, R-S.C., made the claim Wednesday on “Hannity,” adding that Democratic lawmakers appear to have a “radical agenda.”

“I don’t think you can get the Democratic nomination for president without advocating for the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Graham said.

TRUMP DEMANDS END TO ‘PHONY INVESTIGATIONS’ IN FIERY ROSE GARDEN STATEMENT, AFTER MEETING WITH DEMS CUT SHORT

“I don’t think you’re going to be able to survive in the Democratic Party … if you don’t call for Trump’s impeachment,” he added.

Graham claimed if House Democrats attempt impeachment proceedings, they will ensure Trump’s reelection.

But, he said most Democrats will not take Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report as the “final word” on the Russia investigation.

“Trump did not collude with Russia,” Graham stated. “The bottom line is the Democrats want an outcome, the Mueller report did not give them the outcome they wanted and they’re going to keep going until they get the outcome they want.”

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Graham projected that in the next wave of elections, “the public is going to kick the Democrats out of power and reelect the president – if he stays focused on doing the job for the American people.”

“I think Medicare-for-all means ‘Medicare-for-nobody’,” he said of a proposal popular with some 2020 Democrats.

Source: Fox News Politics

Russian President Vladimir Putin was better prepared than U.S. counterpart Donald Trump for the pair’s meeting in August, putting U.S. officials at a disadvantage, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a secret meeting Tuesday, reports The Washington Post.

“We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted,” a committee aide told the Post. “There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing.”

Tillerson also said White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner should have consulted with the State Department or other agencies before getting involved in foreign affairs and his inexperience showed.

Tillerson’s meeting, which lasted seven hours, centered on his experiences in Trump’s Cabinet.

One House Foreign Affairs Committee Republican aide told CNN, “Tillerson’s testimony best speaks for itself” and pressed for Democrats to release a transcript of the sit-down.

“Contrary to media reports, Secretary Tillerson made clear that 2016 Russian election interference was raised clearly at the highest levels with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government,” the aide said. “Regarding Kushner, every single administration is entitled to choose and seek counsel from their own advisers.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

A math teacher in New York City who paid students to dismantle fireworks and store the explosive powder was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Wednesday, according to reports.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman cited these “dangerous times” when schools and places of worship must guard against violence, and he nearly doubled the three-to-four years called for by federal sentencing guidelines when he sentenced Christian Toro to five years and 10 months in prison.

WHO IS TINA TCHEN, THE ATTORNEY LINKED TO JUSSIE SMOLLETT MESSAGES?

“Today’s sentence serves as a message that building and stockpiling destructive devices are grave offenses in and of themselves,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement, as ABC 7 reported.

Toro, 28, pleaded guilty in November to unlawfully manufacturing and aiding the construction of a destructive device and distributing explosive materials to a minor.

Prosecutors said Toro and his brother who awaits sentencing stored a cache of dangerous materials in a Bronx apartment, and Toro paid at least two students to break apart commercial fireworks and store their explosive powder in containers.

They said the powder and other explosive materials– enough to construct a bomb– were found after a student Toro was having sex with called in a bomb threat to her school.

In court papers, Toro’s lawyer requested leniency, saying Toro has expressed “sincere shame and remorse” and is now “clean and sober and rehabilitated.

Berman said that Toro, who has already been incarcerated 15 months, must serve the federal sentence in addition to any time he eventually serves anywhere else.

Prosecutors noted in their sentencing submission that he has been charged with statutory rape and related charges based on his relationship with the student.

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They rejected his lawyer’s argument that Toro was engaged in solitary exploration to satisfy his “misplaced curiosity.”

They said his actions “suggests that the defendant intended to elicit fear with his actions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

Indian election officials have begun counting votes that were cast in the country’s mammoth general elections.

The count began Thursday morning and was expected to conclude by the evening. Voters cast ballots on some 40 million electronic voting machines.

Half a dozen exit polls showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party remaining in power for another five years.

In the world’s largest democratic exercise, some 900 million people were registered to cast ballots for 542 seats in India’s lower house of Parliament in seven phases of polling staggered over six weeks.

The election has been seen as a referendum on Modi, whose economic reforms broadly haven’t succeeded but whose popularity as a social underdog in India’s highly stratified society has endured.

Source: Fox News World

America’s big cities are suffering from a “steady collapse of livability” — and wealthy liberals are to blame, according to The New York Times opinion columnist.

Farhad Manjoo, in commentary posted Wednesday, decried in particular the demise of a housing bill in his home state of California because of progressives’ opposition to the construction in their own neighborhoods.

“Where progressives argue for openness and inclusion as a cudgel against President [Donald] Trump, they abandon it on Nob Hill and in Beverly Hills,” he wrote.

“I’m struck by an unsettling thought,” he wrote. “What Republicans want to do with ICE and border walls, wealthy progressive Democrats are doing with zoning” and an attitude of not-in-my-back-yard.

“Preserving ‘local character,’ maintaining ‘local control,’ keeping housing scarce and inaccessible — the goals of both sides are really the same: to keep people out,” he wrote.

Manjoo noted the problem in America’s big cities “is the steady collapse of livability,” where “child care and education seem impossible for all but the wealthiest,” and where the problems of “affordable housing and homelessness have surpassed all superlatives.”

“Democrats on the 2020 presidential trail rarely mention their ideas for housing affordability, an issue eating American cities alive,” he wrote. “I watched Joe Biden’s campaign kick off the other day; the only house he mentioned was the White House.”

“Creating dense, economically and socially diverse urban environments ought to be a paramount goal of progressivism,” he added.

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Source: NewsMax America

Election staff members work on their computers in a vote counting centre in Ahmedabad
Election staff members work on their computers in a vote counting centre in Ahmedabad, India, May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave

May 23, 2019

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India began counting about 600 million votes in its general election on Thursday, with a coalition led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party predicted to win a clear majority.

The vote count started at 0800 local time (0230 GMT), and results are likely to be clear later in the day.

Reuters India election live blog: https://reut.rs/2UnGjar

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Source: OANN


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