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WTA International - Nature Valley Open
Tennis – WTA International – Nature Valley Open – Nottingham Tennis Centre, Nottingham – June 15, 2019 Croatia’s Donna Vekic in action during her semi final match against Germany’s Tatjana Maria Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

June 15, 2019

(Reuters) – Croatian Donna Vekic reached the final of the weather-hit Nottingham Open grasscourt event on Saturday as she came from a set down to win 12 consecutive games against Tatjana Maria.

Vekic, the second seed, lost a tight opener before storming to a 5-7 6-0 6-0 victory.

Rain has played havoc with the schedule throughout the week, forcing many matches to be played on indoor hardcourts.

Even when Vekic led 5-0 in the decider there was another rain interruption, but she returned to complete the win.

Vekic, champion on the Nottingham grass in 2017, will face either French top seed Caroline Garcia or American Jennifer Brady in Sunday’s final.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman
An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman, in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran, June 13, 2019. ISNA/Handout via REUTERS

June 15, 2019

By Parisa Hafezi and Makini Brice

DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers at the entrance to the Gulf and said it was seeking international consensus about the threat to shipping, despite Tehran denying involvement in the explosions at sea.

Thursday’s attacks raised fears of a confrontation in the vital oil shipping route at a time of increased tension between Iran and the United States over U.S. sanctions and military moves in the Middle East, Tehran’s proxy groups in the region and its nuclear program.

“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” U.S. President Donald Trump told Fox News.

He was referring to a video released on Thursday by the U.S. military which said it showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were behind the blasts that struck the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman, at the mouth of the Gulf.

Iran said the video proved nothing and that it was being made into a scapegoat. “These accusations are alarming,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Iran has dismissed earlier U.S. charges that it was behind the attacks and has accused the United States and its regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of “warmongering” by making accusations against it.

Last month, the United States sharply tightened economic sanctions that are damaging the economy of Iran, which in response has threatened to step up its nuclear activity. Tehran has said it could block the Strait of Hormuz, the main route out for Middle Eastern oil, if its own exports were halted.

Trump, who last year pulled the United States out of an agreement between world powers and Tehran to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief, said any move to close the Strait of Hormuz would not last long but added that he was open to negotiations with Iran.

Iran has repeatedly said it will not re-enter talks with the United States unless it reverses Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Tehran and Washington have both said they have no interest in starting a war. But this has done little to assuage concerns that the two arch foes could stumble into a conflict.

A U.S. official told Reuters on Friday a surface-to-air missile was fired from Iranian territory on Thursday morning at a U.S. drone that was near Front Altair following the attack on the tanker. The missile did not hit the drone, the official said.

Trump’s administration is focused on building international consensus following the attacks, U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said.

Asked whether he was considering sending more troops or military capabilities to the Middle East, Shanahan said: “As you know we’re always planning various contingencies.”

But he emphasized the issue of building consensus.

“When you look at the situation, a Norwegian ship, a Japanese ship, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, 15 percent of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz,” he said.

“So we obviously need to make contingency plans should the situation deteriorate. We also need to broaden our support for this international situation,” he told reporters.

GRAPHIC: Attacks in Gulf of Oman – https://tmsnrt.rs/2X8ePpU

OIL, INSURANCE

Oil prices rose about 1% on Friday, reflecting the jitters. Insurance costs for ships sailing through the Middle East have jumped by at least 10% after the attacks, ship insurers said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-attacks-un/update-2-u-n-chief-calls-for-independent-probe-into-gulf-tanker-attacks-idUSL2N23L0WG of the attacks.

The tanker attacks took place while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan – a big buyer of Iranian oil until it was forced by the new U.S. sanctions to stop – was visiting Tehran on a peacemaking mission, bringing a message from Trump.

Iran dismissed Trump’s message, details of which were not made public.

“I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him, now or in future,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said.

Washington has also blamed Iran or its proxies for attacks on May 12 that crippled four oil tankers in the same area, and has said Tehran was behind May 14 drone strikes on two Saudi oil-pumping stations. Tehran has denied all those charges.

The U.S. military said black-and-white footage it filmed from a U.S. aircraft showed Iran’s Guards on a patrol boat drawing up to the Kokuka Courageous and removing an unexploded limpet mine from its hull.

The Japanese-owned tanker, abandoned by its crew, was being towed to a port in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, after a Dutch firm said it had been appointed to salvage the ships.

The second tanker, the Front Altair, which was set ablaze by a blast, was still languishing at sea, although the fire that had charred the hull had been put out.

Iranian military fast-boats in the Gulf of Oman were preventing two privately owned tug boats from towing away the Front Altair, a U.S. official said on Friday.

China, the European Union and others have called for restraint from all sides. In a notable signal that close U.S. allies are wary of Washington’s position, Germany said the U.S. video was not enough to apportion blame for Thursday’s attack.

But British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt differed, saying no other state https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-attacks-britain/britain-blames-iran-for-attacks-on-tankers-in-gulf-of-oman-idUSL8N23L5EQ or non-state actor could have been responsible.

Last month Washington scrapped waivers that had allowed some countries to continue importing Iranian oil, effectively ordering all countries to blacklist Iran or face sanctions themselves.

Iran’s crude exports fell to about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in May, starving Iran’s economy of its main source of revenue.

Iran says it is still abiding by the terms of the nuclear deal, but cannot do so indefinitely unless it receives some of the economic benefits that were promised.

There have been conflicting accounts of the cause of Thursday’s blasts. An initial report that Kokuka Courageous was struck by a torpedo was dismissed by a source familiar with the issue. The owner of the tanker, which carried methanol, later said it was hit by two “flying objects”.

Iranian TV showed 23 crew in Iran believed to be from Front Altair on Friday, and said its experts would assess whether they could return to the ship. The crew from Kokuka Courageous were picked up and handed to a U.S. Navy ship on Thursday.

Position of tankers attacked in Gulf of Oman – https://tmsnrt.rs/2XR9D76

(Reporting by Parisa Hafez, Maher Chmaytelli and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, Makini Brice, Susan Heavey, Phil Stewart and Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Bart Meijer in Amsterdam; Victoria Klesty in Oslo and Jonathan Saul in London; Writing by Peter Graff and Alistair Bell; Editing by James Dalgleish and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

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(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 33 pages of records from the Department of Justice showing that former senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr in his January 2018 preparation to testify to the Senate and House intelligence committees wrote to a lawyer about “possible ethics concerns.” Bruce Ohr forwarded the email to his wife Nellie Ohr, who had been hired by Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign-Democratic National Committee vendor who compiled the anti-Trump Dossier.

Judicial Watch obtained the records through its August 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Justice Department after it failed to respond to a May 29, 2018, FOIA request  (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice(No. 1:18-cv-01854)). Judicial Watch seeks:

All records from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

All records from the office of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher 

Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

All records from the office of the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force relating to Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr and/or British national Christopher Steele, including but not limited to all records of communications (including those of former Organized Crime Task Force Director Bruce Ohr) about and with Fusion GPS officials, Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele.

On January 3, 2018, Bruce Ohr emails Justice Department ethics lawyer Cynthia Shaw, advising her that the Senate and House intelligence committees had requested to interview him about investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. He notes that a number of press reports had come out about his “alleged” connections to Christopher Steele. He asks her a question that is largely redacted but seeks information about “possible ethics concerns.” He forwards this email to his wife Nellie:

Cynthia –

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this morning. As requested, here is a short description of my question:

As you may have heard, the Senate intelligence committee and House intelligence committee requested to interview me in connection with their investigations of possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Shortly after receiving the Senate request, a series of stories broke in the press about my alleged connections to Chris Steele, the author of the so-called Trump dossier. [Redacted]

My question has to do with [redacted]. Are there any guidelines for [redacted] in order to satisfy any possible ethics concerns?

Shaw’s response is largely redacted:

Hi Bruce,

Can you obtain [redacted]

Thanks,

Cindy

The new documents also reveal a close relationship between Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr and DOJ Russia experts Lisa Holtyn, Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich.

On May 11, 2016, Nellie Ohr received an email invitation to attend a Hudson Institute “Kleptocracy Archive Launch.” Notably, Fusion GPS principal Glenn Simpson, listed as “a Senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center” who “now works frequently on Russian corporate crime and criminal organizations,” was to be a panelist. Nellie forwarded the invitation on to top Bruce Ohr aide Lisa Holtyn and husband/wife DOJ lawyers Joseph Wheatley and Ivana Nizich. Holtyn, Wheatley, and Nizich all worked for the DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which investigated Russian cartels and other Russian syndicated crime matters.

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Source: The Washington Pundit

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A House Judiciary subcommittee will hold hearings on reparations next Wednesday, marking the first time in more than a decade that the House will discuss potentially compensating the descendants of slaves.

“The Case for Reparations” author Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover are reportedly set to testify before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and the hearing’s stated purpose will be “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice,” according to a Thursday Associated Press report.

The June 19 hearing also “coincides with Juneteenth, a cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved blacks in America.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who sits on the subcommittee, again introduced H.R. 40 earlier this year to create a reparations commission. Jackson Lee said her bill would create a commission “to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans, resulting directly and indirectly from slavery to segregation to the desegregation process and the present day.” She added in January that the “commission would also make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long delayed process of atonement for slavery.”

“The impact of slavery and its vestiges continues to effect African Americans and indeed all Americans in communities throughout our nation,” Jackson Lee said.

“This legislation is intended to examine the institution of slavery in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present, and further recommend appropriate remedies. Since the initial introduction of this legislation, its proponents have made substantial progress in elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice at the national level and joining the mainstream international debate on the issues. Though some have tried to deflect the importance of these conversations by focusing on individual monetary compensation, the real issue is whether and how this nation can come to grips with the legacy of slavery that still infects current society. Through legislation, resolutions, news, and litigation, we are moving closer to making more strides in the movement toward reparations.”

Jackson Lee argued that despite the progress of African-Americans in the private sector, education, and the government in addition to “the election of the first American President of African descent, the legacy of slavery lingers heavily in this nation.”

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Source: The Washington Pundit

The missile missed the drone and fell into the water, the official said.
Prior to taking fire, the American MQ-9 drone observed Iranian vessels closing in on the tankers, the official added, though the source did not say whether the unmanned aircraft saw the boats conducting an actual attack.
Trump raises stakes on Gulf tanker attacks -- for himself and Iran
Still, it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack.
CNN has not seen any imagery from the US drones.
Iran has strenuously denied any involvement in the attack.
The same official also said in the days prior to the attack, a US reaper drone was shot down in the Red Sea by what is believed to be an Iranian missile fired by Houthi rebels.
The Pentagon had tough words for Iran on Friday as the US continues to assert its claim that Tehran was responsible for the attack on the two oil tankers in international waters after releasing video footage its says shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the vessels’ hulls.
“We’re making sure that General McKenzie and the central command has the resources and the support that they need to conduct their missions,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said, adding that the US continues to work on building an international consensus that Iran was behind the attack.

Trump says Iran ‘did do it’

The United Kingdom released a statement Friday saying it is “almost certain” that a branch of the Iranian military — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — attacked two tankers.
The IRGC is an elite wing of the Iranian military that was established in the aftermath of the country’s revolution in 1979. In April 2019, the US officially designated it as a foreign terrorist organization, a move which was rejected by authorities in Tehran.
No other state or non-state actor “could plausibly have been responsible,” the statement added.
But Iran does not appear to be backing off and continues to engage in provocative behavior, according to a US official who told CNN on Friday that Iranian small boats are preventing tug boats from towing away one of the damaged tankers.
President Donald Trump seems convinced that Tehran was responsible.
With Iran, sometimes the logical explanation is the correct one
“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” he said, appearing to refer to the images and video released by the Pentagon late Thursday.
In the video, a smaller boat is shown coming up to the side of the Japanese-owned tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and can be seen removing an object from the tanker’s hull. The US says that object is likely an unexploded mine.
A senior diplomatic source of a US ally told CNN Friday, “It is a virtual certainty Iran was behind this latest attack. The video now nails it.”
The source added that the goal of the response from the US government thus far is all about publicly exposing Iranian actions and intensifying maximum pressure.
After the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, it adopted a policy of maximum economic pressure and sent a carrier group to the region, the source said this “Iranian retaliation is designed to show they can disrupt, and push oil prices up.”
The Trump administration predicted that the pressure from the United States would bring Iran to the negotiating table, but European leaders disagreed, believing it would empower the hardliners, the source continued.

Iran denies involvement

Iran has denied any involvement in the incident, with its foreign minister suggesting that the US was quick to make allegations “without a shred of evidence.”
The attack could provide more fodder for Iran hawks within the US administration, whose recent Iran saber-rattling has frustrated Trump. One of them, national security adviser John Bolton, announced last month that the Pentagon was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to a “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran.
The two tankers — one carrying oil and the other transporting chemicals — were attacked near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route that has been the focal point of regional tensions for decades. Roughly 30% of the world’s sea-borne crude oil passes through the strategic choke point, making it a flashpoint for political and economic friction.
Jonathan Cohen, acting US ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday that he echoed Pompeo’s comments in a private meeting of the UN Security Council, describing the attack as “another example of Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”
The Iranian mission to the UN rejected the US’ claim.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission, tweeted a statement saying Iran “categorically rejects the US unfounded claim” that Iran is behind the attacks and “condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”
He added that Iran “expresses concern” over the “suspicious incidents.” And he called it “ironic” that the US, which withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is now calling Iran to come back for negotiations and diplomacy.
This story and headline have been updated.

WASHINGTON — To President Trump, the question of culpability in the explosions that crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is no question at all. “It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” he declared on Friday.

The question is whether the writing is clear to everyone else. For any president, accusing another country of an act of war presents an enormous challenge to overcome skepticism at home and abroad. But for a president known for falsehoods and crisis-churning bombast, the test of credibility appears far more daunting.

For two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump has spun out so many misleading or untrue statements about himself, his enemies, his policies, his politics, his family, his personal story, his finances and his interactions with staff that even his own former communications director once said “he’s a liar” and many Americans long ago concluded that he cannot be trusted.

Fact-checking Mr. Trump is a full-time occupation in Washington, and in no other circumstance is faith in a president’s word as vital as in matters of war and peace. The public grew cynical about presidents and intelligence after George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq based on false accusations of weapons of mass destruction, and the doubt spilled over to Barack Obama when he accused Syria of gassing its own people. As Mr. Trump confronts Iran, he carries the burden of their history and his own.

“The problem is twofold for them,” said John E. McLaughlin, a deputy C.I.A. director during the Iraq war. “One is people will always rightly question intelligence because it’s not an exact science. But the most important problem for them is their own credibility and contradictions.”

The task is all the more formidable for Mr. Trump, who himself has assailed the reliability of America’s intelligence agencies and even the intelligence chiefs he appointed, suggesting they could not be believed when their conclusions have not fit his worldview.

At one point shortly before taking the oath of office, he compared intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany and ever since has cast doubt on their findings about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. This year, he repudiated his intelligence chiefs for their assessments of issues like Iran, declaring that “they are wrong” and “should go back to school.” And just this week, he rebuked the C.I.A. for using a brother of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as an informant, saying, “I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”

All of that can raise questions when international tension flares up, like the explosion of the two oil tankers on Thursday, a provocation that fueled anxiety about the world’s most important oil shipping route and the prospect of escalation into military conflict. When Mr. Trump told Fox News on Friday that “Iran did do it,” he was asking his country to accept his word.

“Trump’s credibility is about as solid as a snake oil salesman,” said Jen Psaki, who was the White House communications director and top State Department spokeswoman under Mr. Obama. “That may work for selling his particular brand to his political base, but during serious times, it leaves him without a wealth of good will and trust from the public that what he is saying is true even on an issue as serious as Iran’s complicity in the tanker explosions.”

White House officials declined to discuss the president’s credibility on the record on Friday, but a senior administration official who asked not to be identified said Mr. Trump was not hyping a threat to justify a war. If anything, Mr. Trump has made clear since becoming a presidential candidate that he did not favor the sort of military interventionism that characterized Mr. Bush’s presidency and, to a lesser extent, even Mr. Obama’s at times.

Indeed, in his telephone interview on Friday with Fox News, Mr. Trump offered a measured response, avoiding any kinds of threats or discussion of military action. While he condemned the Iranians, he has pointedly not publicly floated the possibility of retaliation, and, in fact, he once again said he was open to talks with Tehran. “I’m ready when they are,” he said.

Image
An oil tanker that was attacked this week.CreditISNA, via Reuters

Still, Mr. Trump’s strained relationship with the truth has been a defining feature of his presidency. As of June 7, The Washington Post’s fact-checker had counted 10,796 false or misleading claims since he took office.

The president dismisses that as so much “fake news” by journalists who are “enemies of the people.” Just this week, he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he was the truthteller, not reporters. “I like the truth,” Mr. Trump said. “You know, I’m actually a very honest guy.”

But it has taken a toll on his credibility with the public. A Quinnipiac University poll last month found that only 35 percent of Americans trust Mr. Trump to tell the truth about important issues versus 52 percent who trusted the news media more.

When it came to this week’s oil tanker explosions, Mr. Trump at first left it to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to point the finger at Iran and he followed up a day later. To bolster the case, the United States military released video footage that American officers said showed an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat pulling alongside one of the stricken ships several hours after the first explosion and removing an unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight. That mine is what Mr. Trump said had “Iran written all over it.”

Iran has denied responsibility and suggested that the episode was a “false flag” operation by the United States to frame it and justify aggression. But Iran has its own credibility issues, and even Mr. Trump’s critics were generally not rushing to accept Tehran’s word.

“Look, it could very well have been the Iranians,” said Trita Parsi, a scholar at Georgetown University and the founder of the National Iranian American Council. “I don’t think anyone can say they’re innocent.”

But Mr. Trump’s “relationship with the truth” is so suspect, he said, it argues for stepping back and not drawing conclusions until there is more evidence. “With this president, with the country already so divided, even those who support him may not be totally confident that everything he’s saying is truthful,” said Mr. Parsi, the author of “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy.”

Even supporters of Mr. Trump’s tougher approach to Iran acknowledge the credibility challenge. Mark Wallace, the executive director of United Against Nuclear Iran and a strong critic of Mr. Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran that Mr. Trump has since renounced, said the government needs to rely on its career professionals to inform the public about Tehran’s activities.

“The one way of doing that is place the burden of persuasion and validating the facts on the military and intelligence community that at least is more immune to the politically charged atmosphere that we live in,” said Mr. Wallace, who was a diplomat at the United Nations under Mr. Bush. “With Iran, I’ve been surprised actually that it’s been relatively depoliticized.”

Much of the distrust traces back to Mr. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction that he and intelligence agencies assured the public were there. Mr. McLaughlin acknowledged the damage that did to the public standing of the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.

But he said the intelligence community has reformed itself since then. “There really has been an enormous effort to take stock of that and use that,” he said. “And intelligence has been right about an awful lot since then.”

“The problem with intelligence is it’s always contentious, it’s always arguable,” Mr. McLaughlin added. “But at some point you have to settle on a bottom line and he often doesn’t believe in a bottom line on intelligence. So how do you believe what he says?”

As he reflected on the moment, he added, “It’s a pretty dangerous situation I think.”

President Trump said Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was critical of his tariffs and immigration policies because it doesn’t represent the interests of the country.

“We lose a fortune with virtually every country. They take advantage of us in every way possible and the U.S. Chamber is right there with them,” Trump told CNBC. “I assume — I am a member with the U.S. Chamber. Maybe I’ll have to rethink that. Because, when you look at it, the chamber is probably more for the companies and the people that are members than the country.”

The Chamber of Commerce favors free trade policies and has been a regular critic of Trump’s tariffs. Late last month, it threatened to take Trump to court over whether he could impose new tariffs against Mexico to force it to curb immigration.

The White House and Mexico reached a deal to avoid the tariffs late Friday. The chamber welcomed the deal, but on Monday Myron Brilliant, the trade association’s executive vice president and head of international affairs, told CNBC that the “weaponization of tariffs” was a bad idea.

“The increase of threats on our economy, on our farmers, our manufacturers, our consumers, is going to hurt our country. It also creates uncertainty with our trading partners,” he said.

According to CNBC, Trump called in to the show unexpectedly in response to his comments. “I guess he is not so brilliant,” Trump said.

Some American embassies chose to decorate their facilities with rainbow-colored items ahead of this weekend, despite the Trump administration’s refusal to allow embassies to hang LGBT flags on official flag poles.

The U.S. embassy in New Delhi changed its cover photo to an image of rainbow lights on the building, though it’s not clear if the picture was taken at the embassy this year or a previous one.

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 11.15.58 AM.png

The U.S. Consulate General Chennai in India held a ceremony and flag-raising ceremony May 31.

The U.S. embassy in Seoul, South Korea, posted a large pride flag on the front of the building in late May, ahead of what is known as “Pride Month” in June. The flag was larger and hanging higher than the U.S. flag hanging out front, which would have violated the standards held by former President Barack Obama’s State Department.

The U.S. embassy in Santiago, Chile, raised a flag on May 17 in honor of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The American embassy in Austria, Vienna, also raised a flag in mid-May, though it remains unclear if those flags are still up as of June 8.

Representatives from embassies in Brazil, Germany, Israel, and Latvia had requested permission to show support for the LGBT community, but were denied.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has said he believes marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, was in his post during June last year, though it’s not clear what protocols the administration set into place at the time.

Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his April 2018 hearing he did not support marriage between two people of the same sex.

“When I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry,” Pompeo said at the time. “I stand by that.”

“So do you not believe it is appropriate for two gay people to marry?” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked.

“Senator, I continue to hold that view,” Pompeo said.

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Liberal new outlets The Daily Beast, New York Post and several others were fact checked on a fake news story they promoted, that made Eric Trump & Don Trump Jr. look like they skipped out on a tab at a pub during their recent trip to Ireland.

While visiting the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland, the brothers went on a pub crawl and landed in The Igoe Inn Bar and Restaurant. The bar is a local haunt that’s been open for over thirty years.

There, they were greeted by locals and given a picture of Doonbeg’s castles. They were also invited to pour a few ales for the patrons.

Bar owner Caroline Kennedy told The Irish Mirror.

“They were so lovely and down to earth and gave a great hello to everyone,”

“I said, ‘Come on lads, you have to come in and pull a drink,’ so they did.”

A video from the Irish pub shows Eric Trump speaking to the crowd and the brothers opening a tab for the entire pub.

As with most positive news stories about the Trump family, the Trump-hating mainstream media decided to run a false narrative about the event. And of course, the news flooded the internet.

After the Trump sons walked away without immediately paying the tab Kennedy reportedly joked that the Trumps didn’t carry any cash on them. But bar had been given a purchase order number from the golf course to cover the bill. Of course, by then the left-wing media had gone crazy and totally blown the incident out of proportion.

But the Igoe came to the brother’s defense in a post on their Facebook page.

Media outlets also suggested that the Trump family had gone to Ireland just to promote their golf course. They reported that the trip was costing taxpayers millions of dollars. However, the Trump brothers paid their own way for the trip.

Image Credit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Source: The Washington Pundit

Moldovan President Dodon visits a polling station during a parliamentary election in Chisinau
Moldovan President Igor Dodon addresses the media as he visits a polling station during a parliamentary election in Chisinau, Moldova February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Vladislav Culiomza

June 9, 2019

By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU (Reuters) – A Moldovan court temporarily relieved President Igor Dodon of his duties on Sunday to allow a stand-in to call a snap election, deepening a standoff between rival political parties over the formation of a new government after months of deadlock.

Dodon’s replacement, former prime minister Pavel Filip, immediately announced a snap election for September, while thousands of supporters of Filip’s party rallied in the capital, Chisinau.

The crisis threatens more instability in one of Europe’s smallest and poorest nations of 3.5 million people, where entrenched corruption and low living standards have pushed many citizens to emigrate to Russia or wealthier European countries.

Dodon’s Russian-backed Socialist party had on Saturday announced it was forming a coalition government with the pro-European Union ACUM bloc, an unlikely alliance designed to keep a party run by tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc out of power.

Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party of Moldova said the new administration had tried to usurp power at Russia’s behest, criticizing Dodon’s refusal to dissolve parliament after parties missed a court-mandated June 7 deadline to form a government.

More than 10,000 of Plahotniuc and Filip’s party supporters held a protest, calling Dodon a “traitor” and demanding his resignation.

Dodon said the court was not politically independent and accused the Democrats of trying to cling to power. He called on the international community to step in.

“Moldovan citizens with different views on domestic and foreign policy can unite for the sake of a common goal: liberation of the Republic of Moldova from the criminal, dictatorial regime,” Dodon said in a statement.

“We have no choice but to appeal to the international community to mediate in the process of a peaceful transfer of power and/or to call on the people of Moldova for an unprecedented mobilization and peaceful protests.”

The court appointed Filip as interim president to allow him to sign a decree for an election. Filip said Dodon had not fulfilled his duties by failing to dissolve parliament, and called it an attempt to stage a “coup”.

Amid signs of trouble brewing on Saturday, the EU’s spokeswoman called for “calm and restraint”, and for Moldova to respect the rule of law and democracy. Russia urged parties to avoid destabilization.

ACUM leader Maia Sandu, a former education minister and World Bank adviser, had been appointed prime minister on Saturday. But a court struck down her appointment and that of a Socialist party-nominated parliament speaker.

Plahotniuc’s party supporters pitched tents in front of ministries and state institutions on Saturday night.

“The tents pitched yesterday are proof that the Democratic Party wants to use law enforcement bodies to throw the country into chaos to protect a single person – Plahotniuc,” Sandu said in parliament on Sunday.

“They do not want to ensure the peaceful transition of power. The orders given now by Plahotniuc are illegal,” she said.

POLITICALLY DIVIDED

Moldova has been dogged by political instability and corruption, especially since a scandal known as the “theft of the century” emerged in 2014-2015 in which $1 billion, around an eighth of its economic output, was pilfered from three banks.

The tiny ex-Soviet republic is squeezed between Ukraine and EU member Romania. Politically divided, some of its voters favor closer ties with the EU or even reunification with Romania, while others prefer closer ties to Russia.

The EU forged a deal on closer trade and political ties with Moldova in 2014 and showered it with aid but has become increasingly critical of Chisinau’s track record on reforms.

An election in February produced a hung parliament and set the stage for months of coalition negotiations.

On Saturday the deputy chief of the Democratic Party, Andrian Candu, told Reuters that Dodon, the former Socialist party head, had approached the Democrats with a coalition offer on terms set by Moscow.

The coalition terms included implementing a longstanding plan to turn Moldova into a federal state that would give special recognition to the separatist region of Transdniestria, which wants to merge with Russia.

Opponents of such a plan say it would give Transdniestria, and by extension Russia, an outsize say in how Moldova is run.

Dodon has said the idea to federalize Moldova had come from Plahotniuc, which the latter had offered Moscow in exchange for Russian criminal cases against him being dropped. A Russian statement also said the idea had come from Plahotniuc.

(Writing by Matthias Williams; editing by Dale Hudson)

Source: OANN


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