AP sources: Former CIA chief Brennan to brief Dems on Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats will hear from former CIA director John Brennan about the situation in Iran, inviting him to speak next week amid heightened concerns over the Trump administration’s sudden moves in the region.
Brennan, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, is scheduled to talk to House Democrats at a private weekly caucus meeting Tuesday, according to a Democratic aide and another person familiar with the private meeting. Both were granted anonymity to discuss the meeting.
The invitation to Brennan and Wendy Sherman, the former State Department official and top negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal, offers counterprogramming to the Trump administration’s closed-door briefing for lawmakers also planned for Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Democratic lawmakers are likely to attend both sessions.
The Trump administration recently sent an aircraft carrier and other military resources to the Persian Gulf region, and withdrew nonessential personnel from Iraq, raising alarm among Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill over the possibility of a confrontation with Iran.
Trump in recent days downplayed any potential for conflict. But questions remain about what prompted the actions and many lawmakers have demanded more information.
Biden rejects Democrats’ anger in call for national unity
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — His party may be enraged by Donald Trump’s presidency, but Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden insisted Saturday that Democrats will not defeat the Republican president if they pick an angry nominee.
Facing thousands of voters in his native Pennsylvania for the second time as a 2020 contender, the former vice-president offered a call for bipartisan unity that seemed far more aimed at a general election audience than the fiery Democratic activists most active in the presidential primary process. He acknowledged, however, that some believe Democrats should nominate a candidate who can tap into their party’s anti-Trump anger.
“That’s what they are saying you have to do to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don’t believe it,” Biden declared. “I believe Democrats want to unify this nation. That’s what the party’s always been about. That’s what it’s always been about. Unity.”
Biden’s moderate message highlights his chief advantage and chief liability in the early days of the nascent presidential contest, which has so far been defined by fierce resistance to Trump on the left and equally aggressive vitriol on the right. Biden’s centrist approach may help him win over independents, but it threatens to alienate liberals who favour a more aggressive approach in policy and personality to counter Trump’s turbulent presidency.
“I want aggressive change. I’m not hearing that from him yet,” said 45-year-old Jennifer Moyer of Blandon, Pennsylvania, who attended Biden’s rally and said she’s 90% sold on his candidacy. “I don’t want middle of the road.”
US: Iran military could misidentify airliners amid tension
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Commercial airliners flying over the Persian Gulf risk being targeted by “miscalculation or misidentification” from the Iranian military amid heightened tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S., American diplomats warned Saturday, even as both Washington and Tehran say they don’t seek war.
The warning relayed by U.S. diplomatic posts from the Federal Aviation Administration, though dismissed by Iran, underscored the risks the current tensions pose to a region critical to both global air travel and trade. Oil tankers allegedly have faced sabotage and Yemen rebel drones attacked a crucial Saudi oil pipeline over the last week.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Iraqi officials said ExxonMobil Corp. began evacuating staff from Basra, and the island nation of Bahrain ordered its citizens out of Iraq and Iran over “the recent escalations and threats.”
However, U.S. officials have yet to publicly explain the threats they perceive coming from Iran, some two weeks after the White House ordered an aircraft carrier and B-52s bombers into the region. The U.S. also has ordered nonessential staff out of its diplomatic posts in Iraq.
President Donald Trump since has sought to soften his tone on Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also stressed Saturday that Iran is “not seeking war,” comments seemingly contradicted by the head of the Revolutionary Guard, who declared an ongoing “intelligence war” between the nations.
Female lawmakers speak about rapes as abortion bills advance
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For more than two decades, Nancy Mace did not speak publicly about her rape. In April, when she finally broke her silence, she chose the most public of forums — before her colleagues in South Carolina’s legislature.
A bill was being debated that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected; Mace, a Republican lawmaker, wanted to add an exception for rape and incest. When some of her colleagues in the House dismissed her amendment — some women invent rapes to justify seeking an abortion, they claimed — she could not restrain herself.
“For some of us who have been raped, it can take 25 years to get up the courage and talk about being a victim of rape,” Mace said, gripping the lectern so hard she thought she might pull it up from the floor. “My mother and my best friend in high school were the only two people who knew.”
As one Republican legislature after another has pressed ahead with restrictive abortion bills in recent months, they have been confronted with raw and emotional testimony about the consequences of such laws. Female lawmakers and other women have stepped forward to tell searing, personal stories — in some cases speaking about attacks for the first time to anyone but a loved one or their closest friend.
Mace is against abortion in most cases and supported the fetal heartbeat bill as long as it contained the exception for rape and incest. She said her decision to reveal an attack that has haunted her for so long was intended to help male lawmakers understand the experience of those victims.
Illinois not alerted to early clues in womb-cutting case
CHICAGO (AP) — Police and Illinois’ child welfare agency say staff at a Chicago-area hospital didn’t alert them after determining that a bloodied woman who arrived with a gravely ill newborn had not just given birth to the baby boy, as she claimed.
The woman, Clarisa Figueroa, was charged more than three weeks later with killing the baby’s mother , Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, after police found her body outside Figueoa’s home. Chicago police say she cut Ochoa-Lopez’s baby out of her womb on April 23, then called 911 to report she had given birth to a baby who wasn’t breathing. Paramedics took Figueroa and the baby to Advocate Christ Medical Center in suburban Oak Lawn.
Ochoa-Lopez’s family spent those weeks searching for her and holding press conferences pleading for help finding her, unaware the child was in a neonatal intensive care unit on life support.
The baby remained hospitalized on life support on Saturday, according to authorities.
Prosecutors say that when Figueroa was brought with the baby to the hospital, she had blood on her upper body and her face, which a hospital employee cleaned off. They also say Figueroa, 46, was examined at the hospital and showed no physical signs of childbirth.
War of Will wins Preakness featuring riderless running horse
BALTIMORE (AP) — Mark Casse completed a lifelong quest two weeks after the scare of a lifetime. And he did so in a race featuring a riderless horse that threw his jockey out of the gate and kept running.
Since he was a child, Casse wanted to win a Triple Crown race, and the well-respected trainer got that victory when War of Will bounced back from a bumpy ride in the Kentucky Derby to win the Preakness on Saturday.
Casse, 58, was more relieved than anything that his prized 3-year-old colt didn’t go down in the Derby, which could’ve been a multihorse catastrophe, and could finally take a deep breath following the Preakness.
“This is even I think probably more special given everything that we’ve been through,” Casse said. “I’m not even calling it redemption. I didn’t feel like he got his fair shot, and that’s all I wanted — a fair shot. And he showed what he had today.”
War of Will was unfazed starting from the inside No. 1 post position for the second consecutive race, even though that contributed to his rough run at Churchill Downs. Rising star jockey Tyler Gaffalione guided the horse along the rail in the Preakness and made a move into the lead around the final curve, holding off hard-charging late addition Everfast, who was a nose ahead of Owendale for second.
Australia’s conservative coalition wins surprise 3rd term
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s ruling conservative coalition won a surprise victory in the country’s general election on Saturday, defying opinion polls that had tipped the centre-left opposition party to oust it from power and promising an end to the revolving door of national leaders.
“I have always believed in miracles,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a jubilant Sydney crowd.
He compared his Liberal Party’s victory for a third three-year term to the births of his daughters, Abbey, 11, and Lily, 9, who were conceived naturally after 14 years of in vitro fertilization had failed. His wife, Jenny Morrison, suffered endometriosis.
“I’m standing with the three biggest miracles in my life here tonight, and tonight we’ve been delivered another one,” he said, embraced by his wife and daughters.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten had earlier conceded defeat as the coalition came close to a majority in the 151-seat House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government. Vote counting was to continue on Sunday.
The Netherlands wins Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The Netherlands won the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv Saturday, with Duncan Laurence’s doleful piano ballad “Arcade” crowned champion of Europe’s annual music extravaganza.
The 25-year-old was tapped as an early front-runner before the Grand Final but was only ranked third after the vote of professional juries from the 41 participating countries, trailing Sweden and North Macedonia. He surged ahead thanks to the fan vote, securing The Netherlands its fifth win ever in the competition. Italy finished second, followed by Russia, Switzerland and Norway.
“This is to dreaming big. This is to music first, always,” Laurence said, as he was handed the trophy from last year’s winner, Israel’s Netta Barzilai.
Some 200 million people around the world were believed to have watched the annual campy contest with 26 nations battling in the Grand Final of the 64th Eurovision.
Madonna was the star attraction, performing her hit staple, “Like a Prayer,” marking 30 years since its release, and a new song “Future” from her forthcoming album “Madame X.” She took the stage after participants wrapped up their performances shortly after midnight when the elaborate voting process got underway across Europe.
Tornadoes rake Southern Plains; more severe weather expected
DALLAS (AP) — A spate of tornadoes raked across the Southern Plains, leaving damage and causing few injuries, and parts of the region were bracing for more severe thunderstorms and possible flooding.
The National Weather Service confirmed an EF2 twister Saturday morning with winds up to 130 mph (209 kph) that destroyed at least two homes and left one person with minor injuries in southwestern Oklahoma.
A suspected tornado caused roof damage to “numerous” homes in northwestern Arkansas, a state official said, and severe winds downed trees and power lines across a highway, blocking all lanes.
Energy companies in Oklahoma and Arkansas reported tens of thousands of customers were without power Saturday afternoon.
Tornadoes touched down Friday in Kansas and rural parts of Nebraska, tearing up trees and powerlines, and damaging some homes and farm buildings, according to the National Weather Service.
Police ID teen tackled after bringing gun to Oregon school
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police released the identity Saturday of an 18-year-old student who was tackled after reportedly bringing a gun into classroom at an Oregon high school.
Angel Granados Dias had been booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on suspicion of possessing a firearm in a public building, attempting to shoot a gun at a school and reckless endangerment, the Portland Police Bureau said.
He is a student at Parkrose High School, where he brought the shotgun Friday, authorities said. Witnesses told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he appeared distraught when he appeared at the door to their government class and pulled the weapon from beneath a long black trench coat, and that a football and track coach who also works security at the school, Keanon Lowe, tackled him before anyone got hurt. Lowe is a former football standout at the University of Oregon.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Granados Dias had a lawyer. He was being held on $500,000 bail and was scheduled to appear in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Monday. There were no other suspects.
In a letter to families Friday evening, Parkrose School District Superintendent Michael Lopes Serrao said two students had informed a staff member of “concerning behaviour” by the student who brought the gun. Security staff then responded, found him and quickly disarmed him, he said.
The Associated Press
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