Author: Fworld

US Military Says it Conducts Successful Missile Defense Test

The U.S. military said it successfully tested a missile defense system to knock down an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile class target on Monday, demonstrating its ability to defend against ICBMs from countries like North Korea.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said two ground-based interceptors were used in the test. One destroyed the re-entry vehicle, and the other “looked at the resulting debris and remaining objects, and, not finding any other re-entry vehicles, selected the next ‘most lethal object’ it could identify, and struck that,” it said.

The target was launched from a test site in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, more than 4,000 miles (6,400 km) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where the interceptors were launched, the agency said.

MDA Director Lieutenant General Sam Greaves called the test a “critical milestone.”

“The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” Greaves said.

North Korea in 2017 test-fired ICBMs designed to reach the U.S. mainland.

In January President Donald Trump unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy that called North Korea an ongoing and “extraordinary threat,” seven months after he declared the threat posed by Pyongyang had been eliminated.

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Beto O’Rourke’s Casual Style to be Tested by National Campaign

He doesn’t prepare speeches. He doesn’t like pollsters. And, so far at least, Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke doesn’t always have the capacity to coordinate basic campaign logistics.

Just ask Des Moines County Democratic Party Chairman Tom Courtney.

Last week, Courtney got an 8 p.m. text from the frantic owner of a local cafe who heard rumors that O’Rourke planned to hold a campaign event at her business the next day. But she hadn’t heard from O’Rourke’s team. When his representatives did reach out later that night, the cafe owner was left scrambling to find a half dozen additional employees with just hours of notice to work the event.

Almost a week later, Courtney is still incredulous.

“He’s a nice candidate, and I liked him,” Courtney said. “But if he does that kind of organization, he’s gonna piss everybody off.”

Welcome to Betomania, a nascent presidential campaign that’s still learning how to balance the 46-year-old Democrat’s freewheeling style with the demands of running a nationwide political organization.

O’Rourke attracted overflowing crowds, record fundraising and tremendous media buzz for his inaugural tour as he raced across Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada over the last week. He also irritated Democratic leaders at times with a seat-of-the-pants campaign approach that may ultimately raise questions about his ability to govern.

With little executive experience to speak of, the former three-term congressman’s 2020 presidential campaign – which is essentially a multimillion-dollar nationwide company that already features thousands of volunteers and dozens of paid staff – may represent the most significant leadership test of his life.

The former punk rocker employed an unconventional approach to his 2018 Senate campaign in Texas, nearly upsetting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz with a rebellious strategy that rejected pollsters, political consultants and scripted speeches. Advisers suggest O’Rourke will eventually be more open to such conventions in his 2020 presidential bid.

But in sharp contrast to the Democratic Party’s last presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, who lost the presidency in part because of her inability to connect with voters in an authentic way, O’Rourke’s campaign is focused on a stripped-down presidential playbook that features little more than a rented van and a microphone.

His team insists that early bumps are the natural byproduct of a candidate who genuinely didn’t decide he was running until a week or two before his March 14 announcement.

“I’m not someone who’s been running for president for my life or for years,” O’Rourke said as he barnstormed through South Carolina over the weekend. “I’ve been thinking about it in a serious way for a couple of months and have been a declared candidate for 7 days, so I understand that that can pose some challenges.”

Indeed, many top-tier candidates in the crowded 2020 presidential field have spent much of the last year – or longer – building shadow campaigns of prospective staff, donors and volunteers to allow them to ramp up their presidential operation quickly. O’Rourke had never stepped foot in Iowa before launching his presidential campaign.

Aides report that he considers his wife, Amy, his most trusted adviser. But O’Rourke took a big step toward professionalizing his operation on Monday, 11 days after announcing his candidacy, by naming veteran Democratic strategist Jen O’Malley Dillon to serve as his campaign manager. She has experience on five previous presidential campaigns, most recently serving as deputy campaign manager to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election. 

O’Rourke’s skeleton crew moved into his El Paso, Texas, campaign headquarters on the Monday before his Thursday announcement, advisers said. Most of the current 24 paid staff were hired on a one-month temporary employment agreement to start. O’Rourke’s former congressional chief of staff, David Wysong, who has no presidential campaign experience, is currently directing campaign operations.

Advisers note that the campaign is still relying heavily on its network of volunteers across the country but has received more than 6,000 applications for paid staff positions.

​Despite the challenges, O’Rourke’s campaign has attracted a flood of cash and positive media attention in the early days of his presidential bid.

He raised $6.1 million from more than 128,000 individual donors in the first 24 hours after announcing his candidacy, a figure that bested Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ $6 million and the $1.5 million raised by the next closest first-day fundraising leader, California Sen. Kamala Harris. And in the days leading up to his announcement, O’Rourke was featured prominently in media coverage, including large spreads in Vanity Fair, The Washington Post and a documentary film that debuted at the SXSW film festival.

The documentary made it clear that the candidate seeks to use the media to his advantage. Scenes showed him talking to advisers about trying to bait certain reporters into favorable coverage while complaining about having to “dance” for national outlets. In El Paso, O’Rourke critics have complained about him using the city as a prop for East Coast newspaper reporters.

Amid the success on some fronts, the inexperience is showing elsewhere on the ground in key states.

On the night before O’Rourke’s highly publicized arrival in New Hampshire, state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley didn’t have any details about when or where to see him. House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, one of the state’s top elected Democrats, spoke with O’Rourke on the phone but could not arrange a time to meet in person.

Some people find O’Rourke’s “quirky campaign” endearing, Shurtleff said, although tracking him down can be difficult.

“It’s almost like ‘Where’s Waldo.’ Where’s he going to pop up next?” Shurtleff asked. “It’s hard for some people to plan.”

Others notice that O’Rourke’s team was taking unusual routes from event to event, which strained his schedule and prompted jokes about unnecessary travel on bumpy backroads.

“I looked at his New Hampshire schedule and said, ‘Here’s a man who doesn’t know New Hampshire,”’ said Susan Chandler a 72-year-old retired assistant principal who attended one of O’Rourke’s 11 events in the state over two days last week.

That may be the point.

O’Rourke and his team don’t yet know the states that matter most on the presidential primary calendar. He says his unorthodox approach on the campaign trail will help him connect with voters of all walks of life – especially in areas he doesn’t know. For now, he’s largely depending on an inexperienced staff and a huge collection of energized but inexperienced volunteers to guide him.

His campaign, he said in South Carolina, “is all about people and about all people.”

“I don’t care how red or rural, blue or urban the community is. Everyone in this country is important, and we want to bring forward and not leave behind a single soul in this country,” O’Rourke said. “And that’s not just how I want to serve as president. That’s how I want to campaign as a candidate.”

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Pompeo Condemns Rise of anti-Semitism, Blasts Britain’s Labour Party

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday condemned the rise of anti-Semitism as a “cancer metastasizing” in the Middle East, Europe and in the United States, where he said the Trump administration would vigorously oppose it.

In a speech to a major pro-Israel U.S. lobby group in Washington, Pompeo accused Britain’s opposition Labour Party of tolerating anti-Semitism, calling it a “national disgrace.”

He said attacks against Jews were increasing in France and Germany and  hate crimes against Jews in the United States were up by one third in 2017. He slammed the “multiple attacks” on the Orthodox Jewish community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, Pompeo said anti-Zionism – opposition to the existence of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people – was a form of anti-Semitism that was on the rise.

“The Trump administration opposes it unequivocally and we will fight it relentlessly,” he said, “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

Earlier on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights in a boost for Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu, who faces an election on April 9.

Some political analysts say that Republicans hope support for Israel will attract Jewish voters and note Republicans in Congress were outspoken in condemning comments by Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar that some viewed as anti-Semitic.

At the same time, critics have credited Trump’s confrontational, nationalistic rhetoric with encouraging right-wing extremists and feeding a surge in activity by hate groups in the United States. The administration has flatly rejected that charge.

After a counter-protester was killed in 2017 at a white supremacist rally in Virginia where demonstrators chanted “Jews will not replace us,” Trump said there was blame on “both sides.”

In Britain, Labour has been battling accusations of anti-Semitism for over two years. Nine lawmakers have quit the party, citing the leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism in the ranks as well as its Brexit stance as their reason for leaving.

In France, home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, anti-Semitic attacks increased 74 percent in 2018 to 500, according to figures released in February.

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Nike fined $14 Million for Blocking Cross-border Sales of Soccer Merchandise

U.S. sportswear maker Nike was hit with a 12.5 million euro ($14.14 million) fine on Monday for blocking cross-border sales of soccer merchandise of some of Europe’s best-known clubs, the latest EU sanction against such restrictions.

The European Commission said Nike’s illegal practices occurred between 2004 to 2017 and related to licensed merchandise for FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Roma and the French Football Federation.

The European Union case focused on Nike’s role as a licensor for making and distributing licensed merchandise featuring a soccer club’s brands and not its own trademarks.

The sanction came after a two-year investigation triggered by a sector inquiry into e-commerce in the 28-country bloc. The EU wants to boost online trade and economic growth.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Nike’s actions deprived soccer fans in other countries of the opportunity to buy their clubs’ merchandise such as mugs, bags, bed sheets, stationery and toys.

“Nike prevented many of its licensees from selling these branded products in a different country leading to less choice and higher prices for consumers,” she said in a statement.

Nike’s practices included clauses in contracts prohibiting out-of-territory sales by licensees and threats to end agreements if licensees ignored the clauses. Its fine was cut by 40 percent after it cooperated with the EU enforcer.

($1 = 0.8839 euros)

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Nike fined $14 Million for Blocking Cross-border Sales of Soccer Merchandise

U.S. sportswear maker Nike was hit with a 12.5 million euro ($14.14 million) fine on Monday for blocking cross-border sales of soccer merchandise of some of Europe’s best-known clubs, the latest EU sanction against such restrictions.

The European Commission said Nike’s illegal practices occurred between 2004 to 2017 and related to licensed merchandise for FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Roma and the French Football Federation.

The European Union case focused on Nike’s role as a licensor for making and distributing licensed merchandise featuring a soccer club’s brands and not its own trademarks.

The sanction came after a two-year investigation triggered by a sector inquiry into e-commerce in the 28-country bloc. The EU wants to boost online trade and economic growth.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Nike’s actions deprived soccer fans in other countries of the opportunity to buy their clubs’ merchandise such as mugs, bags, bed sheets, stationery and toys.

“Nike prevented many of its licensees from selling these branded products in a different country leading to less choice and higher prices for consumers,” she said in a statement.

Nike’s practices included clauses in contracts prohibiting out-of-territory sales by licensees and threats to end agreements if licensees ignored the clauses. Its fine was cut by 40 percent after it cooperated with the EU enforcer.

($1 = 0.8839 euros)

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Kremlin, After Mueller Report, Says it’s Open to Better US Ties

Russia is ready to improve ties with the United States but it is up to Washington to make the first move, the Kremlin said on Monday after the conclusion of a U.S. investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Moscow in the 2016 election.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a summary released on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had found no evidence of collusion in his investigation, though had not determined whether Trump obstructed justice by undermining inquiries that have dogged his presidency.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the report on a conference call and said Russia had never interfered and did not plan to interfere in the United States or other countries’ internal affairs and elections.

“…It’s hard to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat,” Peskov told reporters.

U.S. intelligence agencies said shortly before Trump took office in January 2017 that Moscow meddled in the presidential election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States.

Commenting on the possibility of an improvement in ties with the United States after the conclusion of the Mueller report, Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had repeatedly stated he was open to shoring up relations.

“In this case, the ball is absolutely in their court. It was given to Trump in Helsinki,” Peskov said, referring to a summit between Putin and Trump in the Finnish capital in July 2018.

 

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Kremlin, After Mueller Report, Says it’s Open to Better US Ties

Russia is ready to improve ties with the United States but it is up to Washington to make the first move, the Kremlin said on Monday after the conclusion of a U.S. investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Moscow in the 2016 election.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a summary released on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had found no evidence of collusion in his investigation, though had not determined whether Trump obstructed justice by undermining inquiries that have dogged his presidency.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the report on a conference call and said Russia had never interfered and did not plan to interfere in the United States or other countries’ internal affairs and elections.

“…It’s hard to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat,” Peskov told reporters.

U.S. intelligence agencies said shortly before Trump took office in January 2017 that Moscow meddled in the presidential election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States.

Commenting on the possibility of an improvement in ties with the United States after the conclusion of the Mueller report, Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had repeatedly stated he was open to shoring up relations.

“In this case, the ball is absolutely in their court. It was given to Trump in Helsinki,” Peskov said, referring to a summit between Putin and Trump in the Finnish capital in July 2018.

 

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In 2018, at Least 50 US Deaths From Surging Right-Wing Extremist Attacks

The deadly mosque shootings in New Zealand last week by a gunman who promoted an anti-immigrant manifesto coincide with a surge in the incidents of right-wing extremist killings in the U.S. 

Last year, domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S., up from 37 murders in 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, which tracks such murders. The last five years have produced a higher number of extremist-related murders than any other five-year period since 1970, according to the ADL.

Mark Pitcavage, a senior fellow at the Center on Extremism, said that every one of the perpetrators of last year’s murders had ties to at least one right-wing movement.

The majority of the murders were committed by white supremacists, with a smaller number perpetrated by anti-government extremists and extreme misogynists who identify as “involuntary celibates” or incels, Pitcavage said.

While a few high-profile incidents such as the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers by white supremacist Robert Bowers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last October have been widely reported, others have received scant attention. 

Just two months before the synagogue shooting rampage, another man espousing white supremacist views, Joden Rocco, stabbed a 24-year-old black man outside a bar in Pittsburgh. In an Instagram video posted before the killing, Rocco said that he was trying to see how many times he could use a racial slur for African-Americans before getting kicked out of bars. 

“Every year there are a number of incidents like this where one person dies or sometimes two people die, but it was not something where there were mass casualties … or attracted a lot of attention, but it was an extremist killing someone,” Pitcavage said. “Someone died. There was a victim. A life was lost.”

Among other underreported incidents:

In January 2018, Samuel Woodward stabbed to death Blaze Bernstein, a gay Jewish college student. Investigators later found homophobic and neo-Nazi material on Woodward’s cellphone, including content related to the violent hate group Atomwaffen
In October, Gregory Bush, a 51-year-old unemployed white resident of Louisville, Kentucky, killed two African-Americans ages 67 and 69, at a supermarket.
In November, Scott Paul Beierle, a man who had posted sexist and racist videos online, killed two women and injured four others at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida

In addition to ADL, other research organizations have also reported increases in extremist-related killings last year, though in smaller numbers. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino tracked 22 ideologically driven murders in 2018, including 17 carried out by white supremacists, up from 15 the previous year. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said at least 40 people were killed in the U.S. and Canada by “individuals who were either motivated by or attracted to far-right ideologies.” SPLC said 2018 was the deadliest year for victims of right-wing extremism. 

“We’re just seeing a whole lot of violence from people who are influenced by white supremacy and that kind of extremism,” said Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC’s intelligence project.

President Donald Trump said recently that he did not think white nationalism was a growing problem following the New Zealand rampage by self-styled white nationalist Brenton Tarrant that killed 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques. 

But the SPLC said white nationalism is on the rise. The Alabama-based legal advocacy organization recently reported that the number of hate groups in the U.S. rose to a record 1,020 last year, boosted by increases in the number of both white and black nationalist groups. 

Not all white nationalists are violent. But those who commit acts of violence in the name of white nationalism do so out of fear that immigration into Western countries is sowing the seeds of “white genocide,” experts say.

“If you look at the man who killed all those people tragically in New Zealand, he talks constantly about white people being displaced in their home countries,” Beirich said. 

With demographic fears driving the violence, Beirich said the problem is unlikely to go away any time soon. 

“The demographic trends that they view as destroying them are not going to shift,” Beirich said. 

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