World’s top news stories for today from Washingtonian post (April 29, 2016)
Family of San Bernardino shooter arrested
The brother of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook was arrested on Thursday, as was the brother’s wife and her sister, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement.
All three were charged with federal conspiracy, marriage fraud, and giving false statements. “Today’s arrests open a new phase in the process of bringing to justice all individuals who allegedly committed crimes that were uncovered during our exhaustive investigation,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said. Farook and his wife were killed in a shootout with police after murdering 14 in attacks last year. The Hill, The Week
N Korea sentences US man to 10 years
On Friday, North Korea’s Supreme Court found U.S. citizen Kim Dong Chul guilty of espionage and subversion, and sentenced the 62-year-old businessman to 10 years with hard labor. Kim is the second American sentenced to hard labor recently, after 21-year-old tourist Otto Warmer was given 15 years for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.
The brief trial was conducted a week before North Korea’s ruling party holds its first congress in 36 years. Kim was arrested in October. Last month, he confessed before North Korean media to having collaborated with South Korean intelligence to bring down North Korea’s leadership — which National Intelligence Service says is untrue — and trying to spread religion in the country. Previous North Korean prisoners have said their confessions were coerced. The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press
Britain foreign secretary visits Cuba
Britain’s foreign secretary met with Cuban officials Thursday to discuss trade and tourism ties with the communist country, marking the first visit of its kind since 1959. Upon landing in Cuba late Thursday, Philip Hammond said Britain is ready to strengthen its ties with the small island nation, and signed several cooperation agreements on energy, education and financial services.
According to the British Department of Trade and Industry, Britain’s exports to Cuba rose 25 percent, and Britain was the second largest country of origin for tourists to Cuba, trailing only Canada, with 160,000 Britons making the trip.
Hammond is scheduled to participate in several “high-level meetings” while in Cuba to discuss social and economic changes, human rights and the fight against global health threats such as the Zika virus. Hammond’s visit to Cuba follows a March visit by US President Barack Obama – the first president to visit Cuba since 1928. VOA
Hezbollah develops new skills in Syria
When Hezbollah first intervened on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Israeli defense analysts saw the foray as a blessing. But there is increasing concern that Hezbollah is getting valuable battlefield experience in Syria. That practical experience could be of use in any subsequent conflict with Israel. Hezbollah commanders acknowledge the benefits. “In some ways, Syria is a dress rehearsal for our next war with Israel,” a special forces Hezbollah commander admitted to VOA recently.
Other enhanced Hezbollah capabilities, say analysts, include using artillery cover more effectively, using drones skillfully in reconnaissance and surveillance operations and improving logistical operations to support big offensives. Analysts, as well as Israeli strategists, are now trying to work out the possible longer-term implications of Hezbollah’s increased military capabilities — as well as the deepening of its military alliance with Iran.
Aram Nerguizian, a Mideast analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sees the Golan Height located between Syria and Israel as the flashpoint. “They would like to maintain a stable footing in the Golan and leave troops there after the Syrian civil war is over,” says Nerguizian.
And there has been considerable activity by Hezbollah and Iranian guards in Golan region, prompting a series of Israeli airstrikes since the start of last year. In January 2015, an Israeli airstrike in Golan targeting a two-car convoy killed six Hezbollah fighters, including two prominent commanders, and an Iranian general, Mohammad Ali Allahdadi.
There have been others, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged on April 12, when he said Israel has carried out “dozens” of air raids in Syria to prevent weapon and missile transfers to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. VOA
US Presidential election
Cruz hit back Boehner: Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had some tough words for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at Stanford on Wednesday night, calling him “Lucifer in the flesh” and a “miserable son of a bitch,” adding, “Over my dead body will he be president.” Cruz told Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Thursday night he doesn’t even know Boehner and slammed the former speaker’s friendly relationship with Donald Trump. Cruz also addressed Boehner’s broadside with reporters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, saying Boehner “allowed his inner Trump to come out” and framing the comments as an attack on the American people. “When John Boehner calls me Lucifer, he’s not directing that at me,” Cruz said. “He’s directing that at you.” The Associated Press, Fox News
Trump doubles down on Clinton: Donald Trump faced backlash after claiming Hillary Clinton couldn’t manage to get “5 percent of the vote” if she weren’t a woman — a claim he defended Thursday on The Today Show. “Without the woman’s card Hillary would not even be a viable person to run for city council positions,” Trump said. Also on The Today Show, Trump admitted on the heels of his foreign policy speech that he would not rule out using nuclear weapons on ISIS. “I will be the last to use it…But I will never, ever rule it out,” Trump said. Talking Points Memo, The Week
Clashes in Trump’s campaign: Several people were arrested Thursday night as police broke up clashes between supporters and opponents of Trump in Southern California. At one point, police in riot gear and on horseback formed a barrier between the two groups outside Orange County’s Pacific Amphitheater, where Trump delivered a campaign speech. The windows of a police car were smashed and several people were injured before the crowd was brought under control. VOA
Trump targets Sanders supporters: With the Republican presidential nomination within his grasp, Donald Trump is courting an unlikely group of voters: Bernie Sanders supporters. The GOP front-runner has ratcheted up his rhetoric against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in recent weeks, calling her a “crooked” politician who is unqualified to be president. But when it comes to her challenger, Bernie Sanders, Trump has taken a notably softer tone, praising the Vermont senator’s rhetoric and encouraging him to launch a third-party bid. CNN
California’s GOP convention: The GOP candidates might get a glimpse of what lies in store for them in California’s June 7 primary at Friday’s state’s convention. Front-runner Donald Trump is expected to speak outside San Francisco to hundreds of party insiders. John Kasich also is expected to speak Friday, while Ted Cruz and his running mate, Carly Fiorina, speak Saturday. Trump appears to be leading in the state, and a poll released earlier this month found the billionaire with an edge over Cruz, with Kasich trailing behind. USA Today
House approves bill to shield donors from IRS: The House’s powerful tax-writing committee approved a bill Thursday that would ban the IRS from collecting the names of donors to tax-exempt groups, enraging campaign-finance watchdogs who say the move could open the door to secret, foreign money in U.S. elections. The measure, however, has the support of the Koch brothers’ company and its main political arm, Freedom Partners. The group, which operates as a tax-exempt trade organization, has directed hundreds of millions of dollars to an array of groups that help support candidates and causes aligned with the Kochs’ libertarian views. In an interview with USA TODAY, Freedom Partners chairman and Koch Industries executive Mark Holden said Americans have the right to “anonymous free speech.” USA Today
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