Huawei executive to fight extradition to the US on charges of bank, wire fraud

WORLD NEWS Huawei executive to fight extradition to the US on charges of bank, wire fraud

Marilyn Nieves/iStock(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — Chinese tech giant Huawei will fight the extradition of its chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman Meng Wanzhou to the United States, where she would face criminal charges, after she appeared in a Canadian court on Wednesday.

U.S. prosecutors have charged Meng, Huawei Technologies and two Huawei affiliates — Huawei Device USA and Skycom Tech — with 13 counts related to bank and wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud. The charges stem from an alleged long-running scheme by Meng and other Huawei officials to deceive global banks and the U.S. government in order to do business with Iran, thereby circumventing American sanctions, U.S. authorities said.

After a pre-extradition procedural hearing on Wednesday in the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver, a representative for Meng called the case against her “political” and said that her arrest in Canada on behalf of the U.S. was “unlawful.”

“From the beginning, Huawei has expressed extreme confidence in Ms. Meng’s innocence. We have maintained that her U.S.-ordered arrest was an unlawful abuse of process — one guided by political considerations and tactics, not by the rule of law,” said Benjamin Howes, vice president of media affairs for Huawei Canada, outside the courthouse following the hearing.

The U.S. Justice Department’s case against Meng is based on allegations that are “simply untrue,” and Meng’s business was conducted transparently with full knowledge of the banking officials who told prosecutors they were deceived, Howes said.

Howes argued that the extradition request is invalid because Meng’s actions were not illegal in both Canada and the U.S.

Meng’s legal troubles come at a tense time for the relationship between the U.S. and China. Stalled trade talks were kicked into high gear earlier this week when President Trump threatened additional tariffs on more than $200 billion in goods from China.

Then on Wednesday, Trump tweeted a theory that the Chinese were dragging out a deal in hopes of negotiating with a new president after 2020.

“The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to ‘negotiate’ with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come…” Trump tweeted.

Huawei also claims that the case is political, based on comments Trump made about intervening in Meng’s case if he thought it would help trade talks.

“If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump told Reuters in December.

Late on Wednesday in Beijing, a statement on the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s website warned of retaliation if Trump followed through with tariffs as China’s trade negotiator headed to the U.S. to resume talks on Thursday.

“An escalation in trade frictions is not in line with the American or Chinese interests or the interests of the world, and would thus be much to China’s regret. But if the U.S. goes ahead with its tariff measures against China, China will have to resort to necessary countermeasures,” part of the Chinese-language statement said.

Meanwhile, Beijing has accused two Canadians of spying and detained them without access to their families or lawyers. China has also sentenced a third man to death on drug charges since Meng’s arrest in Canada.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s 74-year-old founder, Ren Zhengfei and his presumptive successor to one of the most powerful companies in China, and in the world.

Meng’s lawyer responded to requests for comment from ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 May 2019

At rally, Trump announces $448M in disaster relief for hurricane-ravaged Florida panhandle

Political News At rally, Trump announces $448M in disaster relief for hurricane-ravaged Florida panhandle

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced $448 million in new disaster relief funding for the hurricane-ravaged Florida panhandle area on Wednesday night, at his first campaign rally in the state since the 2018 midterms.

“These dollars will help communities get back on their feet. We’ve already given you many many millions of dollars but these are additional monies that are coming in to help the families put their lives together,” the president told the crowd, which was jammed into the outdoor Aaron Bessant Park amphitheater in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Trump was speaking to his supporters at the political rally near Panama City, Florida, a community still fighting for disaster aid several months after Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, ravaged the area.

For some in the region, it’s not about the community’s chance to see the president — it’s about the president’s chance to see the community.

“We’re just encouraged that [Trump] is going to spend his time back in this area. And maybe he can see progress of where we are but how much more we need to have from Congress,” Panama City Manager Mark McQueen told ABC News.

The president’s visit falls on National Hurricane Preparedness Week, launched by the White House with the hope of encouraging Americans living in hurricane-prone areas “to take the measures necessary to safeguard their families, homes, and businesses.”

“My Administration is continuing its efforts to enhance storm tracking and intensity predictions to help save lives and livelihoods by giving communities adequate time to prepare. We are committed to ensuring that the United States will produce the best weather forecasting model in the world,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

The Trump administration notes its efforts to prioritize and invest in mitigation actions — while criticizing Democrats for what he says is their holding up of a disaster relief funding deal.

On Wednesday night, holding a chart, the president told his supporters that Puerto Rico has received more funding than any other state or territory.

“Puerto Rico got $91 billion dollars and I understand they don’t like me. It’s the most money we’ve ever given to any anybody,” the president said. “I have a great relationship with the people of Puerto Rico, but it hasn’t been fair the way they’ve treated all of us from the standpoint of the leaders, because they complain they want more money, they got 91 billion,” the president said.

The president also tore into a number of the Democrats who are running to challenge him in 2020.

“I’ll take any of them, let’s just pick somebody please and let’s just start this thing,” the president said, before ripping into a handful of Democrats running for president.

“Pick somebody!” Trump added.

“One of the Democrats today said that he, it’s a he, a sleepy person, said that he heard from a lot of foreign leaders and they want him to be president,” Trump said referring to former Vice President Joe Biden. “Well, of course they do. So they can continue to rip off the United States, of course they do. I think if I heard that I’d never vote for him.”

Trump then turned his attention to Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“And then you have Bernie. Bernie. Then you have Bernie,” he said. “We got some real beauties. Crazy Bernie. You got a choice between sleepy Joe and crazy Bernie.”

The president continued, “We have a young man, Boot Edge Edge,” he said, referencing South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “Boot Edge Edge. They say: Edge Edge — He’s got a great chance, doesn’t he? He’ll be great. He’ll be great. He’ll be representing us against President Xi of China, that would be great,” Trump said. “That would be great. I want to be in that room I want to watch that one.”

“Beto, boy is he falling like a rock, what the hell happened to Beto?” Trump asked during the Florida rally, taking aim at former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Near Trump’s rally, Panama City is still working to clean up after Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle in October.

“If you take Hurricane Irma that went through basically 15 counties of Florida, there was 2.3 million cubic yards of debris,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “In Panama City alone, we have picked up nearly 4 million cubic yards so far, in our little 36-mile footprint.”

The storm’s 155-mph winds ripped through parts of the Panhandle, destroying homes, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Dozens were killed.

Brudnicki, who described the damage as “catastrophic,” had to chisel his way out of his own home, using handsaws and chainsaws to cut through debris. When he finally emerged, he soon saw the scope of the damage.

“To get out to the road and to be able to traverse — it was unbelievable the amount of debris that we could see. And until you start picking it up, you really don’t understand or know the devastation,” Brudnicki said.

In Bay County alone, 31 million cubic yards of debris have been picked up — enough to fill 12 million standard-sized truck beds, according to city aides. But the cost to pick up the debris exceeds the city’s annual budget. Panama City estimates cleanup efforts could reach $150 million, but the average annual budget for the city is just $90 million.

“When we say we’re looking for help from the federal government, the reason is that all of these expenses need to be paid for when billed. It’s not like we’re looking for money to rebuild buildings that got devastated. This is just to clean up so we can find where the buildings used to be, to start working,” Brudnicki said.

Much of the region’s focus is on housing and education. As residents scurry to find a stable place to call home, the U.S. Postal Service has reported more than 14,000 change-of-address filings. There are also more than 5,500 homeless children with no permanent address.

City officials remain hopeful as they look to emerge bigger, better and stronger from a storm that wiped so much life out of their community.

“I know many other cities have gone 10 to 15 years in terms of recovery — we’re going to push the envelope. In three to five years, we want to be well on our way to recovery,” McQueen said.

But to get there, he believes it will take a whole government approach and investment into affected communities.

“The federal government needs to come to bear. The state, the county and the city need to apply resources, as well as private capital and philanthropic revenues that can help to change the outcome of Panama City,” McQueen continued.

For Brudnicki and McQueen, the president’s trip comes fresh off their own visit to the nation’s capital, where they made an in-person plea to lawmakers to take action and move forward with disaster relief aid. They joined a chorus of other elected officials putting pressure on Congress for more disaster relief aid after their communities were severely damaged in a variety of natural disasters.

“We met with a number of members of Congress, we met with a number of agencies. And the assessment is that we feel very optimistic that Congress will take up a supplemental that will help not just Panama City, but all of these disasters that took place in the United States,” McQueen said.

Aid, however, has reached a series of roadblocks. Initially stalled by the longest government shutdown in history, it is now deadlocked in Congress. Brudnicki, McQueen and other officials left Washington empty-handed.

Trump visited the area shortly after Hurricane Michael touched down and toured ravaged communities.

“To see this, personally, is very, very tough,” the president said during his October visit. Ahead of his rally, the president visited Tyndall Air Force Base, which suffered severe damage.

His visit, attracting national attention, was eagerly anticipated by a community that has at times felt forgotten since October.

“We’re very pleased with President Trump’s response to coming to Panama City, that he was here very shortly after the storm and survey the damage,” McQueen said. “And we’re very encouraged by that, that shows that we’re not forgotten, nor ignored.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 May 2019

Donald Trump Jr. subpoenaed to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee

Political News Donald Trump Jr. subpoenaed to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee

Leigh Vogel/WireImage via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, has been subpoenaed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, three sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News. The committee is controlled by Republicans as part of their Senate majority.

Trump Jr. has previously met with three congressional committees, including the Senate Intelligence Committee in December of 2017, with whom he met for more than nine hours. He met with the Senate Judiciary Committee in September of 2017 for more than five hours and with the House Intelligence Committee for more than eight hours in December of 2017.

It is unclear why the committee wants him to return to testify.

A source close to Trump Jr. said there was an agreement between the president’s son and the committee that he would only have to come in and testify once as long as he was willing to stay for as long as they’d like, which the source said he did.

A separate source close to Trump Jr. said the president’s son has continued to provide documents as requested and as part of negotiations around this subpoena, which began weeks ago, the president’s son offered to answer questions in writing.

An attorney for Trump Jr, reached by ABC News, declined to comment.

In a statement, the Senate Intel Committee said: “We do not discuss the details of witness engagements with the Committee. Throughout the investigation, the Committee has reserved the right to recall witnesses for additional testimony as needed, as every witness and witness counsel has been made aware.”

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Posted On 08 May 2019

House Judiciary Committee votes to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt

Political News House Judiciary Committee votes to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler, voted along party lines Wednesday to advance a resolution to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress for not complying with a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report, escalating tensions between Democrats and the White House.

“We are in a constitutional crisis,” Nadler said following the committee action.

As lawmakers debated the move on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over Mueller’s findings, complicating Democrats’ plans to obtain documents and information to review the special counsel’s conclusions.

The resolution, passed after more than six hours of sharp debate, could receive a vote on the House floor in the coming weeks.

“Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the Attorney General’s request, the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The resolution would refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia, a Trump appointee in the Justice Department unlikely to pursue the matter. It would also pave the way for Democrats to seek enforcement of their subpoena in civil court, which could lead to a prolonged legal fight.

“If allowed to go unchecked, this obstruction means the end of congressional oversight. No person—and certainly not the top law enforcement officer in the country—can be permitted to flout the will of Congress and to defy a valid subpoena,” Nadler said as the committee meeting began.

‘What’s really at stake here is Congress’s ability to do its job for the American people,” he said.

Republicans on Wednesday argued that providing access to the full report, including sensitive grand jury information, would break the law.

A Justice Department statement, issued just after committee vote, echoed that argument.

“It is deeply disappointing that elected representatives of the American people have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics,” DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupic said. “Regrettably, Chairman Nadler’s actions have prematurely terminated the accommodation process and forced the President to assert executive privilege to preserve the status quo. No one, including Chairman Nadler and his Committee, will force the Department of Justice to break the law.”

During the committee debate, Republicans accused Democrats of rushing to condemn Barr in an effort to discredit the attorney general as he begins a review of the origins of the Russia investigation supported by the president and some Republicans.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the top Republican on the panel, said Democrats were moving ten times faster to condemn Barr than Republicans did to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over a subpoena for DOJ documents in 2012 related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation.

He also claimed Democrats were frustrated with Mueller’s findings, and that the special counsel “did not produce the material or conclusions they expected to pave their path to impeaching the president.”

While Republicans were quick to mention impeachment in their comments, a few Democrats appeared to reference it as well.

“This hearing is not about the attorney general, it’s not about the Mueller report,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said. “This is all about impeaching the president. Why won’t they just say it?”

Democratic leaders have cautioned members against rushing take up impeachment proceedings against Trump. Most have endorsed Speaker Pelosi’s calls for continued investigation, though others continue are pushing for the House to launch proceedings, in the face of the administration’s efforts to stonewall Democrats’ requests.

“If he he wasn’t president he’d be in jail today with Michael Cohen,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said of the president Wednesday.

The Justice Department had warned Tuesday night that it would ask Trump to invoke executive privilege over the full Mueller report if Democrats moved forward with contempt proceedings.

“Unfortunately, the Committee has responded to our accommodation efforts by escalating its unreasonable demands and scheduling a committee vote to recommend that the Attorney General be held in contempt of Congress,” the Justice Department wrote in a letter to Nadler on Tuesday night.

The Justice Department explained the administration’s reasoning in a letter Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent to Nadler just as the meeting was getting underway Wednesday morning.

Nadler responded in a statement Tuesday night, saying “in the middle of good faith negotiations with the Attorney General, the Department abruptly announced that it would instead ask President Trump to invoke executive privilege on all of the materials subject to our subpoena. This is, of course, not how executive privilege works. The White House waived these privileges long ago, and the Department seemed open to sharing these materials with us earlier today. The Department’s legal arguments are without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis.

“Worse, this kind of obstruction is dangerous. The Department’s decision reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties,” Nadler said.

Committee Democrats are sparring with the administration on several fronts.

The White House instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena from the committee for documents related to the special counsel’s investigation, according to a letter sent Tuesday from White House counsel Pat Cipollone to McGahn’s attorney William Burck. McGahn, who cooperated with Mueller, is cited more than any other witness in the special counsel’s final report.

At an event Wednesday morning before the vote, when asked if Barr should be held in contempt, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “They were in the course of accommodations and boom, the administration just said ‘we are going to make this executive privilege.’ Yes, he should be held in contempt.”

It’s unclear whether he’ll still comply with the committee’s subpoena for his testimony on Capitol Hill later this month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 May 2019

Spike Lee, Will Packer and more to attend 2019 American Black Film Festival

Entertainment News  Spike Lee, Will Packer and more to attend 2019 American Black Film Festival


ABC/Eric McCandless(MIAMI) — The 23rd Annual American Black Film Festival has announced its studded line-up of celebrity panels and events.

The festival, which takes place in Miami from June 12 to 16, has revealed its list of conversations, screenings and panels to be hosted by diverse filmmakers, industry vets, and executives.

Some of this year’s highly anticipated panels include Beyond the Spider-Verse: What’s Next for Sony Pictures Animation, a conversation with Academy Award-winner Peter Ramsey; The Art of Directing, a panel featuring directors from last year’s top films including Night School’s Malcolm D. Lee, Creed II‘s Steven Caple Jr., The Hate You Give‘s George Tillman Jr. and Sorry to Bother You‘s Boots Riley; and Clips and Conversation, a discussion with Academy Award-winner Spike Lee and his mentee Stefon Briston for Briston’s new Netflix release film See You Yesterday.

Other highlights include ABFF’s screenings of TV ONE’s The Bobby Debarge Story; OWN’s world premiere of Ambitions from executive producer Will Packer, and OWN’s David Makes Man, from Oscar-winner Tarrell Alvin McCraney and executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Michael B. Jordan.

A full listing of panels and screenings coming to the 2019 American Black Film Festival are available on Registration for the festival ends on Wednesday, May 22.

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Posted On 08 May 2019

Intelligence on Iran that prompted US carrier move came on Friday afternoon

WORLD NEWS Intelligence on Iran that prompted US carrier move came on Friday afternoon

U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) — The intelligence that Iran or its proxies were planning something against U.S. interests in the Middle East reached senior U.S. officials on Friday afternoon, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told Congress on Wednesday.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said Wednesday that the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force was intended to deter Iran “so that there would be no ambiguity about our preparedness to respond to any threat against our people or our partners in the region.”

The comments from the two senior defense officials were the first public comments about how new intelligence on Iran’s intentions led to a decision over the weekend to send the additional military forces to the Middle East to deter Iran.

Shanahan told the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee that last Friday, he and the rest of the national security team were focused on the situation in Venezuela.

Then, “we received indications of this very, very credible intelligence on Friday afternoon,” he said.

“We went to work understanding the sources and to get the teams turning on “What does it mean? And how might we respond?” said Shanahan.

Dunford added, “We saw the intelligence so we sent some messages on Friday to make sure that it was clear to Iran that we recognized the threat and we were postured to respond to the threat.”

ABC News has learned that the intelligence included indications that Iran or its proxies were planning attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, Syria and at sea.

There was also intelligence that Iran was possibly transporting missiles on Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf, according to a U.S. official. It was unclear, the official said, what the purpose was for the missiles being on the Iranian boats and that it was possible they could be fired from the Iranian boats or were being transported elsewhere.

On Friday night, with the new Iran intelligence catching the attention of senior U.S. policy makers, another world crisis emerged as North Korea fired projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

Shahanan told the senators Wednesday that he was in the middle of a nighttime run when, “Gen. Dunford called me and up said North Korea was now shooting rockets and missiles.”

On Saturday, he, Dunford and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, reviewed the intelligence and potential U.S. military responses.

“And it was really Sunday afternoon that he came back and said ‘This is what we’re recommending. I need authority to proceed,’” Shanahan said.

Dunford explained that he wanted “to accelerate” the Lincoln’s eventual arrival to the Middle East, as well as the deployment of a bomber task force, “so that there would be no ambiguity about our preparedness to respond to any threat against our people or our partners in the region.”

“We wanted to make sure we took as much action as we could over the weekend to actually deter that,” Dunford said.

Shanahan said it was not until Sunday night — in coordination with the State Department and the National Security Council — “before any real information was put together.”

The White House later released a statement from John Bolton, the national security adviser, announcing the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group and a bomber task force.

The Lincoln is steaming towards the Middle East from the Mediterranean and could soon arrive in the region.

At least four B-52’s, based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, took off Wednesday for Qatar. They will be stationed there as part of the last-minute deployment prompted by the new threat intelligence from Iran.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 May 2019

Trump administration overwhelmed by record border crossings, asylum requests

Political News Trump administration overwhelmed by record border crossings, asylum requests

vichinterlang/iStock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. authorities stopped more than 109,000 undocumented migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border last month in a wave of unauthorized crossings not seen in over a decade, officials said on Wednesday.

The 109,000 figure for April represents people apprehended for trying to cross between ports, as well as some who present themselves legally at ports of entry in a bid to claim asylum. Officials have said if such levels continue, the U.S. will be on track to handle some 1 million undocumented migrants this budget year – almost double of last year’s number.

“The April apprehension levels are again record setting, and they cause dire concerns for us,” one Homeland Security official said.

The number of people apprehended at the southern border in just over the past seven months now surpasses last year’s total, as well as every annual total since 2009, according to newly released U.S. Customs and Border protection data.

The bulk of the migrant influx comes from more than 58,000 families and more than 8,800 unaccompanied kids arrested on suspicion of crossing illegally. As a result, Homeland Security officials said agents have been forced to expedite the release of about 32,000 families in recent months.

The growing trend continues to challenge President Donald Trump as his administration pursues some of the most hard-line U.S. immigration policies in recent history.

The White House has made multiple attempts to deter migrants from seeking refuge in the U.S. In November 2018, the administration announced a new policy to bar migrants from filing an asylum application if they crossed the border between ports of entry. The move was blocked by a San Francisco judge just 10 days after the policy was announced.

The Trump administration now is updating how U.S. officials interview asylum seekers. According to internal documents and emails obtained The Washington Post, the new guidelines direct officers to take a more skeptical and confrontational approach to migrants.

U.S. Customs and Immigration services confirmed to ABC that it is updating its asylum officer training.

“As part of this periodic update, we have reiterated to asylum officers long-standing policies that help determine an individual’s credibility during the credible fear interview,” USCIS Spokeswoman Jessica Collins said in a statement.

Exceptionally high levels of migration are also expected for the month of May, an official said, with Border Patrol apprehending more than 33,000 people in the past 10 days. Last month, CBP constructed two tent cities near the border to hold migrants in Texas. The agency is expecting to open another in Arizona, an official said Tuesday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 May 2019

US dismisses Iran’s threats to withdraw from nuclear deal, imposes new sanctions on Iran’s metal industries

WORLD NEWS US dismisses Iran's threats to withdraw from nuclear deal, imposes new sanctions on Iran's metal industries

Eblis/iStock(WASHINGTON) — One year after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has warned the pact’s remaining signatories that it would stop implementing parts of the agreement if they don’t improve economic cooperation with the country.

But while the U.S. raises its own warnings to Iran and sends an aircraft carrier strike group to the region, so far it is dismissing Iran’s statements as a bluff — and imposing new economic pressure on the Iranian government.

“We are successfully imposing the most powerful maximum pressure campaign ever witnessed, which today’s action will further strengthen,” Trump said in a statement, announcing sanctions on Iran’s industrial metals industries. “Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct.”

The new executive order, signed by the president on Wednesday, authorizes sanctions on Iranian iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors, which the White House said comprise 10 percent of Iran’s export economy. The sanctions could also target financial institutions or foreign countries that facilitate Iran’s export of those goods.

Iran is already struggling under intense U.S. economic pressure, desperate to drive a wedge between America and its European allies France, Germany, and the United Kingdom and secure better economic gains from the nuclear deal. In a televised address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that China, Russia, and those European powers have 60 days to improve economic ties with Iran or it will keep its excess enriched uranium and heavy water instead of shipping them overseas — two requirements of the deal.

“They’ve made a number of statements about actions they threatened to do in order to get the world to jump. We’ll see what they actually do. The United States will wait to observe that,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday in London.

The increased pressure also comes days after U.S. officials said there was a credible and imminent threat from Iran or its proxies against U.S. personnel in the Middle East. Those reported threats led to the Pentagon moving the USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force to the Middle East ahead of schedule and prompted Pompeo to make a last-minute trip to Iraq.

The 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program, including limits on its ability to enrich uranium. But when Trump withdrew last year, the U.S. began reimposing sanctions on Iran, targeting its revenue-rich oil and banking sectors in particular.

Iran’s economy, already troubled, has crumbled since then, with rising inflation, declining household incomes, and a huge drop in oil exports and Iran’s currency, the rial. Rouhani warned that Iran would have no choice but to break parts of the deal if it did not see any easing of economic pressure.

“If the five countries join negotiations and help Iran to reach its benefits in the field of oil and banking, Iran will return to its commitments according to the nuclear deal,” Rouhani said in a televised address, hours after Iran sent letters to each of the countries explaining its position.

But the U.S. dismissed that as “nuclear blackmail,” according to State Department special envoy for Iran Brian Hook: “By nearly every measure, the regime is weaker today than when we took office two years ago,” he said Wednesday. “Unless the regime demonstrates a change in behavior, the pressure will mount.”

While U.S. withdrawal has divided it and its European allies, the United Kingdom had a sharp warning for Iran Wednesday as well. Standing alongside Pompeo, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt praised the deal as “a very important achievement of Western diplomacy,” but he called on Iran to abide by its end of the pact.

If not, “then there will be consequences in terms of how European powers react, so we urge the Iranians to think very long and hard… We strongly urge them to reconsider what they said in their letter,” he said.

European allies urged the Trump administration not to abandon the deal before last May, and since then, the two sides have tried to paper over differences by saying they share an assessment of the Iranian threat.

“We’re on the same side. We’re on the side of values-driven democracy, we’re on the side of freedom,” he said, comparing Iran to the “evil” Churchill stared down in Nazi Germany and censuring a British reporter for asking a “parlor game” question.

For his part, Hunt said the U.K. and U.S. “work incredibly closely on Iran,” noting they agree Iran must “never be able to acquire” nuclear weapons — they just have a “different approach” on how to ensure that’s the case.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 May 2019

Walmart raises minimum age to buy tobacco to 21

Wolterk/iStock(NEW YORK) — Walmart is following in the footsteps of other retail brands and raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.

The superstore also announced Wednesday that it will discontinue the sale of fruit and dessert-flavored nicotine.

On April 5, Walmart received a letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding its efforts to prevent the sale of tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems to minors, which caused the company to reevaluate its policies, John Scudder, chief compliance and ethics officer for Walmart, said in a statement.

“Even a single sale to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard,” Scudder said.

Walmart passed 93% of nearly 13,000 of its FDA compliance checks involving minors at its stores, according to a letter the chain sent back to the FDA on Wednesday. With the new policies, the company-wide goal will be 100%, according to the retail chain.

The new policy will go into effect across all Walmart stores in the U.S. on July 1.

Last month, Walgreens and Rite Aid announced similar initiatives to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco in their stores to 21.

Walgreens’ new policy will take effect on Sept. 1, while Rite Aid’s will be implemented in July.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Elisabeth Shue’s skeptical about reprising ‘Karate Kid’ role on ‘Cobra Kai’, but psyched ‘Endgame’ mentions ‘Back to the Future’

Entertainment News  Elisabeth Shue's skeptical about reprising 'Karate Kid' role on 'Cobra Kai', but psyched 'Endgame' mentions 'Back to the Future'


Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage(NEW YORK) — With the second season of the Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai currently streaming and a third season on the way, some fans have been wondering if we’ll ever see a return of Daniel LaRusso’s first love, Ali, who was played by Elisabeth Shue.

Shue’s character was rather unceremoniously written out of The Karate Kid: Part 2, and even though she went on to star in the sequels to Back to the Future, and even got an Oscar nomination for Leaving Las Vegas, she hasn’t forgotten the snub.

“In Karate Kid 2, my character was kind of pushed aside in a way that didn’t feel so great. So it’s funny how the idea of Ali coming back [started],” she told ABC Radio. “At first, I thought, “Well, her character really left the world of The Karate Kid in a way that wasn’t so great…would people care about her coming back?'”

Thinking back, Shue laughed as she tried to recall Ali’s fate. “I forget — what?  Did she go off with some football player or something?” 

Yep — he played for UCLA. It gets a quick mention in the second film.

“So I was interested in why they wanted Ali to come back in some ways,” Shue said, before adding, “I’ll see you know, how it goes.”

But Shue is pleased that Karate Kid fans online want to see her on Cobra Kai.

“It makes me happy that people care about Ali — with an ‘i’,” she laughs. “I’m glad they care about her character. That makes me happy.” 

It also made Shue happy to learn that Avengers: Endgame, which includes a lot of time travel, mentions to Back to the Future several times.

“They actually reference the film?! No way!” she exclaimed. “That’s so funny!” 

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Posted On 08 May 2019