Tag Archives: threat

How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ ThreatWhen President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran’s now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence. “There were definitely questions [at the time, internally] about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.It turns out Trump—technically—didn’t get his eyebrow-raising claim out of nowhere, The Daily Beast has learned. According to three sources familiar with the matter, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public during his post-Soleimani victory lap. In doing so, President Trump generated yet more confusion and discord among the national security brass that had already struggled to sell the American people on its case for the strike that just brought Iran and the United States to the precipice of all-out warfare. For weeks the Trump administration had struggled to get on message in talking about why the U.S. decided to strike Soleimani and what it would do in the future to manage any diplomacy with Tehran. Trump’s embassy claim didn’t help, officials said.The White House did not comment on the record for this story.Shortly before he began announcing to the media and rally-goers that the Iranian general was planning assaults on multiple U.S. embassies, the president received briefings at the White House from both national security officials and communications staffers. The purpose of some of these meetings were to prepare Trump on how best to talk to the press regarding his administration’s justifications for killing Soleimani. The president received a briefing shortly before he entered the Roosevelt Room Jan. 9 and said Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” According to two people familiar with this briefing, Trump was told that following the killing of Soleimani, Iran could retaliate against American assets in the region. The president was again told this in a subsequent briefing that day, one of these sources added. However, embassies were a part of a long list of American outposts and bases potentially under threat from Iran but sources familiar with those internal briefings do not remember the number four ever being specified, and they certainly do not recall any imminent danger to those embassies.When administration officials briefed Trump, they mentioned possible targets for Iranian retribution; they were not discussing intel on what anyone in the regime was actively plotting against U.S. interests, the sources noted.However, the moment he heard the word “embassies,” Trump immediately chimed in, interrupting the meeting to grill his briefers on that issue, according to one U.S. official. From there, he began to treat this possible threat as a near-certain danger. Trump received another intelligence briefing shortly before his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Jan. 10 where he repeated the claim that Iran probably would have attacked four embassies. When the president started publicly trotting out his claims of “four embassies,” national security aides were dumbfounded. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump’s “four embassies” talking point clashed with intelligence assessments from Trump’s own officials. CNN also reported that security officials at the State Department weren’t even notified of an imminent danger to any specific set of four American embassies.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper himself admitted during an interview on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation that while “the president said that he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper personally “didn’t see [a specific piece of evidence] with regard to four embassies.”Esper added, “What I’m saying is I shared the president’s view that probably, my expectation is they were going to go after our embassies.”At that point, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had of course already been stormed by an Iranian-supported militia, but that was prior to Soleimani’s death.Senior Trump administration officials have canceled several of their past scheduled briefings with Congress on specific threats to U.S. embassies pre-Soleimani strike. Briefers were also supposed to delve into more detail about what exactly U.S. intelligence said prior to the strike. The administration has held two briefings so far with both the House and the Senate, but sessions left lawmakers frustrated and overwhelmingly uninformed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rescheduled his briefing on the embassy threats with the House Foreign Affairs committee for next week.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to AmericaBut people close to Trump say his embassy fixation lies in his obsession with avoiding the kind of catastrophes that befell his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. President Trump, who has long bashed Obama for the 2012 Benghazi attack and Bush for the Hurricane Katrina response, is particularly concerned with opening himself up to accusations of having suffered “Trump’s Benghazi” or “Trump’s Katrina,” according to two sources who’ve spoken to the president about this. “Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about how you don’t want a Katrina moment,” said a former senior White House official. “You can’t do anything about what weather is going to do, but you can certainly manage the response and the optics of what you’re doing in addition to the substance of what you’re doing.”With Trump’s shambolic, even scandalous, handling of the response and relief efforts to the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, this president seems to have already had his “Katrina.” He is, however, determined not to experience a direct parallel to Benghazi. Indeed, on New Year’s Eve, the president took to Twitter to enthusiastically brand the embassy attack that occurred on his watch “The Anti-Benghazi!” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Disease that killed millions of China's pigs poses global threat

Disease that killed millions of China's pigs poses global threatSoon the dog’s handler discovered and confiscated a ham sandwich in the purse of a passenger who had flown on a China Eastern Airlines flight from Shanghai. China has lost millions of pigs in outbreaks of the disease, pushing its pork prices to record highs, forcing purchases of costly imports and roiling global meat markets. Bettie is among an expanded team of specially trained beagles at U.S. airports, part of a larger effort to protect the nation’s $ 23 billion pork industry from a disease that has decimated China’s hog herd, the world’s largest.



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Trump news: President says he 'never understood wind' as China attacks Space Force as threat to peace

Trump news: President says he 'never understood wind' as China attacks Space Force as threat to peaceDonald Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine scandal has been called further into question as newly released, heavily redacted internal emails reveal the fears of defence officials and diplomats that his order to withhold military aid could breach spending laws.Released under court order to the Centre for Public Integrity, the explosive correspondence also showed the White House asked the Pentagon to quietly suspend Congress-approved military aid to the country just 90 minutes after Mr Trump’s call with Volodymyr Zelensky.



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China attacks US Space Force as threat to outer space peace

China attacks US Space Force as threat to outer space peace“The relevant U.S. actions are a serious violation of the international consensus on the peaceful use of outer space, undermine global strategic balance and stability, and pose a direct threat to outer space peace and security,” Geng said at a regular briefing. China’s space program has advanced rapidly since its first crewed mission in 2003.



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John Bolton: Trump not serious about North Korea nuclear threat

John Bolton: Trump not serious about North Korea nuclear threatFormer White House national security adviser John Bolton said that he doesn't believe that President Trump "really means it" when he says that he is determined to stop North Korea from developing nuclear missiles that could be used to target the U.S.



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Will Israel’s New F-35 Be Used Against Iran’s Cruise Missile Threat?

Will Israel’s New F-35 Be Used Against Iran’s Cruise Missile Threat?A new radar for the stealth fighter could be vital for Israel.



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Finland’s Millennial PM Warned of Baby Boomer Threat to Finances

Finland’s Millennial PM Warned of Baby Boomer Threat to Finances(Bloomberg) — The world’s youngest prime minister needs to act quickly to tackle one of Europe’s fastest-aging populations.Finland’s central bank said on Tuesday that the burden on public finances, as more people head for retirement, is unsustainable and requires a political response. The warning comes just days after 34-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin took office.The so-called sustainability gap — which measures the difference between spending and income — has widened to 4.7% relative to gross domestic product, from about 3% a year ago, the Bank of Finland said in a report on Tuesday. The biggest contributors to the increase are cooling growth, higher government borrowing and political stalling over health and welfare reform.According to the European Commission, the sustainability gap poses a significant risk to the long-term health of public finances when it exceeds 6%, while a reading of under 2% denotes low risk.“One factor currently weighing on the long-term outlook for the public finances is the fact that the baby-boom generation has reached retirement age,” the central bank said. “This has increased public pension expenditure, and over the next few years it will also lead to a more rapid increase in expenditure on health care and long-term care of the elderly.”Like much of Europe, Finland needs to come to grips with the growing pressures of an aging and shrinking population. In the Nordic nation’s case, the issue assumes even greater importance because of its generous welfare state, relatively low immigration and the constraints of euro membership.While recent governments have taken action to address the problem, more needs to be done, said the central bank, which has been issuing similar warnings since the start of the decade.The new government of Sanna Marin, the world’s youngest prime minister, has confirmed previous plans to raise the employment rate to 75% of the working-age people, from about 72% now. According to Governor Olli Rehn, the objective is “well-justified.”“More determined action should, however, be taken to strengthen the public finances and the prerequisites for employment,” he said.The central bank on Tuesday also cut its growth forecasts for the euro area’s northernmost economy, to 0.9% in 2020 and 1.1% in 2021. Its previous forecasts pointed to growth rates of 1.5% and 1.3% respectively.(Adds central bank quote in fourth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Kati Pohjanpalo in Helsinki at kpohjanpalo@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tasneem Hanfi Brögger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net, Nick RigilloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Why Is Trump Doubling Down on the Threat of War Against Iran?

Why Is Trump Doubling Down on the Threat of War Against Iran?Iran is in ferment and the Trump State Department is trying to up the pressure on Tehran.



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Weather whiplash to bring warmup, heavy rain and flood threat followed by Arctic blast to Northeast

Weather whiplash to bring warmup, heavy rain and flood threat followed by Arctic blast to NortheastAs the holidays approach and many may find themselves dreaming of a white Christmas, Mother Nature has a different idea up her sleeves. The weather pattern will soon be reversed in the northeastern United States, allowing wintry landscapes to transform into a sloppy, muddy mess instead.Forecasters are closely watching a storm system that is expected to take shape and track toward the Great Lakes early next week — and it will be the player that will help to flip the weather conditions in the East. As wintry weather and yet another snowstorm are predicted for portions of the Midwest, surging warm and moist air will race out ahead of the system.Temperatures are expected to rebound to the 30s over the northern tier to near 50 F in parts of Virginia as a southerly breeze develops on Sunday.On Monday, temperatures are forecast to surge into the 40s across the northern tier and the 50s and 60s across part of the mid-Atlantic region. The warm air combined with rain will dissolve the deep snow over part of the Northeast, potentially leading to flooding issues for some communities. Recent storms have buried parts of New York state and central and northern New England under as much as 1-3 feet of snow in the last couple of weeks. A car makes its way through a snowy landscape in Highland Falls, N.J., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. The last of the snow is falling over parts of New Jersey after leaving behind power outages in the northwest part of the state. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) That snowcover contains a significant amount of locked-up moisture, called the snow-water equivalent.Within the existing snow on the ground, there is between 1 and 5 inches of water as of Thursday, Dec. 5.Many areas, including those places where deep snow is on the ground, may stay well above freezing Sunday night, which can allow the snow to soften up. This image was taken from the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (NOAA) Some of the deep snow may harmlessly melt from Sunday to early Monday before the storm and its soaking rain arrives, but there is a risk that surging temperatures, moist air and drenching rain may cause a rapid meltdown of the existing snowcover from later Monday into Tuesday.Instead of releasing the 1-5 inches of water by itself, another 1-2 inches of water may be added in depending on the intensity of the rainfall that occurs. "Since the ground is not frozen, some of the melting snow and rain will be absorbed by the soil and should avoid disastrous stream and river flooding," Dale Mohler, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, said.However, some quick rises on small streams are likely with minor flooding possible in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding during heavy rain or spring thaw events. Some of the rivers may surge to bank full as well."Even if only part of the snow melts and only a light amount of rain falls, piles of snow along streets and highways that are blocking storm drains can lead to urban flooding," Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, said.Anderson said that property owners should make sure that runoff has easy access to storm drains ahead of the system's arrival to reduce the risk of flooding as a precaution."Even in some of the major cities along the Interstate 95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City where there is no appreciable snow on the ground, enough rain can fall to cause travel delays and ponding on roads that drain poorly," Dave Bowers, AccuWeather forecaster, said.Ski resorts in the region that have gotten off to their earliest start in recent years will take a hit from the storm. Those seeking ideal ski conditions are encouraged to hit the slopes into Sunday, before the rainstorm arrives.Along with bringing a swath of heavy snow to part of the Upper Midwest, next week's storm is predicted to unleash Arctic air in its wake later Tuesday and Wednesday. Remaining areas of slush and standing water can freeze as temperatures plummet across the northeastern U.S. There is a chance that the cold air may catch up with the back end of the rain and cause a period of snow at the tail end of the storm at midweek.Since the storm will be weak rather than strong, it's possible that a secondary storm may develop along the push of frigid air, according to AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno."I am pretty convinced that a storm is going to form along this boundary [between warmer air in place and colder air surging] into the Carolinas Tuesday night. Then, the question becomes does the storm goes out to sea and the cold front blasts out to sea? Or, does the storm have enough energy because of all of the energy associated with the jet stream that the storm strengthens? And, if it does, it won't go out to sea. It will come up the coast. If the storm does strengthen, you've got to worry about a snowstorm," Rayno said.The I-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic and eastern New England could face snow if the latter and stronger scenario unfolds. If a weaker secondary storm develops, then it will likely push out to sea. If a secondary storm forms and it strengthens enough, it may bring snow to the Northeast. No indications are currently pointing to a big snowstorm developing and rather it could be more of a nuisance snowfall, according to Rayno.However, this type of weather pattern has yielded major snowstorms in the past, and meteorologists will have to keep a watchful eye on how all of the weather players come together, Rayno added.AccuWeather meteorologists are also tracking the potential for yet another significant storm toward the middle of the month, warning that it could be disruptive to the eastern U.S. Download the free AccuWeather app to check the forecast in your area. Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.



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Mexico Mormons live under threat of narco violence

Mexico Mormons live under threat of narco violenceMexico’s Mormons, who are mourning nine women and children killed in a massacre, have roots in the country going back to the late 1800s, but live under the constant threat of the criminal gangs they have dared to defy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), or Mormon church, set up headquarters in Utah in 1847 when the territory was still Mexico. Fleeing persecution, Mormons began arriving in northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains in 1875.



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