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Western allies back UK over tanker seizure

Western allies back UK over tanker seizureIran's seizure of a UK-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz has ramped up tensions in the Gulf region after the US military claimed it had downed an Iranian drone. US President Donald Trump said he would hold talks with Britain about the tanker's seizure by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 10:41 AM

UPDATE 1-Panama says withdrawing flag from tanker towed to Iran, cites violations

UPDATE 1-Panama says withdrawing flag from tanker towed to Iran, cites violationsPanama's maritime authority said on Saturday it had begun the process of withdrawing the registration of an oil tanker called MT Riah, which was towed to Iran after it disappeared from ship tracking maps in the Strait of Hormuz on July 14. Panama began the flag withdrawal process on Friday after an investigation determined the tanker had "deliberately violated international regulations" by not reporting any unusual situation, the authority said in a statement. Panama, which has the largest shipping fleet in the world, has recently withdrawn flags from dozens of vessels, some of which were operated by Iran.

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 9:56 PM

Vatican college space holds bones of dozens, expert says

Vatican college space holds bones of dozens, expert saysThe expert, Giorgio Portera, said the "enormous" size of the collection under the Teutonic College was revealed when Vatican-appointed experts began cataloguing the remains, which were discovered last week . "We didn't expect such an enormous number" of bones and other remains which "had been thrown into a cavity," Portera said. "We want to know why and how" the bones ended up there.

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 2:38 PM

Secrets: Everything You Wanted to Know About Israel's Nuclear Weapons

Secrets: Everything You Wanted to Know About Israel's Nuclear WeaponsThe Iranian nuclear nonproliferation agreement has been the top foreign policy issue throughout Washington for the past two months.  Approving or disapproving the deal was the first order of business for the U.S. Congress until the very last day of congressional action under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (September 17).  Hours of debate have been conducted on the floors of the House and Senate, both chambers have held roll call votes, and Senate Democrats bonded together to filibuster a motion of disapproval — a resolution that would have prevented President Obama from providing the Iranians sanctions relief.The Obama administration’s main selling point for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is based on the theory that forcing Tehran to downgrade its nuclear program will make the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East — the world’s most frenetic and violent region even without nuclear weapons— far less urgent.  Yet we should remember that there is in fact a state in the region that already possesses nuclear weapons. That state happens to be Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East: Israel.(This first appeared in September 2015.)There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Israel’s nuclear arsenal. That is partly due to the Israeli security establishment’s unwritten rule of never speaking about the country’s nuclear weapons program in public in order to preserve the principle of deterrence.  But there are indeed some basic elements of Israel’s nuclear program that are acknowledged by defense analysts in the United States and around the world.1.    The Number is in Doubt:

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 3:00 PM

Universal Orlando reopens after police respond to report of a gunman in parking garage

Universal Orlando reopens after police respond to report of a gunman in parking garageUniversal Orlando went under temporary lockdown Saturday night after police received a report of a gunman spotted in a parking garage.

POSTED JULY 21, 2019 10:51 AM

Mexico Says Pompeo Recognizes Progress on Migration Issues

Mexico Says Pompeo Recognizes Progress on Migration Issues(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Michael Pompeo acknowledged that Mexico has achieved “significant” progress in controlling the flow of migrants to the U.S., according to a statement Sunday by Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.The advances mean there’s no need to start negotiations for a “safe third country” agreement that would require Mexico to process paperwork for asylum seekers to prevent them from applying in the U.S, Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said, according to the ministry’s statement. Mexico’s strategy to “guarantee organized, safe and regular flows” of migrants will continue during the next 45 days, the statement said.Mexico is one of the U.S.’s “most important partners to increase prosperity and security for our countries and the region,” Pompeo said in a tweet following his meeting with Ebrard on Sunday during his visit to the neighboring country.Mexico is implementing measures to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S. after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican imports in May. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is deploying the National Guard and promoting development in Central American nations as part of an agreement with the U.S.Pompeo’s four-day trip to Latin America focused largely on migration, an issue important both to the U.S. and the region. His trip hgas taken him to Argentina on Friday, where he met with President Mauricio Macri. He later went to Ecuador, where he said the U.S. will send $30 million in aid to help the country deal with the inflows of Venezuelan migrants. Pompeo headed to El Salvador following his meeting in Mexico.To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Millan Lombrana in Santiago at lmillan4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at, Mark Niquette, Ian FisherFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

POSTED JULY 21, 2019 4:01 PM

Explosion in popularity of hemp products leaves Texas unable to bust marijuana users

Explosion in popularity of hemp products leaves Texas unable to bust marijuana usersTexas politicians thought they were clear: the bill they overwhelmingly passed allowing the growth and sale of hemp had nothing to do with legalising cannabis.“This is no slippery slope towards marijuana,” Charles Perry, a Republican state senator who sponsored the bill, said in May, according to The Dallas Morning News.But since Greg Abbott signed the measure into law in June, county prosecutors around Texas have been dropping some marijuana possession charges and declining to file new ones, saying they do not have the time or the laboratory equipment needed to distinguish between legal hemp and illegal marijuana.Collectively, the prosecutors’ jurisdictions cover more than 9 million people — about a third of Texas’ population — including in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.The accidental leniency represents one of the unintended consequences states may face as they race to cash in on the popularity of products made with or from hemp.Interest has surged in oils, gummies and other goods infused with CBD, or cannabidiol, which is processed from cannabis plants but does not produce a psychoactive effect.The police and prosecutors in Florida are facing the same problem as their Texan colleagues after the Sunshine State legalised hemp in July.“This is not just Texas,” said Peter Stout, president of the Houston Forensic Science Centre, which runs tests for the Houston Police Department and other agencies.“Everybody is struggling with this.”In Texas, prosecutors have already dropped scores of possession cases, and they’re not just throwing out misdemeanours.The Travis County district attorney, Margaret Moore, announced this month that she was dismissing 32 felony possession and delivery of marijuana cases because of the law.Ms Abbott and other state officials, including the attorney general, pushed back on Thursday, saying prosecutors should not be dropping cases because of the new legislation, known as H.B. 1325.“Marijuana has not been decriminalised in Texas, and these actions demonstrate a misunderstanding of how H.B. 1325 works,” the officials, all Republicans, wrote in a letter to prosecutors.Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney and a Democrat, shot back by saying that laboratory confirmation “has long been required” to prove someone’s guilt.Before the legislation went into effect, laboratories had to identify hairs on marijuana flowers and test for the presence of cannabinoids, a process that required just a few minutes and a test strip that turned purple when it was positive.Because the new law distinguishes between hemp and illicit marijuana, prosecutors say labs would now be required to determine the concentration of THC in the seized substance.Mr Stout said he has been able to identify only two labs in the country that can make the fine distinction necessary and that are accredited in Texas. Both of them are private.Prosecutors would need to pay the labs to run the tests — sometimes hundreds of dollars for each sample — and to testify about the results at trial.Sending all of the state’s suspected marijuana to a small number of labs would likely overwhelm them, prosecutors have said, and would result in severe backlogs.Still, many prosecutors agree with the governor and are continuing to charge and prosecute marijuana cases as usual.The district attorney in El Paso, Jaime Esparza, a Democrat, said this month that the law “will not have an effect on the prosecution of marijuana cases in El Paso” and a spokeswoman confirmed that he had not thrown out any cases because of the law.The sudden dismissals in other districts have been a welcome surprise for those who had been facing charges.Brandon Ball, a lawyer, said one of his clients in Fort Bend County had been distraught about the possession charge she faced until it was unexpectedly dismissed.She kept thanking him, but it wasn’t her lawyer who beat the case.“I was trying to explain, it wasn’t me, it was this law,” Mr Ball said, referring to the hemp legislation.Mr Ball, now an assistant public defender in Harris County, explained that test results are vital for prosecutors trying to prove that someone had an illegal substance.“The law is constantly changing on what makes something illegal, based on its chemical makeup,” Mr Ball said.“It’s important that if someone is charged with something, the test matches what they’re charged with.”New York Times

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 3:30 PM

Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM Abe

Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM AbeJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday he had not yet decided on how to respond to an expected U.S. request to send its navy to join a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen. "We've started to hear the United States' thinking on this and we want to keep listening carefully," he said on national television as votes were being counted for the upper house election. "At the same time, Japan also has friendly ties with Iran," Abe added.

POSTED JULY 21, 2019 10:17 AM

Bernie Sanders' campaign staff demanding a 'living wage' and health care

Bernie Sanders' campaign staff demanding a 'living wage' and health careBernie Sanders pushes for a $15 minimum wage during his campaign; reaction from 2016 Sanders campaign staffer Tezlyn Figaro.

POSTED JULY 20, 2019 8:07 AM

Israeli minister boasts his country has been 'killing Iranians'

Israeli minister boasts his country has been 'killing Iranians'An Israeli minister boasted Sunday that his country was the only one that "has been killing Iranians", after tensions between Britain and Iran rose in the Gulf. Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi's comments to public radio were a reference to Israeli strikes in neighbouring Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. Asked if he feared that Israel would not receive the backing of the United States in the case of a conflict with Iran, Hanegbi suggested that Tehran would avoid such a scenario.

POSTED JULY 21, 2019 9:30 AM

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