Greek Police Arrest Suspect in 1985 TWA Hijacking, Killing of Navy Diver

Greek police said Saturday they have arrested a suspect in the 1985 hijacking of a flight from Athens that became a multiday ordeal and included the slaying of an American.Police said a 65-year-old suspect in the hijacking was arrested Thursday on the island of Mykonos in response to a warrant from Germany.Lt. Col. Theodoros Chronopoulos, a police spokesman, told The Associated Press that the hijacking case involved TWA Flight 847. The flight was commandeered by hijackers shortly after taking off from Athens on June 14, 1985. It originated in Cairo and had San Diego as a final destination, with stops scheduled in Athens, Rome, Boston and Los Angeles.FILE – While holding carnations he carried off the plane, former hostage Victor Amburgy hugs an unidentified girl upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, July 2, 1985. Thirty former hostages from TWA flight 847 were greeted by President Reagan.The hijackers shot and killed U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, 23, after beating him unconscious. They released the other 146 passengers and crew members on the plane during an ordeal that included stops in Beirut and Algiers. The last hostage was freed after 17 days.Suspect from LebanonThe suspect was in custody Saturday on the Greek island of Syros but was set to be transferred to the Korydallos high security prison in Athens for extradition proceedings, a police spokeswoman told The Associated Press. She said the suspect was a Lebanese citizen. The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing.Police refused to release the suspect’s name.In Beirut, the Foreign Ministry said the man detained in Greece is a Lebanese journalist called Mohammed Saleh, and that a Lebanese embassy official planned to try to visit him Sunday.However, several Greek media outlets identified the detainee as Mohammed Ali Hammadi, who was arrested in Frankfurt in 1987 and convicted in Germany for the plane hijacking and Stethem’s slaying. Hammadi, an alleged Hezbollah member, was sentenced to life in prison but was paroled in 2005 and returned to Lebanon.Germany had resisted pressure to extradite him to the United States after Hezbollah abducted two German citizens in Beirut and threatened to kill them.Hammadi, along with fellow hijacker Hasan Izz-Al-Din and accomplice Ali Atwa, remains on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists. The FBI offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to each man’s capture.News agency dpa reported Saturday that Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office declined to comment on news reports about the case.
 

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Fifth Death Linked to Storm That Walloped Houston Area

The widespread damage brought to the Houston area by one of the wettest tropical cyclones in U.S. history came into broader view Saturday, as floodwaters receded to reveal the exhausting cleanup effort that lies ahead for many communities and homeowners.
Hundreds of homes and other buildings in the region, extending eastward from Houston and across the Louisiana border, were damaged by Imelda, as the one-time tropical storm slowly churned across the region, dumping more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) of rain in some spots and being blamed for at least five deaths.
Officials in Harris County, which is home to Houston, were trying to determine if millions of dollars in uninsured losses were enough to trigger a federal disaster declaration, Francisco Sanchez, a spokesman for the county’s Office of Emergency Management, said Saturday.FILE – In this photo provided by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, a family is rescued via fan boat by a member of the department from the floodwaters of Tropical Depression Imelda near Beaumont, Texas, Sept. 19, 2019.Authorities raised the storm’s death toll to five, saying it was believed to have killed a 52-year-old Florida man who was found dead Thursday in his stranded pickup truck along Interstate 10 near Beaumont, which is near Texas’ border with Louisiana. Jefferson County spokeswoman Allison Getz said that although floodwaters seeped into Mark Dukaj’s truck, investigators didn’t think he drowned, though they did think his death was storm-related. An autopsy will determine the cause.
A section of the highway just east of Houston remained closed Saturday after at least two runaway barges struck two bridges carrying eastbound and westbound traffic. Nearly 123,000 vehicles normally cross the bridges each day, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The Coast Guard has said that witnesses reported early Friday that nine barges had broken away from their moorings at a shipyard along the fast-moving San Jacinto River.Two barges stuckTwo barges remained lodged against the bridges, said Emily Black, a spokeswoman for the state Transportation Department.
“The current is really very strong right now, so it’s kind of pushed them up against the columns,” she said.
Inspectors hope that the water will recede and the current will slow down enough for the barges to be removed this weekend so that a better assessment of the damage to the bridges can be made.
Several schools in the Beaumont area were damaged by floodwaters and two are closed indefinitely as officials evaluate the extent of the damage, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. The closure of schools in two separate school districts could affect more than 3,000 students.Counties in the region, meanwhile, imposed curfews to ensure motorists stayed off roadways that still have standing water.
Elsewhere, in Galveston County, officials said people along a Gulf Coast peninsula could be without fresh water service for a month because a water treatment plant was knocked out of operation by flooding, The Galveston County Daily News reported.

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Pelosi: Plan to Send US Forces to Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘Circumvents’ Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday criticized President Donald Trump’s plan to send additional U.S. military forces and air defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, saying it was the administration’s latest attempt to “circumvent” Congress. 
 
“President Trump’s plan to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to Saudi Arabia and UAE, and to deploy additional U.S. forces to the region, is the latest outrageous attempt by the Trump administration to circumvent the bipartisan, bicameral will of Congress,” she said in a statement. “These unacceptable actions are cause for alarm.” 
 
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced Trump’s decision Friday night at the Pentagon. Allies’ requests
 
Esper said the forces would be “defensive in nature.” He added that the U.S. was responding to requests from Saudi and UAE officials to improve their air and missile defenses after last weekend’s attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations. U.S. officials have said Iran was responsible, an allegation that Tehran denies. 
 FILE – Workers fix the damage in Aramco’s oil-processing facility sustained in the Sept. 14 attack in Abqaiq, near Dammam in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, Sept. 20, 2019.The Sept. 14 assault exposed the vulnerability of the region’s oil facilities to drone and cruise missile attacks. 
 
Details regarding the U.S. deployments were to be discussed over the weekend and released next week, Dunford said Friday. 
 
“Secretary [of State Mike) Pompeo just came back this morning, and the Saudis asked for enhanced capabilities,” Dunford said. “We haven’t decided on specific units,” but those chosen would help enhance the countries’ air missile defenses. 
 
Pelosi said in her statement that the House and Senate had passed bipartisan legislation months ago to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE, as well as condemn the Saudis’ involvement in Yemen.  
 
“Once again, President Trump is turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s continued violence against innocent Yemenis, as well as its horrific murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its gross abuses of human rights, which represent a moral and humanitarian crisis,” she added. Iranian defiance
 
Hours after the U.S. announced the deployment, the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, warned that his forces “are ready for any scenario.” Salami added: “If anyone crosses our borders, we will hit them.” 
 
Also late Friday, the United Nations announced that it had sent a four-member team of international experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate the attacks on the oil installations. 
 
Earlier in the day, Trump announced new sanctions against Iran’s national bank, further escalating economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, but pulling back from any direct military action.  FILE – President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Oval Office of the White House, Sept. 20, 2019, Washington.”I think the sanctions work,” Trump said during a joint White House news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Trump also said “the military would work, but that is a very severe form of winning.” 
 
But Trump said he was not planning a military response to the attacks, telling reporters in the Oval Office, “The strong-person approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint.” 
 
Trump warned, however, that “Iran knows if they misbehave, they’re on borrowed time.” 
 
Trump announced the sanctions as his administration weighed other options on Iran, including military strikes. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday that a U.S. or Saudi military strike against his country would trigger “an all-out war.” 
 
The United States previously imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran because of its alleged nuclear program. But the U.S. Treasury Department said Friday that the latest sanctions had been imposed because Iran’s central bank engaged in “terrorism” by providing “billions of dollars” to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah.   
 
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has often said that any negotiations between himself and Trump can occur only if the U.S. first provides sanctions relief. 

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Pompeo, Emboldened After Bolton Exit, Takes Lead on Saudi Crisis

Secretary of state is taking the lead in responding to the attacks on Saudi’s oil processing facilities, viewed by many as his first major diplomatic crisis and a test of his leadership

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Pompeo Emboldened After Bolton Exit, Takes Lead on Saudi Oil Crisis

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is facing his first major crisis on how to respond to the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which he blamed on Iran. In response to the attacks, President Donald Trump has approved the deployment of U.S. troops — defensive in nature — and military equipment to Saudi Arabia. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine looks at Pompeo’s close relationship with the president and his leadership skills on display at this critical moment. 

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Trump Denies Pressuring Ukraine to Probe Company Linked to Biden’s Son

U.S. President Donald Trump is denying he said anything “wrong” in a telephone conversation with the new president of Ukraine during which Trump allegedly urged him to investigate the son of former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.Democrats meanwhile stepped up their criticism of the president for what they characterized as an attempt to engage a foreign leader in a scheme to damage the candidacy of Trump’s leading rival in the 2020 campaign.Trump tweeted Saturday morning he had a “perfectly fine and routine conversation” on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and that, “Nothing was said that was in any way wrong.”Trump accused Democrats and the news media of ignoring allegations against the Bidens and creating a false story about him.”The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat (sic) Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate … a story about me …”The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate a…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) FILE – Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, Nov. 14, 2016.Trump and Giuliani have pushed for an investigation of the Bidens for weeks, following news reports this year that explored whether a Ukrainian energy company tried to secure influence in the U.S. by employing Biden’s younger son, Hunter.Democrats are condemning what they perceive as a concerted effort to damage Biden, who has been thrust into the middle of an unidentified whistleblower’s complaint against Trump. Biden is currently the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.The Trump administration has blocked procedures under which the whistleblower complaint would have normally been forwarded by the U.S. intelligence community to members of the Democrat-controlled Congress, keeping its contents secret.FILE – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, gestures next to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, during a bilateral meeting in Warsaw, Poland, Sept. 1, 2019.However a series of leaks have indicated the complaint is based on multiple events, including the July telephone conversation between Trump and Zelenskiy, two people familiar with the matter said. The sources were granted anonymity in order to discuss the issue.
 
One person briefed on the call said said Trump urged Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The controversy unfolded amid a White House-ordered delay in the delivery of lethal military assistance to Ukraine, but the unnamed source was quoted saying Trump did not mention U.S. aid in his conversation with Zelenskiiy.Biden said late Friday that if the reports are accurate, “then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.” Biden also called on Trump to disclose the transcript of his conversation with Zelenskiy so “the American people can judge for themselves.”The intelligence community inspector general has described the whistleblower’s August 12 complaint as “serious” and “urgent,” conditions that would normally require him to forward the complaint to Congress. Trump has characterized the complaint as “just another political hack job.”The standoff  raises new questions about the extent to which Trump’s appointees, including the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, are protecting the Republican president from congressional oversight.Democrats maintain the administration is legally required to give Congress access to the complaint. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said any attempt by Trump to urge a foreign country to “dig up dirt” on a political foe while withholding aid is inappropriate.”No explicit quid pro quo is necessary to betray your country,” Schiff tweeted Friday.House Democrats are also battling the administration for access to witnesses and documents in ongoing impeachment investigations.The whistleblower case has lawmakers investigating whether Giuliani traveled to Ukraine to pressure the government to help Trump’s reelection chances by investigating Hunter Biden and whether his father intervened in the country’s politics to help his son’s business.Late in the administration of then-President Barack Obama in 2016, Joe Biden was sent to Kiev armed with a threat to withhold billions of dollars in government loan guarantees unless the country cracked down on corruption. Biden’s primary demand was to fire the chief prosecutor at the time, Viktor Shokin, for ineffectiveness. Shokin was fired shortly thereafter.But before the vice president arrived in Kiev, Shokin had already opened an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company on which Hunter was a board member receiving $50,000 per month. Burisma is owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a Ukrainian businessman and politician.While Republicans are suggesting the senior Biden used the loan money as leverage force an end to the Bursima investigation, Bloomberg News, citing a former Ukrainian official and Ukranian documents, reported that the probe had been dormant since 2015, long before Biden’s trip to Kyiv.Giuliani  had meetings this year in New York with Shokin’s successor, Yuriy Lutsenko. Around the same time, Ukraine revived the case against Burisma. The New York Times reported Lutsenko relaunched the probe to “curry favor from the Trump administration for his boss and ally.”The reported timeline appears to be more consistent with Biden’s contention that he was pushing for the ouster of a prosecutor who was failing to rein in rampant corruption, instead of seeking the firing of a prosecutor threatening a company linked to his son.During a CNN interview Thursday,  Giuliani initially said “No” when asked if he had asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, but said seconds later, “of course I did.” 

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‘I Want a Future’: Global Youth Protests Urge Climate Action

Young people afraid for their futures protested around the globe Friday to implore leaders to tackle climate change, turning out by the hundreds of thousands to insist that the warming world can’t wait any longer.Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to New York. More than 100,000 turned out in Berlin.
 
Days before a U.N. climate summit of world leaders, the “Global Climate Strike” events were as small as two dozen activists in Seoul using LED flashlights to send Morse code messages and as large as mass demonstrations in Australia that organizers estimated were the country’s largest since the Iraq War began in 2003.
 
“You are leading the way in the urgent race against the climate crisis,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres wrote in a message to the young protesters on Twitter. “You are on the right side of history. Keep pushing us to do the right thing.”
 
In New York, where public schools excused students with parental permission, tens of thousands of mostly young people marched through lower Manhattan, briefly shutting down some streets.
 
“Sorry I can’t clean my room, I’m busy saving the world,” one protester’s sign declared.
 
Thousands marched to the Capitol in Washington, including 15-year-old high school sophomore A.J. Conermann.
 
“Basically, our earth is dying, and if we don’t do something about it, we die,” Conermann said.
 
Thousands packed the streets around Seattle’s City Hall, following a march where tech workers from Amazon and Google joined students demanding an end to fossil fuel use.
 
Demonstrations came in smaller cities as well. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who recently abandoned his climate-focused presidential run, addressed a rally in Spokane, and a crowd chanted inside the rotunda of the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.
 
“It’s really unbelievable and really startling to know how little time we have to reverse the damage,” said Maris Maslow-Shields, a high school student from Santa Rosa, California, who marched in San Francisco.
 
In Paris, teenagers and kids as young as 10 traded classrooms for the streets. Marie-Lou Sahai, 15, skipped school because “the only way to make people listen is to protest.”
 Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg testifies at a Climate Crisis Committee joint hearing on “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis,” on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 18, 2019.The demonstrations were partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly “Fridays for Future” demonstrations for a year, urging world leaders to step up efforts against climate change.
 
“It’s such a victory,” Thunberg told The Associated Press in an interview in New York. “I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen, and so fast – and only in 15 months.”
 
Thunberg spoke at a rally later Friday and was expected to participate in a U.N. Youth Climate Summit on Saturday and speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit with global leaders on Monday.
 
“They have this opportunity to do something, and they should take that,” she said. “And otherwise, they should feel ashamed.”
 
The world has warmed about 1 degree Celsius since before the Industrial Revolution, and scientists have attributed more than 90 percent of the increase to emissions of heat-trapping gases from fuel-burning and other human activity.
 
Scientists have warned that global warming will subject Earth to rising seas and more heat waves, droughts, storms and flooding, some of which have already manifested themselves.
 
Climate change has made record-breaking heat twice as likely as record-setting cold temperatures over the past two decades in the contiguous U.S., according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.
 
Nations around the world recommitted at a 2015 summit in Paris to hold warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius more than pre-industrial-era levels by the end of this century, and they added a more ambitious goal of limiting the increase to 1.5 C.
 
But U.S. President Donald Trump subsequently announced that he would withdraw the U.S. from the agreement, which he said benefited other nations at the expense of American businesses and taxpayers.
 
Trump called global warming a “hoax” before becoming president. He has since said he’s “not denying climate change” but is not convinced it’s man-made or permanent.
 
New York protester Pearl Seidman, 13, hoped the demonstration would tell the Trump administration “that if they can’t be adults, we’re going to be adults. Because someone needs to do it.” At least one Trump supporter waved a large “Trump 2020” flag as the demonstrators marched in Manhattan.
 
In Florida, high school students shouted “Miami is under attack” in Miami Beach, where some worried about losing their homes to rising water. On the West Coast, student-led protests drew in some Google and Amazon employees.
 
Amazon, which ships more than 10 billion items a year, vowed Thursday to cut its use of fossil fuels, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the Financial Times in a story published Friday that eliminating the company’s carbon emissions by 2030 did not seem “unreasonable.”
 
Friday’s demonstrations started in Australia, where organizers estimated 300,000 protesters marched in 110 towns and cities, including Sydney and the national capital, Canberra. Demonstrators called for their country, the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack – filling in while Prime Minister Scott Morrison was on a state visit to the United States – said Australia was already taking action to cut emissions. McCormack called the climate rallies “a disruption” that should have been held on a weekend to avoid inconveniences.
 
Many middle schools in largely coal-reliant Poland gave students the day off so they could participate in the rallies in Warsaw and other cities. President Andrzej Duda joined school students picking up trash in a forest. German police said more than 100,000 people gathered in front of Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, near where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet thrashed out the final details of a $60 billion plan to curb Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions .
 
Thousands of schoolchildren and their adult supporters demonstrated in London outside the British Parliament. The British government said it endorsed the protesters’ message but did not condone skipping school – a stance that did not sit well with some of the young protesters.
 
“If politicians were taking the appropriate action we need and had been taking this action a long time ago when it was recognized the world was changing in a negative way, then I would not have to be skipping school,” said Jessica Ahmed, a 16-year-old London student.
 
In Helsinki, the Finnish capital, a man dressed as Santa Claus stood outside parliament holding a sign: “My house is on fire, my reindeer can’t swim.”
 
Smaller protests took place in Asia, including in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong and India. In the Afghan capital of Kabul, an armored personnel carrier was deployed to protect about 100 young people as they marched, led by a group of several young women carrying a banner emblazoned with “Fridays for Future.”
 
“We know war can kill a group of people,” said Fardeen Barakzai, one of the organizers. “The problem in Afghanistan is our leaders are fighting for power, but the real power is in nature.”

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Relief and Rescues in Houston Area After Imelda Leaves 4 Dead

Emergency workers used boats Friday to rescue about 60 residents of a Houston-area community still trapped in their homes by floodwaters following one of the wettest tropical cyclones in U.S. history.At least four deaths have been linked to the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda, which deluged parts of Texas and Louisiana and drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago. Officials took advantage of receding floodwaters to begin assessing how many homes and cars were flooded.Almost 16 feet of standing water was reported in Huffman, northeast of Houston, when a nearby bayou overflowed. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office deployed its marine unit to evacuate about 60 residents. Officials have warned residents high waters might not recede in their neighborhoods until the weekend.In this photo provided by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, a family is rescued via air boat from the flood waters of Tropical Depression Imelda near Beaumont, Texas, Sept. 19, 2019.East of Houston in Jefferson County, which got more than 40 inches of rain in 72 hours, officials also began taking stock of their damage. They also announced the death of Malcolm Foster, a 47-year-old Beaumont resident whose body was found inside his vehicle.The heaviest rainfall had ended by Thursday night in Southeast Texas, but forecasters warned that parts of northeast Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana could see flash flooding as Imelda’s remnants shifted to the north.Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been at least 1,700 high-water rescues following Thursday’s torrential rainfall.Most of the Houston-area roads that became water-logged after heavy rainfall Thursday and resulted in more than 1,650 vehicles being abandoned and later towed were mostly dry Friday.But parts of one of the major thoroughfares that passes through Southeast Texas — Interstate 10 — remained closed Friday because of flood waters in the Beaumont area. Another freeway section, closer to Houston, was also shut down as officials assessed damage to its bridges over the San Jacinto River after they were hit by two barges that broke free of their moorings.Nearly 123,000 vehicles normally cross the bridges each day, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.A postman walks through the flooded streets from Tropical Depression Imelda as he deliver mail, Sept. 18, 2019, in Galveston, Texas.Officials say two of the deaths from Imelda happened in the Houston area: an unidentified man in his 40s or 50s who drowned Thursday while driving a van through 8-foot-deep floodwaters, and a man whose body was found in a ditch Friday and is believed to have drowned.In Jefferson County, besides Foster’s death, officials say a 19-year-old man drowned and was electrocuted Thursday while trying to move his horse to safety.For many residents in Houston, Imelda’s punishing rainfall and flooding evoked the memory of Harvey, which dumped more than 50 inches (127 centimeters) of rain on the nation’s fourth-largest city in 2017. Imelda is the first named storm since then to impact the Houston area.The flooding from Imelda came as Hurricane Humberto blew off rooftops and toppled trees in the British Atlantic island of Bermuda, and Hurricane Jerry was expected to move to the northern Leeward Islands on Friday and north of Puerto Rico on Saturday. In Mexico, people in Los Cabos just missed Hurricane Lorena’s arrival after the storm veered to the east.
 

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More Sanctions as Trump Shows Military Restraint on Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump announced new sanctions Friday on Iran’s central bank, calling them the most severe sanctions ever imposed on a country. But it appears that he wants to avoid military action against Tehran, in response to recent cruise missile and drone strikes against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities. White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara has this story.
 

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Will US Republicans Feel the Heat from Climate Change?

Francis Rooney is a Republican congressman from a conservative Florida district who opposes federal funding for abortions and supports President Donald Trump’s plans for construction of a wall along the Mexican border.But he also recently co-sponsored a carbon pricing bill and is one of a handful of lawmakers from his side of the aisle who have bucked orthodoxy and acknowledged human beings are responsible for global warming.The modern Republican Party is one of the few political forces in the world whose leadership denies manmade climate change, but there are now small yet perceptible signs of changes within its ranks, driven by an increase in extreme weather events and shifting public opinion.FILE – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., second from left, poses during a ceremonial swearing-in with Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 3, 2019.“Seventy-one percent of the people in my district say that climate change is real. We’re scared of sea-level rise and we want the government to do something about it,” Rooney, citing recent polling, said at a talk this week organized by the World Resources Institute.In late July, he along with Democrat Dan Lipinksi of Illinois introduced a new bill aimed at setting a price on carbon emissions, one of several similar proposed laws currently before the House of Representatives.Extreme weatherFor now, the legislation has no hope of passing: fellow Republicans are highly unlikely to take it up in the Senate, and even if it did clear the upper house, Trump would almost certainly exercise his veto. But the bills “indicate that Republicans and Democrats are beginning to agree that a price on carbon is the most efficient way to reduce America’s emissions,” the Citizens’ Climate Lobby wrote in a blog post on the subject.FILE – A man hangs his clothes after washing them at the Mudd neighborhood, devastated after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, Sept. 6, 2019.“Republicans are getting very nervous about their lack of any serious policy on climate change, because climate change is beginning to have huge costs to average everyday Americans,” Paul Bledsoe, a former staffer for ex-president Bill Clinton and lecturer at American University, told AFP.  There is a broad scientific consensus that warmer oceans are supercharging hurricanes, making Category 4 and 5 storms more common. New research suggests that warming may also be affecting global atmospheric currents, thus increasing the frequency of ultra slow-crawling hurricanes like last month’s Dorian and 2017’s Harvey.Rooney and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who also supports a carbon tax, are the two most outspoken Republican lawmakers on climate change, but in recent months others have begun talking about the need to reduce emissions.These include Senator John Barasso from deep red Wyoming, who earlier this year introduced a bill to expand nuclear power, in part citing the need to address climate change, and a handful of others including Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and John Cornyn of Texas who have made similar calls to expand renewables.But if the majority of the party of Lincoln remains ostensibly skeptical of the science surrounding climate change, it was not ever thus.FILE – The coal-fired Plant Scherer in Juliette, Ga., June 3, 2017. The Trump administration is doing away with a decades-old air emissions policy opposed by fossil fuel companies, a move that environmental groups say will result in more pollution.Rightward lurchKarolyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute told AFP that when Americans first became conscious of it in the late 1960s, environmentalism was a non-partisan cause — indeed, it was under President Richard Nixon that the Environmental Protection Agency was created. The practice of imposing taxes to reduce emissions was later used to great effect by former president George H.W. Bush, who in 1990 signed an amendment to the Clean Air Act that placed a price on sulfur dioxide to address the then-serious problem of acid rain, a wildly successful policy.But Republicans then assumed a harder tack driven by lobbying from special interest groups funded by the likes of the Koch brothers, along with the emergence of an anti-taxation wing under the Republican Congress of the 1990s and the Tea Party movement of the late 2000s.The question of what happens next is up for debate. A Trump victory in 2020 would put to rest any chance of a serious climate policy becoming law in the U.S., according to Bledsoe, even if younger Republicans are starting to care more about the issue.But David Karol, the author of “Red, Green and Blue: The Partisan Divide on Environmental Issues,” said the emergence in Congress of the bipartisan “Climate Solutions Caucus” in 2016 was an interesting development, even if some environmentalists have deemed it a way for Republican legislators to “check a box and claim to care.”“Even if that’s true, the fact that the GOP politicians felt a need to do this says something about where they think public opinion is,” Karol said.
 

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