Politics Trump announces downing of Iranian unmanned aircraft: ‘The drone was immediately destroyed’Sean D. Naylor and Hunter Walker Correspondents•Trump says U.S. destroyed Iranian drone in the Strait of HormuzScroll back up to restore default view.WASHINGTON — President Trump announced that a U.S. Navy ship downed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday. The incident comes as tensions between the U.S. and Iran have sharply escalated in recent weeks.“I want to apprise everyone of an incident in the Strait of Hormuz today involving USS Boxer, a Navy amphibious assault ship,” Trump said. “The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down.”The Iranian drone was “threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew,” Trump said. “The drone was immediately destroyed,” he added.Trump discussed the incident at an unrelated ceremony where visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte presented the president with an American flag that flew on a U.S. vessel during the D-Day operations in 1944.Late last month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran claimed the drone had entered Iranian airspace, but American officials said it was flying over international waters. Several former U.S. officials subsequently told Yahoo News that, while it was unlikely that the drone did actually enter Iranian airspace, American drones have previously been flown over Iran.The drone downings haven’t been the only signs of aggression in the region. The U.S. has accused Iran of attacking commercial ships in the strait, a thin passage between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman that is one of the world’s key oil export routes.The latest incident occurred at about 10 a.m. local time, according to a statement from Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman that the Pentagon emailed to reporters following the president’s impromptu announcement. “A fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within threatening range” as the American ship was in international waters transiting the Strait of Hormuz, according to Hoffman. “The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”A Central Command spokesman was unable to say how the Boxer took the drone down, but CNN reporter Ryan Browne said in a tweet that U.S. Marines aboard the Boxer brought it down using jamming equipment.
The Navy’s website also lists a range of antiaircraft missiles and automatic weapons at the ship’s disposal.The USS Boxer. (Photo: Sebastian D’Souza/AFP/Getty Images)This was far from the first time that Iranian drones have approached U.S. Navy ships entering the Persian Gulf. “We got the normal welcome from the Iranians, UAVs overflights, exactly as we trained for; no surprises there,” Capt. Jack Killman told a Navy conference in October, according to a U.S. Naval Institute News report. “The small boats [and] the UAVs are definitely out there tracking us.” Killman served with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group when it entered the Gulf in June 2018.The recent incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, which have sharpened fears of a potential military conflict between the two countries, occurred against the backdrop of the fraying Iranian nuclear deal. That agreement, which imposed limits on Iran’s nuclear program, was reached in 2015 between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and Germany. In May 2018, Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement, which he called a “disastrous” deal that would not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Since then, while European countries have tried to keep the agreement together, Iran has begun enriching greater quantities of uranium than the deal would have allowed.Following the downing of the American drone last month, Trump said he considered a retaliatory strike on Iran, but called it off at the last minute because he felt the casualties would be excessive. Instead, he authorized a cyberattack against Iran.While Trump has campaigned on the idea of reducing American military involvement in the Middle East, his administration includes several high-ranking officials who have notably hawkish views on Iran, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. Just prior to the shootdown of the U.S. drone last month, a senior Trump administration official told Yahoo News the president’s Iran strategy is focused on applying “maximum economic pressure” through sanctions. However, the official said, the United States would respond to Iranian aggression militarily.“This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” President Trump said. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)“America is not seeking military conflict with Iran, but in an effort to deter credible Iranian threats, we have made clear that the U.S. has the capability and willingness to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region,” the official said.In his comments on Thursday, Trump asked other countries to join him in his efforts to confront and condemn Iran.“This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” Trump said. “The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.”After announcing the drone shootdown, the president moved on with the flag ceremony.“I thought you should know that,” Trump said.
The trade war has thrown a cloud over the long-term outlook for Chinese shipping containers, photographed here in May after being unloaded at the Port of Los Angeles
New York (AFP) – Big US companies are accelerating efforts to move more of their supply chains from China to neighboring countries in light of Trump administration tariffs.
Companies in sectors such as technology, clothing and footwear are exporting more goods from emerging giants including Vietnam and Malaysia, data show.
At the same time, the shift has exposed the murkiness of trade export rules, putting a premium on lawyers expert in the minutiae of US customs rules.
„We have a lot of questions from our members,” said Sage Chandler, vice president of international trade at the Consumer Technology Association. „Companies are trying to find ways to avoid having to pay 25 percent.”
Some companies may be pushing the envelope a little too much, violating US rules against „transhipments,” the routing of China-made goods through other countries to evade tariffs, legal experts say.
– Speeding shift from China –
President Donald Trump since last year has slapped 25 percent duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports and threatened additional levies on all other Chinese items coming to the United States — though the two sides agreed last month to hold their fire for now.
Trump’s trade measures have led some multinationals to fortify their North American operations and others to transfer some manufacturing capacity from China to any number of countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philipines, Bangladesh, India and Ethiopia.
Exports of computers and electronics from Vietnam to the United States have risen 71.6 percent in the first five months of 2019 compared with the year-ago period, according to government data.
The pattern has also held for other machines and equipment, with exports from Vietnam rising 54.4 percent over that period.
Even before Trump targeted China on trade, US companies had been reducing their dependence on China because of increasing production costs and elevated transport expenses compared with other Asian countries.
But the trade war has sped up those moves.
Ralph Lauren has „accelerated the diversification of our supply chain to mitigate the long-term impact of any potential tariff outcomes,” said a spokesperson for the clothing company, adding that tariffs have so far not hit the company’s goods.
Xcel Brands, which owns Isaac Mizrahi, Judith Ripka and other fashion houses, will cease manufacturing in China in 2020, a big shift from two years ago when the country was the source of 100 percent of its merchandise.
The company has moved clothes-making operations to Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh, and is exploring adding capacity in Central America, Mexico and Canada.
This retooling, which was in the works prior to the tariffs, could boost profit margins, said Xcel chief executive Robert D’Loren. The trade war with China „accelerated our sourcing diversification efforts,” he said.
A decade ago, more than 90 percent of US footwear was made in China. But today, the figure is 69 percent, said Matt Priest, president of Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.
– Problem solved? –
Yet shifting production outside of China to other Asian centers is not necessarily a panacea.
Many of these countries lack the roads, airports and other vital infrastructure of the world’s second-biggest economy. And there is no guarantee that the emerging manufacturing venues will be safe from US tariffs down the road.
Companies can also run afoul of US law if goods are made in China and then sent to an intermediate destination to dodge US tariffs.
„I have noticed an upswing in the number of tariff evasion cases that have been made public and also in the number of inquiries my firm has received,” said Jeff Newman, a Boston attorney.
A June Wall Street Journal report showed that billions of dollars of Chinese-made goods were being rerouted in this manner through Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
US customers officials did not respond to request for comment.
Retail giants such as Walmart and Target say significantly reducing their reliance on Chinese-made goods is unrealistic because of the demand for low prices.
That means retailers are more likely to stop producing goods with very low profit margins than to incur additional costs by moving production out of China, according to Priest of the footwear distributors association.
He points to flip flops, which earn returns of only around six or seven percent.
„It won’t be worth moving to Vietnam for six or seven percent-margin shoes,” Priest said.
„That shoe is not worth it.”
Task and Purpose
Here is what went down.
Alleged American ISIS Sniper Brought Home by the Defense Department to Face Charges
An American citizen who allegedly served as a sniper for ISIS and became a leader for the terrorist group is expected to appear in federal court on Friday after being returned to the United States by the Defense Department, officials said.
Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, who was born in Kazakhstan and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, is charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS, the Justice Department announced on Friday.
A U.S. official confirmed to Task & Purpose that the Defense Department had transported Asainov from Syria to the United States. Asainov had been in the custody of Syrian Democratic Forces.
No further information about the military’s role in transporting Asainov, to the United States was immediately available.
Asainov is accused of leaving Brooklyn in December 2013 to fight for ISIS in Syria, a Justice Department news release says. After becoming an ISIS sniper, he was promoted to become an „emir” in charge of training fighters how to use weapons and also tried to recruit someone else to leave the United States and become an ISIS fighter.
Prosecutors claim Asainov tried to buy a scope for his rile by paying roughly $2,800 to a confidential informant, the news release says.
„Asainov subsequently sent the confidential informant two photographs depicting the defendant holding an assault rifle fitted with a scope,” the news release says. „He messaged one associate exclaiming, in reference to ISIS, ‘We are the worst terrorist organization in the world that has ever existed’ and stating that he wished to die on the battlefield.”
A new study from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) claimscryptocurrencies are being used by U.S. adversaries to circumvent the nation’s geopolitical supremacy.
The report—published the same day that President Trump slammed Bitcoin on Twitter—focuses on Venezuela, China, Iran, and Russia, the four countries that are either subject to or most at risk of U.S. sanctions.
Venezuela has already launched a national crypto and China recently acceleratedits plans to do the same. Russia, meanwhile, is piloting multiple blockchain projects, seeking to develop a strategic advantage, and—on Saturday—Iranunveiled plans for a gold-backed cryptocurrency.
The FDD study warns that a national digital currency issued by any these nations—particularly one tied to a major commodity, such as oil—may make sanctions much harder to enforce. Washington, it said, needs to “cultivate the expertise and influence to lead in what is becoming an international crypto race.”
China, says the report—while locked in a trade war with America, is currently not subject to sanctions—poses the biggest threat. It’s the most technologically advanced of the U.S. adversaries, has the biggest economy and influence on world trade. It’s piloting blockchain technology, and a national cryptocurrency could compete with the dollar-based financial system.
“China’s buy-in, if it involved moving its trade onto a blockchain platform outside the conventional system, would be a game-changer,” said the report.
But the study also cautions against other—more clandestine—approaches U.S. foes could adopt.
These include creating a digital currency wallet infrastructure that allows residents to hold and trade crypto and use it for local transactions, or building significant reserves in a widely adopted cryptocurrency, and using these to gain more influence in the global financial system.
Statements made by Vladimir Putin, while not referencing bitcoin directly, suggest that, as Russian dollar assets decrease as a result of U.S. sanctions,“the world will look for alternative savings and transaction methods.” And analysts have highlighted an increase in over-the-counter trading of Bitcoin in Russia—where large quantities are traded, bypassing official exchanges.
Meanwhile, the fresh details about Iran’s plans for a gold-backed cryptocurrency reveal that it will be mined by a small consortium of private Iranian tech companies. Shahab Javanmardi, CEO of FANAP, an Iranian IT firm, also revealed that the new crypto will utilize Iran’s supplies of cheap electricity to “ease optimal use of Iranian banks’ frozen resources.”
The acting head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization has also claimed that “Iran is negotiating the use of cryptocurrency in its financial transactions with Austria, Bosnia, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, South Africa, and Switzerland to “circumvent U.S.-led sanctions.”
Venezuela is, to date, the only country to have issued a cryptocurrency, albeit one that has been derided by both the country’s citizens and international trading partners. However the report warned that the experiment is being used as “a valuable case study for other regimes to learn what not to do in deploying a blockchain sanctions resistance plan.”
The U.S., says the report, is at risk of being blindsided as the American financial sector has fewer short-term plans to build out the new types of money transfer systems that are being developed by its adversaries.
“Technology has created a potential pathway to alternative financial value transfer systems outside of U.S. control,” said the report. “The target timeline may be two to three decades, but these actors are developing the building blocks now.”
The husband of jailed British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said he is worried her future has become “more uncertain and ominous” after Iran’s seizing of a UK tanker in the Gulf.
Richard Ratcliffe has expressed concerned for his wife, whom he has not heard from since she was moved on Monday from Tehran’s Evin prison to a psychiatric hospital.
Mr Ratcliffe said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, who had recently ended a 15-day hunger strike, has not been allowed contact for almost a week.
“We were hoping now it is the start of a new week in Iran that we might at least get access. Nazanin’s dad is going down today again to try,” Mr Ratcliffe told the Telegraph. “I told the Foreign Office yesterday that in my view we should now regard Nazanin as held incommunicado.”
He said it was not known what treatment she was receiving or how long she was expected to remain in hospital. At Evin prison, she had been allowed regular phone calls to Mr Ratcliffe and her lawyer.
“With the tankers, obviously everything feels rather more uncertain and ominous,” he said.
„It reminds me of the very earliest days when she disappeared under IRGC control,” he added. „But I have promised myself I will wait a full week before really panicking.”
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose British nationality is not recognised by Tehran, is serving a five-year sentence for espionage, charges she denies.
Days before she was transferred, she told relatives: „Three and a bit years later (…) look at me now – I ended up in an asylum. It should be an embarrassment.
„Prison is getting harder and harder for me. I hate being played in the middle of a political game. I just hate it.”
Mr Ratcliffe said he was concerned what the decision by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to move her to hospital meant, as when they were involved „bad stuff happens”.
It was the powerful Revolutionary Guard which on Friday seized the British-flagged Stena Impero after warning it would retaliate the UK’s “unlawful” impounding of an Iranian ship.
Amid statements on the crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary, tweeted on Saturday that he was “very concerned about this week’s transfer of Nazanin to an IRGC (Revolutionary Guard Corp) hospital.
“We’d hoped this meant she was getting medical treatment she needs but the fact that she has been cut off from contact with her family is giving us huge cause for concern.”
The Foreign Office has tried to keep separate Mrs Zaghar-Ratcliffe’s case and the military manoeuvrings in the Persian Gulf, but there are concerns they are being linked by the Islamic Republic.
Iran ignored mounting European appeals on Saturday to release a British-flagged tanker as London denounced a “dangerous move” and summoned a senior diplomat of the Islamic republic.
Iraqi Kurdish authorities arrested Mazloum Dag, a 27-year-old Kurdish man from Turkey’s Diyarbakir region, in connection to Wednesday’s murder of Turkish Vice Consul Omsman Kose in regional capital Arbil
Arbil (Iraq) (AFP) – Iraqi Kurdish authorities announced Saturday they had arrested two suspects involved in the murder of three people, including a Turkish diplomat, in the regional capital Arbil this week.
The autonomous region’s security council first said its counterterrorism unit had arrested „the main perpetrator” Mazloum Dag, a 27-year-old from Turkey’s Diyarbakir region.
The council had put out a wanted notice for Dag a day earlier in connection to Wednesday’s killing of Turkish Vice Consul Osman Kose and two Iraqi nationals.
It later announced it had also arrested Mohammad Biskesiz, identifying him as „one of the accomplices of Mazloum Dag”.
It did not specify Biskesiz’s nationality or whether he was apprehended with Dag or separately.
Turkey’s Anadolu state news agency said Dag is the brother of Dersim Dag, a member of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
The HDP, the country’s second largest opposition group, is regularly accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of links to Turkey’s outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The HDP „strongly” condemned the Arbil attack, calling it an „absolutely unacceptable provocation attempt”.
It also slammed the accusation that one of its deputies was „designated as a target because of his brother”, without mentioning any names.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Ankara on Thursday launched a „comprehensive air operation” against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Qandil mountain area.
Since May, Turkey has been conducting a ground offensive and bombing campaign against Qandil to root out the PKK, considered a „terror organisation” by Ankara for its three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.
Other air strikes Thursday night targeted „PKK bases and members” in the Makhmur area south of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, wounding two in a displacement camp, local sources told AFP.
The attack on Wednesday saw at least one gunman with two pistols fire on a group of diplomats in a restaurant in Arbil.
Kose and one Iraqi died Wednesday, while the second Iraqi succumbed to his wounds overnight.
Bosnia Mass Funeral
PRIJEDOR, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Several thousand people attended a funeral service in Bosnia on Saturday for 86 Muslims who were slain by Serbs in one of the worst atrocities of the country’s 1992-95 war.
Relatives of the victims, religious leaders and others gathered at a soccer stadium near the eastern town of Prijedor, standing solemnly behind lines of coffins draped with green cloths.
The victims ranged in age from 19 to 61. They were among some 200 Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Prijedor who were massacred in August 1992 on a cliff on Mt. Vlasic known as Koricanske Stijene.
The victims were shot and killed by the edge of the cliff, their bodies falling into the abyss. The Serbs later threw bombs onto the bodies, which made identifying the victims difficult.
The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia sentenced several ex-Bosnian Serb policemen for separating civilians from a convoy of people being deported from Prijedor and killing them.
Armin Suljanovic buried some of his brother’s remains Saturday alongside bone fragments that were previously identified and laid to rest. Suljanovic said his wife’s brothers and father were also being buried after the joint service.
„My relatives and I have been suffering for the past 27 years. It is a painful destiny to have, but now, at least, we’ll know where they are buried, we’ll have a place to visit to say a prayer for them,” he said.
More than 3,000 Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serbs were killed in Prijedor during the war. Many were taken to prison camps where they were beaten, starved and tortured.
Bosnian Serbs have been accused of carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing during the war, expelling non-Serbs from the territories they controlled during the war such as Prijedor.
More than 100,000 people died in the war in Bosnia and millions were left homeless. The conflict erupted after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia turning Bosnia’s Serbs, Muslim and Croats against each other.
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s prime minister resigned Friday after being invited for questioning by a Hague-based court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country’s 1998-99 war.
Ramush Haradinaj said he agreed to be interviewed at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers next week and didn’t want to appear there as prime minister. However, he said he and his Cabinet would continue running the country until a new prime minister is chosen.
„I considered that I cannot go to the questioning as head of the government,” Haradinaj said at a news conference.
Haradinaj urged Kosovar President Hashim Thaci to call an early parliamentary election and said he would be a candidate in hopes of regaining office. He said the special court summoned him as a suspect but also told reporters he wanted to run for reelection „because I am not accused.”
Kosovar President Hashim Thaci wrote on his Facebook page that he would take the necessary steps to install a new government.
Haradinaj’s government held together Cabinet was held with a delicate balance in the 120-seat parliament with some votes from the ethnic Serb minority parties too.
Haradinaj, who became prime minister in September 2017, said that while he thought the summons was politically bad for Kosovo, „I will respect the legal request. I will go there. I will defend myself as a fighter of my country.”
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and a separate Specialist Prosecutor’s Office were established in 2015 based on war crimes allegations against the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army catalogued by the Council of Europe, a human rights body.
A 2011 council report reported allegations that included the trafficking of human organs from prisoners and killings of Serbs and KLA members’ fellow ethnic Albanians.
The court, which is part of the Kosovo judicial system despite being based in the Netherlands, started questioning former Kosovo fighters this year. Haradinaj was one of the top KLA commanders during the war.
He has been prosecuted for alleged war crimes and acquitted twice before. A United Nations tribunal first cleared him of war crimes and crimes against humanity charges in 2008.
The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia concluded in 2010 that witnesses had been intimidated and sent the case back for a partial retrial. Haradinaj and two other former KLA commanders were acquitted in November 2012.
A French court refused to extradite him to Serbia to face war crimes charges there, expressing concern he would not get a fair trial.
At the time of the war, Kosovo was a Serbian province and KLA members mostly were ethnic Albanians. A bloody Serb crackdown against Kosovo Albanian separatists and civilians led NATO to intervene by bombing Serbia in spring 1999.
Thaci said Friday that one of his advisers, Bislim Zyrapi, and other former top KLA commanders also were to be questioned at the Hague.
„I believe in the purity of the KLA war and the high moral values of the freedom fighters,” he said.
Kosovo eventually made a unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 and it is recognized as a nation by the U.S. and most of the West, but not by Serbia and allies Russia and China.
A European Union-facilitated dialogue to normalize ties between Kosovo and Serbia stalled last year after Haradinaj won approval for a 100% tax on imported Serb goods until Belgrade recognizes Pristina.
Haradinaj resisted entreaties from the United States and the EU to lift or suspend the tax.
„Kosovo is having an unfair pressure for the price of Serbia’s recognition,” he said Friday.
His resignation does not mean the tax will be lifted soon. Holding an election and forming a new government has taken at least three months in previous years.
This story has been corrected to show a U.N. tribunal acquitted Haradinaj twice, not three times.
Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.
Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini
Philippine police have recommended sedition charges against the vice president and other opposition figures, a move slammed Friday as an attempt to stifle dissent under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Police allege Vice President Leni Robredo, Catholic Church leaders and opposition politicians plotted to destabilise the Duterte government by implicating him in the narcotics trade.
Duterte launched a war against the drug trade when he came into power three years ago. The crackdown has claimed thousands of lives.
Prosecutors have opened a probe into the more than two dozen figures targeted, and they could face trial on charges that could lead to lengthy prison sentences.
The maximum penalty for sedition is six years in prison.
Robredo’s Liberal Party said the police recommendation was clear political harassment against the second-highest elected official of the country, and who is also among the most prominent opponents of Duterte’s drug crackdown.
„The enemies of democracy are behind this because the VP is the sole remaining obstacle to their plan to pursue the killings in the fake war on drugs, sell the Philippines to China and rule the country forever,” a party statement said.
Under Philippine law, the vice president is elected separately.
The case stems from a series of videos circulated online in which a masked man claims the Duterte family is linked to the illegal drug trade.
The others targeted by the police include opposition politicians and four Church leaders, most of them known critics of how the drug war has been conducted.
Critics say the conduct of the campaign could amount to crimes against humanity.
Apart from the anti-narcotics campaign, Duterte has also pursued friendly ties with China in pursuit of trade and investment despite rival claims over the South China Sea.
His setting aside of the standoff with China over the resource-rich waterway has been criticised as weakness by some in the Philippines.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which billions in trade passes annually.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has joined a growing chorus of lawmakers including Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., in calling for the resignation of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló over a corruption scandal involving leaked text messages between the governor and top aides.
In a Twitter video sent from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, Gabbard called „on all Democrats running for President to come here to Puerto Rico and show support for our fellow Americans” against corruption, and called for Rosselló’s resignation. Gabbard said she would be joining in the protests on the island.
The territory, whose residents are U.S. citizens, has been rocked by protests after nearly 900 pages of private chats between the 40-year-old governor and members of his administration leaked, revealing the men mocking women, disabled people, and victims of Hurricane Maria.
The scandal, informally known as „Chatgate,” came to light a day after Rosselló’s former secretary of education and five other people were arrested on charges of steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors.
Join me in calling on all Democrats running for President to come here to Puerto Rico and show support for our fellow Americans here who are taking a stand against corruption. We must stand up against corruption, even when that corruption is within our own ranks. #rickyrenuncia
Since then, U.S. lawmakers have called for the governor to resign. Ocasio-Cortez, whose family is from Puerto Rico, tweeted on Friday calling for Rosselló’s resignation.
„The people of Puerto Rico have spoken loudly and clearly for the world to hear,” she wrote.
The people of Puerto Rico have spoken loudly and clearly for the world to hear.
We must stand with la isla. Rosselló must resign. https://twitter.com/davidbegnaud/status/1152051423456256002 …
500,000 people marched last night thru Old San Juan demanding that Puerto Rico’s Governor resign, according to an @ElNuevoDia estimate
660,510 people voted to put Rosselló in office; he got 41.80% of the vote
An overwhelming majority want him to resignhttps://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/calculanque500000personassemanifestaronayercontrarossello-2506442/?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1563480471 …
Scott called on Rosselló to resign on Friday, writing „the island deserves new leadership.” He joined the call of Rep. Jenniffer Gonzlez, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress. Scott represents Florida, which has a large population of Puerto Ricans who migrated there after Hurricane Maria.
I’ve long advocated for the families of Puerto Rico. I’ve pledged to be their voice in the Senate. While I’ve been hesitant to weigh in too heavily on the internal political affairs of the island, it’s clear that the current leadership has lost the confidence of the people of PR.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro was the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for Rosselló to step down, telling BuzzFeed News on Friday morning, „The way they’ve treated the people of Puerto Rico, the administration has treated the people of Puerto Rico, I believe that he should resign.”
The protests on the island have tapped into long-simmering resentment about the slow pace of reconstruction efforts after hurricanes devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Out of some 10,000 schools, bridges and other damaged sites dotting the island, funding for only nine have gotten the green light from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as of July 17. A government watchdog says a dispute between FEMA and local officials over cost estimates has slowed the reconstruction process.
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, Ledyard King
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gabbard joins AOC, Scott in calling for Puerto Rico governor to resign
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president on Friday outlined the details of an impending prisoner swap with Russia, saying that Kiev is willing to release a jailed Russian journalist in exchange for a Ukrainian film director.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s statement comes at the end of the week of shuttle diplomacy, with the Russian and Ukrainian human rights ombudswomen holding talks both in Moscow and in Kiev. The flurry of activity around imprisoned Russians and Ukrainians follows last week’s first telephone call between Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A major prisoner swap would give a major boost to Zelenskiy’s party in Sunday’s early parliamentary election.
The Ukrainian government has been fighting with Russia-backed separatists in the country’s east since 2014, after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Dozens of Ukrainians have been put on trial by Russian authorities and convicted in what have largely been perceived as politically-motivated cases.
In addition, dozens of Russian citizens and separatist supporters are in Ukrainian custody, facing charges of treason and inciting separatism.
Political novice and former comedian Zelenskiy, who was elected in April, has said the release of Ukrainians in Russian custody is one of the most urgent priorities of his presidency.
Zelenskiy said in televised comments Friday that Ukraine could release journalist Kirill Vyshinskiy, who has been in jail for a year on treason charges, if Russia releases film director Oleg Sentsov from a Russian prison colony. Sentsov is serving 20 years in a Russian prison for allegedly plotting acts of terrorism.
„We can give you Mr. Vyshinskiy if you want,” Zelenskiy told reporters, addressing the Kremlin. „And you give us Sentsov back.”
A court in Kiev, however, ruled later on Friday to keep Vyshinskiy in custody through September.
The journalist who used to head the Kiev bureau of the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency insisted on his innocence in court and said he must be released, not merely swapped for another prisoner.
„A journalist should not be in jail for their work,” he said in court. „I’ve heard that someone wants to swap me. But I’m not a thing that can be swapped.”
Sentsov is arguably the highest-profile Ukrainian imprisoned in Russia. A native of the Russia-annexed Crimea Peninsula, Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015 for conspiracy to commit terrorism. His supporters call the prosecution of Sentsov, who staunchly opposed the annexation of Crimea, politically motivated.
Russia had been expected to release 24 Ukrainian sailors captured off Crimea last December but a Moscow court on Wednesday ruled to keep them behind bars pending trial.
Zelenskiy said Friday the seamen should be released without preconditions. Ukraine says they were abducted in international waters.
Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.
It’s been almost 20 years since Jennifer Lopez wore her iconic, Internet-breaking Versace gown to the Grammys, but it’s still making headlines…and shoes. The Italian fashion house has collaborated with Concepts to create a sneaker inspired by the dress in honor of its 20th anniversary and Lopez’s upcoming 50th birthday. The shoe’s leafy green design even has a nude tongue to replicate the gown’s deep neckline.
In a recent video on her YouTube channel, Lopez revealed that the legendary dress almost didn’t happen. In the days leading up to the Grammys, Lopez and her stylist were between the Versace dress and another, less daring option. Her stylist urged her to pick the other dress since the green gown had been worn three times already on the red carpet.
“Usually if you come to a fitting of mine, there are tons of dresses and tons of shoes,” she said. “There’s always so many choices. But this day we only really had a choice between two dresses. One was kind of like a white dress and the other was the Versace jungle-print dress…I put on the green dress and come out and Benny [Medina] goes, ‘That’s it. That’s it. Don’t even talk about it. That’s the dress.’”
Back in June at the CFDA Awards, Lopez revealed that after the 2000 Grammys, green had become her lucky color.
“Since that moment, green has always been my lucky color,” she said while accepting the Fashion Icon award. “It’s been around 40 movies, 11 albums, a couple of babies, a couple of divorces, but countless great moments [since that dress]. And as this night shows, there’s so much more to look forward to.”