U.S. Trump administration asks top court to allow it to resume federal executions
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In Prince Andrew Scandal, Prince Charles Emerges as Monarch-in-Waiting
•Queen Elizabeth with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at Buckingham Palace in London, June 3, 2019. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)LONDON — When Queen Elizabeth II welcomes President Donald Trump and other world leaders to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO, it will be another testament to her extraordinary longevity: She acceded to the throne only three years after the alliance was formed.Yet it will also showcase the House of Windsor at a wistful turning point, with the 93-year-old queen fading into history as her 71-year-old son and heir, Prince Charles, moves aggressively to assert his control, most conspicuously in trying to mop up the recent scandal that engulfed his younger brother, Prince Andrew.The fierce backlash over Prince Andrew’s television interview about his friendship with disgraced financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein has thrown a harsh spotlight on the queen’s management of the Firm, as insiders often refer to the royal family. More significantly, it has also dramatized how Prince Charles has effectively assumed the role of monarch-in-waiting.In the aftermath of Prince Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview, in which he showed no empathy for the teenage victims of Epstein and offered dubious defenses of his own conduct, Prince Charles called his mother from New Zealand to press her to strip his brother of his public duties. The Prince of Wales was said to be worried that the scandal had spiraled so rapidly that it was threatening to eclipse this month’s general election in Britain, the Times of London reported.Prince Charles has long pushed for a more streamlined royal family, with fewer members carrying out official duties, drawing from the public purse, or generating damaging publicity. But the Prince Andrew debacle is the most visible sign yet that the shift has begun to happen. Some British papers all but implored the heir to take de facto control.In an editorial under the headline “Shadow King,” the Times argued that the monarchy “needs a firmer grip at the center.” “This can only come from Prince Charles,” it said. “Although he has faced his own set of scandals, he has already taken on a greater role and can do more, in effect acting as king-in-waiting.”Valentine Low, who covers the royal family for that newspaper, said that under the aging queen, “there are all these different entities in the family, and they operate in silos.”“Andrew is a minor silo,” he said. “But you occasionally get a crisis where you need leadership from the center.”The latest crisis erupted at a time when Britain’s political leaders, paralyzed by Brexit, are in little position to help. Far from steadying the crown, as Prime Minister Tony Blair did when the queen misjudged the public mood after the death of Princess Diana in 1997, today’s politicians are drawing her into their own frantic machinations.Critics accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of misleading the queen when he asked her to suspend Parliament for a period of weeks, rather than the customary few days, in an effort to curtail parliamentary discussion and action on Brexit. The decision was later declared illegal by Britain’s Supreme Court.When the queen presented Johnson’s legislative agenda just weeks before Johnson called an election, critics said she was being exploited to deliver a campaign manifesto dressed up as a queen’s speech.“Politics, as we see at the moment, are grubby, dishonest and chaotic,” said Penny Junor, a royal biographer. “The monarchy is a rock of stability that has served this country well in times of crisis. But we’re coming to the end of a pretty troubled year, which adds to the woes of the family.”The interview with Prince Andrew raised a host of questions, not least whether the queen had signed off on her son’s decision to invite cameras into Buckingham Palace.The BBC journalist who conducted the interview, Emily Maitlis, said the queen had. But given the opacity of the palace, even she hedged slightly: Prince Andrew, she wrote in a behind-the-scenes essay published in the Times, told her team that “he must ‘seek approval from higher up.’ It dawns on us then that he means the Queen herself. At 8 a.m. the next day we have a message telling us to call his office. The Queen, it seems, is on board.”All of this intrigue unfolded, palace watchers noted, while Prince Charles was preparing to leave on his royal tour of New Zealand and the Pacific.What happened afterward was less mysterious. After four days of brutal headlines, calls for Prince Andrew to testify under oath to the FBI and a wholesale exodus of the prince’s charitable organizations, Prince Andrew issued a statement in which he declared that he had asked his mother to let him “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”The episode laid bare a paradox: While Buckingham Palace has prepared meticulously for the death of the queen and the accession of Prince Charles, its handling of the Prince Andrew affair shows that the royal family is less prepared to handle the vexing problems that keep coming up in the twilight of her reign.Any overt move to sideline the queen would be extremely sensitive, given her beloved status. She remains a seemingly eternal presence in British life, logging nearly 300 public engagements last year and speaking for the nation, like when she issued a statement after the terrorist attack on London Bridge, thanking “the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.”But royal watchers said her grip on internal matters had weakened for several reasons. Her husband, Prince Philip, who functioned as the family disciplinarian, is 98 and lives in retirement at Sandringham, one of the royal estates. In January, after striking a car in his Land Rover, he claimed he had been blinded by the sun, in what proved a harbinger of a troubled year for the monarchy.The queen had lost another trusted counselor in 2017 when her longtime private secretary, Christopher Geidt, left after an internal power struggle. Geidt, people with ties to the palace said, had put himself on a collision course with Prince Andrew and Prince Charles by trying to centralize control under the queen.But they also credited Geidt with running a tight ship. A military scholar, he helped arbitrate the negotiations between David Cameron and Nick Clegg that resulted in a coalition government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats after the elections in 2010.The queen’s current private secretary, Edward Young, is a less forceful presence, these people said. By contrast, the private secretary to Prince Charles, Clive Alderton, is a formidable former ambassador to Morocco who is expected to help the prince navigate his accession to the throne.However unsavory Prince Andrew’s history with Epstein, royal observers said it did not pose as dire a threat as had the unraveling of Prince Charles’ marriage to Diana. Except for potential legal exposure in a criminal investigation of Epstein, Prince Andrew is likely to vanish into memory (though not before the BBC broadcasts another program about him and Epstein next Monday).“They’ve moved swiftly to sort it out in the coldblooded and ruthless way they have,” Low said.Simon Jenkins, a columnist and author, likened Prince Andrew’s travails to a scandal involving a Hollywood celebrity. He said it was “of absolutely no consequence” in a country that is going to the polls in two weeks in an election that will have profound consequences for its place in the world.In an election debate two weeks ago, Johnson and the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, each tried, in their own way, to avoid making Prince Andrew a political issue when they were asked whether the monarchy was fit for purpose.“Needs a bit of improvement,” Corbyn replied.“The monarchy is beyond reproach,” said Johnson, who has faced questions about his own peccadilloes.What Buckingham Palace needs to worry more about, royal watchers said, is Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Reports of strain between him and his brother, Prince William, and of Meghan’s struggles to adapt to her new life, are more damaging because these young royals symbolize the House of Windsor’s future, not its messy past. “For them to be breaking away from the family,” Junor said, “does have implications for the future of the monarchy.”This article originally appeared in The New York Times.© 2019 The New York Times Company
Key Point: A high operational tempo leads to accidents.
Two deadly collisions involving U.S. Navy destroyers in June and August 2017 may have cost the lives of up to sixteen sailors, leading the Navy to declare a day-long operational pause to reflect upon its safety culture. That such similar accidents took place in such close proximity reflects stresses and failings common to the maritime fighting branch.
In the 1960s, the Navy also suffered a series of deadly accidents aboard its carriers. In their wake came major reforms addressing the inherent dangers of operating ships packed full of explosive munitions, fuel and jet planes. This three-part series will examine why each of the accidents occurred, how the crew responded and the lessons that were drawn from the tragedies.
(Throw Those) Bombs Away!
The USS Forrestal was the United States’ first supercarrier, and the largest ever built when it was commissioned in 1955. Capable of launching larger, more powerful F-4 Phantom fighters on its thousand-foot-long flight deck using steam catapults, the Forrestal was deployed to Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin in July 1967 to contribute its Carrier Air Wing 17 to the intense bombing campaign over Vietnam.
Just nine months earlier, the smaller USS Oriskany experienced a devastating fire that killed forty-four sailors and pilots, all caused by a mishandled flare which triggered rockets stored in an ammunition locker. Misfiring rockets would also prove the bane of the Forrestal, but faulty bombs were more deeply implicated in the tragedy.
The Navy was flying hundreds of missions every day over Vietnam, with its A-4 Skyhawk attack jets typically carrying one thousand-pound bomb under each wing. In just four days of combat operations, the Forrestal’s air wing flew 150 missions, many targeting the Thanh Hoa railroad bridge in North Vietnam. That operational tempo depleted the munitions stocks at an extraordinary rate, so old M65 bombs were dispatched to fill the gap.
BRUSSELS — In another gesture to President Donald Trump, NATO announced Thursday that it had agreed to reduce the United States’ contribution to the alliance’s relatively small central budget, a move aimed at ensuring a calm leaders’ meeting next week in London.
The military alliance’s own budget, which covers its headquarters and staff and some small joint military operations, is about $2.5 billion a year, compared with more than $700 billion for the Pentagon.
At a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France in Paris, the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said that its members had agreed to redistribute some costs.
“The U.S. will pay less, Germany will pay more, so now the U.S. and Germany will pay the same,” he said, with each contributing about 16% of NATO’s central budget. Previously the United States paid about 22%.
The changes become effective in 2021, according to a NATO diplomat.
The NATO budget is separate from the 2% of gross domestic product that each NATO member has agreed as their goal for military spending by 2024.
Trump regularly complains about military spending by other NATO members, but other countries in the alliance have increased their military spending since the Russian annexation of Crimea five years ago by about $130 billion, a NATO diplomat said, a figure that Stoltenberg is expected to announce next week.
Even so, only eight of the 29 member countries meet the 2% goal.
NATO leaders are trying to keep Trump from disrupting this meeting, a short one to celebrate the alliance’s 70th anniversary, as he did the last Brussels summit in July 2018. Stoltenberg in particular has tried to keep close ties to the Trump administration, given the importance of the U.S. commitment to NATO.
At a news conference with Stoltenberg after their meeting in Paris, Macron defended his own criticism about NATO. The French leader, in an interview with the magazine The Economist, said that the alliance was approaching “brain death” because of a lack of coordination.
He was particularly irked that Trump had told President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey that he would pull U.S. troops out of Syria without having spoken to other NATO members.
“A wake-up call was necessary,” Macron insisted after much criticism of his language. “I’m glad it was delivered, and I’m glad everyone now thinks we should rather think about our strategic goals.”
Too much emphasis was put on military spending, Macron added, and not enough on strategy. France, a nuclear power, is among the NATO members not meeting the alliance’s target for military spending.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
© 2019 The New York Times Company
Emmanuel Macron’s bold – some might say hubristic – attempt to redefine the nature of Nato will go down like a lead balloon with most member states.
At a mundane level, it is perfectly true to say that Russia is not Nato’s enemy. No Nato country wants to go to war with Russia, and Russia certainly does not want a war with Nato.
And there certainly are good reasons for all Nato members to to worry about other threats like terrorism and the deteriorating situation in the Sahel.
But for Central European members who neighbour Russia, Nato’s old raison d’etre is as important now as ever before because – put bluntly – Russia is and remains their main security threat.
For them, being in an alliance that Russia does not want to risk a war with is the whole point.
Those members will be very guarded about any proposals from the French that look like an attempt to water that down.
Besides coming across as an arrogant dismissal of the security concerns of several member states, there is something else bothersome – if not frankly wearisome – about Mr Macron’s recent pronouncements.
There is a well established tradition of bright young Western politicians thinking they can clear up „misunderstandings” with Russia with a „reset” of the mess made by their predecessors – only to get upset when Vladimir Putin continues to pursue his vision of Russian interests anyway.
Barack Obama tried it. So did David Cameron. Both found that Vladimir Putin simply has a different vision of how the world should be – and what is in his country’s interests.
What Mr Macron is about to discover – if his foreign policy advisors have not already explained it to him – is that Russia views Nato as a fundamentally hostile alliance that poses a threat to its own national security and foreign policy interests.
The long term strategic vision in Moscow is for either a new European security space – in other words disbandment of Nato and its replacement with OSCE or something similar as the main forum for settling security questions on the continent – or, failing that, establishment of deterrence and respect for its „sphere of interests” – for example in Ukraine – with whatever means are effective.
So if Mr Macron wants to clear up „misunderstandings” with Russia, he can either disband Nato entirely or sacrifice what many of its members believe to be their central security and foreign policy interests.
‘It was chaos’: 10 wounded, no arrests made after New Orleans shooting rampage
The brief increase in British warships in the region, from one to two, underscores just how few ships the Royal Navy can deploy even in an emergency. More help likely won’t be coming.
Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, on July 28, 2019 joined the frigate HMS Montrose escorting vessels sailing under the British flag through the Strait of Hormuz. Naval escorts are an effective way of deterring the kinds of attacks that frequently have occurred in the summer of 2019.
On July 19, 2019 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps militia forces seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz, escalating a long-simmering conflict that began after U.S. president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear program.
After Trump restored economic sanctions, Tehran resumed stockpiling uranium. Iran and the West soon began tussling over Persian Gulf shipping.
Royal Marines in early July 2019 seized an oil tanker en route to Syria that British authorities suspected of breaching E.U. sanctions. Authorities told the BBC the ship could be carrying Iranian crude oil to the Baniyas refinery in Syria.
A few days later, Iranian boats tried to “impede” a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz. Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, “was forced to move between the three boats and the tanker,” according to the BBC.
The IRGC also allegedly was behind several recent bomb attacks targeting oil tankers in the Gulf and surrounding waters. Armed men, presumably Iranians, also boarded a second tanker with U.K. ties but did not detain the vessel.