Published: 4:04 am, Wed. Sep. 18th, 2019Updated: 9:04 pm
US says attack on Saudi oil site was an Iranian ‘act of war’
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations an “act of war” against the kingdom by Iran, as the Saudis displayed missile and drone wreckage and cited other evidence they said shows the raid was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
Iran, which has denied involvement in the attack, warned the U.S. it will retaliate immediately if it is targeted.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, said he is moving to increase financial sanctions on Tehran over the attack. He was noncommittal on whether he would order U.S. military retaliation.
At a news conference, Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said the attack Saturday that did heavy damage to the heart of the Saudi oil industry was “launched from the north and was unquestionably sponsored by Iran.” Yemen is south of Saudi Arabia, while Iran and Iraq lie to the north.
Al-Malki stopped short of accusing Iran of actually firing the weapons itself or launching them from Iranian territory.
‘A dumb thing to do’: Trudeau apologizes for brownface
TORONTO (AP) — Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign was hit Wednesday by the publication of a yearbook photo showing him in brownface makeup at a 2001 costume party. The prime minister apologized and said “it was a dumb thing to do.”
Time magazine posted the photo, which it says was published in the yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in British Columbia where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. It depicts the then 29-year-old Trudeau wearing a turban and robe, with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.
Trudeau, who launched his reelection campaign exactly one week ago, said he should have known better.
“I’m pissed off at myself, I’m disappointed in myself,” Trudeau told reporters traveling with him on his campaign plane.
The Canadian prime minister is but the latest politician to face scrutiny over racially insensitive photos and actions from their younger days. Earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam faced intense pressure to resign after a racist picture surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook page. He denied being in the picture but admitted wearing blackface as a young man while portraying Michael Jackson at a dance party in the 1980s. Since then, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has acknowledged wearing blackface in college, and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has publicly apologized for donning blackface during a college skit more than 50 years ago. None has resigned.
Israeli vote leaves Netanyahu’s political future in doubt
JERUSALEM (AP) — After a decade of mesmerizing world leaders, subduing his rivals and eking out dramatic election victories, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future is suddenly in doubt.
With near-final results from Israel’s election on Tuesday, he has been left well short of the parliamentary majority he had sought — not only to continue in power but also to fend off a looming corruption indictment.
With over 90% of the votes counted late Wednesday, challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party captured 33 seats in the 120-seat parliament, to 32 seats for Netanyahu’s conservative Likud.
That leaves neither party poised to control a majority coalition with their smaller allies, leaving maverick politician Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, as the key power broker. Lieberman has called for a broad unity government with the two major parties.
“Judging by the present situation assessment, Netanyahu is no longer capable of winning an election in Israel. This story is over,” said Yossi Verter, political commentator for the Haaretz daily.
AP source: Joe Kennedy to challenge Sen. Markey in primary
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a scion of one of America’s most storied political families, is set to announce he will challenge U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in the state’s Democratic primary in 2020.
A person with knowledge of Kennedy’s plans told The Associated Press that Kennedy will formally make the announcement Saturday. The person wasn’t authorized to preempt Kennedy’s announcement and spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity.
The 38-year-old grandson of Robert Kennedy has been quietly laying down the foundation of a run, building up his staff and formally announcing his interest in the race by filing preliminary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last month.
“I don’t think primaries are something that people should shy away from,” Kennedy told reporters at the state Democratic convention last Saturday. “The idea behind it is that every seat, my own included, the one that I currently occupy as a member of the House of Representatives, it’s up every two years. It’s a two-year term. You have to go out and make that case to voters every two years.”
Kennedy has shied away from directly criticizing Markey, calling him “a good man.”
Saudis couldn’t stop oil attack, even with top US defenses
WASHINGTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia spent billions to protect a kingdom built on oil but could not stop the suspected Iranian drone and missile attack, exposing gaps that even America’s most advanced weaponry failed to fill.
In addition to deciding whether that firepower should be turned on Iran in retaliation, the Saudis and their American allies must now figure out how to prevent a repeat of last weekend’s attack — or worse, such as an assault on the Saudis’ export facilities in the Persian Gulf or any of the desalination plants that supply drinking water.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked Wednesday on his way to Saudi Arabia how it was possible that the kingdom could have dropped its guard, failing to stop any of the low-flying cruise missiles or armed drones that struck the Abqaiq oil processing center — the largest of its kind in the world — and the Khurais oil field.
Even the best air defenses sometimes fail, he replied.
“We want to make sure that infrastructure and resources are put in place such that attacks like this would be less successful than this one appears to have been.”
No truce: Trump keeps up feud with California during visit
SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Donald Trump remains on a war footing. With California.
Trump’s primary mission during his two-day visit to the state was to raise millions from wealthy Republicans. But he also made a point of deriding the state’s handling of its homeless crisis, and on Wednesday, he issued a long-expected challenge to California’s authority to reduce car emissions.
Later, he threatened to sic the Environmental Protection Agency on San Francisco over its homeless population, accusing the city of allowing a tremendous amount of waste, including needles, to go through storm drains into the ocean.
“It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he returned to Washington. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco — they’re in total violation — we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, publicly called out the Trump White House for a lack of “moral authority” and lamented the state’s “unfortunate relationship” with the president.
Bermuda lashed by heavy winds from Cat 3 Hurricane Humberto
MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Humberto lashed Bermuda with strong winds Wednesday night as the powerful Category 3 storm passed just to the north of the British Atlantic territory, while another growing storm threatened tourist resorts along Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Bermuda Gov. John Rankin called up 120 members of the Royal Bermuda Regiment to prepare for possible storm recovery efforts and National Security Minister Wayne Caines cautioned everyone to stay inside. Authorities had ordered early closings of schools, clinics and government offices.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said hurricane-force winds began to hit the island of some 70,000 people by late afternoon and would last into early Thursday.
Humberto’s maximum sustained winds held at 120 mph (195 kph) and the storm was centered about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Bermuda on Wednesday night. It was moving east-northeast at 20 mph (31 kph).
James Dodgson, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, warned that the storm could produce tornadoes and dangerous storm surge.
Striking workers question whether UAW leaders can be trusted
ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) — The strike against General Motors by the United Auto Workers is playing out amid a corruption scandal inside the UAW that has caused distrust of the union leadership among many rank-and-file members.
On picket lines at plants across the country, many of the 49,000 workers have expressed doubts about whether UAW leaders are acting in their best interests in the dispute and in their handling of union money in general. Some have gone so far as to wonder whether the leadership took them out on strike to show that the union is working for them.
“Where there’s big money, there’s dishonesty, unfortunately,” 41-year employee Brian Jaeger said outside a parts distribution center in Van Buren Township, Michigan. He said he is grateful for the life that the union has brought his family and he supports the strike, but he is also suspicious of the leadership.
The walkout began Monday, with UAW members saying they want a bigger share of the billions that the No. 1 U.S. automaker has made off their hard work since it emerged from bankruptcy a decade ago with the help of union concessions. The strike — authorized Sunday in a vote by about 200 local union representatives — has shut down more than 30 factories in nine states, mostly in the Midwest.
In August, the FBI raided the suburban Detroit home of UAW President Gary Jones as part of the widening federal investigation. He has not been charged and has not commented on the raid. Earlier this month, Jones’ successor as union regional director in Missouri was charged in a $600,000 embezzlement scheme, and another UAW official pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from union vendors.
NOT REAL NEWS: Trump promotes false video of Rep. Omar
President Donald Trump on Wednesday used Twitter to share an edited video made by a conservative comedian that falsely accused Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of dancing and partying last week on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The inaccurate video provoked new Twitter criticism of the Muslim congresswoman from Minnesota, who has regularly faced accusations from her critics that she is unpatriotic. Omar’s supporters, meanwhile, rallied around her. Some called for Twitter to scrub the misleading content from its site, fearing the video could lead to attacks against the congresswoman.
“The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk,” Omar wrote on Twitter. “What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation?”
She was the second well-known politician in recent weeks to demand the tech giant stop the spread of misinformation. Earlier this month, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s campaign criticized Twitter for failing to act after social media users promoted a baseless claim that a mass shooter was among the former congressman’s supporters.
The video of Omar dancing to popstar singer Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” was taken Friday at an event celebrating Omar and four other congresswomen, according to Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who originally shared the clip to his Twitter account that evening. Omar also shared the video that day to her Twitter account.
Washington Monument reopens after 3-year closure for repairs
WASHINGTON (AP) — After a three-year closure, the Washington Monument is reopening to the public.
The 555-foot stone obelisk was closed in September 2016 in order to replace the aging elevator and upgrade security systems. The monument will reopen to the public at noon Thursday, and first lady Melania Trump is expected to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We’re just excited to open it again,” said National Park Service Spokesman Mike Litterst, during a Wednesday tour of the site. “The views from up here are like nothing else.”
The monument has been closed for most of the past eight years. An August 2011 earthquake left cracks in the stones near the top of the obelisk. It reopened in 2014, but Park Service officials were forced to close it again two years later after a series of elevator malfunctions.
“It was two or three times a week,” Litterst said. “We couldn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t get stuck.”