Trump considering dramatic expansion of travel ban

The White House is considering dramatically expanding its much-litigated travel ban to additional countries amid a renewed election-year focus on immigration by United States President Donald Trump, according to six people familiar with the deliberations.

A document outlining the plans -- timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Trump's January 2017 executive order -- has been circulating in the White House.  But the countries that would be affected are blacked out, according to two of the people, sources who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the measure has yet to be finalised.

It is unclear exactly how many countries would be included in the expansion, but two of the sources said that seven countries - the majority of which are majority Muslim - would be added to the list.  The most recent addition to the ban includes restrictions on five majority-Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea.

A different source said the expansion could focus on several countries that were included when Trump announced the first iteration of the ban but that were later removed amid rounds of contentious litigation.  Iraq, Sudan and Chad, for instance, had originally been affected by the order, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 vote after the administration released a watered-down version intended to withstand legal scrutiny.  Trump later criticised the U.S. Department of Justice for the changes.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the effort, which several of the sources said was timed for release in conjunction with the third anniversary of Trump's first travel ban.  That order sparked an uproar when it was announced on January 27, 2017, with massive protests across the nation and chaos at airports where passengers were detained.

The latest deliberations come as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepares to transmit to the Senate the articles of impeachment that the Democratic-led House passed in the US Congress against Trump late last year, launching a formal impeachment trial just as the 2020 election year gets underway.  Trump in December became just the third president in history to be impeached by the House.  The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to remove him from office.

Trump ran his 2016 campaign promising to crack down on immigration and spent much of his first term fighting lawsuits trying to halt his push to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, prohibit the entry of citizens from several majority-Muslim countries and crack down on migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., amid other measures.  He is expected to press those efforts again this year as he ramps up his re-election campaign.

Just this past week, a coalition of leading civil rights organizations urged House leaders to take up the No Ban Act, legislation to end Trump's travel ban and prevent a new one.  The bill, introduced last year by Representative Judy Chu in the House and Senator Chris Coons in the Senate, would impose limits on the president's ability to restrict entry to the US.  It would require the administration to spell out its reasons for the restrictions and specifically prohibit religious discrimination.

Trump's revised ban eliminated some of the original's most contentious provisions, including making clear that those who held visas at the time of the signing could continue to enter the country.

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ISIS leader al-Baghdadi confirmed dead after apparent suicide during U.S. operation

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, sources have confirmed to Fox News.

Al-Baghdadi, who took over ISIS after his predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was killed in 2010, detonated a suicide vest, killing himself when U.S. Special Operations forces entered a compound in northern Syria where he was located, according to a U.S. defense official. No U.S. Special Operations forces were hurt or killed in the raid.

ISIS LEADER CALLS FOR 'CALIPHATE SOLDIERS' TO FREE DETAINEES FROM CAMPS, CONTINUE ATTACKS

“U.S. forces did a terrific job,” a U.S. military source told Fox News.“This just shows it may take time, but terrorists will not find a sanctuary.” The same source told Fox News that biometric tests confirmed that it was indeed Baghdadi.

The compound was located near the Turkish border in northwest Syria’s Idlib Province, a known terrorist stronghold that has served as a home to groups linked to al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi had long been suspected to be hiding in the Idlib Province.

Mazloum Adbi, General Commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, touted a “historical operation” in a tweet Sunday morning, crediting “joint intelligence work with the United States of America.”

Regarding Mazloum’s claim of Kurdish assistance in the operation, a U.S. military source simply told Fox News, “the Kurds have always been good partners.”

President Trump is scheduled to speak Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. ET, when he is expected to discuss the operation. Saturday night, he simply tweeted, "Something very big has just happened!"
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Al-Baghdadi reportedly had a $25 million bounty on his head.

Earlier this year, Iraqi intelligence officials speaking to Fox News maintained he was lurking in Syrian border towns, often wearing non-traditional or “regular” clothes, using a civilian car, and making sure anyone around him had no mobile phones or electronic devices in order to bypass detection.

Some experts had predicted that as time passed and ISIS losses in the Middle East mounted, it was inevitable that al-Baghdadi would be captured or killed.

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Iran’s Determination is Annoying for the U.S.

Teheran’s government has refuted —one by one— all the lies spread by the U.S. and its cohorts in the Middle East region. Some other nations in Europe, whose goal is to please Donald Trump’s wishes, have also gotten on that bandwagon of lies.

In this sense, the U.K. could not achieve its goal of disturbing the work of the Iranian government. Therefore, Great Britain had to free an illegally held Iranian oil tanker, which would result in the end in a greater political and economic damage for London.

Everything has been staged by the Empire especially by executing harassment tactics in the Hormuz Strait and along the Persian Gulf, all rejected by Iranian authorities, who deployed short-and-medium range missiles to respond any possible aggression from the British Royal Navy and Israel, or the continued presence of American drones. One of them was shot down while flying over Iran’s international water.

There have been no peaceful days lately. But the determination we mentioned before helped European allies of the U.S. to convince Washington to honor the nuclear treaty with Iran.

In this regard, it is important to highlight the outstanding combat readiness of the Iranian Army, the Guardians of the Revolution, and Senior Military Officers that showed they knew how to handle tough situations, conscious of Iran’s military muscle to face U.S. and Israel armies.

All these take place under Trump’s sick obsession to sanction everything that opposes the American interests. Iran is one of them. Other pressuring tactic is to insist several nations in Europe to buy the expensive gas produced by the U.S. instead of that sold by Russia.

From every perspective, it is alarming that the crisis unit in Washington has put the world on the verge of a bloodbath by demonizing not only Iran, but also Venezuela, Syria, the Palestine people, and raising tension with Russian and China while avoiding the multipolarization of the world aiming at increasing the profits of its arms industry, essential for the establishment in that country.

REASONS FOR A NONSENSE

Iran’s determination is what has stopped the Empire’ predation quest, lured by the gas and oil wells located in the Persian nation.

Plundering the oil and dividing the country could be even as lucrative as the continued threat to set fire to the region, raising the prices and delaying the breakdown of another fraud: the fracking.

This would provide the oil needed to “make America great again” at the expense of an environmental damage that they do not care about, nor those dead people because of cancer, nor the exorbitant debts that the Federal Reserve will cover up with its magical money-making machine.

But the attack clearly aims to undermine the regional security as Iran has been the mainstay of a very volatile region, and remains a retaining wall for the balkanization of Syria and Irak. And that is another reason why Iran plays an annoying role for the U.S. and its dominance projects.

The thing is that Iran has a geo-strategic position of great impact and stands as a military, economic, scientific, and technological counterbalance against the few elites in Israel and the abuses of the Saudi monarchy.

If we take a deeper look, we are facing the power of some people opposed to the world who break alliances and friends, and certainly, destroy themselves. There is no country in the world more devastated than the U.S. itself.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz/CubaSi Translation Staff

US to Weigh Sending New Military Forces to Middle East

The possible deployment of more US military forces and means in the Middle East will be analyzed by the national security team of President Donald Trump, according to government officials.

The evaluation will be made after attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13, but it is not clear when a decision will be made and the president will be informed, said the sources, quoted by CNN.

They pointed out that the debates will focus on the objectives of détente and defense against which Washington considers an Iranian attack, and the specific forces necessary to fulfill those goals.

In that regard, they mentioned additional soldiers, Patriot missiles, fighters and ships for several purposes.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran of attacking the ships, accusations that were rejected by Tehran.

The tankers Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair, operated by a Japanese company and owned by a Norwegian shipping firm, respectively, were hit by explosive devices as they left the Straight of Ormuz, some 50 kilometers off Iran's shores.

Pompeo said in an interview with Fox TV on Sunday that the United States would guarantee the free circulation of ships in that zone.

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Iranian President Blames U.S. for Middle East Tensions

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this Thursday blamed the United States for causing all the tensions in the Middle East with its economic war against the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani spoke during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who began a two-day official visit to the Persian nation on Wednesday.

'We welcome the government of Japan and its prime minister for their decision to expand political, economic, regional and international relations,' said the president.

The fact that the Japanese government maintains its interest in buying Iranian oil, he added, and in solving financial and other problems, is a point for the development of bilateral relations.

According to the Iranian dignitary, tensions are rooted in the U.S. economic war against the Islamic Republic, which if stopped, will see positive regional and global developments.

In any case, he pointed out, Iran will not start any war, nor will it respond vigorously to aggression.

The visit of the leader of the Japanese government focuses on the possibility of reducing tensions between Iran and the United States, which have been rising since May 2018, when Washington abandoned a sealed nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers.

The Japanese authorities support the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan or nuclear pact, because Tokyo is affected by the US's withdrawal of that consent and sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Although Japan is asking the United States to reconsider its boycott policy against Tehran, President Donald Trump hopes that Abe will intercede to find a solution to the current conflict.

'Given the concern over growing tension in the Middle East, Japan wants to do everything possible to achieve peace and stability,' the Japanese leader said.

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Blood Moon dazzles star gazers in longest lunar eclipse of 21st century

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A blood-red moon dazzled star gazers across much of the world on Friday when it moved into Earth’s shadow for the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century.

From the Cape of Good Hope to the Middle East, and from the Kremlin to Sydney Harbour, thousands of people turned their eyes to the stars to watch the moon, which turned dark before shining orange, brown and crimson in the shadow.

The total eclipse lasted 1 hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds, though a partial eclipse preceded and follows, meaning the moon will spend a total of nearly 4 hours in the Earth’s umbral shadow, according to NASA.

The fullest eclipse was visible from Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia and Australia though clouds blocked out the moon in some places.

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The eclipse will not be visible from North America or most of the Pacific.

Reuters charted the eclipse from across the world, capturing a shimmering orange and red moon above Cairo, the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, near Athens, the Bavarian village of Raisting in Germany, Rio beach in Brazil and Johannesburg.

In Nairobi, Kenyans watched as the moon darkened.

“This is what life is all about: Magical moments like this,” said Teddy Muthusi as he watched from Uhuru Park in Nairobi. “It’s just beautiful. It’s well worth it.”

On the banks of India’s Ganges, temples were closed ahead of the eclipse. Enthusiasts watched through telescopes at the Marina South Pier in Singapore and at the Al Sadeem Observatory in Al Wathba near Abu Dhabi.

Hundreds of people in Australia paid to watch the eclipse from the Sydney Observatory before sunrise.

When the moon moved into the conical shadow of the earth, it went from being illuminated by the sun to being dark. Some light, though, still reaches it because it is bent by the Earth’s atmosphere.

Graphic of eclipse tmsnrt.rs/2JP09kK

“It’s called a blood moon because the light from the sun goes through the Earth’s atmosphere on its way to the moon, and the Earth’s atmosphere turns it red in the same way that when the sun goes down it goes red,” Andrew Fabian, professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, told Reuters.

At the same time, Mars is traveling closer to Earth than it has done since 2003, so some observers may see what looks like an orange-red star - and is in fact the red planet.

“It is a very unusual coincidence to have a total lunar eclipse and Mars at opposition on the same night,” said Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society, who watched the eclipse from the Mediterranean Sea.

For thousands of years, man has looked to the heavens for omens of doom, victory and joy. The Bible contains references to the moon turning into blood and some ultra-Orthodox Jews consider lunar eclipses ominous and a cause for moral contemplation.

According to some Hindu beliefs, celestial bodies such as the sun and moon emit negative energy during an eclipse and so some temples in India were closed to minimize any disturbance.

Astronomers, though, said there was no cause for worry.

“There is no reason to believe that blood moons foretell doom,” said Massey. “This does not herald the apocalypse: seeing a lunar eclipse and Mars in the sky is something people should enjoy rather than worry about.”

The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.

 

UN Debates Will Focus on Middle East, Africa Issues

United Nations, Jul 3 (Prensa Latina) The Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN, Olof Skoog, announced that several issues about the Middle East and Africa will be the focus of attention during debates of the Security Council this month, in which the European delegation assumes the presidency.

Three sessions will be dedicated to Syria (days 3, 26 and 30) and special emphasis will be placed on the humanitarian situation of that Arab country after eight years of conflict, he said.

Yemen is also on the agenda, this is one of the issues that are very much addressed in the 15-member body that is deeply concerned about the violence scenario there and closely follows how the events develop, added the Swedish ambassador.

Next Monday there will be an open debate on children and armed conflict, which seeks to draw attention to the need to offer greater protection for minors and to devote more efforts in the prevention of a war, he said.

In addition, the adoption of a resolution on the protection of children in armed conflicts is envisaged.

Meanwhile, on July 18 the session will be devoted to the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations, while in the rest of the month the situation of countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan will be addressed.

Consultations on July 23 will be focused on Myanmar and a report is expected to discuss the possibility of a voluntary, safe and dignified return of the Rohingya people who fled the violence and are refugees in Bangladesh.

The Security Council will discuss on July 26 the way to continue supporting the peace efforts in Colombia, in the face of the change of government.

Another of the open debates will be on July 11 on the maintenance of international peace and security, with emphasis on the risks related to climate change.

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Lavrov: US Plan on Arab Troops Deployment in Syria 'Sovereignty Violation'

Russia and Egypt are united in their belief that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. Moscow and Cairo will coordinate actions on this issue, Lavrov said after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Moscow.

Acting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss topical issues on the international agenda, including the situation in Syria and the Iran nuclear deal, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We are convinced, like our Egyptian friends, that there is no military solution to this conflict. The adjustment of disputes can be achieved exclusively through political means through a comprehensive cross-Syrian dialogue in full accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the outcome of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, which was held in Sochi on January 30," Lavrov said.

According to Lavrov, the parties reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the close coordination of Russian-Egyptian actions in the Syrian direction.

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