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Westlake Legal Group > fnc/world (Page 60)

China’s April exports fall amid US tariff war; imports rise

Westlake Legal Group chinas-april-exports-fall-amid-us-tariff-war-imports-rise China's April exports fall amid US tariff war; imports rise fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world fnc/world fnc BEIJING Associated Press article a4f507d6-181b-54b0-a3f1-7097e1d7ea87
Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news China's April exports fall amid US tariff war; imports rise fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world fnc/world fnc BEIJING Associated Press article a4f507d6-181b-54b0-a3f1-7097e1d7ea87

China’s April exports fell 2.7% from a year ago amid the country’s tariff war with Washington, while imports rebounded to 4% growth.

The data reported Wednesday come ahead of a new round of talks aimed at ending the fight with the Trump administration over Beijing’s technology ambitions.

The export figure was a striking decline from March’s 14.2% growth and reflected weakening global demand as well as U.S. tariff hikes on Chinese goods.

Imports recovered from the previous month’s 7.6 % decline in a new sign government efforts to reverse an economic downturn might be gaining traction.

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New Zealand cuts benchmark interest rate to new low of 1.5%

Westlake Legal Group new-zealand-cuts-benchmark-interest-rate-to-new-low-of-1-5 New Zealand cuts benchmark interest rate to new low of 1.5% WELLINGTON, New Zealand fox-news/world/world-regions/pacific fox-news/world/world-regions/australia fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 18c7c2a5-ffc7-50f4-a8b8-2e62f48c1aeb
Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news New Zealand cuts benchmark interest rate to new low of 1.5% WELLINGTON, New Zealand fox-news/world/world-regions/pacific fox-news/world/world-regions/australia fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 18c7c2a5-ffc7-50f4-a8b8-2e62f48c1aeb

Citing lower global growth, New Zealand’s Reserve Bank has cut the nation’s benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to an all-time low of 1.5%.

The cut on Wednesday brings New Zealand’s rate in line with Australia’s rate of 1.5%. It was New Zealand’s first cut since November 2016, when the bank also cut the rate by a quarter point.

The bank says demand for New Zealand’s goods and services has slowed since mid-2018 as global economic growth has moderated. It says employment was near the maximum sustainable level but the outlook for employment growth was subdued.

The New Zealand dollar fell by about one-third of 1 cent on the news, and was trading at a little under 66 U.S. cents.

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Philippines sets deadline for Canada to ship out garbage in filthy standoff

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_5809084545001_5809080623001-vs Philippines sets deadline for Canada to ship out garbage in filthy standoff Nicole Darrah fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/world fnc ec31f8ea-d895-5f7c-bdfe-d566e076cdcd article

Canada has agreed to pay to re-export the waste it shipped to the Philippines back home, but “bureaucratic red tape” is slowing down the process, according to Filipino officials.

The North American country said they’d pay to return their trash, but “the Canadian government has slowed down the process,” the Philippine Department of Finance said in a news release on Sunday.

PHILIPPINES’ DUTERTE THREATENS TO DUMP TRASH ON CANADA’S BEACHES FOLLOWING PROMISES OF WAR DECLARATION

The Philippines set a deadline of May 15 and prepared the trash for shipment by that date. The Canadian government, however, “informed that it might take weeks for them to arrange the necessary documents from their end” that would hinder them from meeting the upcoming deadline, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.

Between 2013 and 2014, Canada shipped more than 100 containers of household trash, including plastic bottles and bags, newspapers and used adult diapers to the Philippines.

State officials said that the Asian nation is “prepared to return 69 container vans” of the garbage that was discarded in the Philippines.

According to the Department of Finance, Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Affairs Donald Bobiash sent a letter dated April 24 that confirmed the Great White North would pay for the costs “and make necessary arrangements to bring the waste materials” back to Canada.

A Global Affairs Canada spokesperson confirmed to CTV News that Canada agreed to cover the costs, but would not discuss other information.

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Teddy Locsin Jr., the Filipino Secretary of Foreign Affairs, tweeted on Tuesday that Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte “expects the garbage to be seaborne by May 15. That expectation will be met or else…”

Duterte recently threatened to “declare war” against Canada if they failed to remove the garbage, and also threatened to throw it on Canada’s beaches. A spokesperson for the president said the comments from Duterte were “figures of speech” and an “expression of outrage.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_5809084545001_5809080623001-vs Philippines sets deadline for Canada to ship out garbage in filthy standoff Nicole Darrah fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/world fnc ec31f8ea-d895-5f7c-bdfe-d566e076cdcd article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_5809084545001_5809080623001-vs Philippines sets deadline for Canada to ship out garbage in filthy standoff Nicole Darrah fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fox-news/odd-news fox news fnc/world fnc ec31f8ea-d895-5f7c-bdfe-d566e076cdcd article

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro signs decree easing gun laws

Westlake Legal Group brazils-bolsonaro-signs-decree-easing-gun-laws Brazil's Bolsonaro signs decree easing gun laws RIO DE JANEIRO fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 181903a0-1c65-5fc7-9881-a6089a34d30b

President Jair Bolsonaro is loosening Brazil’s strict gun laws with a new decree, delivering on a campaign promise to make it easier for Brazilians to buy guns and ammunition.

The far right president signed the decree in a ceremony Tuesday night surrounded by supporting lawmakers who applauded and made finger-gun gestures with their hands.

The decree opens Brazil to guns and ammunition made outside the South American country, according to a summary of the decree. Gun owners can now buy between 1,000 and 5,000 rounds of ammunition per year depending on their license, up from 50 rounds. Lower-ranking military members can now carry guns after 10 years of service.

To own a gun in Brazil, citizens must pass a series of requirements including a psychological screening and a safety course.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-60862bc64c0f4e0492d1a2c469062dd3 Brazil's Bolsonaro signs decree easing gun laws RIO DE JANEIRO fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 181903a0-1c65-5fc7-9881-a6089a34d30b   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-60862bc64c0f4e0492d1a2c469062dd3 Brazil's Bolsonaro signs decree easing gun laws RIO DE JANEIRO fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 181903a0-1c65-5fc7-9881-a6089a34d30b

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US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released

Westlake Legal Group us-marine-among-activists-charged-with-storming-north-korean-embassy-in-spain-as-video-released US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

They entered the North Korean embassy in Madrid, Spain last February, and grabbed computers, thumb drives and a cell phone that they then handed over to the FBI, investigators said.

But instead of thanking them, the Justice Department is charging the pair.

The two dissidents, 37-year-old U.S. Marine Christopher Ahn and noted human rights activist Adrian Hong, are members of the North Korean resistance group Free Joseon, or “Free North Korea.” They are calling for the downfall of Kim Jong Un’s regime and consider themselves the “Provisional government of Free Joseon.” But now, the U.S. is seeking to extradite the two to face charges in Madrid.

Westlake Legal Group IMG_4825 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

U.S. Marine Christopher Ahn may be extradited to face charges. (Provisional Government of Free Joseon)

“We shouldn’t extradite these people to Spain,” says Gordon Chang, the noted Asian analyst and author of the new book, “Losing South Korea.”

“The Spanish should never have asked for extradition in the first place, because these ‘crimes,’ quote un-quote, are actually political.”

Westlake Legal Group Hong5 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

Human rights activist Adrian Hong was accused in the embassy break-in. (Hong family)

The group has been fighting the regime, and has helped some high-level North Koreans defect, including the son of Kim’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam, whose assassination with VX nerve gas in 2017 at the Kuala Lumpur airport was blamed on the regime.

Fox News obtained video purporting to show an activist removing the official portraits of Kim Jong Un and his father, Kim Jong Il, from the embassy wall. The activist then smashed the portraits on the floor, breaking the glass into pieces as it hit. That would be an unthinkable act in North Korea.

“What they have done is really God’s work, over a long period of time,” says Chang. “This group has been able to do some very important things that governments have not wanted to do and have not been able to do. And also we know that the group took thumb drives out of the North Korean embassy in Madrid, they gave them to the FBI and this is important because North Korean embassies are really centers of crime. North Korea raises money through criminal activities, which are centered on the embassies. I am sure that we found a lot of information about how North Korea launders money through Europe, because of the information this group gave to federal authorities.”

Christopher Ahn served in Fallujah, Iraq, and Hong is the co-founder of the group Liberty In North Korea, and has been recognized for his humanitarian work by then-President Obama, whom he visited at the White House.

Westlake Legal Group IMG_4828 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

Ahn served as a Marine in Fallujah, Iraq. (Provisional Government of Free Joseon)

The criminal complaint from Spanish authorities says that a group of about ten people, led by Hong, entered the embassy on February 2, and attacked “all the personnel that were in the diplomatic mission, until they managed to reduce them and place shackles and ties on them to immobilize them, and put bags on their heads.”

It claims that the embassy personnel were beaten and threatened “with iron bars and what appeared as firearms,” but that the chief North Korean diplomat “told them that he would not betray his country and would not defect.”

Westlake Legal Group Hong4 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

Hong was recognized by the Obama White House for his humanitarian work. (Hong family)

But Hong’s lawyer, Lee Wolosky, brands the claims that the group broke in and threatened violence as total nonsense. He says that the embassy’s video security cameras clearly show members calmly entering the building.

“We do not believe it is appropriate for the Department of Justice to execute warrants based on North Korean criminal complaints and the highly unreliable accounts of North Korean government witnesses. The North Korean witnesses who spent hours inside the embassy with representatives of the Provisional Government have an obvious incentive to lie and to maintain that they were subjected to extreme coercion,” he said in a statement to Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group IMG_4826 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

Ahn is a member of the North Korean resistance group Free Joseon, or “Free North Korea.” (Provisional Government of Free Joseon)

Gordon Chang said the U.S. government should not prosecute the activists based on what he says are questionable claims from Kim Jong Un’s diplomats. While he says that there is disagreement over what transpired in the embassy, “we do know that this group was trying to do some very important things that help the West, including Spain.”

Fox News viewed one video from a security camera inside an embassy conference room that purportedly shows a North Korean diplomat meeting with “Free North Korea” members, and they are seen calmly talking and laughing.

KIM JONG UN OVERSEES TESTING OF MULTIPLE ROCKET LAUNCHERS

“As we have maintained from the beginning, Free Joseon was invited to enter the Embassy, and there was no ‘attack’ or forced entry. The North Korean accounts are now contradicted by the CCTV images released by the Spanish authorities and the other evidence that we understand has now been provided to Fox News,” said Wolosky in his statement.

“They were probably invited in, this was probably an inside job,” said Gordon Chang. “Someone on the inside was going to defect. The reporting is that this was a botched attempt to get one of those senior North Korean diplomats to defect.”

Westlake Legal Group IMG_4827 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

Ahn and other activists have called for the downfall of Kim Jong Un’s regime. (Provisional Government of Free Joseon)

Chang says that if it got out to Pyongyang that the activists were actually allowed into the embassy by Kim’s diplomatic staff and remained there talking for several hours, “these people would be executed, after being tortured.”

“North Korea has a problem in Europe. They’ve had some senior diplomats defect recently, and so Pyongyang has been nervous about this network for quite some time.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Meanwhile, Christopher Ahn sits in a jail cell in Los Angeles awaiting the outcome of Spain’s extradition request, and Adrian Hong remains wanted by federal authorities.

As for the activists’ work, Chang says “it does give hope to the people of North Korea that they can have a better way of life.”

Fox News’ Ben Evansky contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group IMG_4825 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article   Westlake Legal Group IMG_4825 US Marine among activists charged with storming North Korean embassy in Spain as video released fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/marines fox news fnc/world fnc fd41fce2-7a2c-532e-826d-59629e98ce56 Eric Shawn article

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US Secretary of State Pompeo makes unannounced trip to Iraq

Westlake Legal Group us-secretary-of-state-pompeo-makes-unannounced-trip-to-iraq US Secretary of State Pompeo makes unannounced trip to Iraq MATTHEW LEE fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc de9d2bd3-c54c-5c0b-b34f-9349d04848cb Associated Press article

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made an unannounced trip to Iraq as Washington warns Iran against any action against American interests in the Middle East.

Pompeo was in Baghdad briefly Tuesday night before flying out.

Pompeo says his visit was meant to show U.S. support for “a sovereign, independent” Iraq, free from the influence of neighboring Iran. He met with Iraq’s president and prime minister.

Pompeo’s visit comes amid increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran. The U.S. is rushing an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East to deter or respond to any Iranian attack. U.S. officials have said there are indications Iran is planning to retaliate for the Trump administration’s stepped-up sanctions on the country, although the threat information remains vague.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-00843492adeb415fafcf6e9743b40970 US Secretary of State Pompeo makes unannounced trip to Iraq MATTHEW LEE fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc de9d2bd3-c54c-5c0b-b34f-9349d04848cb Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-00843492adeb415fafcf6e9743b40970 US Secretary of State Pompeo makes unannounced trip to Iraq MATTHEW LEE fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc de9d2bd3-c54c-5c0b-b34f-9349d04848cb Associated Press article

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Terrifying footage emerges from fiery Moscow plane crash that left 41 dead

Westlake Legal Group terrifying-footage-emerges-from-fiery-moscow-plane-crash-that-left-41-dead Terrifying footage emerges from fiery Moscow plane crash that left 41 dead fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/world fnc article Anna Hopkins 21c88818-cdb3-56b5-907e-679e5a0c6c49

Video has emerged showing the moment a Russian airliner caught fire while making an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. The crash on Sunday left 41 people dead.

Footage taken by a passenger in a window seat shows the plane’s wing being engulfed in flames as others onboard cry and scream. A shuffle ensues toward the end of the video, as seatbelt signals can be heard coming on and off, and the person behind the camera appears to move.

The plane, an Aeroflot SSJ100, was carrying 73 passengers and five crew members when it was forced to turn around shortly after taking off from Moscow. It had been bound for the northern city of Murmansk. Of the 78 total people on board, 37 survived, largely due to the heroic efforts of the crew on board who rushed to evacuate passengers, officials say.

Among the dead was flight attendant Maxim Moiseev, Russian Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich said on Monday. Moiseev reportedly stayed aboard the plane as it burst into flames, helping passengers escape, when he perished.

Another flight attendant, Tatyana Kasatkina, said she began grabbing passengers by their collars and throwing them down escape chutes to safety.

AEROFLOT CREW’S HEROIC ACTIONS PRAISED, AS FLIGHT ATTENDANT KILLED TRYING TO SAVE PASSENGERS FROM DEADLY INFERNO

Westlake Legal Group Russia-Plane-1 Terrifying footage emerges from fiery Moscow plane crash that left 41 dead fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/world fnc article Anna Hopkins 21c88818-cdb3-56b5-907e-679e5a0c6c49

In this image provided by Riccardo Dalla Francesca shows smoke rises from a fire on a plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday. (Riccardo Dalla Francesca via AP)

BOEING KNEW ABOUT SAFETY-ALERT PROBLEM FOR A YEAR BEFORE TELLING FAA, AIRLINES

“People starting getting out of their seats and making for the exit while the jet was still traveling at high speed,” she told Lenta news agency. “They were phoning relatives, screaming that the plane was burning and falling.”

Some had just seconds to get out of the plane before succumbing to the fire. It is thought that the majority of those who died were choked by the smoke, according to TASS.

An investigation is now being launched into what caused the need for an emergency landing, and the subsequent fire. Three factors are believed to have contributed to the fatal event: insufficient piloting qualifications, equipment failure and inclement weather.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

The flight’s pilot, Denis Evdokimov, told Russian media that a lightning strike caused by a storm at takeoff caused the plane to lose radio communications.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun contributed to the reporting of this story. 

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6033864212001_6033854986001-vs Terrifying footage emerges from fiery Moscow plane crash that left 41 dead fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/world fnc article Anna Hopkins 21c88818-cdb3-56b5-907e-679e5a0c6c49   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6033864212001_6033854986001-vs Terrifying footage emerges from fiery Moscow plane crash that left 41 dead fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/disasters/fires fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/world fnc article Anna Hopkins 21c88818-cdb3-56b5-907e-679e5a0c6c49

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The master behind the mask: who is Iran’s most feared and powerful military commander?

Westlake Legal Group the-master-behind-the-mask-who-is-irans-most-feared-and-powerful-military-commander The master behind the mask: who is Iran’s most feared and powerful military commander? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox news fnc/world fnc article 79e4224c-fb79-5317-9c67-33ef669ac755

As intelligence warnings about possible attacks orchestrated by Tehran on U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East reverberate through Washington – prompting the rare advance announcement that a U.S. warship is now being deployed to the region – many are bracing for further escalation.

The new Iranian threat comes just a few weeks after the Trump administration designated Iran’s official military, known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organization. Tehran retaliated by classifying all American troops in the region as terrorists.

Wedged deep within the IRGC is arguably its most potent branch – the elite intelligence wing called Quds Force – which itself has been a designated terror group since 2007 and is estimated to be 20,000 strong.

Its long-running leader, routinely referred to as the “shadow commander” or “spymaster,” is considered one of the most powerful persons in Iran. So who is 62-year-old Qassem Soleimani, the military mastermind whom Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deems equally as dangerous at ISIS leader Abu al-Baghdadi?

“He is the individual most responsible for the destabilization and inflammation of sectarian tensions that Iran has sown throughout the Middle East. Soleimani is begrudgingly considered by his adversaries to be a brilliant strategist due to his pioneering of Iran’s asymmetrical warfare doctrine,” said Jordan Steckler, a research analyst with opposition group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).

“Despite being outmanned, outgunned and outspent by its adversaries, Soleimani has employed tactics including terrorist attacks, covert operations and the outsourcing of fighting to foreign militias to undermine the sovereignty of neighboring states and expand Iran’s military and diplomatic influence.”

MEDICAL MIRACLES: CHILD BURN VICTIMS IN SYRIA BROUGHT TO US FOR LAST SHOT AT LIFE

Born into an impoverished village in the southeastern province of Kerman, as one of six children, Soleimani is believed to have had only a high school education and survived on meager construction jobs in the city to make ends meet, at one point delving into fitness training and rising up the ranks in karate.

It wasn’t until the Syrian Civil War next door, with his staunch backing of the Shia-dominant Assad government, that ignited in 2013, that he suddenly came reluctantly to the limelight.

“Over the past two decades that he commanded the Quds Force, no photograph of his face was allowed in the Iranian media and much of Iranian society didn’t recognize his face,” said Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, an Iranian researcher and journalist now based in New York.

Westlake Legal Group Mideast-Iran-Islamic-State-1-1 The master behind the mask: who is Iran’s most feared and powerful military commander? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox news fnc/world fnc article 79e4224c-fb79-5317-9c67-33ef669ac755

FILE – In this Friday, March 27, 2015 file photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, right, greets Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei while attending a religious ceremony in a mosque at his residence in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File) (The Associated Press)

But his influence with the religious leadership was cemented during the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988 that he muscled his way into by being a standout commander.

“It was the first few years of the revolution that he became acquainted with Ayatollah Khamenei, then Deputy Minister of Defense,” Mirebrahimi explained. “And they found a close friendship. When the war began, he gained the trust of the senior Corps commanders. By the end, he remained at the key positions.”

In 1998, he was appointed to the most sensitive and esteemed position as the Major-General of the Quds Force.

In 2017, the United States sanctioned one of his brothers, Sohrab Soleimani, for his apparent role in Iranian prison abuses. Qassem himself was first sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council in 2007, and was again slapped by the U.S. in 2011 for “providing material support” to the Assad-led regime in Syria.

Little is known about Soleimani’s personal life, other than he is reported to have three sons and two daughters. According to a 2014 Weekly Standard report, one of his daughters is married to the son of former Tehran mayor Mohammad Baquer-Qalibaf.

Names of his family are not disclosed, but Iranian sources told Fox News that his daughters’ names are Zeinab and Leila. His mother-in-law’s name is Zahra Agha-Ali, and his wife goes by Faati – short for Fatimah, all of whom lead very quiet lives.

According to Steckler, he is the man who has long been responsible for “recruiting Shia Iraqis into militias, training them in Iran and returning them to Iraq equipped with increasingly sophisticated weaponry.” Much of that weaponry, the Pentagon has underscored, was used to kill more than 600 U.S. service members between 2003-2004 in the Iraq war.

JAILED IRANIAN MUSICIAN REBUFFS REGIME’S BAN BY RELEASING ALBUM ABOUT WAR AND OPPRESSION

And now, those militias remain an official Baghdad staple and are much lauded. Across Iraq, much of that same sentiment rings true. In Baghdad, many view Soleimani and his Iranian-backed militias, called the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), as pivotal, hardened “street fighters” who were able to take matters into their own hands and defeat ISIS without the constraints put on the U.S-backed Iraqi Army.

“The cities liberated by the militias didn’t have all the destruction that the cities relying on coalition airstrikes had,” one Iraqi politician explained.

Under Soleimani’s vision and leadership, analysts say, he has carefully purported to carve out a “Shi’a Crescent” in long-held Sunni territory throughout the ISIS battle. The crescent is essentially a land path that runs from Tehran through Baghdad to Damascus and then to Beirut – where it is considered to be a direct threat on Israel’s doorstep.

Beyond militias in Iraq and the pariah government of Syria, Soleimani is considered to be the chief one responsible for propping up proxies ranging from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Houthis in Yemen and even has a foothold with elements of the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

In an array of interviews with Fox News, several leaders lamented that in the immediate aftermath of the ISIS incursion to take over the country’s second-largest city of Mosul in June 2014 – when they were panicked and begging for help – neighboring Iran was there with reinforcements within a matter of hours. The United States, however, having pulled all troops out of the country at the end of 2011, was initially reluctant to get involved and even then took weeks to mobilize its backing.

The entrance to the once-embattled Iraqi city of Tel Afar, long occupied by ISIS, even adorned pictures of Soleimani as a seasoned leader at its entrance in the weeks after liberation.

Westlake Legal Group qassem-e1557247959863 The master behind the mask: who is Iran’s most feared and powerful military commander? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox news fnc/world fnc article 79e4224c-fb79-5317-9c67-33ef669ac755

A poster of Qassem Soleimani adorns the entrance of the Iraqi city of Tel Afar in the months after it was liberated from ISIS.

Another Iraqi Christian military and parliamentary leader – who showed off battlefield selfies with the notorious Soleimani – said that the Iranian top brass had taken it upon himself and went boots on the ground to clear Christian areas from ISIS in neighboring Syria. While that may be perceived by some as heroic, others see it as a long-term, scheming endeavor to shore up minority support wherever possible.

And while a leaked photograph of Soleimani’s visit to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) territory in the north of the country in October 2016 prompted tongues in the Western media to wag with horror, for leaders on the ground it was merely “business as usual” given that the two countries share a long border and have a cauldron of diplomatic issues to discuss.

“Qassem is little known in the West because he cares nothing for fame or publicity, but everything about power and ideology,” noted Steve Bucci, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation who served for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and senior Pentagon official. “The Regime loves him; the Iranian people fear him.”

Inside Iran, his name generates something of a split view. In March this year, Iran’s Supreme Leader awarded him the highest military order – the Order of Zulfaqar – making him the very first Iranian official to be endowed with the commendation since the 1979 founding of the Islamic Republic.

He was even immortalized in a 2017 epic animated film entitled “Battle for the Persian Gulf,” in which he takes center stage vanquishing the Americans in the imaginary conflict.

Yet one young Iranian dissident in the country told Fox News that, at least quietly, he is characterized as “a criminal,” but most are afraid to protest in the face of being arrested, maimed or killed.

Westlake Legal Group Soleimani_quds The master behind the mask: who is Iran’s most feared and powerful military commander? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox news fnc/world fnc article 79e4224c-fb79-5317-9c67-33ef669ac755

March 8, 2015: Gen. Qassem Soleimani, left, stands at the frontline during offensive operations against Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba, Iraq. (Reuters)

On the flip side, rumors have long circulated about assassination attempts or at least green lights from opposing countries, including Israel and Saudi Arabia – yet his presence continues to loom large, seemingly unfazed. Gen. Stanley McChrystal also recently revealed in Foreign Policy that as head of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in 2007, he was tasked with the “tricky” choice of whether or not to eliminate Soleimani as the convoy rattled close by. But ultimately, he chose not to give the order to “avoid a firefight and the contentious politics that would follow.”

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Even though the major general gives very few interviews, last year he used the state-run Tasmin news agency to issue an explicit warning to the Trump team.

“If you begin the war,” he cautioned. “We will determine its end.”

Westlake Legal Group 20ee97f1c7f248f28791fb93a9f40df9 The master behind the mask: who is Iran’s most feared and powerful military commander? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox news fnc/world fnc article 79e4224c-fb79-5317-9c67-33ef669ac755   Westlake Legal Group 20ee97f1c7f248f28791fb93a9f40df9 The master behind the mask: who is Iran’s most feared and powerful military commander? Hollie McKay fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox news fnc/world fnc article 79e4224c-fb79-5317-9c67-33ef669ac755

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Palestinians: EU, Russia and UN should counter US peace plan

Westlake Legal Group palestinians-eu-russia-and-un-should-counter-us-peace-plan Palestinians: EU, Russia and UN should counter US peace plan fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc EDITH M. LEDERER d88e1afa-d6b3-5567-9f84-7aade90cbf23 Associated Press article
Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Palestinians: EU, Russia and UN should counter US peace plan fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/religion fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc EDITH M. LEDERER d88e1afa-d6b3-5567-9f84-7aade90cbf23 Associated Press article

The Palestinian U.N. ambassador said Tuesday that the European Union, Russia and the United Nations should take action to save a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the long-awaited U.S. peace plan doesn’t lead to two independent nations.

Riyad Mansour told a group of journalists that these key parties that support two-states living side-by-side in peace need to take practical actions that would prevent a U.S. plan without an independent Palestinian state from succeeding.

“We have a global consensus with us” supporting a two-state solution, he said, adding that if the Trump administration plan runs against that consensus, then there should be “practical steps” by supporters of Palestinian independence not to allow that plan to be imposed.

President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, a key player in drafting the plan, has been tight-lipped about its contents, saying last week that the blueprint, which has been two years in the making, attempts to ensure security for Israel and provide economic opportunity to improve the lives of Palestinians. The plan won’t be released before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends during the first week of June, and perhaps not even then.

The Palestinians have pre-emptively rejected any peace proposal floated by the Trump administration amid concerns it would fall far below their hopes for an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem — which they want as their capital — and Gaza, lands captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Their demand for a two-state solution is supported by the U.N. and almost all of its 193 member-states.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ruled out the United States as a broker for peace with Israel in a speech to the Security Council in February 2018 and called for an international peace conference by mid-2018 with the key goals of full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine and a timeframe for a two-state solution. That deadline was missed.

Mansour said he told EU officials and members during a visit to Brussels last month that support for a two-state solution is welcome “but that is not sufficient — they have to act on it.”

He said the EU could call an international conference “to see how we can open ways to move forward” based on the “global consensus.” The EU could also help save the two-state solution by having all members — including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg — recognize the state of Palestine, he said.

As for Russia and China, Mansour said, Russia already has authorization, including in a Security Council resolution, to host an international conference in Moscow. He added that the Palestinians are talking with Russia on why it doesn’t call for an international conference.

Mansour said another option is for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Russia or the EU to call for a meeting of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators: the U.N., U.S., EU and Russia.

The Quartet “at least is a collective process and not only one party … trying to decide how we move forward,” he said, and it can move things forward based on past agreed positions.

Mansour said the Palestinians appreciate the two international conferences hosted by France, “but they did not build on it and continue it” — and also Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to host a summit between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which Netanyahu rejected twice.

So far, Mansour said, the Palestinians haven’t seen any results of its initiatives.

Mansour said U.S. actions — including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and cutting all funding for Palestinian refugees — and Netanyahu’s threat to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank will not solve the decades-long conflict and lead to peace.

“Some in the (U.S.) administration think, yes, what will help peace is break the legs of the Palestinians and one arm, and five teeth … and when they are on their faces on the ground crawling, they will come crawling to you for anything that you can offer them,” Mansour said.

“Those who think that way — they don’t know the Palestinians,” he said.

Mansour also insisted that the Palestinians will not leave their land.

“So if they want to force a one-state reality through annexation … the Palestinian people will accelerate their reproduction machines and increase the number of Palestinians to face apartheid — because there is no name to it except apartheid,” Mansour said.

And Israel “will be responsible for the ramification of such an action,” he said.

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Cuba cancels Conga Against Homophobia parade

Westlake Legal Group cuba-cancels-conga-against-homophobia-parade Cuba cancels Conga Against Homophobia parade fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fnc/world fnc e15ada18-bf9d-5589-989d-9639d471cde8 Associated Press article
Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Cuba cancels Conga Against Homophobia parade fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world fnc/world fnc e15ada18-bf9d-5589-989d-9639d471cde8 Associated Press article

The Cuban government has cancelled a parade widely seen as a sign of progress on gay rights.

The state-run Center for Sex Education run by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Communist Party First Secretary Raul Castro, said in a Facebook post Tuesday that the Conga Against Homophobia scheduled for an unspecified date this month had been cancelled on orders of the Ministry of Health.

The statement attributed the cancellation to “new tensions in the international and regional context that directly and indirectly affect our country and have tangible and intangible impacts in the normal development of our daily life and the implementation of the policies of the Cuban state.” The statement did not elaborate.

The Cuban government persecuted gays in the 1960s and ’70s but has since outlawed discrimination.

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