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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 251)

Hans von Spakovsky: Trump killing of Soleimani and action against Iran legal – Despite Democratic complaints

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121602468001_6121610963001-vs Hans von Spakovsky: Trump killing of Soleimani and action against Iran legal – Despite Democratic complaints Hans von Spakovsky fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/congress fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox-news/politics/defense fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 4cae8e12-936c-5ced-856e-b780a92fd0c2

The War Powers Resolution passed Thursday by the House in an effort to restrict President Trump’s ability to take military action to defend America against attack from Iran is a meaningless political document designed only to embarrass the president.

The nonbinding resolution criticizes the president for not “consulting” with Congress and receiving its “authorization” before ordering the killing of Iranian general and terrorist mastermind Qassem Soleimani. The resolution also orders Trump to stop using military force against Iran until he gets congressional approval.

Trump acted fully within his constitutional authority when he ordered the drone strike against Soleimani, a mass murderer responsible for thousands of deaths – including over 600 Americans – who was engaged in planning additional imminent and ongoing deadly attacks.

TRUMP TELLS FOX NEWS’ LAURA INGRAHAM ‘FOUR EMBASSIES’ WERE TARGETED IN IMMINENT THREAT FROM IRAN

President Trump told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham in an exclusive interview Friday that Soleimani was planning attacks on four U.S. embassies.

Nine other terrorists traveling with Soleimani were also killed in the U.S. drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq last week.

More from Opinion

Imagine how much better off we would be if U.S. forces had been able to kill Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden and nine of his fellow terrorist leaders while they were planning the horrific Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly than 3,000 people. Can anyone seriously argue that preventing those tragic deaths would not have been the right thing to do if a past president had the opportunity?

We’ll never know how many more people Soleimani would have murdered if he had lived longer, but it’s a safe bet that the number would be a big one, and that Americans would be among the dead. President Trump should be applauded for eliminating this very real threat.

Imagine how much better off we would be if U.S. forces had been able to kill Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden and nine of his fellow terrorist leaders while they were planning the horrific Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly than 3,000 people.

The framers of the Constitution understood we needed a strong president to defend our country. One reason they replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution was to create the office of president with the powers it currently possesses.

Article II of the Constitution makes the president the “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”  He is also vested with all of “the executive Power” and the duty to execute the laws.

The text, structure, and history of the Constitution make it clear that this article gives the president broad constitutional authority to use military force to support our foreign policy and to respond to threats to our national security.  And that’s the way it has been interpreted by successive administrations and the courts since the very beginning of our nation

As the U.S. Justice Department said in a 2001 legal opinion issued after the 9/11 attacks, the “power of the President is at its zenith under the Constitution when the President is directing military operations of the armed forces, because the power of Commander in Chief is assigned solely to the President.”

HOUSE PASSES WAR POWERS RESOLUTION IN REBUKE OF TRUMP’S ACTIONS AGAINST IRAN

No law and no congressional resolution – such as the one passed Thursday by the House – “can place any limits on the President’s determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make,” according to the Justice Department legal opinion.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. Congress has done so five times in our nations’ history and also authorized the use of military force over 40 times. But the commander in chief is charged with defending the country. He – and he alone – has the authority to use the armed forces for our defense.

In cases such as the killing of Soleimani – a situation calling for self-defense based on a verifiable, ongoing and imminent threat – a president can clearly act based on his constitutional authority. Neither Trump – nor any other American president – need ask for a congressional declaration of war or even an authorization for the use of military force in cases like this. 

Trump acted wisely, quickly, and constitutionally to save American lives. That’s something we are entitled to expect all our presidents to do – regardless of their political party.

You can be sure that if Trump had done nothing and Soleimani had gone on to stage a nightmarish terrorist attack that claimed hundreds or even thousands of American lives, the president’s critics would be screaming at the top of their lungs that Trump was incompetent and derelict in his duty for failing to prevent the mass murder.

The simple fact is that the authority of Congress to declare war does not limit the ability – in fact, the responsibility – of the president to direct the armed forces to respond either defensively or offensively to terrorist threats.

If Congress wants to flex its constitutional muscles on this, it can cut off funding for the military.  After all, Congress has the power of the purse. If it really wants to stop specific military actions, it can use its budget authority to withhold appropriations and to ban the use of any public funds for specific purposes.

The War Powers Resolution passed by the House Thursday does not do that. The fact that the House is not willing to use its actual authority in this matter strongly suggests that this resolution is just political theater meant to score points against the president.

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In addition, the nonbinding resolution puts members of the House in the embarrassing position of seemingly defending a terrorist mass murderer. It may give the rest of the world – including our most dangerous enemies – the impression that our government is in disarray and doesn’t want to respond to attacks on our embassies, our citizens and our armed forces.

This, in turn, could invite further attacks. 

Soleimani was unquestionably a legitimate target – someone who could have and should have been taken out years ago by a past president in the interests of our national security. Had that happened, an untold number of innocent civilians and members of the U.S. armed forces whose deaths were caused by Soleimani would still be alive today.

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Those condemning President Trump for taking out Soleimani should answer this question: How many American military personnel and others is a terrorist allowed to kill before you think he is a legitimate military target?

And Trump’s critics should be willing to sit down with the widows, widowers, orphans and parents who lost loved ones because of Soleimani’s barbarism and explain to them why it was a good thing than an earlier American president did not rid the world of this monstrous mass murderer.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY HANS VON SPAKOVSKY

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121602468001_6121610963001-vs Hans von Spakovsky: Trump killing of Soleimani and action against Iran legal – Despite Democratic complaints Hans von Spakovsky fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/congress fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox-news/politics/defense fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 4cae8e12-936c-5ced-856e-b780a92fd0c2   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121602468001_6121610963001-vs Hans von Spakovsky: Trump killing of Soleimani and action against Iran legal – Despite Democratic complaints Hans von Spakovsky fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/congress fox-news/politics/house-of-representatives/democrats fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/defense/conflicts fox-news/politics/defense fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 4cae8e12-936c-5ced-856e-b780a92fd0c2

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Live Updates: Iran Says Plane Was Misidentified as a Cruise Missile

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_166821423_cee7c765-85f7-4051-a580-d07974c2903b-articleLarge Live Updates: Iran Says Plane Was Misidentified as a Cruise Missile Zelensky, Volodymyr Zarif, Mohammad Javad Ukraine Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Muhandis, Abu Mahdi al- (1954-2020) Iraq Iran Deaths (Fatalities) Canada Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 left Tehran’s international airport at 6:12 a.m. and lost contact two minutes later, according to a flight tracker.Credit…Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

After maintaining for days that there was no evidence that one of its missiles had struck a Boeing 737-800 minutes after it took off from Tehran on Wednesday with 176 people on board, Iran admitted early on Saturday that its military had accidentally shot down the passenger jet.

The military blamed human error. In a statement, it said Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base.

In post on Twitter, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif, apologized but appeared to also blame American “adventurism” for the tragedy, writing: “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had been informed about the accidental shooting down, said information should be publicly announced after a meeting of Iran’s top security body, the semiofficial Fars news agency said on Twitter.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter that Iran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”

In a statement cited by the semiofficial Fars News Agency, the president offered condolences to the victims’ families and said that “the terrible catastrophe should be thoroughly investigated.”

He added that those responsible for “this unforgivable mistake” would be identified and “prosecuted.”

But he also said that in an environment of military threats and terror by the United States’ “aggressive” government against the people of Iran, and facing the possibility of American military strikes on Iran, the armed forces made a “human mistake and misfired” and “it led to a big catastrophe and innocent people were killed.”

“This painful incident is not something we can easily overcome,” he added, saying that was imperative to is correct any shortcomings in the country’s defense mechanism and ensure such a tragedy would not happen again.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in his first reaction to Iran’s announcement, said Kyiv would “insist on a full admission of guilt” by Tehran.

“We expect Iran to assure its readiness for a full and open investigation, to bring those responsible to justice, to return the bodies of the victims, to pay compensation, and to make official apologies through diplomatic channels,” Mr. Zelensky said in a post on his Facebook page. “We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles.”

Mr. Zelensky had come under domestic criticism this week for refusing to publicly blame Iran for the disaster even as the United States, Canada and Britain did. Instead, he dispatched a team of specialists to Tehran who sought to work alongside Iranians in studying the crash site. He implored the public to avoid speculating about the cause of the disaster.

Later, the office of the Ukrainian president posted on Facebook photos of what it said was shrapnel damage on the plane wreckage and a Canadian man’s passport showing piercings about half an inch in diameter.

Mr. Zelensky’s office said on Saturday that Iran had cooperated in Ukraine’s investigation of the crash and that Ukraine’s investigators had “received all of the necessary information from the beginning.”

It was now clear, Mr. Zelensky’s office said, that the investigation would be conducted fairly.

“Based on the information collected so far, thanks to the work of our group of experts, we have received enough information to know that the investigation will be conducted objectively and expeditiously,” Mr. Zelensky’s office said. “The political portion of the work is concluded. Our specialists continue to work in order to carry out all necessary legal procedures.”

Iran’s announcement on Saturday vindicated Mr. Zelensky’s cautious approach, said Ivan Yakovina, a columnist for the Kyiv-based magazine Novoye Vremya. “If there had been threats from Ukraine, then I believe Iran wouldn’t have allowed the specialists to do their jobs and generally would have refused to admit guilt,” he said.

Addressing reports that an earth mover had been spotted at the crash site in Iran, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, told reporters: “Unfortunately the jet’s remains covered a rather big territory, including a populated area. So it is accessible to other people — the jet’s fragments and also, let’s be honest, the fragments of bodies. It’s hard and unpleasant to talk about this, but the territory has to be cleaned up.”

On reports that the plane’s black boxes may have been downloaded by Iran, he said, “I don’t have the information that Iranians started to download the information from the black boxes.” But he added: “We are finding out with the Iranians where these boxes will go, whether they will be analyzed in Iran. We want them to be analyzed in Kyiv.”

A commander of the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran, Amirali Hajizadeh, said on Saturday that he accepted responsibility for the plane’s shooting down minutes after takeoff in Tehran, according to Iranian state TV.

In a televised address, he gave more details about the sequence of events that he said had led up to the disaster, which killed all 176 people on board the passenger jet. He said it had been misidentified as a cruise missile, and was shot down with a short-range missile that exploded near the plane.

He also said that the Iranian missile operator had acted independently because of “jamming.”

“I wish I was dead,” Mr. Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by local news outlets. “I accept all responsibility for this incident.”

He said that whatever decision the Iranian authorities made, “I will accept with the arms open.”

The downing came hours after Iran had fired a barrage of missiles at two American air bases in neighboring Iraq, in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, an Iraqi militia leader and others in Baghdad.

Asked during his address why Iranian airspace was not shut to commercial air traffic amid the attacks, Mr. Hajizadeh had no clear answer.

Iranians expressed fury toward their government in the first hours after Tehran’s admission, even as many planned to gather in main squares around town with candles at 5 p.m. Saturday local time.

Conservatives and supporters of the government accused the authorities of intentionally misleading the public initially about what had brought down the plane, whose passengers included many young Iranians on their way to Canada for graduate study.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, posted a harsh commentary condemning Iran’s leaders, saying “their shortcomings have made this tragedy twice as bitter.”

“It is pivotal that those who were hiding the truth from the public for the past 72 hours be held accountable, we cannot let this go,” it read.

“Individuals, media, political and military officials who commented in the past 72 hours must be investigated. If they knew of the truth and were deliberately speaking falsehood or for any reason were trying to hide it, they must be prosecuted, no matter what post they hold.”

Westlake Legal Group iran-tehran-airport-crash-flights-promo-1578698739538-articleLarge Live Updates: Iran Says Plane Was Misidentified as a Cruise Missile Zelensky, Volodymyr Zarif, Mohammad Javad Ukraine Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Muhandis, Abu Mahdi al- (1954-2020) Iraq Iran Deaths (Fatalities) Canada Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

Flights In and Out of Tehran Continued After Missile Strikes and Plane Crash

Planes took off after Iran’s missile strikes on bases in Iraq, and even after a Ukrainian plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

Siamak Ghaesmi, a Tehran-based economist, addressed the country’s leaders in an Instagram post: “I don’t know what to do with my rage and grief. I’m thinking of all the ‘human errors’ in these years that were never revealed because there was no international pressure.

I’m thinking of the little trust left that was shattered. I’m thinking of the innocent lives lost because of confronting and being stubborn with the world. What have you done with us?”

Mohamad Saeed Ahadian, a conservative analyst in Iran, said on Twitter, “There are two major problems with the Ukrainian Airlines issue. One is firing at an airplane and two is firing at the public’s trust. The first can be justified but the latter is a mistake with absolutely no justification.”

Some social media posts made use of the term “harsh revenge,” which Iran’s leaders had promised to inflict on the United States for the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander; an Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis; and others as they left the airport in Baghdad. The general’s killing sent shock waves through the Middle East and led to calls for revenge in Iran, as well as a vote by Iraq’s Parliament to oust American troops from that country.

Mojtaba Fathi, an Iranian journalist, wrote on Twitter, “They were supposed to take their harsh revenge against America, not the people.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group xxivid-iran-plane-2-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Live Updates: Iran Says Plane Was Misidentified as a Cruise Missile Zelensky, Volodymyr Zarif, Mohammad Javad Ukraine Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Muhandis, Abu Mahdi al- (1954-2020) Iraq Iran Deaths (Fatalities) Canada Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

The New York Times has obtained and verified video showing the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit in Iran.CreditCredit…Screenshot from video

International pressure had been building on Iran to take responsibility. American and allied officials had said that all intelligence assessments indicated that surface-to-air missiles fired by Iranian military forces had shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

Hours after the crash, Ukraine International Airlines officials had consistently ruled out pilot error or mechanical problems as the cause of the crash. They had said the Boeing 737-800, which was less than four years old, was helmed by some of the airline’s most experienced crew.

“We never thought for a second that our crew and our plane could have been the reason for this terrible, horrific aviation catastrophe,” the airline’s president, Yevhenii Dykhne, said in a Facebook post on Saturday after Iran’s admission. “These were our best young men and women. The best.”

Iran’s admission stood in sharp contrast to the aftermath of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian-backed separatists using a Russian-made missile in the east of Ukraine in 2014.

There was no immediate reaction from the United States to Iran’s admission, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been the first American official to publicly confirm the intelligence assessments.

“We do believe that it’s likely that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile,” Mr. Pompeo said at a briefing at the White House announcing new sanctions against Iran on Friday.

President Justin Trudeau of Canada, who has said his country expects to play a big role in Iran’s investigation of the airliner crash that killed 63 Canadians even though the two nations do not have diplomatic ties, said on Saturday that “closure, accountability” were needed after Iran’s admission, according to a statement from his office.

“Our focus remains closure, accountability, transparency and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims,” the statement said. “This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together.

“We will continue working with our partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, and the Canadian government expects full cooperation from Iranian authorities.”

The 176 people who died on the flight included 57 Canadians, many of them students or faculty at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. About 27 residents of Edmonton were on the plane.

In Canada, Iranians are comparative newcomers: Most arrived after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Today, by some counts, Canada has the third-largest number of expatriate Iranians in the world and its universities are a top destination for Iranian graduate students.

Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012, but Mr. Trudeau said on Wednesday that Canada’s foreign minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne, would contact his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to underline the need for a proper inquiry.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign relations committee in the Russian Senate, said Iran’s admission showed the downing of the plane had been a “tragic incident” and should not lead to further escalation between Iran and the West.

“It was a tragic incident; people cannot be returned,” Mr. Kosachev told the Interfax news agency. “The admission of error, although not immediately, and expression of condolences is sufficient to be accepted. With this, the incident should be closed.”

All sides should “learn lessons” from what happened, he said. The disaster “became possible in conditions of real danger of repeat American strikes, this time on Iranian territory, though this in no way justifies the mistake.”

Mr. Kosachev also pushed back on reports that the missile used to strike the plane had been Russian-made. He did not deny the missile’s origin, but rejected any Russian responsibility for what had happened. “There’s an effort to keep playing the Russian card,” he said, “and at the height of this tragedy, it is absolutely immoral.”

American intelligence officials have said that a Russian-made missile system designated SA-15 by NATO and known in Russia as the Tor struck the civilian airliner shortly after takeoff.

The Tor system is a mobile missile launch system, with eight missiles carried on either a tracked vehicle or a truck. The vehicles can operate without relying on other air defense infrastructure.

They carry both a radar to detect targets and a launch system. The low- to medium- altitude missiles were developed by Soviet engineers in the 1970s as a so-called lower-tier air defense weapon.

The Tor was designed to protect the airspace over a small area, such as above army formations or columns of tanks against a wide range of threats, including airplanes, helicopters, drones or missiles.

Russia sold the Tor systems to Iran in 2005 as part of a $1 billion arms deal and over the objection of American diplomats. It has also sold the system to more than a dozen other countries.

Reporting was contributed by Farnaz Fassihi, Anton Troianovski, Ian Austen, Andrew Kramer, Christiaan Triebert and Ivan Nechepurenko.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

The first full moon of the new decade did not disappoint.

The so-called “Wolf Moon” rose high in the sky Friday night to provide stargazers with quite the celestial treat.

Photographers from New York to northern England snapped the sight, which in some places around the world (but not the U.S.) was also visible as a penumbral lunar eclipse.

Check out some of the best pictures from around the world here:

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ae9424000039345a5926 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Peter Cziborra / Reuters Glastonbury Tor, England.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19b948240000d6355a592a First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

ASSOCIATED PRESS Pamplona, Spain.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19b9782400003500527b3e First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Alexey Pavlishak / Reuters Yevpatoriya, Crimea.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19b9872500003628990708 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Jon Nazca / Reuters Ronda, Spain.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19b9952500003628990709 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Peter Cziborra / Reuters Glastonbury Tor, England.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19add42500003628990701 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images New York, U.S.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ba342500008b2999070a First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Toby Melville / Reuters Sussex Downs, England.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ba63240000d6355a592e First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

NurPhoto via Getty Images Nea Artaki, Greece.

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VIJAY MATHUR via Getty Images Chandigarh, India.

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David Cannon via Getty Images Rye, England.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19bae7240000eb01527b41 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Jon Nazca / Reuters Ronda, Spain.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ae9d2400003200527b39 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Jon Nazca / Reuters Ronda, Spain.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ade22400003200527b37 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

NurPhoto via Getty Images Istanbul, Turkey.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19b48d2500003628990706 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

picture alliance via Getty Images Cologne, Germany.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19adfb2500003628990702 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

SOPA Images via Getty Images Malaga, Spain.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ae0424000000355a5925 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Edirne, Turkey.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ae192400003200527b38 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

GAGAN NAYAR via Getty Images Bhopal, India.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ae2a2500009729990703 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Ankara, Turkey.

Westlake Legal Group 5e19ad922400003200527b36 First Full Moon Of 2020 Is A Striking Celestial Sight

ASSOCIATED PRESS North Yorkshire, England.

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Fed Up With Fundraisers On Facebook? You’re Not Alone

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-522706266_custom-69a7d211142d510aff7cb2e02ee81aff80fca3f4-s1100-c15 Fed Up With Fundraisers On Facebook? You're Not Alone
Duncan Andison/Getty Images
Westlake Legal Group  Fed Up With Fundraisers On Facebook? You're Not Alone

Duncan Andison/Getty Images

If it seems that your Facebook feed is flooded with as many fundraising appeals for animal shelters, humanitarian groups and cancer researchers as your postbox was in December, you aren’t imagining things.

Those birthday fundraisers you’ve likely seen posted by your friends, tripled over the past year, from $300 million raised for charities in 2017-18, to $1 billion a year later. It’s great news for those nonprofits. But some Facebook users think it’s getting to be too much of a good thing.

Vinita Kochhar, a 47-year-old marketing executive from New Jersey is one of the many who are making the fundraisers something of a new birthday tradition. When she first heard about a charity raising money for school supplies for children in India, Kochhar felt she had to help.

“It hit me in the heart,” she says, “because what we take for granted every single day, I realized very quickly that there are kids that just don’t have that at all. A pencil to them is a big deal.”

Kochhar also realized how easily she could help; with just a few clicks on Facebook, she posted a fundraiser on her birthday — right when all her friends and family would be reaching out anyway.

“I would get gift cards or clothes or whatnot. So here was my opportunity to say, ‘in lieu of gifts, I’m asking for everyone to contribute to the cause that I believe in.”

Before Kochhar knew it, her post raised $11,000, prompting the kids in India to send her a Happy Birthday greeting video as a thank you.

“Honestly, I probably felt more fulfilled than I did when we had a huge party,” she says. “You know, it’s not always just about celebration. It’s about having purpose. And this gave me purpose.”

Donors are apparently feeling it too.

“I guess I like the feeling that I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” says Edward Grant of Berkeley, Calif. The 65-year-old finds it hard to resist when all those fundraisers pop up in his feed.

“There’s the man in Colombia, who has an education group for kids who live in the garbage dumps, and there’s a dancer who has cancer, and then I see the fundraiser for eradicating cervical cancer in the developing world. They’re working miracles,” Grant says while scrolling back through scores of causes in his feed that he’s contributed to.

“Oh my goodness,” he laughs. “I guess there are more than I realized.”

But some Facebook users are less amused.

“It’s like an avalanche,” grumbles Carolyn Toll Oppenheim, a retired journalist in Northampton, Mass. “The whole thing starts to feel overwhelming.”

And she says, “presumptuous.”

“Don’t hit me up [by saying] ‘in lieu of presents,'” Toll Oppenheim says. “Who buys all their Facebook friends a birthday present?! I don’t like it. There’s a guilt trip to it.”

Especially, she says, since everyone can see who has donated.

“That makes me cringe a little,” Toll Oppenheim says. “Are they checking who gave and who didn’t? I don’t like Facebook making me feel lousy.”

David Murphy, senior Technology Editor for Lifehacker.com agrees. He posted a “how to” for people who want to mute their fundraiser notifications.

“Those ‘give me money’ solicitations get a little annoying, especially when you’re receiving multiple notifications about fundraisers you never actually said you were interested in,” Murphy wrote last June.

There’s not a way to block all fundraisers, but Murphy says silencing the notifications offers at least a bit of a reprieve.

“I feel a little Ebenezer Scrooge,” he told NPR. “But it’s my newsfeed, my content. I want a curated experience.”

Besides, Murphy says, there’s something especially off-putting about such conspicuous giving.

“It’s a bit of a humblebrag,” he says. “It feels a little insincere.”

Lehigh Univerisity Associate Professor Jeremy Littau, who teaches about social media and social action, agrees there is an element of “slactivism” to Facebook birthday fundraisers, and it’s prone to be used by those who are looking for the “flex” or who may be “doing for it the gram,” in other words, for the sake of showing off on Instagram or Facebook. But Littau says the notion of “virtue signaling” is as old as giving itself.

“This is just a new evolution of something that has long existed,” he says. Still he says, in the realm of social media, fundraiser fatigue is a real risk.

“Facebook cannot theoretically just infinitely grow the number of fundraisers without some sort of blowback, either in terms of users protesting, or people just getting turned off to the idea altogether,” he says.

Facebook says the feedback to fundraisers is overwhelming positive, though Emily Dalton Smith, Facebook’s director of Social Impact Product, says the company is constantly reviewing and updating policies, just as it did two years ago, when it eliminated fundraiser processing fees, so that 100% of birthday donations now go to the charities.

“We know that no product is ever perfect,” Dalton Smith says. “We’re always looking for feedback to understand what could be better, and I expect that the products will continue to change over time.”

Ultimately, Facebook fundraisers such as Vinita Kochhar, say the good is far outweighed by the harm. It’s better to be bombarded by birthday fundraisers than just a slew of birthday selfies, says Kochhar.

“It’s refreshing to me to see that folks are not just focusing on themselves, but they’re focusing on causes,” she says. “At the end of the day, it matters not if someone’s saying it looks like they’re ‘flexing’ or any of that, in my opinion… I mean honestly, at the end of the day, if the folks that are in need are getting the money. That’s all that matters… Those dollars are going for good.”

And indeed, they are. Those who raise funds for hospitals, the homeless, the hungry, and the Humane Society are raking it in, thanks to Facebook. The Wayne County Humane Society in Wooster, Ohio, received thousands of dollars in the past year from birthday fundraisers, plus one wedding fundraiser.

Director Carrie Andrew says as important as getting the money, is the gift of suddenly having an army of fresh faces willing to solicit their friends.

“It absolutely is a relief,” she says, for nonprofits who would otherwise have to keep making their usual appeals to their usual supporters. That, she says, runs the risk of getting a lot more annoying than Facebook fundraisers.

“We feel like we are constantly asking for donations,” she says. “And we do feel like it gets old and stale, and people will begin to not want to support us because we’re constantly asking. So when someone takes it upon themselves to raise those funds for us instead of us asking for it…it is very helpful.”

Besides, Andrew says, scrolling past a few fundraisers on Facebook has to be less annoying than getting those dinner-time phone calls asking for money, or knocks at the door.

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Former White House Officials Call For Return Of Regular Press Briefings

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Omar, Tlaib balk after report of Trump administration plan to expand travel ban: ‘Straight up racism!’

Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., expressed outrage Friday after a report said the Trump administration was considering an expansion of the nation’s travel ban to cover more countries.

In a statement, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley neither confirmed nor denied the expansion report but defended the existing policy.

“The Travel Ban has been very successful in protecting our Country and raising the security baseline around the world,” Gidley said. “While there are no new announcements at this time, common-sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures — because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States.”

Nevertheless, Omar and Tlaib both addressed the travel ban Friday.

“What do 5 out of 7 of these countries have in common? They are Muslim-majority countries the President already tried to ban,” Omar tweeted.

It wasn’t clear whether she was referring to the currently banned countries or a potential list.

“We need to pass the #NoBanAct immediately to stop this madness,” she added.

Tlaib called the ban “Straight up racism!”

OMAR RESPONDS AFTER TEXAS USES TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER TO OPT OUT OF REFUGEE PROGRAM

“No more waiting,” she tweeted. “Too many Muslims have been intentionally targeted, discriminated against, separated from their families and denied opportunities solely based on their faith.”

The administration’s travel ban, which has been through several rounds of litigation and iterations, currently includes seven countries (with certain exceptions) not allowed to fly to the United States: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea.

Some confusion ensued at airports across the country in 2017 — about who was allowed in and who wasn’t — after President Trump signed the original travel ban into law through an executive order just seven days after taking office. Massive protests added to the disorder.

Trump’s first version of the travel ban — dubbed by critics as “the Muslim ban” because it called for a 90-day travel from Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — proposed blocking refugee admissions for 120 days and suspended travel from Syria and was immediately blocked by the courts.

Westlake Legal Group Rashida-Tlaib-Ilhan-Omar-Getty Omar, Tlaib balk after report of Trump administration plan to expand travel ban: 'Straight up racism!' fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/travel fox-news/person/rashida-tlaib fox-news/person/ilhan-omar fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 8b8041d0-7139-5469-94f5-c5f8f1ae71cc

​​​​​​​U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., left, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., at a news conference in Washington, March 13, 2019. (Getty Images)

A watered-down version was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote.

The list of banned countries could potentially be doubled from seven to 14, two people familiar with the proposal told the Associated Press. Iraq, Sudan and Chad could be on the list, a different person said.

The added countries would most likely be Muslim-majority – a point of controversy as Trump openly floated the possibility of banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. while running for president.

The expanded ban would reportedly be part of a hyper-focus on immigration for the 2020 election.

A document outlining the plan has been circulating around the West Wing, but the listed countries have been blacked out.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called the proposal “xenophobic.”

“An expanded Muslim Ban will worsen our relationships with countries around the world. It won’t do anything to make our country safer. It will harm refugees, alienate our allies and give extremists propaganda for recruitment,” she said.

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Trump criticized the Justice Department in 2017 for making changes to the original ban, tweeting they “should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group Rashida-Tlaib-Ilhan-Omar-Getty Omar, Tlaib balk after report of Trump administration plan to expand travel ban: 'Straight up racism!' fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/travel fox-news/person/rashida-tlaib fox-news/person/ilhan-omar fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 8b8041d0-7139-5469-94f5-c5f8f1ae71cc   Westlake Legal Group Rashida-Tlaib-Ilhan-Omar-Getty Omar, Tlaib balk after report of Trump administration plan to expand travel ban: 'Straight up racism!' fox-news/us/immigration fox-news/travel fox-news/person/rashida-tlaib fox-news/person/ilhan-omar fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 8b8041d0-7139-5469-94f5-c5f8f1ae71cc

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Brian Brenberg: Iran fears sanctions more than bullets — Economic pain is our most potent weapons

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121463028001_6121463829001-vs Brian Brenberg: Iran fears sanctions more than bullets -- Economic pain is our most potent weapons fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Brian Brenberg article 49597404-438f-5ee5-a66f-072c9554f26f

With the killing of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani and retaliation by Iran on U.S. bases in Iraq, many predict that military escalation is inevitable. But this view ignores the increasingly devastating effects of economic sanctions on Iran. The clear and compelling lesson of the past 18 months is that the U.S. doesn’t need to be drawn into war in order to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

Iran’s leaders face enormous and growing pressure at home as the country’s economy shrivels, and they’d like nothing more than to distract and unify the population with a “defensive” war with the West.

President Trump shouldn’t take the bait. Instead, he should stay the course of increasing economic pressure. Friday’s announcement that his administration will do just that is encouraging. Economic sanctions remain the most effective tactic to bring Iran back to the negotiating table in a weakened position and advance a safer, denuclearized world.

EX-NAVY SEAL JACK CARR: TRUMP GOT IRAN TO STAND DOWN BECAUSE OF THIS 

The economic pain caused by U.S. sanctions is the reason Iran has lashed out against our military forces and allies, and it remains the most potent weapon to undermine the regime’s influence in the Middle East.

The reinstatement in 2018 of restrictions on trade with Iranian energy, shipping, and financial firms, and exclusion from U.S. markets for companies who trade with Iran, has hammered the Iranian economy. Gross Domestic Product shrank by nearly 5 percent in 2018 and is forecasted to fall by nearly 10 percent in 2019. As a result, the unemployment rate in Iran rose to nearly 17 percent last year, and the cost of living has skyrocketed as key imports dried up.

As Iran tries to up the ante with rockets and bullets, we need to remember that the most potent weapon we’ve deployed and can continue to use, is economic pressure that strikes at the heart of Iran’s energy, shipping, and financial sectors.

U.S.-led sanctions have also decimated Iran’s oil production and revenue as oil buyers faced a choice: abandon Iran or lose access to U.S. markets. Overwhelmingly, they abandoned Iran. As a result, Iran’s oil exports have plummeted and are expected to continue to plummet, depriving the Iranian regime of a key source of revenue to finance its military and the militias it backs in the Middle East.

As Iran’s economy shrinks, its people are showing little patience for the government draining the country’s resources on nuclear weapons development and military pursuits. Economic turmoil caused Iranians to take to the streets in November to protest against their government, leading to severe and highly unpopular crackdowns by authorities.

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The Iranian regime has gotten more aggressive militarily because it simply cannot respond to—and cannot withstand– the economic pressure the U.S. is exerting. As Iranian behavior now threatens to become even more reckless and desperate, it would be a mistake for the U.S. to abandon this advantage.

Iran’s leaders are eager to shift from an economic to a military battlefield. Economic pressure has sowed popular discord in Iran, pitted the authorities against the people, and deprived the Iranian military of resources. But military confrontation with the U.S. could have the opposite effect—energizing both popular support for the regime and Iran’s armed forces and Iranian-backed militias.  From Iran’s perspective, the best way to unify its population is to pull the U.S. out of an economic war and into a shooting war.

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Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the administration would increase economic sanctions on Iran in response to Iran’s most recent attacks. The Trump administration’s restraint is prudent and strategic. As Iran tries to up the ante with rockets and bullets, we need to remember that the most potent weapon we’ve deployed and can continue to use, is economic pressure that strikes at the heart of Iran’s energy, shipping, and financial sectors.

Iran’s leaders know how to drag countries into demoralizing and prolonged military conflicts. It’s familiar territory for them, it’s a fight they think they can win, and they’re desperate to shift the focus away from the economic pain the U.S. has inflicted. The U.S. shouldn’t oblige. Sanctions have severely harmed Iran’s economy and deprived its leaders of resources and support. They’re lashing out because they’re out of options. We ought to keep it that way by sticking with the economic fight that Iran can’t win.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM BRIAN BRENBERG

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121463028001_6121463829001-vs Brian Brenberg: Iran fears sanctions more than bullets -- Economic pain is our most potent weapons fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Brian Brenberg article 49597404-438f-5ee5-a66f-072c9554f26f   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6121463028001_6121463829001-vs Brian Brenberg: Iran fears sanctions more than bullets -- Economic pain is our most potent weapons fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Brian Brenberg article 49597404-438f-5ee5-a66f-072c9554f26f

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Iran Blames Human Error for Downing of Ukrainian Plane: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_166821423_cee7c765-85f7-4051-a580-d07974c2903b-articleLarge Iran Blames Human Error for Downing of Ukrainian Plane: Live Updates Zelensky, Volodymyr Zarif, Mohammad Javad Ukraine Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Muhandis, Abu Mahdi al- (1954-2020) Iraq Iran Deaths (Fatalities) Canada Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 left Tehran’s international airport at 6:12 a.m. and lost contact two minutes later, according to a flight tracker.Credit…Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

After maintaining for days that there was no evidence that one of its missiles had struck a Boeing 737-800 minutes after it took off from Tehran on Wednesday with 176 people on board, Iran admitted early on Saturday that its military had accidentally shot down the passenger jet.

The military blamed human error. In a statement, it said the plane had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base.

In post on Twitter, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif, apologized but appeared to blame American “adventurism” for the tragedy, writing: “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had been informed about the accidental shooting down, said information should be publicly announced after a meeting of Iran’s top security body, the semiofficial Fars news agency said on Twitter.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter that Iran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”

In a statement cited by the semiofficial Fars News Agency, the president offered condolences to the victims’ families and said that “the terrible catastrophe should be thoroughly investigated.” He added that those responsible for “this unforgivable mistake” would be identified and “prosecuted.”

But he also said that in an environment of military threats and terror by the United States’ “aggressive” government against the people of Iran, and facing the possibility of American military strikes on Iran, the armed forces made a “human mistake and misfired” and “it led to a big catastrophe and innocent people were killed.”

“This painful incident is not something we can easily overcome,” he added, saying that was imperative to is correct any shortcomings in the country’s defense mechanism and ensure such a tragedy would not happen again.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in his first reaction to Iran’s announcement, said Kyiv would “insist on a full admission of guilt” by Tehran.

“We expect Iran to assure its readiness for a full and open investigation, to bring those responsible to justice, to return the bodies of the victims, to pay compensation, and to make official apologies through diplomatic channels,” Mr. Zelensky said in a post on his Facebook page. “We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles.”

Mr. Zelensky had come under domestic criticism this week for refusing to publicly blame Iran for the disaster even as the United States, Canada and Britain did. Instead, he dispatched a team of specialists to Tehran who sought to work alongside Iranians in studying the crash site. He implored the public to avoid speculating about the cause of the disaster.

Later, the office of the Ukrainian president posted on Facebook photos of what it said was shrapnel damage on the plane wreckage and a Canadian man’s passport showing piercings about half an inch in diameter.

Mr. Zelensky’s office said on Saturday that Iran had cooperated in Ukraine’s investigation of the crash and that Ukraine’s investigators had “received all of the necessary information from the beginning.”

It was now clear, Mr. Zelensky’s office said, that the investigation would be conducted fairly.

“Based on the information collected so far, thanks to the work of our group of experts, we have received enough information to know that the investigation will be conducted objectively and expeditiously,” Mr. Zelensky’s office said. “The political portion of the work is concluded. Our specialists continue to work in order to carry out all necessary legal procedures.”

Iran’s announcement on Saturday vindicated Mr. Zelensky’s cautious approach, said Ivan Yakovina, a columnist for the Kyiv-based magazine Novoye Vremya.

“If there had been threats from Ukraine, then I believe Iran wouldn’t have allowed the specialists to do their jobs and generally would have refused to admit guilt,” he said.

Later, a commander of the aerospace force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Amirali Hajizadeh, said in a televised address that he accepted responsibility for the plane’s shooting down minutes after takeoff, according to Iranian state TV.

He said the passenger jet had been misidentified as a cruise missile, and had been shot down with a short-range missile that exploded near the plane.

“I wish I was dead,” Mr. Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by local news outlets. “I accept all responsibility for this incident.”

He said that whatever decision the authorities made, “I will accept with the arms open.”

Iranians expressed fury toward their government in the first hours after Tehran’s admission, even as many planned to gather in main squares around town with candles at 5 p.m. Saturday local time.

Conservatives and supporters of the government accused the authorities of intentionally misleading the public initially about what had brought down the plane, whose passengers included many young Iranians on their way to Canada for graduate study.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, posted a harsh commentary condemning Iran’s leaders, saying “their shortcomings have made this tragedy twice as bitter.”

“It is pivotal that those who were hiding the truth from the public for the past 72 hours be held accountable, we cannot let this go,” it read.

“Individuals, media, political and military officials who commented in the past 72 hours must be investigated. If they knew of the truth and were deliberately speaking falsehood or for any reason were trying to hide it, they must be prosecuted, no matter what post they hold.”

Westlake Legal Group iran-tehran-airport-crash-flights-promo-1578698739538-articleLarge Iran Blames Human Error for Downing of Ukrainian Plane: Live Updates Zelensky, Volodymyr Zarif, Mohammad Javad Ukraine Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Muhandis, Abu Mahdi al- (1954-2020) Iraq Iran Deaths (Fatalities) Canada Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

Flights In and Out of Tehran Continued After Missile Strikes and Plane Crash

Planes took off after Iran’s missile strikes on bases in Iraq, and even after a Ukrainian plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

Siamak Ghaesmi, a Tehran-based economist, addressed the country’s leaders in an Instagram post: “I don’t know what to do with my rage and grief. I’m thinking of all the ‘human errors’ in these years that were never revealed because there was no international pressure.

I’m thinking of the little trust left that was shattered. I’m thinking of the innocent lives lost because of confronting and being stubborn with the world. What have you done with us?”

Mohamad Saeed Ahadian, a conservative analyst in Iran, said on Twitter, “There are two major problems with the Ukrainian Airlines issue. One is firing at an airplane and two is firing at the public’s trust. The first can be justified but the latter is a mistake with absolutely no justification.”

Some social media posts made use of the term “harsh revenge,” which Iran’s leaders had promised to inflict on the United States for the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander, in a drone strike last week.

Mojtaba Fathi, an Iranian journalist, wrote on Twitter, “They were supposed to take their harsh revenge against America, not the people.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group xxivid-iran-plane-2-square640 Iran Blames Human Error for Downing of Ukrainian Plane: Live Updates Zelensky, Volodymyr Zarif, Mohammad Javad Ukraine Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Pompeo, Mike Muhandis, Abu Mahdi al- (1954-2020) Iraq Iran Deaths (Fatalities) Canada Aviation Accidents, Safety and Disasters

The New York Times has obtained and verified video showing the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit in Iran.CreditCredit…Screenshot from video

International pressure had been building on Iran to take responsibility. American and allied officials had said that all intelligence assessments indicated that surface-to-air missiles fired by Iranian military forces had shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

Hours after the crash, Ukraine International Airlines officials had consistently ruled out pilot error or mechanical problems as the cause of the crash. They had said the Boeing 737-800, which was less than four years old, was helmed by some of the airline’s most experienced crew.

“We never thought for a second that our crew and our plane could have been the reason for this terrible, horrific aviation catastrophe,” the airline’s president, Yevhenii Dykhne, said in a Facebook post on Saturday after Iran’s admission. “These were our best young men and women. The best.”

There was no immediate reaction from the United States to Iran’s admission, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been the first American official to publicly confirm the intelligence assessments.

“We do believe that it’s likely that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile,” Mr. Pompeo said at a briefing at the White House announcing new sanctions against Iran on Friday.

The crash occurred days after the American drone strike that killed General Suleimani and an Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as they left the airport in Baghdad. The general’s killing sent shock waves through the Middle East and led to calls for revenge in Iran, as well as a vote by Iraq’s Parliament to oust American troops from that country.

Iran responded to the drone strike by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two American bases in Iraq. But the missiles caused little damage and no American or Iraqi casualties, President Trump and Iraqi officials said.

President Justin Trudeau of Canada, who has said his country expects to play a big role in Iran’s investigation of the airliner crash that killed 63 Canadians even though the two nations do not have diplomatic ties, said on Saturday that “closure, accountability” were needed after Iran’s admission, according to a statement from his office.

“Our focus remains closure, accountability, transparency and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims,” the statement said. “This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together.

“We will continue working with our partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, and the Canadian government expects full cooperation from Iranian authorities.”

The 176 people who died on the flight included 57 Canadians, many of them students or faculty at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. About 27 residents of Edmonton were on the plane.

In Canada, Iranians are comparative newcomers: Most arrived after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Today, by some counts, Canada has the third-largest number of expatriate Iranians in the world and its universities are a top destination for Iranian graduate students.

Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012, but Mr. Trudeau said on Wednesday that Canada’s foreign minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne, would contact his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to underline the need for a proper inquiry.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign relations committee in the Russian Senate, said Iran’s admission showed the downing of the plane had been a “tragic incident” and should not lead to further escalation between Iran and the West.

“It was a tragic incident; people cannot be returned,” Mr. Kosachev told the Interfax news agency. “The admission of error, although not immediately, and expression of condolences is sufficient to be accepted. With this, the incident should be closed.”

All sides should “learn lessons” from what happened, he said. The disaster “became possible in conditions of real danger of repeat American strikes, this time on Iranian territory, though this in no way justifies the mistake.”

Mr. Kosachev also pushed back on reports that the missile used to strike the plane had been Russian-made. He did not deny the missile’s origin, but rejected any Russian responsibility for what had happened. “There’s an effort to keep playing the Russian card,” he said, “and at the height of this tragedy, it is absolutely immoral.”

American intelligence officials have said that a Russian-made missile system designated SA-15 by NATO and known in Russia as the Tor struck the civilian airliner shortly after takeoff.

The Tor system is a mobile missile launch system, with eight missiles carried on either a tracked vehicle or a truck. The vehicles can operate without relying on other air defense infrastructure: They carry both a radar to detect targets and a launch system. The low- to medium- altitude missiles were developed by Soviet engineers in the 1970s as a so-called lower-tier air defense weapon.

The Tor was designed to protect the airspace over a small area, such as above army formations or columns of tanks against a wide range of threats, including airplanes, helicopters, drones or missiles. The Russian military, for example, uses the Tor system at its air base in Syria to shoot down small, improvised drones made by Syrian rebels.

Russia sold the Tor systems to Iran in 2005 as part of a $1 billion arms deal and over the objection of American diplomats. It has also sold the system to more than a dozen other countries. The foreign sales create economies of scale in Russia’s military industry, helping to underwrite research and development costs.

Reporting was contributed by Farnaz Fassihi, Anton Troianovski, Ian Austen, Andrew Kramer, Christiaan Triebert and Ivan Nechepurenko.

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Texas gusts topple 18-wheeler; Arkansas tornado destroys at least 3 homes

Westlake Legal Group lightning-istock-large Texas gusts topple 18-wheeler; Arkansas tornado destroys at least 3 homes fox-news/world/disasters/tornados fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/arkansas fox news fnc/us fnc d304d27e-fc2b-5d94-8bc2-99efbf43a3b1 Brie Stimson article

Strong winds in Texas reportedly flipped an 18-wheeler on its side in Dallas County during a severe thunderstorm that blew through the region Friday.

Gale-force winds blew the truck onto the grass next to westbound Interstate 635 in Irving, Texas, FOX 4 reported.

Crews had to break a window to get the driver, who suffered minor injuries, out of the truck. The rig was eventually righted using a crane.

Severe winds also ripped off a section of wall from nearby Hilton Garden Inn. No injuries were reported.

TORNADOES HIT MISSOURI, OKLAHOMA, AS SEVERE STORMS MOVE EAST

Much of Northern Texas was under a tornado watch until 9 p.m. local time, FOX 4 of Dallas reported.

Meanwhile, two homes were destroyed by winds in Logan County, Ark. where “a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched down Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Only the foundation of a trailer home was left after the storm blew through Midway, Ark., Little Rock’s FOX 16 reported.

“Winds so strong that it picked it up from its foundation and just tossed everything out here,” Re’Chelle Turner of FOX 16 reported.

She advised people in the area to be careful: “This weather is nothing to play with.”

Turner said a tornado warning near a Walmart in Clarksville, in Logan County, forced everyone huddle at the back of the store.

“The wind was just so hard,” she said. “The rain, it sounded just like what people actually say – like a freight train.”

The national Storm Prediction Center said more than 18 million people in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma were at an enhanced risk of storms Friday, including from strong tornadoes, flooding rains and wind gusts that could exceed 80 mph (129 kph), the speed of a Category 1 hurricane. The area included Dallas, Houston and Austin.

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Parts of nine states — Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana — were under flash flood watches on Friday in anticipation of the drenching rains.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group lightning-istock-large Texas gusts topple 18-wheeler; Arkansas tornado destroys at least 3 homes fox-news/world/disasters/tornados fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/arkansas fox news fnc/us fnc d304d27e-fc2b-5d94-8bc2-99efbf43a3b1 Brie Stimson article   Westlake Legal Group lightning-istock-large Texas gusts topple 18-wheeler; Arkansas tornado destroys at least 3 homes fox-news/world/disasters/tornados fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/midwest/arkansas fox news fnc/us fnc d304d27e-fc2b-5d94-8bc2-99efbf43a3b1 Brie Stimson article

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Southern California doctoral student, mother and sister among 176 killed in Iran plane crash

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6120727532001_6120727340001-vs Southern California doctoral student, mother and sister among 176 killed in Iran plane crash fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/education/college fox news fnc/world fnc Brie Stimson article 6cc51a7b-227e-5cf2-8456-9b1d42cb0bcf

A Southern California doctoral student and her mother and sister were reportedly among the 176 people killed when a Ukrainian passenger jet crashed in Iran early Wednesday morning.

Sara Saadat, 23, who was studying at Alliant International University in San Diego, was visiting family in Iran with her sister Saba Saadat, 21, and their mother Shekoufeh Choupannejad, when their plane went down minutes after leaving Tehran’s international airport bound for Kiev, Ukraine, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Saadat’s sister and mother both lived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

UKRAINIAN PLANE CARRYING 176 CRASHES OUTSIDE TEHRAN, KILLING ALL ON BOARD

Saba was a student at the University of Alberta and Choupannejad was a physician.

Iran admitted Saturday it shot down the plane in “error” just hours after the country fired ballistic missiles at U.S. and collation forces in Iraq in retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian general several days before.

The California school issued a statement Friday after learning of Sara Saadat’s death.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to family and friends of Sara Saadat,” the Alliant statement said, according to the Union-Tribune. “We know that the entire Alliant community is affected when tragedy strikes any one of us, and we are here to provide support during these trying times.”

The school plans to hold a memorial service.

Daniel Ghods-Esfahani, Saba’s boyfriend, said the two sisters were “best friends.”

Ghods-Esfahani told the CBC their family had left Iran seven years ago to live in Canada.

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“Given the tragedy of the situation, I take some comfort from the fact that, in that last moment, the three of them were together,” he said, according to the Union-Tribune.

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