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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 7)

Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf

The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

“It is enormous,” said Gregory Gause, a scholar of the region at Texas A&M University. “This is the most serious challenge since the invasion of Kuwait to the status of the United States as a great power that would protect the free flow of energy from the region, and unless there is a big change in the response from the Trump administration I think Gulf leaders will start to question the value of that security commitment.”

Confounding expectations on all sides of the Persian Gulf, the attack and its aftermath have laid bare a cascade of revelations about the regional balance of power.

The stunning success of the attack has shown that billions of dollars in Saudi military spending has left the kingdom’s central industry vulnerable, and it has demonstrated to the world that the increasing availability of low-flying cruise missiles and drones may have rendered many other defense systems perilously obsolete.

It has also shown the world a new side of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the hard charging and often impulsive de facto ruler of the kingdom: He, too, has been forced in this case to back away from immediate retribution against his nemesis, Iran.

If Iran carried out the attack directly, as Washington and Riyadh say, then it has taken a brazen step beyond its familiar strategy of working through allied militant groups to strike at its foes, evidently surprising the White House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161012769_abe13950-dc14-415d-8511-0fdc5722ac94-articleLarge Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Nuclear Weapons Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy — including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone — with little or no cost to Iran.

And President Trump, focused on his re-election, has so far shown himself less willing to match Iran’s escalation than his ferocious tweets about “obliteration” and “the official end of Iran” had suggested. He recently fired the adviser most hawkish on Iran, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. And instead of emphasizing the traditional American interest in the free flow of oil, he appears to have returned to a view he espoused before his election — “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars,” as he wrote in a tweet in 2014.

That Iran would seek in some way to attack Saudi oil production, though, was hardly unexpected. Experts had predicted for months that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran’s oil sales would drive it to lash out against the oil production of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

The rulers of those Arab states had previously accused President Obama of trying to pull back from the American commitment to the region. They faulted him for negotiating a 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions without further constraining its military or other activities. And the Gulf leaders were outraged when Mr. Obama called off a planned strike against Syria, an Iranian ally, for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Now some prominent voices in the Arab Gulf States accuse Mr. Trump of an even greater betrayal. “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist in the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of reversing the perceived pullback as Gulf leaders had expected, Mr. Abdulla argued, President Trump let down his Arab partners by failing to respond more forcefully to Iranian aggressions.

The United States has said that Iran was behind naval mines that damaged five oil tankers in the Persian Gulf this spring, and in June Iran boasted of shooting down an American surveillance drone. Yet President Trump did little in retaliation for the tanker attacks and called off a planned airstrike against Iran in response to the downing of the drone.

“His inaction gave a green light to this,” Mr. Abdulla said. “Now an Arab Gulf strategic partner has been massively attacked by Iran — which was provoked by Trump, not by us — and we hear Americans saying to us, you need to defend yourselves!”

The oil installation in the eastern city of Abqaiq burned after the attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“It is an utter failure and utter disappointment in this administration,” he added.

Mr. Trump has not ruled out a military strike, and senior national security officials met Thursday to refine a list of potential targets should President Trump go that route. Still, he has made clear his opposition to another war, and has ordered new sanctions.

But Iran is already under acute economic pressure from the existing sanctions, which use the reach of the American financial system to try to choke off Iranian oil exports anywhere in the world. After pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration implemented the sweeping new penalties this spring to try to force Iran to accept a more restrictive agreement.

Iranian leaders have denounced the sanctions as “economic warfare,” and they appear to have orchestrated an escalating series of attacks that threaten the flow of Persian Gulf oil in order to inflict some of the same pain on the United States and Washington’s Arab allies.

“The Iranians do feel cornered,” Professor Gause said, and that is why they appear to be taking more aggressive action than they have in the past. “This is an effort by Iran to break out of what they see as strangulation.”

Defending the administration’s policies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued this week that the sanctions may have limited Iran’s ability to strike with even more sophisticated missiles or drones.

“They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology,” he told reporters on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian leaders have denied responsibility for the attack last weekend, but at the same time they have openly reveled in its success. It showed the United States “that playing with the lion’s tail carries serious dangers and if they take action against Iran there will be no tomorrow for them,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp boasted Thursday, Iranian news media reported.

The Iranians may have previously worried about Mr. Trump’s threatening tweets and hawkish advisers, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at Brookings Institution. “But now they see that he is not going to follow through on the bluff that he has carried out on behalf of the American people,” she said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran this week. Iran may be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency

Others analysts argued that the alarms from the Persian Gulf about an American retreat were overblown under President Obama and remain so under President Trump. American warships are patrolling the gulf to help protect tanker traffic. American satellite and surveillance drones patrol the skies. The many large American military bases deter invasions or other large-scale military actions.

But President Trump’s combination of tough threats and a weak response “is the worst of both worlds,” argued Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to counter this escalation with an escalation, but it was foolish to get into this position in the first place,” he argued, leaving the Trump administration “to choose between an unwise escalation or a humiliating climb-down.”

Experts on military technology said Saudi Arabia should not be faulted for failing to stop the attack. Like those of other countries, Saudi Arabia’s defenses were designed to stop ballistic missiles. This attack appears to have been carried out with low-flying cruise missiles or drones that would escape detection by most radar systems.

“I don’t think that there is any country that could have defended any better than Saudi Arabia did, and that includes the United States,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, an international research institute.

Yet the attack appears to have caused some rethinking by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Soon after he was first named defense minister, in 2015, he plunged the kingdom into a military campaign in neighboring Yemen to drive from power a faction backed by Iran. Saudi media outlets proclaimed that the prince was asserting the kingdom’s power and leading a new drive to roll back Iranian influence.

“The Iranians, they’re the cause of problems in the Middle East, but they are not a big threat to Saudi Arabia,” the prince boasted confidently to Time magazine in 2018. “Saudi Arabia’s economy is double the size of the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that Iran’s army was “not among the top five” in the Middle East.

“We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia,” he promised on a Saudi news channel.

Yet the damage to the oil installation was a painful lesson in the potential costs of a wider conflict, at a time when the Saudi military remains bogged down in Yemen and Prince Mohammed has been pushing for a public sale of the Saudi state oil company.

The Saudi decision to call for an international investigation and not immediate retribution may be the choice of a chastened prince, analysts said. “I think there has a been a calculation that the costs might be too high,” said Rebecca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

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

After cancer, Supreme Court’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg hits the road to prove her vitality — and longevity

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close After cancer, Supreme Court's Ruth Bader Ginsburg hits the road to prove her vitality -- and longevity

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she’s amazed people want to take pictures with her. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Over her 86½ years on earth, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been lauded as a women’s rights pioneer, a Supreme Court justice and a cultural icon. These days, she receives hearty ovations just for staying on the job.

To satisfy some of her liberal allies, she must do that for at least another 16 months.

Fresh off three weeks of radiation treatment for her fourth bout with cancer, the woman fondly known as the “Notorious RBG” is traveling the nation giving speeches, staging conversations and accepting awards and honorary degrees. By demonstrating her vitality before adoring audiences, she hopes to tamp down concerns about her longevity.

“As cancer survivors know, that dread disease is a challenge, and it helps to know that people are rooting for you. Now, it’s not universal,” she quipped Thursday night at the famed 92nd Street Y in New York City. She vowed to stay on the job “as long as I’m healthy and mentally agile.”

The concerns are based on the political calendar. Ginsburg must remain on the nation’s highest court at least until January 2021 to avoid giving President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate the opportunity to replace her. Such a doomsday scenario for liberals would give conservatives a 6-3 hold on the high court – solidifying their majority, perhaps for decades to come.

Currently divided 5-4 and with John Roberts in the chief justice’s chair, the Supreme Court has been less reliable than conservatives would like. With the help of Roberts or another conservative justice during the last term, the court’s four liberals held sway in as many 5-4 decisions as their counterparts.

More: Conservatives’ takeover of Supreme Court stalled by John Roberts-Brett Kavanaugh bromance

But add a sixth conservative justice and “it becomes so much more difficult,” says Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, who caught flak in 2014 for suggesting Ginsburg should step down while President Barack Obama and a Senate Democratic majority could have replaced her.

If Democrats eventually prevail in confirming a liberal-leaning justice to their liking, Chemerinsky says, “This could be the swing vote down the road.”

Ginsburg’s predicament is similar to that faced by the court’s last civil rights pioneer, Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, in 1991. With his health declining as he approached his 83rd birthday, he retired during the third year of Republican George H.W. Bush’s presidency. The New York Times headline blared: “Marshall retires from high court; blow to liberals.”

Marshall ultimately lived four days into the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton. But by then his seat was held by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, still the court’s most conservative member.

Ginsburg has shown no similar signs of “coming apart,” as Marshall described himself in a calamitous 1991 press conference, though she did miss the first oral arguments of her career in January while recovering from lung cancer surgery.

The lone statement issued by the court after her latest bout with pancreatic cancer was upbeat. “The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” it said. “Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

Crisscrossing the country

The statement was issued Aug. 23, and three days later Ginsburg was at the University of Buffalo to receive an honorary degree and speak at several events. That was a warm-up act for her visit to North Little Rock, Ark., the following week, where she received a standing ovation from a crowd estimated at 16,000, including many in “Notorious RBG” T-shirts. 

“We all hope that she will stay on that court forever,” former President Bill Clinton, who nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1993, said by way of introduction.

For her part, Ginsburg was more circumspect. “I’m pleased to say I am feeling very good tonight,” she said.

Then it was on to the University of Chicago and Georgetown University Law Center the following week, and two appearances in her native New York City this week, where she took on directly the critique that she should have stepped down years ago.

“When that suggestion is made, I ask the question: Who do you think that the president could nominate that could get through the Republican Senate that you would prefer to have?” she said Wednesday night at the Yale Club, according to CNN. 

But Democrats controlled the Senate in 2014, when Chemerinsky started the drumbeat with a Los Angeles Times column. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should retire from the Supreme Court after the completion of the current term in June,” he wrote that March. “Only by resigning this summer can she ensure that a Democratic president will be able to choose a successor who shares her views and values.”

Ginsburg resumes her national hopscotching tour Monday at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., where she will appear before about 1,600 fans. The following week, she will be at Amherst College in western Massachusetts.

The court’s 2019 term begins Oct. 7, briefly keeping Ginsburg in the nation’s capital, where her latest accolade was a two-story mural unveiled Monday on a downtown D.C. building. When two weeks of oral arguments are completed, she is scheduled to travel cross country to California. 

“It’s a travel schedule that would exhaust the rest of us,” says Marge Baker, executive vice president of the liberal group People for the American Way. “This is a statement that’s she’s making, and she seems to draw energy from it.”

For years, Ginsburg has traveled and spoken publicly more than most of her colleagues. Before Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, the two ideological opposites occasionally made joint appearances that called attention to their longtime friendship. Ginsburg has made more than 170 public appearances in the last five years; only Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor has done more.

“When I am active, I am much better than when I am just lying about feeling sorry for myself,” Ginsburg said at the Yale Club event. “The necessity to get up and go is stimulating.”

The most deadly cancer

Before her latest cancer was diagnosed, Ginsburg said she hoped to stay on the bench for at least five more years, noting that Associate Justice John Paul Stevens served until age 90. Stevens died in July at 99.

The latest health scare is particularly worrisome to many because it’s her second bout with pancreatic cancer. The average five-year survival rate is 9%, lowest of all cancers. But Ginsburg has lived 10 years since her first bout.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s website lists the names of public figures whose lives have been impacted by pancreatic cancer. The list includes 16 survivors such as opera singer Marilyn Horne, whose vow to live following her 2005 diagnosis Ginsburg admires. But it also names more than 250 public figures who succumbed to the disease.

Julie Fleshman, the network’s president and CEO, says the three weeks of radiation Ginsburg received at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York is the go-to treatment for small, localized tumors. A more serious form of the cancer would have called for surgery or further treatment, she says. 

The justice’s first major health scare was colon cancer in 1999. Chemotherapy and radiation left her depleted, so her late husband Martin convinced her to get a personal trainer. She has worked out twice a week ever since.

More: Squat, lift, kick, curl: Justice Ginsburg’s workout is tough and it left me exhausted

Her first bout with pancreatic cancer in 2009 was caught early following a routine blood test, and she made a full recovery. She received a stent in a heart procedure in 2014. Then last November, she fell in her Supreme Court chambers and fractured three ribs, forcing her to miss new Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s investiture ceremony.

By then, her supporters were increasingly rattled. Twitter was flooded with good wishes as well as medical offers. 

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg (sic) can have my ribs,” actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano tweeted. “And my kidneys and a lung. And anything else she needs.”

The fall proved fortuitous, because it enabled doctors to find and remove two malignant nodules from her left lung. To recover from surgery, Ginsburg was forced to miss two weeks of oral argument in January – the first time she’s been absent from the bench.

Her latest cancer has not slowed Ginsburg down, much to her supporters’ chagrin. Fleshman says that may not be a bad thing.

“We see so many patients who want to go back to their job, who want to resume their life the way that it was,” she says. “For her, it probably is the very best thing to stay at it.”

‘The fight of our lifetime’

How long she can stay at it is anyone’s guess. That’s why both liberal and conservative interest groups are preparing for the inevitable.

“We’ve been literally planning for her retirement for many years now,” says Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which raised and spent millions of dollars to promote the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh nominations. “Our commitment is to always be ready, because you can’t predict when a vacancy will come.”

For liberals, “this will be the fight of our lifetime,” Baker says – both because of what Senate Republicans did in 2016 to block Obama’s choice and because it could impact the Supreme Court for generations to come.

“There could not be a higher-stakes battle for our country were that vacancy to occur,” Baker says. “There will be an enormous mobilization of people making their voices heard.”

If Ginsburg’s health holds out, next year’s presidential and Senate elections will decide whether Democrats or Republicans choose her successor. If the White House and Senate end up in opposite hands, a stalemate could result in an extended vacancy.

That’s a risk liberals would gladly take.

“It seems like for more than a decade, Supreme Court observers have been trying to guess Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last day as a justice. It’s a hopeless effort,” says Elizabeth Wydra, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center. “She has an unmatched drive to do superlative work and an iron will to do whatever it takes to keep her body in shape to do it.”

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Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf

The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

“It is enormous,” said Gregory Gause, a scholar of the region at Texas A&M University. “This is the most serious challenge since the invasion of Kuwait to the status of the United States as a great power that would protect the free flow of energy from the region, and unless there is a big change in the response from the Trump administration I think Gulf leaders will start to question the value of that security commitment.”

Confounding expectations on all sides of the Persian Gulf, the attack and its aftermath have laid bare a cascade of revelations about the regional balance of power.

The stunning success of the attack has shown that billions of dollars in Saudi military spending has left the kingdom’s central industry vulnerable, and it has demonstrated to the world that the increasing availability of low-flying cruise missiles and drones may have rendered many other defense systems perilously obsolete.

It has also shown the world a new side of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the hard charging and often impulsive de facto ruler of the kingdom: He, too, has been forced in this case to back away from immediate retribution against his nemesis, Iran.

If Iran carried out the attack directly, as Washington and Riyadh say, then it has taken a brazen step beyond its familiar strategy of working through allied militant groups to strike at its foes, evidently surprising the White House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161012769_abe13950-dc14-415d-8511-0fdc5722ac94-articleLarge Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Nuclear Weapons Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy — including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone — with little or no cost to Iran.

And President Trump, focused on his re-election, has so far shown himself less willing to match Iran’s escalation than his ferocious tweets about “obliteration” and “the official end of Iran” had suggested. He recently fired the adviser most hawkish on Iran, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. And instead of emphasizing the traditional American interest in the free flow of oil, he appears to have returned to a view he espoused before his election — “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars,” as he wrote in a tweet in 2014.

That Iran would seek in some way to attack Saudi oil production, though, was hardly unexpected. Experts had predicted for months that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran’s oil sales would drive it to lash out against the oil production of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

The rulers of those Arab states had previously accused President Obama of trying to pull back from the American commitment to the region. They faulted him for negotiating a 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions without further constraining its military or other activities. And the Gulf leaders were outraged when Mr. Obama called off a planned strike against Syria, an Iranian ally, for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Now some prominent voices in the Arab Gulf States accuse Mr. Trump of an even greater betrayal. “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist in the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of reversing the perceived pullback as Gulf leaders had expected, Mr. Abdulla argued, President Trump let down his Arab partners by failing to respond more forcefully to Iranian aggressions.

The United States has said that Iran was behind naval mines that damaged five oil tankers in the Persian Gulf this spring, and in June Iran boasted of shooting down an American surveillance drone. Yet President Trump did little in retaliation for the tanker attacks and called off a planned airstrike against Iran in response to the downing of the drone.

“His inaction gave a green light to this,” Mr. Abdulla said. “Now an Arab Gulf strategic partner has been massively attacked by Iran — which was provoked by Trump, not by us — and we hear Americans saying to us, you need to defend yourselves!”

The oil installation in the eastern city of Abqaiq burned after the attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“It is an utter failure and utter disappointment in this administration,” he added.

Mr. Trump has not ruled out a military strike, and senior national security officials met Thursday to refine a list of potential targets should President Trump go that route. Still, he has made clear his opposition to another war, and has ordered new sanctions.

But Iran is already under acute economic pressure from the existing sanctions, which use the reach of the American financial system to try to choke off Iranian oil exports anywhere in the world. After pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration implemented the sweeping new penalties this spring to try to force Iran to accept a more restrictive agreement.

Iranian leaders have denounced the sanctions as “economic warfare,” and they appear to have orchestrated an escalating series of attacks that threaten the flow of Persian Gulf oil in order to inflict some of the same pain on the United States and Washington’s Arab allies.

“The Iranians do feel cornered,” Professor Gause said, and that is why they appear to be taking more aggressive action than they have in the past. “This is an effort by Iran to break out of what they see as strangulation.”

Defending the administration’s policies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued this week that the sanctions may have limited Iran’s ability to strike with even more sophisticated missiles or drones.

“They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology,” he told reporters on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian leaders have denied responsibility for the attack last weekend, but at the same time they have openly reveled in its success. It showed the United States “that playing with the lion’s tail carries serious dangers and if they take action against Iran there will be no tomorrow for them,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp boasted Thursday, Iranian news media reported.

The Iranians may have previously worried about Mr. Trump’s threatening tweets and hawkish advisers, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at Brookings Institution. “But now they see that he is not going to follow through on the bluff that he has carried out on behalf of the American people,” she said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran this week. Iran may be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency

Others analysts argued that the alarms from the Persian Gulf about an American retreat were overblown under President Obama and remain so under President Trump. American warships are patrolling the gulf to help protect tanker traffic. American satellite and surveillance drones patrol the skies. The many large American military bases deter invasions or other large-scale military actions.

But President Trump’s combination of tough threats and a weak response “is the worst of both worlds,” argued Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to counter this escalation with an escalation, but it was foolish to get into this position in the first place,” he argued, leaving the Trump administration “to choose between an unwise escalation or a humiliating climb-down.”

Experts on military technology said Saudi Arabia should not be faulted for failing to stop the attack. Like those of other countries, Saudi Arabia’s defenses were designed to stop ballistic missiles. This attack appears to have been carried out with low-flying cruise missiles or drones that would escape detection by most radar systems.

“I don’t think that there is any country that could have defended any better than Saudi Arabia did, and that includes the United States,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, an international research institute.

Yet the attack appears to have caused some rethinking by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Soon after he was first named defense minister, in 2015, he plunged the kingdom into a military campaign in neighboring Yemen to drive from power a faction backed by Iran. Saudi media outlets proclaimed that the prince was asserting the kingdom’s power and leading a new drive to roll back Iranian influence.

“The Iranians, they’re the cause of problems in the Middle East, but they are not a big threat to Saudi Arabia,” the prince boasted confidently to Time magazine in 2018. “Saudi Arabia’s economy is double the size of the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that Iran’s army was “not among the top five” in the Middle East.

“We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia,” he promised on a Saudi news channel.

Yet the damage to the oil installation was a painful lesson in the potential costs of a wider conflict, at a time when the Saudi military remains bogged down in Yemen and Prince Mohammed has been pushing for a public sale of the Saudi state oil company.

The Saudi decision to call for an international investigation and not immediate retribution may be the choice of a chastened prince, analysts said. “I think there has a been a calculation that the costs might be too high,” said Rebecca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

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Bolton, neocons hit Trump for not striking Iran

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6087835928001_6087828507001-vs Bolton, neocons hit Trump for not striking Iran Howard Kurtz fox-news/columns/media-buzz fox news fnc/media fnc article 7c54d142-f0b0-5a2f-a518-0f2302554891

John Bolton had to know he was sending a message to the man who pushed him out of the White House.

And a strong message it was, disagreeing with the president on just about every foreign policy hot spot.

The recently departed national security adviser was speaking to a Manhattan luncheon for the Gatestone Institute, a conservative think tank he once chaired. About 60 people were gathered at Le Bernadin, including such hotshots as Alan Dershowitz, former attorney general Michael Mukasey and Newsmax chief Chris Ruddy.

So the leak, in this case to Politico, was inevitable. The former Fox News contributor certainly gets that any words uttered before such a large audience will soon find their way into print.

SIZE MATTERS? MEDIA PRAISE ELIZABETH WARREN — AND HER CROWDS

What’s fascinating here is that the Bolton broadside comes as Trump’s handling of the latest showdown with Iran is drawing increasing media criticism, especially from the right. The president is essentially in a no-win situation, whether he chooses a military strike against Iran or sticks with diplomacy and sanctions. The neocon wing of the GOP wants him to retaliate for the attack on Saudi oil facilities that our intel agencies are blaming on Iran, and is casting his reluctance as a sign of weakness.

Bolton told the luncheon that any negotiations were Iran (and North Korea) are “doomed to failure,” according to Politico.

“Bolton also said more than once that Trump’s failure to respond to the Iranian attack on an American drone earlier this summer set the stage for the Islamic Republic’s aggression in recent months…Bolton said the planned response had gone through the full process and everybody in the White House had agreed on the retaliatory strike. But ‘a high authority, at the very last minute,’ without telling anyone, decided not to do it.”

Reporters quickly asked Trump for his response. “John was not able to work with anybody, and a lot of people disagreed with his ideas,” he said. “A lot of people were very critical that I brought him on in the first place because of the fact that he was so in favor of going into the Middle East, and he got stuck in quicksand and we became policemen for the Middle East. It’s ridiculous.”

SUBSCRIBE TO HOWIE’S MEDIA BUZZMETER PODCAST, A RIFF OF THE DAY’S HOTTEST STORIES

The president was referring to the Iraq war and Bolton’s role in the Bush administration. Trump ran against that war, and endless wars, and obviously wants to get out of Afghanistan.

The neocons are growing more critical of Trump’s reluctance to pull the trigger in these situations. He even got into a little spat with his pal Lindsey Graham, who said, like Bolton, that the president’s failure to strike back after Iran downed an American drone is what paved the way for the attack that cut Saudi oil production in half.

The Beltway press, as part of an establishment whose kids are rarely sent off to fight, often reflects these pro-war instincts. Iraq, you’ll recall, was going to be a cakewalk.

Bret Stephens, a conservative New York Times columnist who detests the president, wrote yesterday that Trump’s policy is “locked, half-cocked, and probably bluffing.” He said this president combines “the rhetorical impulses of Bob Dornan with the strategic instincts of Dennis Kucinich.”

Trump does like to talk tough with foreign adversaries. And obviously he has ordered airstrikes before. But it’s no accident that he threatened to incinerate North Korea and wound up in a pen pal relationship with Kim Jong-un.

And yet if he keeps turning to sanctions and diplomacy, does there come a point where he looks like Barack Obama and his Syrian red line?

Trump is bound to disappoint the neocons by exercising restraint when it comes to military options, knowing full well that there are unintended consequences that could bog down U.S. troops for years to come. That means he’s likely to face continued criticism from John Bolton, but might be in tune with the war-weary portion of the country.

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Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf

The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

“It is enormous,” said Gregory Gause, a scholar of the region at Texas A&M University. “This is the most serious challenge since the invasion of Kuwait to the status of the United States as a great power that would protect the free flow of energy from the region, and unless there is a big change in the response from the Trump administration I think Gulf leaders will start to question the value of that security commitment.”

Confounding expectations on all sides of the Persian Gulf, the attack and its aftermath have laid bare a cascade of revelations about the regional balance of power.

The stunning success of the attack has shown that billions of dollars in Saudi military spending has left the kingdom’s central industry vulnerable, and it has demonstrated to the world that the increasing availability of low-flying cruise missiles and drones may have rendered many other defense systems perilously obsolete.

It has also shown the world a new side of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the hard charging and often impulsive de facto ruler of the kingdom: He, too, has been forced in this case to back away from immediate retribution against his nemesis, Iran.

If Iran carried out the attack directly, as Washington and Riyadh say, then it has taken a brazen step beyond its familiar strategy of working through allied militant groups to strike at its foes, evidently surprising the White House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161012769_abe13950-dc14-415d-8511-0fdc5722ac94-articleLarge Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Nuclear Weapons Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy — including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone — with little or no cost to Iran.

And President Trump, focused on his re-election, has so far shown himself less willing to match Iran’s escalation than his ferocious tweets about “obliteration” and “the official end of Iran” had suggested. He recently fired the adviser most hawkish on Iran, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. And instead of emphasizing the traditional American interest in the free flow of oil, he appears to have returned to a view he espoused before his election — “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars,” as he wrote in a tweet in 2014.

That Iran would seek in some way to attack Saudi oil production, though, was hardly unexpected. Experts had predicted for months that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran’s oil sales would drive it to lash out against the oil production of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

The rulers of those Arab states had previously accused President Obama of trying to pull back from the American commitment to the region. They faulted him for negotiating a 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions without further constraining its military or other activities. And the Gulf leaders were outraged when Mr. Obama called off a planned strike against Syria, an Iranian ally, for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Now some prominent voices in the Arab Gulf States accuse Mr. Trump of an even greater betrayal. “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist in the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of reversing the perceived pullback as Gulf leaders had expected, Mr. Abdulla argued, President Trump let down his Arab partners by failing to respond more forcefully to Iranian aggressions.

The United States has said that Iran was behind naval mines that damaged five oil tankers in the Persian Gulf this spring, and in June Iran boasted of shooting down an American surveillance drone. Yet President Trump did little in retaliation for the tanker attacks and called off a planned airstrike against Iran in response to the downing of the drone.

“His inaction gave a green light to this,” Mr. Abdulla said. “Now an Arab Gulf strategic partner has been massively attacked by Iran — which was provoked by Trump, not by us — and we hear Americans saying to us, you need to defend yourselves!”

The oil installation in the eastern city of Abqaiq burned after the attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“It is an utter failure and utter disappointment in this administration,” he added.

Mr. Trump has not ruled out a military strike, and senior national security officials met Thursday to refine a list of potential targets should President Trump go that route. Still, he has made clear his opposition to another war, and has ordered new sanctions.

But Iran is already under acute economic pressure from the existing sanctions, which use the reach of the American financial system to try to choke off Iranian oil exports anywhere in the world. After pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration implemented the sweeping new penalties this spring to try to force Iran to accept a more restrictive agreement.

Iranian leaders have denounced the sanctions as “economic warfare,” and they appear to have orchestrated an escalating series of attacks that threaten the flow of Persian Gulf oil in order to inflict some of the same pain on the United States and Washington’s Arab allies.

“The Iranians do feel cornered,” Professor Gause said, and that is why they appear to be taking more aggressive action than they have in the past. “This is an effort by Iran to break out of what they see as strangulation.”

Defending the administration’s policies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued this week that the sanctions may have limited Iran’s ability to strike with even more sophisticated missiles or drones.

“They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology,” he told reporters on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian leaders have denied responsibility for the attack last weekend, but at the same time they have openly reveled in its success. It showed the United States “that playing with the lion’s tail carries serious dangers and if they take action against Iran there will be no tomorrow for them,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp boasted Thursday, Iranian news media reported.

The Iranians may have previously worried about Mr. Trump’s threatening tweets and hawkish advisers, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at Brookings Institution. “But now they see that he is not going to follow through on the bluff that he has carried out on behalf of the American people,” she said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran this week. Iran may be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency

Others analysts argued that the alarms from the Persian Gulf about an American retreat were overblown under President Obama and remain so under President Trump. American warships are patrolling the gulf to help protect tanker traffic. American satellite and surveillance drones patrol the skies. The many large American military bases deter invasions or other large-scale military actions.

But President Trump’s combination of tough threats and a weak response “is the worst of both worlds,” argued Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to counter this escalation with an escalation, but it was foolish to get into this position in the first place,” he argued, leaving the Trump administration “to choose between an unwise escalation or a humiliating climb-down.”

Experts on military technology said Saudi Arabia should not be faulted for failing to stop the attack. Like those of other countries, Saudi Arabia’s defenses were designed to stop ballistic missiles. This attack appears to have been carried out with low-flying cruise missiles or drones that would escape detection by most radar systems.

“I don’t think that there is any country that could have defended any better than Saudi Arabia did, and that includes the United States,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, an international research institute.

Yet the attack appears to have caused some rethinking by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Soon after he was first named defense minister, in 2015, he plunged the kingdom into a military campaign in neighboring Yemen to drive from power a faction backed by Iran. Saudi media outlets proclaimed that the prince was asserting the kingdom’s power and leading a new drive to roll back Iranian influence.

“The Iranians, they’re the cause of problems in the Middle East, but they are not a big threat to Saudi Arabia,” the prince boasted confidently to Time magazine in 2018. “Saudi Arabia’s economy is double the size of the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that Iran’s army was “not among the top five” in the Middle East.

“We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia,” he promised on a Saudi news channel.

Yet the damage to the oil installation was a painful lesson in the potential costs of a wider conflict, at a time when the Saudi military remains bogged down in Yemen and Prince Mohammed has been pushing for a public sale of the Saudi state oil company.

The Saudi decision to call for an international investigation and not immediate retribution may be the choice of a chastened prince, analysts said. “I think there has a been a calculation that the costs might be too high,” said Rebecca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

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Husband misreads markings on wife’s BLT with CHeese sandwich

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He couldn’t believe his eyes.

Robert Wilson Barnes bought a sandwich at a Jimmy John’s restaurant recently for himself and his wife and just before they were about to dig in, he noticed black writing on the wrapper: ‘B**CH.”

Intent on defending his wife’s honor, Barnes said on Facebook that he returned to the store (while fuming) and asked to speak to the manager.

“He looked confused, so I pointed at the writing on the sandwich and demanded that he tells me why someone felt the need to write it on my wife’s sandwich,” he posted.

He said the manager told him that his wife ordered a BLT with cheese.

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Barnes, who appeared to be a good sport,  responded, “Oh.”

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Tennessee woman blames nail salon after almost losing arm from flesh-eating bacteria infection: report

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A Tennessee woman claims she almost lost one of her arms after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria at her local nail salon, according to a report.  

Jayne Sharp told Knoxville’s WBIR-TV she’s undergone several surgeries to remove large chunks of tissue in one of her hands that was destroyed due to the infection. She claims she first began seeing symptoms months ago after she was cut on her right thumb while getting a manicure at Jazzy Nail Bar in Knoxville.

ORLANDO MAN WHO LOST 25 PERCENT OF SKIN TO FLESH-EATING BACTERIA HAS DIED

“While I was there I got stuck on my thumb and I went ‘ouch’ but I went back to looking at my telephone,” she told the station. Her thumb began to throb and she fell so ill that she had trouble sleeping that night, she said.

Sharp went to Summit Medical Group the next day to be checked for the flu. When the flu test came back negative, nurse practitioner Nikki Brown drew a line around a spot on Sharp’s thumb that showed an unusual amount of swelling. Brown told her to monitor the spot in case the swelling got worse. Brown ordered Sharp to go to the emergency room the next day after being told over the phone that the swelling had spread up her right arm. Sharp also developed a red rash.

“She could have lost her finger or her arm if she hadn’t been diagnosed properly,” Dr. Udit Chaudhuri, an internal medicine specialist with Summit Medical Group who also treated Sharp, told WBIR.

He explained that flesh-eating disease, known medically as necrotizing fasciitis, can be contracted through an open cut or wound and “this bacteria gets introduced under the skin into the soft tissue and then into the blood stream.” He added that individuals with compromised immune systems are more likely to contract the disease. Sharp “is a diabetic so that made her more susceptible,” Chaudhuri said.

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A manager at Jazzy Nail Bar told WBIR-TV that the business passed a state inspection conducted several days after Sharp reported she had been infected by flesh eating bacteria. He said the nail salon cleans its tools in compliance with state-mandated regulations. The Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners establishes sanitary rules for licensed salons across the state.

Sharp told the station she is beginning to regain feeling in her right hand after the surgeries but still has trouble flossing her teeth. “My life took a total turn when this happened to me,” she said.

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Antonio Brown accused of sending ‘intimidating’ text messages to second accuser: report

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The NFL received a letter Thursday evening, in which a lawyer claims that embattled New England Patriots star Antonio Brown sent his client “intimidating” text messages after her allegations about Brown’s past behavior went public this week, a report says.

Sports Illustrated reports that the lawyer’s client is an artist who claims Brown made an unwanted sexual advance toward her in 2017, allegedly approaching her while he was naked, holding a small towel over his genitals, after she was hired to paint a mural of him inside his home.

The woman — whose claims follow those of a different woman, who alleges Brown raped her — says she was fired from the job because she rejected the advance, according to the magazine.

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The latest claims extend a series of tumultuous recent events involving Brown, the 31-year-old wide receiver who this summer signed with the Patriots after disputes with the Oakland Raiders, for whom he never played after being traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers following a falling out with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Also Thursday, sports apparel maker Nike confirmed that it has ended its endorsement deal with Brown, who previously lost a deal with helmet manufacturer Xenith.

After Sports Illustrated reported the artist’s allegations, the woman said she received a text-message string Wednesday night that includes an accusation that she made up a “bull sh— story” in a bid to receive cash from Brown. But in the Thursday letter to the NFL, the lawyer writes that her client is not seeking any payment in connection with her allegations, SI reports.

The woman claims that the text string came from the same phone number that Brown provided to her in 2017, the report says.

According to SI, within the text string is a reference to the artist as a “super broke girl” and a request for someone called “Eric B” to “look up her background history.”

Then there is an Instagram photo of the woman with her children, accompanied by the message, “those her kids … she’s awful broke clearly.”

In her letter to the NFL, the artist’s lawyer, Lisa J. Banks, describes the texts as being “intimidating and threatening” to the unnamed client, and asserts that the communication violates the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, SI reports.

The magazine writes that the NFL responded to the lawyer within an hour and scheduled a phone call between investigators and the artist’s attorneys. Neither the Patriots nor Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, would comment on the matter, according to SI.

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SI says it sought comment from Brown by sending a text to the number linked to the text messages. The magazine said it received a response, “foh clown,” with “foh” being an acronym for the words, “get the f— out of here.”

Amid the turmoil of recent weeks, Brown debuted for the Patriots last Sunday, catching four passes for 56 yards and scoring one touchdown in the team’s 43-0 win over the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots are scheduled to play at home this weekend against the New York Jets.

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China Detains FedEx Pilot Amid Rising U.S.-China Tensions

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SHANGHAI — Authorities in southern China have detained an American pilot who works for FedEx, in the latest in a series of difficulties for American travelers and companies in China.

The pilot had been waiting to catch a commercial flight out of the city of Guangzhou, where FedEx has a huge hub. In a statement, FedEx said authorities had found an object in his luggage, though it did not specify what the object was.

The pilot was released on bail, FedEx said. “We are working with the appropriate authorities to gain a better understanding of the facts,” it said in a statement and declined to comment further.

The Wall Street Journal, which reported the detention on Thursday, said that the pilot had been carrying nonmetallic pellets used in air guns, and that he was a United States Air Force veteran named Todd A. Hohn who had been trying to catch a flight to his home in nearby Hong Kong.

The Air Line Pilots Association International, the union representing most American pilots, declined to discuss the case, as did Mr. Hohn’s lawyer. The municipal foreign affairs office in Guangzhou declined to comment and referred questions to the police, who did not answer telephone calls.

FedEx is one of a number of companies that have been caught between Washington and Beijing as the trade war has intensified. But it is not clear whether the pilot’s detention was related to the company’s problems in China.

As trade frictions and other disputes fester between the United States and China and as China itself becomes more authoritarian, more Americans have found themselves stuck in China and unable to leave. A Koch Industries executive was held in southern China and interrogated for days in June before being allowed to exit the country.

The State Department issued a travel advisory for China in January, warning Americans, particularly those with dual Chinese-American citizenship, that they may not be allowed to leave China if they go there.

A growing number of foreign companies, particularly American companies but also Canadian and European businesses, have responded by scrutinizing but not prohibiting travel to China by executives and employees.

But the quick release of the pilot, although without allowing him to leave the country, may indicate that China is not eager to turn him into a bilateral issue, said James Zimmerman, a partner in the Beijing office of Perkins Coie, a global law firm.

“The fact that he was released is a critically important message and a positive sign — Beijing probably ordered his release to minimize the significance of the issue, and this is an indication that Beijing doesn’t want this case to be a huge distraction.” Mr. Zimmerman said.

Mr. Zimmerman said that China does not have a bail system as it is generally understood in the West. China relies more on severe travel restrictions on people who are released from detention but remain under investigation.

The detention comes as the United States and China are trying to reach at least a partial truce in their 15-month trade war. Chinese officials have been eager to head off further tariffs that President Trump has planned to impose on Oct. 15 and Dec. 15, but are also loath to agree to the broad Chinese policy changes sought by the Trump administration.

It was unclear on Friday if Chinese authorities had deliberately targeted the pilot because he worked for FedEx. The detention came as Chinese airports have visibly increased security measures in recent months. The authorities have paid particular attention to travelers going to or from Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory where large and increasingly violent protests have taken place every weekend this summer.

China has strict laws not just against the possession of weapons but also against the possession of any kind of ammunition.

FedEx has had a series of difficulties in China in recent months. China has accused FedEx of delaying shipments last May by Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant accused by American officials of working with Chinese intelligence — accusations that Huawei denies.

FedEx has also been working with Chinese authorities to investigate how one of its American clients was allowed to send a gun to a sporting goods store in southeastern China. The gun was also detected and stopped by Chinese authorities.

Chinese nationalists have called in recent weeks for FedEx to be included on a list of “unreliable entities” that the country’s Commerce Ministry has been drafting. The drafting has begun in response to the United States Commerce Department’s decision to begin putting Huawei on an “entities list” of foreign companies to which goods can only be exported from the United States with special licenses.

Cathay Pacific, a large airline based in Hong Kong, has separately come under heavy scrutiny by the Chinese government after some of its employees expressed support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. China threatened to revoke the airline’s access to its airspace unless Cathay reined in its employees.

Cathay Pacific and FedEx are two of the largest airlines hauling Chinese exports to the United States. Much of China’s electronics exports, particularly higher-value items like iPhones, travel by air.

In addition to scrutinizing travelers to and from Hong Kong very closely, the Chinese government has also begun checking foreigners visiting or living in the country for any possession or recent use of drugs, sometimes even weeks or months before the foreigners came to China. That has also produced a series of detentions.

Travel experts now strongly advise anyone going to China to carry prescription medicines in their original containers, and not to carry any prescription medicines that may be illegal in China, like prescription cannabis.

FedEx is a well-known company in China as well as in the United States. By coincidence, HBO showed in China on Thursday night the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away,” the fictional story of a FedEx manager marooned on a Pacific island for years.

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Rudy Giuliani Melts Down On Live TV In Bizarre Chris Cuomo Interview

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Rudy Giuliani, attorney to President Donald Trump, got into it with CNN’s Chris Cuomo during a raucous interview on Thursday night.

The former New York City mayor shouted at Cuomo, repeatedly contradicted himself, declared Cuomo to be “the enemy” and at one point, placed his head on his hand and closed his eyes, showing off a New York Yankees World Series ring:

Cuomo began the segment by recapping the latest news about a whistleblower complaint, which both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Thursday involved Trump’s contact with Ukraine. The news was released amid House Democrats’ investigation of allegations that Trump and Giuliani “sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping the Trump reelection campaign.”  

Earlier this year, Giuliani canceled a trip to Ukraine in which he was allegedly planning to pressure the government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The elder Biden is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Trump during next year’s presidential election.  

Giuliani told Cuomo that it was a “scandal of major proportions which all of you have covered up for five or six months.” He also revived right-wing conspiracy theories about billionaire George Soros, claiming he was in on the “major” scandal with Biden. 

But Giuliani first denied trying to encourage Ukraine to investigate Biden. 

“Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?” Cuomo asked. 

“No,” Giuliani said. “Actually, I didn’t.” 

Giuliani said he asked Ukraine to investigate if that country tried to help Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden?” Cuomo asked. 

Giuliani then admitted he asked Ukraine to look into a conspiracy theory related to Biden.

“So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?” Cuomo asked again. 

“Of course I did!” Giuliani said. 

“You just said you didn’t!” Cuomo said.

“No, I didn’t ask them to look into Joe Biden,” Giuliani replied. 

Watch the exchange below:

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