Trump Renews Attacks on 4 Congresswomen of Color

President Donald Trump has renewed his attacks aimed at four Democratic congresswomen of color, alleging Sunday they are not “capable of loving our Country.”   This follows days of similar statements by the president. Critics have deemed his recent comments about Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayana Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan as ‘racist.’

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At Least 6 Dead in US Heat Wave

Health officials say an oppressive heat wave that has blanketed large swaths of the United States has contributed to the deaths of at least six people.

Various news outlets have reported heat-related deaths in the states of Maryland, Arizona and Arkansas.

The National Weather Service warned a “dangerous heat wave” paired with high humidity in the United States over the weekend could quickly cause heat stress or heat stroke, if precautions are not taken.

Events were canceled throughout the nation, from festivals and concerts to sporting events.

The NWS said temperatures would remain warm at night, in the upper 70s to low 80s, with more heat on the way Sunday for the East Coast. The agency also advised people to check in on relatives and friends, especially the elderly.

During a span of three days in July 1995, more than 700 people died in Chicago, when temperatures rose above 36 degrees Celsius. Many of those who died were poor or elderly with no access to air conditioning. Many also lived alone.

Despite the warnings, one runner in the nation’s capital planned to head out for a run early Saturday. “It’s brutal,” Jeffrey Glickman, 37, said, adding, “You just have to power through it the best you can.”

Temperatures have been rising in cities from the Midwest to the East Coast because of a high pressure system that has trapped the warm air. City officials are allowing public pools to stay open longer and municipalities are issuing advisories to inform the public about how best to deal with the heat.  

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Britain Calls Ship Seizure ‘Hostile Act’ As Iran Releases Video of Capture

Britain on Saturday denounced Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf as a “hostile act” and rejected Tehran’s explanation that it seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident. 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards posted a video online showing speedboats pulling alongside the Stena Impero tanker, its name clearly visible. Troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns rappelled to its deck from a helicopter, the same tactics used by British Royal Marines to seize an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago. 

Friday’s action in the global oil trade’s most important waterway has been viewed in the West as a major escalation after three months of confrontation that has already taken Iran and the United States to the brink of war. 

It follows threats from Tehran to retaliate for Britain’s July 4 seizure of the Iranian tanker Grace 1, accused of violating sanctions on Syria. 

British Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt called the incident a “hostile act”. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had expressed “extreme disappointment” by phone to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Britain also summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires in London. 

A spokesman for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Brigadier-General Ramezan Sharif, said Tehran had seized the ship in the Strait of Hormuz despite the “resistance and interference” of a British warship which had been escorting it. No British warship was visible in the video posted by the Guards. 

Iran’s Fars news agency said the Guards had taken control of the Stena Impero on Friday after it collided with an Iranian fishing boat whose distress call it ignored. 

The vessel, carrying no cargo, was taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. It will remain there with its 23 crew – 18 of them Indians – while the accident is investigated, Iranian news agencies quoted the head of Ports and Maritime Organization in southern Hormozgan province, Allahmorad Afifipour, as saying. 

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Britain said the tanker was approached by Iranian forces when it was in Omani territorial waters exercising its lawful right of passage, and the action “constitutes illegal interference.” 

“Current tensions are extremely concerning, and our priority is to de-escalate. We do not seek confrontation with Iran,” the letter said. “But it is unacceptable and highly escalatory to threaten shipping going about its legitimate business through internationally recognized transit corridors.” 

Oil prices up

Zarif told Hunt that the ship must go through a legal process before it can be released, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported. 

The strait, between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, is the sole outlet for exports of most Middle Eastern oil, and the seizure sent oil prices sharply higher. The United States, which tightened sanctions against Iran in May with the aim of halting its oil exports altogether, has been warning for months of an Iranian threat to shipping in the strait. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he also discussed the situation with Hunt, his British counterpart. 

“We talked about what they’ve seen, what they know, and how they’re beginning to think about how they will respond,” Pompeo said in an interview with the Washington Examiner that was published on Saturday by the State Department. “Iran is in a place today that they have taken themselves.” 

Another oil tanker, the Mesdar, was also boarded by Iranian personnel on Friday and temporarily forced to divert toward Iran, but later was allowed to continue on its route through the strait. On Saturday Algeria’s APS news agency said the Mesdar was owned by Algeria’s state oil company Sonatrach. 

France, Germany and the European Union joined Britain in condemning the seizure. 

The three big European countries are signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that Washington undermined by quitting last year, setting Iran’s already fragile relations with the West on a downward spiral. 

Under the pact, Iran agreed to restrict nuclear work in return for lifting sanctions. The European countries opposed the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the agreement last year, but have so far failed to fulfill promises to Iran of providing alternative means for it to access world trade. 

Extreme disappointment 

“Just spoke to … Zarif and expressed extreme disappointment that having assured me last Saturday Iran wanted to de-escalate situation, they have behaved in the opposite way,” Hunt wrote on Twitter. “This has to be about actions not words if we are to find a way through.” 

Earlier he said London’s reaction would be “considered but robust” and it would ensure the safety of its shipping. 

On Friday, Hunt said the solution would be found via diplomacy and London was “not looking at military options.” Britain’s government said it had advised British shipping to stay out of the Hormuz area for an interim period. 

During the past three months of escalation, the United States and Iran come as close as ever to direct armed conflict. In June, Tehran shot down a U.S. drone and President Donald Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes, only to call them off just minutes before were to have been carried out. 

The vessel had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and suddenly changed course after passing through the strait. 

The United States has blamed Iran for a series of attacks on shipping around the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran has rejected the allegations. Washington also said it had this week downed an Iranian drone near where the Stena Impero was seized. 

The United States is sending military personnel and resources to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

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Trump Relished Rally Chant, Ocasio-Cortez tells Constituents in Queens

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Saturday that President Donald Trump relished a chant by the crowd at a campaign rally this week that called for a Democratic congresswoman to be sent back where she came from. 

Trump renewed his criticism of four minority women lawmakers on Friday, saying that they had said horrible things about the United States, and defended himself from criticism over his comment that they should leave the United States if unhappy. 

A day after saying his audience in North Carolina went too far when they chanted “Send her back!” about Somalia-born Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, on Friday he defended the crowd members as “incredible patriots.” 

Appearing before her constituents in New York City for the first time since the latest flare-up between Trump and the four Democratic congresswomen, Ocasio-Cortez rejected the president’s statement that he had tried to quiet the crowd, saying he had egged them on instead. 

“Roll back the tape … He relished it. He took it in and he’s doing this intentionally,” the freshman U.S. lawmaker told about 200 constituents gathered for a town hall meeting on immigration at a school in the Corona section of Queens. 

Video of the crowd in North Carolina shouting “Send her back!” shows Trump pausing his speech and looking around the arena for about ten seconds. 

The president’s attacks on the four congresswomen – known on Capitol Hill as “the squad” – have been condemned by Democrats as racist, while many Republicans have shrugged them off. 

Last weekend Trump ignited a firestorm by tweeting the four should “go back” to where they came from if they do not like the United States. 

All four are American citizens. Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan were born in the United States while Omar came as a refugee from Somalia and is a naturalized citizen. 

All four are known as sharp critics of Trump’s policies as well as the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Ocasio-Cortez said the president’s comments had been hurtful, but “men like him” have been telling women like her to go back to their own country for a long time. 

“We’re gonna stay right here,” she said to applause “That’s where we’re gonna go,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere.” 

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American Crocodiles Thriving Outside Nuclear Plant 

MIAMI — American crocodiles, once headed toward extinction, are thriving at an unusual spot — the canals surrounding a South Florida nuclear plant. 

Last week, 73 crocodile hatchlings were rescued by a team of specialists at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear plant and dozens more are expected to emerge soon. 

Turkey Point’s 168-mile (270-kilometer) man-made canals serve as the home to several hundred crocodiles, where a team of specialists working for FPL monitors and protects them from hunting and climate change. 

From January to April, Michael Lloret, an FPL wildlife biologist and crocodile specialist, helps create nests for the creatures. Once the hatchlings are reared and left by the mother, the team captures them. They are measured and tagged with microchips to observe their development. Lloret then relocates them to increase survival rates. 

“We entice crocodiles to come in to the habitats FPL created,” Lloret said. “We clear greenery on the berms so that the crocodiles can nest. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue.” 

Wildlife biologist/crocodile specialist Michael Lloret points out a crocodile nest on one of the berms along the cooling canals next to the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, July 19, 2019, in Homestead, Fla.

Now ‘threatened,’ not ‘endangered’

The canals are one of three major U.S. habitats for crocodiles, where 25% of the 2,000 American crocodiles live. The FPL team has been credited for moving the classification of crocodiles on the Endangered Species Act to “threatened” from “endangered” in 2007. The team has tagged 7,000 babies since it was established in 1978. 

Temperature determines the crocodiles’ sex: the hotter it is, the more likely males are hatched. Lloret said this year’s hatchlings are male-heavy because of last month’s weather — it was the hottest June on record globally. 

Because hatchlings released are at the bottom of the food chain, only a small fraction of them survive to be adults. Lloret said they at least have a fighting chance at Turkey Point, away from humans who hunted them to near-extinction out of greed and fear, even though attacks are rare. Only one crocodile attack has ever been recorded in the U.S. — a couple were both bitten while swimming in a South Florida canal in 2014, but both survived. 

“American crocodiles have a bad reputation, when they are just trying to survive,” Lloret said. “They are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu.” 

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Japan Votes in Upper House Election 

TOKYO — Japanese voters cast ballots Sunday in an upper house election, with Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc looking to protect its majority and keep on track plans to amend the country’s pacifist constitution. 
 
Abe, 64, who is on course to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, is also hoping to shore up his mandate ahead of a crucial consumption tax hike later this year, along with trade negotiations with Washington. 
 
Opinion polls suggest his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito are likely to win a majority, mostly because of a lackluster opposition. 
 
Sunday’s vote is for half the seats in the House of Councilors — the less powerful house of parliament — and polling stations across the country open at 7 a.m. (2200 GMT Saturday). 
 
The vote outcome is expected to become clear shortly after the polls close at 8 p.m., with pollsters suggesting turnout could be lower than 50 percent,  significantly less than usual. 

‘Disarray’ in opposition camp
 
Abe’s ruling coalition is forecast to win a solid majority of the 124 seats contested in the election, according to pre-election surveys. 
 
The two parties control 70 seats in the half of the chamber that is not being contested, meaning the projections put them on track to maintain their overall majority in the body. 
 
“Abe’s strength is largely based on passive support resulting from disarray in the opposition camp and a lack of rivals,” Shinichi Nishikawa, professor of political science at Meiji University in Tokyo, told AFP. 
 

FILE – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, June 26, 2019.

A win means Abe should be able to stay in power until November, when he will break the service record of Taro Katsura, a revered politician who served three times as premier between 1901 and 1913. 
 
During campaigns, Abe’s ruling coalition has sought to win voter support for a rise in the nation’s consumption tax to 10 percent later this year as part of efforts to ease swelling social security costs in the “ultra-aged” country. 
 
Abe is also hoping that his coalition and a loose group of conservatives from smaller opposition parties can grab a two-thirds majority in the upper house, giving him the support to move ahead with plans to amend the constitution’s provisions on the military. 
 
“This is an election to decide whether to pick parties who take responsibility for firm discussions on the constitution,” Abe told voters in a campaign speech earlier this month. 

Self-defense provisions
 
Abe vowed to “clearly stipulate the role of the Self-Defense Forces in the constitution,” which prohibits Japan from waging war and maintaining a military. 
 
The provisions, imposed by the U.S. forces after World War II, are popular in the public at large, but reviled by nationalists like Abe, who see them as outdated and punitive. 
 
Local media predict that forces in favor of revising the constitution, led by Abe’s LDP, are likely to win close to 85 of the seats being contested, giving them a “supermajority” in the chamber. 
 
“Since the ruling coalition is widely expected to win the election, attention is now focused on whether the pro-revision forces can win a two-thirds majority,” Nishikawa said. 
 
But even if Abe secures it, any constitutional revision also requires approval in a national referendum, a result that is far from guaranteed. 

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Nigerian President Condemns Latest Killings in Sokoto State 

ABUJA — Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari condemns the killing of 37 people by bandits in the northwestern state of Sokoto, his spokesman said Saturday in a statement. 

Armed gangs have killed hundreds of people in northwest Nigeria this year and forced at least 20,000 to flee to neighboring Niger, adding to security problems in a country also struggling with an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and clashes between farmers and herders in central states. 

“President Muhammadu Buhari strongly condemns the killing of 37 innocent people by bandits in the Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State,” the presidency said in the statement. 

Local media said the attacks took place late Friday. 

Troops have been deployed to the areas hit in the latest flashpoint, the presidency statement said. Military and police have been dispatched to tackle criminal gangs blamed for a spate of killings and kidnappings over the last year. 

Buhari, a former military ruler, began his second four-year term in May after winning a presidential election in February. 

During his campaign he vowed to improve security but — against the backdrop of the northwest’s wave of banditry, high-profile kidnappings nationwide and attacks by Islamist insurgents — he has reiterated that it remains a priority. 

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65-річний серб признався, що «мінував» літак, аби домогтися побачення зі стюардесою

У Сербії 65-річний чоловік признався, що зробив неправдиве повідомлення про «мінування» літака у сподіванні домогтися побачення зі стюардесою з нього.

Як сказав чоловік, імені якого не наводять, на суді в Белграді, він запрошував двох стюардес із літака німецької авіакомпанії Lufthansa на вечерю, але обидві відмовили йому. Побоюючись, що він їх більше не знайде, чоловік 18 липня повідомив телефоном про вибухівку на борту їхнього літака, щоб затримати його виліт.

Через погрозу 150 пасажирів і п’ять членів екіпажу літака, що мав летіти до Франкфурта, довелося евакуювати, вони мусили чекати, доки спецкоманда поліції Сербії не перевірить літак.

Чоловіка вистежили і затримали наступного дня, 19 липня. Як пишуть сербські засоби інформації, прокурори вимагають для нього арешту і планують обвинуватити в спричиненні паніки і безладу.

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