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Trump executive order on anti-Semitism stirs confusionInitial reports of the president’s plans to expand protections against anti-Semitism on campus prompted fear and confusion among many American Jews.

12/11/2019 6:15:01 PM

AOC explains why she won't go on Fox News: 'Unmitigated racism'Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., lashed out at Fox News hours after host Tucker Carlson and a guest had criticized her climate policy proposals, while suggesting her district is “dirty” due to its immigrant population. 

12/11/2019 2:38:28 PM

Saudi Family of Pensacola Gunman: 'Even We Don't Know the Truth' of MotiveAL AHSA, Saudi Arabia -- Not long before a 21-year-old Saudi Royal Air Force trainee shot and killed three American sailors Friday at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida, he called his mother and his brother back home.The trainee, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was wearing his uniform, they could see on the video call -- the uniform he had always wanted to wear as a child, when he dreamed of becoming a pilot.With his elder brother, Abdullah, he joked around on the call: "You're the eldest," Alshamrani teased, "but I'm going to get married first." Talking to his mother, he promised he would be home as soon as he finished his training. "Just a few more months," he said.What was missing was any hint of what was to come: opening fire in a classroom building at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, shooting three fatally and wounding eight more before being killed by a sheriff's deputy.Alshamrani seemed utterly normal in that last conversation, his family insisted in interviews this week in Saudi Arabia. Four days later, they are still baffled."He never had a secret, he was never hiding anything," Saeed Abdullah Alshamrani, 55, the lieutenant's father, said at the family's home in eastern Saudi Arabia on Tuesday evening. "It's such a mystery. Even we don't know the truth.""Are you sure he's dead?" his father asked during the interview, surrounded by several relatives, acquaintances and others whose relationship to the family was not clear. "We haven't even been given any proof of whether he's dead or alive."No motive for the shooting has been determined, although the FBI is treating it as a presumed terrorist attack. The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it was suspending operational training for all of the nearly 900 Saudi military students in the United States.Among the few clues to emerge was a tweet from an account that may be connected to Alshamrani, which condemned United States foreign policy decisions in the Middle East, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online. There was also a complaint the lieutenant filed earlier this year against one of his instructors for mocking his mustache in class.But in Saudi Arabia, the American focus on possible radicalization has left family and acquaintances bewildered, forced to answer for their son and friend to other Saudis.Sensitive to Western stereotypes that often reflexively brand Muslims as terrorists, and aware that the kingdom cannot afford to lose Washington's support, many Saudis have been eager to portray the lieutenant as a monstrous outlier. A hashtag declaring that he "does not represent" Saudis has dominated Twitter in the kingdom, and the media has echoed the point."This work can only be done by a cowardly villain," Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political scientist, wrote in the Arab News, a Saudi newspaper. "He has betrayed his country, which trusted him and spent millions on his education. Instead, he stabbed her in the back."The Saudi government is also extremely sensitive about the case, fearing it could jeopardize a relationship already frayed by criticism in Washington over the war in Yemen and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other top officials have all condemned the shooting. Alshamrani's family has said they were questioned by government officials.In interviews, his father, brother, cousins and a family friend said that Alshamrani had always seemed content to be in the United States, working toward his longtime goal, never mentioning difficulties."Since he was a kid, he'd dreamed of being a pilot, and he worked so hard for it," said his brother, Abdullah Alshamrani. Once he arrived in the United States, "he loved it so much, really," his brother said. "He was amazed by America's military force, just really impressed by the military."The third child in a family from Tabalah, a farming town in southern Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Alshamrani grew up in Al Ahsa, not far from the Saudi Aramco compound in eastern Saudi Arabia. His father had moved there to work in the local airport, eventually rising to be a security official.The family spent summers with extended family back in Tabalah, with its date farms nestled amid the undulating desert and stark mountains. They built another house there and frequently came back for weddings and other family events. On summer evenings, with other entertainment scarce, young men like Alshamrani and his brothers and cousins would gather at rented guesthouses in the desert to play cards and watch soccer on TV late into the night.Alshamrani always seemed more serious and less boisterous than the other young men, recalled Galat bin Mitshoosh, a retired longtime detective with the local prosecutor's office in Tabalah who knows the family."I never heard anything political from Mohammed," he said. "He was quiet, just a normal guy. He might talk about sports sometimes."The Alshamranis were observant Muslims who prayed, he said, but their practice of Islam was not considered especially strict.A person familiar with the investigation in the United States has said that friends and classmates told investigators that Alshamrani seemed to have become more religious when he returned from his last visit home in February.During that visit, relatives said, he took his mother to the holy city of Mecca to perform the umrah, a type of pilgrimage that many Muslims routinely undertake. In his relatives' eyes, however, they said there was nothing to indicate his Islamic beliefs had changed or hardened. He did not seem different, they said, except that he had shaven his chin clean.Always a good student, Alshamrani cemented his place as the pride of his family when he became one of the two students picked from his air force academy class of several hundred to enter the training program in the United States on a scholarship. Saudi Arabia has sent hundreds of thousands of young students overseas to study in Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States in recent years, but it was so rare for someone from rural Tabalah to study in the United States that the last young man from the town to do so before Alshamrani is locally famous."I was so proud of him. He's the role model of the family," his brother Abdullah said. "I'm the eldest son, but Mohammed is a big deal."Starting in August 2017, the Saudi government paid for him to spend a year learning English at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio before he moved to Pensacola for military training. He had already received weapons training at his academy in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, the family said. But he did not appear to acquire a gun in the United States until July, when he legally purchased a Glock 45 9-millimeter handgun in late July, shortly after obtaining a state hunting license, the FBI said Tuesday.Over his years in the United States, he shared with his family pictures of himself smiling in Times Square and in uniform with one of his American trainers.A video he took in Florida showed friends splashing around in kayaks, as he laughed behind the camera. When he called home -- almost every day, his father and brother said -- he talked about traveling around the United States, hanging out with his Saudi roommate and coming home after graduation. He was counting down the months.So was his family. His father had told neighbors and friends in Tabalah that he would throw a huge graduation party for his son when the family visited next summer, according to bin Mitshoosh, the retired detective. All the men from all six of the town's tribes would be invited.When he called his family Friday, Alshamrani offered to send his brother some extra money. He promised to be home soon."I'll call you later," he told Abdullah.Only hours later, that night, would they learn the news.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

12/11/2019 2:10:48 PM

Texas inmate executed for killing prison supervisor in 2003A Texas inmate was executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening for killing a supervisor at a state prison shoe factory in Amarillo nearly 17 years ago. Travis Runnels, 46, was convicted of slashing the throat of 38-year-old Stanley Wiley on Jan. 29, 2003. Runnels was executed at the state penitentiary in Huntsville.

12/10/2019 11:03:58 PM

Newly discovered Indonesian cave painting could be the world's oldest figurative artworkAn Indonesian cave painting that depicts a prehistoric hunting scene could be the world's oldest figurative artwork, dating back nearly 44,000 years, a discovery that points to an advanced artistic culture, according to new research. Spotted two years ago on the island of Sulawesi, the 13-foot-wide painting features wild animals being chased by half-human hunters wielding what appear to be spears and ropes, said the study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

12/12/2019 8:37:54 AM

Germany contradicts Russia over Georgian murdered in BerlinGermany contradicted Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, saying it was not aware Russia had requested the extradition of a Georgian man who was murdered in Berlin in August. In an escalation in already tense relations, Germany last week expelled two employees at the Russian embassy in Berlin, saying Moscow was not cooperating sufficiently in the investigation into the murder. Putin described the victim on Monday as a "cruel and blood-thirsty person" who had fought on the side of anti-Moscow separatists in Russia's mainly Muslim north Caucasus region, and said Moscow's requests for his extradition had not been heeded.

12/11/2019 6:51:07 AM

How an Obscure Part of the Paris Climate Agreement Could Cut Twice as Many Carbon Emissions — Or Become a 'Massive Loophole' for PollutersAn obscure part of the Paris Climate Agreement could cut more carbon emissions — or make them worse. Here's what you need to know about controversial carbon markets.

12/12/2019 11:43:41 AM

Boeing removed a feature that protects its 787 planes during lightning strikes as a cost-cutting measure, even after FAA experts objectedThe FAA administrator will be questioned by Congress today over its certification of the change to the 787 Dreamliner as well as the 737 Max.

12/11/2019 6:13:02 AM

Ousted Envoy Says Guaido Must Clean up Venezuelan Opposition(Bloomberg) -- One of Venezuela’s most experienced opposition figures says National Assembly chief Juan Guaido needs to root out corruption in his inner circle.Humberto Calderon Berti, who was recently replaced by Guaido as his envoy to Colombia, said the opposition must enforce higher standards than the government of Nicolas Maduro does.“We have been saying we are different and we have to show it,” he said in a phone interview. “Honesty and ethics require permanent behavior.”Calderon, 78, a former foreign minister and a past president of the state oil company, said he continues to back Guaido’s leadership, but that he needs to “clean up his entourage and act like a president.”Calderon, who spoke by telephone from Spain, declined to mention any corrupt people by name. His dismissal two weeks ago stunned many backers of the Guaido-led movement.Guaido’s office declined to comment on Calderon’s allegations.Guaido said in his dismissal letter to Calderon that the move was part of a set of foreign policy changes. The U.S. and about 50 other countries recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legal president, giving him control over some of its embassies, even though his power inside the country is limited.With the backing of the U.S. and its allies, Guaido has been trying to push aside Maduro, whose 2018 re-election was widely condemned as rigged and illegitimate. But the endeavor has been faltering and, despite tough U.S. sanctions, Maduro still seems securely in power.Misused FundsCalderon said he was, in fact, dismissed over disagreements with Guaido and his mentor, Leopoldo Lopez, regarding his outspokenness on several matters. These included the misuse of money earmarked for military men who deserted and fled to Colombia last February; nominations for board membership of Monomeros, an important Venezuelan fertilizer company in Colombia; and whether the opposition should have met with Maduro representatives at negotiations in Oslo, which ended in failure.Calderon said he reported the misused funds to Guaido and Lopez, as well as to Colombian authorities. The story leaked and Lopez accused Calderon of being the source of the leak. He denies this.“The problem was not the leak but what was done,” Calderon said. “Journalists have a right to publish and the people have a right to know.”Unqualified StaffOn Monomeros, he said Guaido allies nominated several unqualified people to the company, and then sought to make deals through them. He objected. Regarding the negotiations with the Maduro government, he openly said that he thought it was a waste of time, which angered Guaido’s top aides.The Spanish newspaper ABC recently reported that Calderon was part of a scheme to push aside both Maduro and Guaido for an interim ruling junta. Calderon said this was false, that he had nothing to do with any such plan, although he had been aware of discussions about setting up such a structure.Calderon said that while some Maduro allies have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars, the corruption in the opposition is on a much smaller scale.“For me, it’s not about the amount,” he said. “We can’t be permissive with any acts of corruption,” he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Ethan Bronner in New York at ebronner@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Cancel at, Matthew BristowFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

12/11/2019 6:54:13 AM

Airstrikes called in as Taliban attempt to breach Bagram Air BaseU.S. and Afghan forces were pulled into a nearly nine to 10 hour firefight after a suicide bombing targeted a medical facility that was under construction near the base, a source on the ground detailed to Military Times.

12/11/2019 6:59:17 PM