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29 January 2020

  • Schumer on 'stunning' Bolton book news: 'We're all staring a White House cover-up in the face'

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on his Republican colleagues to allow witnesses after the revelation that former national security adviser John Bolton will say in an upcoming book that President Trump told him he wanted Ukraine aid tied to investigations.


  • Navy SEAL Promoted After Choking Green Beret to Death

    The U.S. Navy promoted Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph four months after he admitted to choking a Green Beret to death. DeDolph—who will be back in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing—was formally charged in November 2018 with felony murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, burglary, hazing, and involuntary manslaughter in the strangulation death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Special Forces soldier assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group.Melgar was nearing the end of his deployment when he was killed in the West African nation of Mali in June 2017. He was part of an intelligence operation in Mali supporting counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda’s local affiliate, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.Days after Melgar was strangled, DeDolph, at the time a petty officer first class, was sent back to his base in Virginia Beach under suspicion of murder. Despite that, DeDolph found himself on the promotion list for chief petty officer in August 2017; he was “frocked”—meaning he began wearing the insignia of the higher rank—on Sept. 15, 2017, according to defense officials. He didn’t start drawing chief’s pay until December.Slain Green Beret’s Widow Speaks: ‘I Knew They Were Lying’Three days before DeDolph’s promotion, the medical examiner’s report was signed. It concluded, based on a June 8, 2017, autopsy at Dover Air Force Base, that Melgar’s cause of death was asphyxiation and the manner of death was homicide, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Beast.A defense official familiar with the case said Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as Seal Team 6, didn’t flag DeDolph because he was not formally charged or a person of interest in an ongoing investigation. He was a participant in the investigation but no charges were filed until November 2018.Retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, the former commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, told The Daily Beast this week that he authorized an investigation after he learned of Melgar’s death. Bolduc alerted Army Criminal Investigation Command and told commanders in Mali to preserve evidence. He didn’t understand why DeDolph was promoted when he returned to his unit in Virginia Beach.“It is another failure of leadership,” Bolduc said. “I mean senior leadership. It’s unfortunate. He should have never been promoted. The investigation was started right away. They whisked them out of there as fast as they could.”When asked if he was surprised by the news, Bolduc said no.“I’m disappointed,” he said. “But not surprised. It’s utter bullshit.”Navy prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Garcia declined to comment on the promotion because DeDolph is part of an ongoing investigation.“DeDolph has remained a member of Naval Special Warfare throughout this process,” said Navy Capt. Tamara Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Naval Special Warfare. “It is paramount that the rights of the service member are protected, thus any additional information regarding this case will not be discussed.”Phil Stackhouse, DeDolph's civilian attorney, did not return calls or text messages seeking comment. Melgar’s widow, Michelle, declined to comment on the story.DeDolph’s case is just one of several high-profile incidents that have exposed issues in the SEAL culture. Members of SEAL Team 7 were expelled from Iraq in 2019 after allegations of drinking and sexual assault. Six SEALs tested positive for cocaine last year. Then there’s the case of Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher, a former member of SEAL Team 7, who faced a court martial for war crimes charges including murder, but was convicted of posing for a picture with a dead body and granted clemency by President Trump in November 2019. Trump Tells Allies He Wants Absolved War Criminals to Campaign for HimSome of the same issues were present in Mali, where there was widespread alcohol use, partying, and prostitutes at the safehouse, according to sources familiar with the investigation. “It was like a frat house,” one source said, when asked to describe what the safe house in Bamako was like. In response to the recent incidents, Rear Adm. Collin Green, head of Naval Special Warfare Command, sent a memo last year to his subordinate units declaring the whole SEAL community has a problem.“Some of our subordinate formations have failed to maintain good order and discipline and as a result and for good reason, our NSW culture is being questioned,” Green wrote in the July 2019 memo. “I don’t know yet if we have a culture problem, I do know that we have a good order and discipline problem that must be addressed immediately.”Gen. Richard Clarke, the head of Special Operations Command, ordered an ethics review last August following several high-profile incidents. He acknowledged in a memo to service members on Tuesday that “unacceptable conduct” had been allowed to occur as a result of “lack of leadership, discipline and accountability.” The 71-page report summing up the ethics review warned of what Clarke described as an emphasis on “force employment and mission accomplishment over the routine activities that ensure leadership, accountability, and discipline.”Chief Petty Officer Adam C. Matthews, who was in Mali doing an assessment of the mission there, testified in August he felt it was his duty to haze Melgar—on DeDolph’s recommendation—to teach him a lesson after Melgar “ditched” the team in Mali’s capital city of Bamako on his way to a party at the French embassy. Investigator of Green Beret’s Murder Had Romantic Relationship With Witness, Lawyer SaysDeDolph, Matthews and two Marine Raiders—Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell—spent the rest of the night plotting to choke Melgar into unconsciousness, pull his pants down and videotape the incident and then show it to him later to embarrass him. When Melgar became unresponsive, Matthews and DeDolph tried to resuscitate Melgar with CPR and opened a hole in his throat. The SEALS with Sergeant First Class James Morris, Melgar’s supervisor, then rushed Melgar to a French medical facility, where he was pronounced dead. At the clinic, DeDolph admitted to an embassy official he choked Melgar, according to NBC News and subsequent reports.Maxwell and Matthews have already pleaded guilty in exchange for plea agreements with prosecutors. Matthews, 33, pleaded guilty to hazing and assault charges and attempts to cover up what happened to Melgar. He was sentenced in May 2019 to one year in military prison. Maxwell, 29, was sentenced to four years of confinement after pleading guilty in connection with Melgar’s death in June 2019.DeDolph and Madera-Rodriguez are the last of the four men who carried out the attack to stand trial. Both men are expected to face courts martial this spring. An exact date has not been selected, according to Navy officials.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


  • Kobe Bryant helicopter video emerges showing ill-fated flight minutes before crash

    A video that appears to show Kobe Bryant’s helicopter circling over California roughly 15 minutes before the fatal crash has been posted online, illustrating the foggy conditions faced by the chopper on its last flight.In the video, which was posted by a user on Twitter who said they live in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale — where Bryant’s flight circled for roughly 10 minutes on Sunday awaiting instruction, according to flight records — the helicopter can be seen moving slowly in the sky above, obscured by the early morning fog.


  • China demands an apology from a newspaper for a satirical cartoon of a Chinese flag with coronavirus particles

    China is outraged with a Danish newspaper for publishing a satirical cartoon of a Chinese flag with coronavirus particles in place of its stars.


  • Hunter Biden will pay child support to the mother of his child in Arkansas

    Hunter Biden has agreed to pay child support to the mother of his child in Arkansas and backpay 13 months of missed installments.


  • A Dangerous Game: Russia and America Keep Flying Their Planes Near Each Other's Borders

    Nuclear chicken anyone?


  • Mexico deports 2,300 Hondurans from '2020 Caravan'

    Mexican migration authorities said they have deported 2,300 Hondurans who illegally crossed over from Guatemala with a caravan heading to the United States. The "assisted return" of the Central Americans took place between January 18 and Monday, according to the interior ministry and the National Migration Institute. A total of 1,064 Honduran migrants were deported on National Guard planes and charter aircraft, they said in a statement.


  • British man dies in US immigration detention in Florida

    * Death of man, 39, initially attributed to hanging * UK Foreign Office said to be in touch with man’s wifeA British man has died while being held in US immigration detention in Florida, the Guardian has confirmed.The death was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which said the man was 39 years old and that the cause was initially attributed to asphyxiation due to hanging. The incident was reported to have occurred on Saturday last week.“Our staff are in contact with the US authorities following the death of a British man in Florida,” said a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office in London.Foreign Office officials are understood to have been in contact with the deceased man’s wife, as US officials investigate the circumstances of the death.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Guardian.In a statement to BuzzFeed, the agency identified the deceased man as Ben James Owen and clarified he had died at the Baker county detention center in Macclenny, Florida. Officials said Owen had entered the US on a temporary visa in July and had been arrested on suspicion of felony aggravated stalking, felony false imprisonment, domestic assault, and violating the conditions of his pre-trial release. The agency said the case remained under investigation.The incident marks the fifth death at a detention centre in the 2020 fiscal year, which begins in October 2019. There were eight deaths in Ice detention in the 2019 fiscal year.The immigration detention population in the United States has soared under the Trump administration. Last year Ice detained 510,854 people, compared with 396,448 in 2018. The administration has also increased its use of detention facilities, mostly run by private security companies, with a new concentration of detention centres opening in the deep south.Medical provision and mental health care at detention facilities has come under increased criticism under the Trump administration after a spate of high profile deaths since 2017.At the end of last year House Democrats on the oversight and reform committee launched an inquiry to investigate a “troubling pattern of abuse and poor treatment” of migrants in custody.


  • Biden-Tied Lobbyist Bought Island Property from Biden’s Brother, Gave Him Mortgage Loan

    Financial records reviewed by Politico show that Joe Biden's brother James sold one of his three parcels of land in the U.S. Virgin Islands at a substantial profit to a well-connected lobbyist who then extended a mortgage to James on the remaining two parcels.In May 2005, James Biden purchased an acre of land on Water Island for $150,000. He then applied for and received an easement to divide the property into three plots, one of which he sold to lobbyist Scott Green — a decade-long Senate staffer for Joe Biden in the 1980s — for $150,000. James had initially purchased all three parcels for $150,000, meaning that he made his money back and was able to keep the majority of the one acre plot for himself.Green’s lobbying firm, Lafayette Group — which features a photo of Green with Biden on its website and quotes Biden endorsing Green — earned two government contracts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency worth a total of $5.8 million on April 11, 2010.Three days later, Green extended a $133,300 mortgage to James Biden for his remaining Water Island property. Property records reviewed by Politico show that Green had “received full payment and full satisfaction” and released the mortgage in September 2013.Joe Biden and his family traveled to Water Island several times during his vice presidency, but did not stay on his brother’s or Green’s land, which remains undeveloped.Lafayette Group earned tens of millions of dollars in government contracts during the course of Biden’s time as vice president. During his time in the Senate, Biden also advocated for a number of areas in which Green’s lobbying intersected, including a broadband network for first responders and the non-profit Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program.


  • Bloomberg says he didn't bother to keep Trump's cellphone number

    Bloomberg told CBS News about advice he gave Trump after he was elected but before he took office.


  • Get Early Access to Backcountry’s Big Winter Sale Right Now


  • Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant reportedly received special permission to fly in thick fog

    Details are still emerging about the circumstances surrounding the helicopter that killed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others including the pilot, but the flight was reportedly granted special approval to fly in challenging weather conditions.Fog was thick Sunday morning in the Los Angeles area when the helicopter took off and made its way toward Gianna Bryant's youth basketball tournament, but air traffic control at Burbank airport gave the pilot Special Visual Flight Rules clearance, allowing the aircraft to enter Burbank's airspace.A Federal Aviation Administration official said air traffic control's approval would not have extended to Calabasas, where the helicopter crashed. By that point, the official said, it would have been up to the pilot to determine if conditions were appropriate to continue or transition to instrument flight rules.Witnesses near the site of the crash described conditions as so foggy that people had trouble driving, per The New York Times. "I couldn't see anything, not even a silhouette," said Scott Daehlin who heard the sound of the helicopter flying low before making impact with a nearby hillside. "My first thought was what in the world is a helicopter doing out here in this fog?" Read more at The New York Times.More stories from theweek.com John Bolton just vindicated Nancy Pelosi It's 2020 and women are exhausted Mike Pompeo is a disgrace


  • Harvard professor charged with hiding China ties, payments

    A Harvard University professor was charged Tuesday with lying about his ties to a Chinese-run recruitment program and concealing payments he received from the Chinese government for research. Charles Lieber, chair of the department of chemistry and chemical biology, is accused of hiding his involvement in China's Thousand Talents Plan, a program designed to lure people with knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property to China. Lieber was arrested early Tuesday at his office at the Ivy League university, officials said.


  • China Demands Apology From Danish Newspaper Over Virus Cartoon

    (Bloomberg) -- The Chinese Embassy to Denmark wants the newspaper Jyllands-Posten to apologize for publishing a drawing that depicts China’s flag with virus symbols instead of five stars.“We express our strong indignation and demand that Jyllands-Posten and [cartoonist] Niels Bo Bojesen reproach themselves for their mistake and publicly apologize to the Chinese people,” the embassy said in a statement posted on its website.When asked to comment, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen avoided any direct reference to Jyllands-Posten’s cartoon.“I have nothing to say on the matter other than [to note that] we have a very strong tradition in Denmark not just for freedom of speech but also for freedom of satire, and we’ll continue to have that in the future,” she said, according to multiple news media including Politiken. “This is a well known Danish position and we’re not going to change it.”Denmark’s largest newspaper has faced international backlash over its cartoons in the past. In 2005, the paper printed 12 drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, which angered many nations in which Islam is the main religion and sparked a diplomatic crisis. Back then, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen also defended freedom of speech and said governments had no place telling newspapers what to write.The Chinese flag was printed in the opinion section of the newspaper’s Monday edition with a caption titled “Corona virus”.Editor-in-Chief Jacob Nybroe said the paper won’t apologize.“We can’t apologize for something we don’t think is wrong,” Nybroe told news agency Ritzau. “We have no intention to demean or mock but we don’t think this drawing is doing that.”(Updates with comment from Denmark’s prime minister)To contact the reporter on this story: Morten Buttler in Copenhagen at mbuttler@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Christian Wienberg at cwienberg@bloomberg.net, Tasneem Hanfi BröggerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


  • There Is No Going Back If Iran Sinks A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier

    It would mean war.