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  • The White House and Congress just reached a deal that would avert a major fiscal crisis in Washington this fall>
    (Politics - July 23 2019 - 1:03 AM:)


    • The Trump administration and congressional Democrats forged an agreement to add billions to government spending and lift the debt limit for two years.
    • The deal lowered the risk of a disastrous fiscal crisis in Washington this fall.
    • The agreement still needs to be finalized. Lawmakers would then have to pass individual spending bills to implement it. 
    • Visit Markets Insider for more stories.

    The Trump administration and congressional Democrats forged an agreement on Monday to add billions to government spending and lift the debt limit for two years, lowering the risk of a potentially disastrous fiscal crisis in Washington this fall.

    The deal would raise the budget and extend the borrowing limit until at least July 2021, mostly avoiding the threat of a shutdown and an unprecedented default on US debt obligations. It would also permanently end the sequester, a series of deep and automatic spending cuts that began in 2013

    "I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy - on a two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling, with no poison pills," President Donald Trump tweeted Monday afternoon.

    "This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets," he added.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed to increase spending by approximately $320 billion, with equal amounts going to both military and domestic agencies.

    The two have engaged in direct negotiations this month in an effort to avoid the type of partisan standoff that led to the longest government shutdown on record in December and JanuaryOther party leaders in the Senate and the House have also been involved in the talks, Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting on Monday.

    But the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-held Senate and White House were poised to "be unhappy with some aspects" of the agreement, a source close to the talks said. 

    It was set to include measures to offset spending by approximately $75 billion, about half the cuts that some Trump advisers initially requested from Democrats, the source added. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that some congressional Republicans have asked that Trump reject any proposal that didn't include steep spending cuts.

    "We believe the White House and congressional leadership should be prepared to walk away from this if necessary," Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana told The Journal in an interview over the weekend. "I'm encouraged after speaking with the president."

    The deal was sure to draw criticism from deficit hawks, including those on both sides of the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package passed in 2017. The federal deficit shot up by about 38% in the first seven months of the fiscal year despite a solid economy, which typically prompts lawmakers to take steps to reduce it.

    Mnuchin warned congressional leaders in mid-July that the government could run out of money this fall, urging lawmakers to ensure the borrowing limit was raised before the budget year ended on September 30. Failure to do so could prevent the government from meeting its debt obligations, a scenario that would shake the economy and financial markets. 

    The deal comes a few days before the House breaks for a six-week recess on Friday. The Senate would have a week from then to vote on a bill before its own adjournment, potentially sending it to the White House. To implement a finalized agreement, Washington would still need to pass a series of individual spending bills.

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    SEE ALSO: Trump ramps up pressure on the Fed, saying the 'very misguided' central bank should 'move now' to cut interest rates

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  • Justice Department says it expects Robert Mueller to stay in his lane at this week's blockbuster hearing>
    (Politics - July 23 2019 - 12:30 AM:)

    Robert Mueller

    • The Justice Department sent a letter on Monday to former special counsel Robert Mueller, emphasizing that it expects him to "not go beyond" the public version of his report during a highly anticipated public hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
    • Mueller, a private citizen after resigning from the Justice Department, is scheduled to publicly testify on the Russia investigation after receiving a subpoena from House lawmakers.
    • Mueller's testimony is highly sought-after by Democratic lawmakers, and there has been speculation about whether new information on the Russia investigation would be revealed.
    • However, Mueller stated he would limit any potential testimony to the 448-pages of the report.
    • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

    The Justice Department sent a letter on Monday to former special counsel Robert Mueller, emphasizing that it expects him to "not go beyond" the public version of his report during a highly anticipated public hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

    Mueller, a private citizen after resigning from the Justice Department in late May, is scheduled to publicly testify on the Russia investigation after receiving a subpoena from House lawmakers.

    "The decision to testify before Congress is yours to make in this case, but the Department agrees with your stated position that your testimony should be unnecessary under the circumstances," Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said in the letter.

    "The Department generally does not permit prosecutors such as you to appear and testify before Congress regarding their investigative and prosecutorial activity," he added.

    Mueller's testimony is highly sought-after by Democratic lawmakers. However, in May, Mueller stated he would limit any potential testimony to the 448-pages of the report.

    "The report is my testimony," Mueller said during a press conference in May. "I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress."

    "So beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress," he added.

    Read more: Democrats want Robert Mueller's blockbuster congressional testimony to make the public aware of what's in his report, which most people still haven't read

    Associate Deputy Attorney General Weinsheimer noted that the Justice Department understood Mueller's testimony to be "governed by the terms you outlined."

    "Please note that there should be no testimony concerning the redacted portions of the public version of your report, which may not be disclosed because of applicable laws, court rules and orders," the letter said.

    Weinsheimer added that any information beyond the scope of the public report was "covered by executive privilege" and included "presidential communications privileges."

    Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, previously said to INSIDER that Attorney General William Barr "doesn't want him testifying at all."

    Democratic lawmakers have criticized Barr and accused him of misleading the public with his four-page summery of Mueller's report released several weeks before the 448-page redacted version was made public.

    "This will be the first opportunity for the public to hear in detail Bob Mueller speak in his own words about his investigation, about the systemic interference by the Russians, about the degree to which the Trump campaign welcomed and encouraged and made use of their help," Schiff said. "And as most people have not had a chance to read his lengthy report, this may be the first time they hear directly from the source."

    SEE ALSO: Democrats want Robert Mueller's blockbuster congressional testimony to make the public aware of what's in his report, which most people still haven't read

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A year after Armenia's 250,000-person revolution, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan explains what comes next for the country

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  • How Trump, Kim Kardashian, and the US government got involved in trying to free rapper A$AP Rocky from a Swedish jail>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 9:36 PM:)

    A$AP Rocky

    • The ongoing detention of rapper A$AP Rocky in Sweden has taken a political tone in recent days.
    • President Donald Trump has joined the chorus of voices calling for Rocky's release following his alleged role in a brawl in Stockholm in late June.
    • The Swedish government has indicated Rocky will not receive special treatment.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Rapper A$AP Rocky was arrested in Sweden in early July on a preliminary charge of assault following an altercation that occurred while he was in Stockholm to perform in a hip-hop festival. 

    There's a growing movement for Rocky's release in the US, which President Donald Trump has endorsed. 

    Here's a timeline of what's been going on with Rocky and the efforts to see him released from jail in Sweden.

    Joe Perticone contributed reporting.

    SEE ALSO: 23 celebrities, professional athletes, and politicians Trump has golfed with as president

    American rapper A$AP Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, was arrested in Sweden on July 3 on "probable grounds for serious assault" and has been detained ever since. On July 5, it was ordered that the rapper be held for two weeks in pre-trial detention as the incident is being investigated.

    Source: NBC News

    Rocky, 30, was allegedly involved in an altercation in Stockholm while he was there to perform in a music festival.

    A video released by TMZ on July 1 appeared to show Rocky involved in a "vicious fight" in Stockholm in which he threw a person to the ground.

    Source: TMZ

    Subsequently, Rocky released videos on Instagram that appeared to show men following and harassing him and his associates, while also antagonizing his security guard. In the video, the rapper can be heard saying that his group didn't want any "problems" with the men following them. "We don’t want to fight you all, we’re not trying to go to jail," Rocky could be heard saying to the men in the video.


    Source: Instagram

    Rocky has not been charged with a crime, and a defense lawyer said he acted in self-defense. But on July 19 a court approved a request from prosecutors to detain him for at least another week as police investigate the incident. Another hearing is schedule for July 25 on whether he should be detained longer.

    Source: The Associated Press

    One of the alleged victims of the brawl was reportedly being investigated for abuse, assault, and attempted assault. But an attorney for this person on July 22 said his client is no longer being investigated, CNN reported.

    Source: CNN

    Not long after Rocky's arrest, people in the US began calling for his release on social media. Hundreds of thousands have signed a petition for the rapper to be released on Change.org. His detention has also received the attention of the Trump administration, members of Congress, and a number of celebrities. Some reports have suggested A$AP and two of his associates are being held in "inhumane conditions" and being subjected to solitary confinement for long periods.

    Source: Change.org; The Washington Post

    Rocky is originally from Harlem in New York City. Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who represents New York’s Thirteenth Congressional District, which includes Harlem, has been advocating for his release.

    "[Rocky is] part of a growing, young movement of artists that, first of all, I commend because they identify with the neighborhood where they live, which in this case is Harlem,” Espaillat told Complex on July 11. “Harlem is a neighborhood that is very special because Harlem is not just about the Apollo or 125th Street. It’s really about an attitude and a personality and a history and a legacy. And so, for him to be a young person and continue to identify with Harlem, and be a strong presence of the artist community in Harlem, is great. That’s why I’m going to bat for him.”

    Source: Complex

    Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who's on the Congressional Black Caucus, on July 17 called for the release of the men and slammed Sweden for their ongoing detention. Jeffries described the situation as "unjust" and accused Sweden of human rights violations. He said Rocky was being held in conditions "that would more closely resemble confinement in the former Soviet Union — not in Sweden, which is supposed to be a country that is part of the civilized world. Shame on you!"

    The State Department has also spoken out: “There are certainly some facts about the arrest and detention that raise concerns,” a State Department spokesperson told Politico on July 14. “We expect all governments, including Sweden, to treat American citizens fairly and with respect. … We hope to see ASAP Rocky and his colleagues back on tour and reunited with friends and family soon.”

    Source: Politico

    President Donald Trump tweeted about the situation on July 19 after learning about it from rapper Kanye West: "Just spoke to @KanyeWest about his friend A$AP Rocky’s incarceration. I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!"

    Source: Twitter

    Trump on July 19 said First Lady Melania Trump first brought Rocky's detention to his attention. At the time, he said: "Many, many members of the African-American community have called me, friends of mine, and said, 'Could you help?' So I personally don't know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you he has a lot of support from the African-American community in this country. And when I say African-American, I can really say from everybody in this country, because we are all one."

    Source: CBS News

    Trump tweeted about Rocky's detention again on July 20, stating: "Just had a very good call with @SwedishPM Stefan Löfven who assured me that American citizen A$AP Rocky will be treated fairly. Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative. Our teams will be talking further, and we agreed to speak again in the next 48 hours!"

    Source: Twitter

    Trump's offer to "personally vouch" for Rocky's bail won't go far given Sweden's criminal justice system doesn't include bail.

    Source: The Washington Post

    Kim Kardashian West also appears to have spoken with the Trump administration on Rocky's behalf. "Thank you @realDonaldTrump , @SecPompeo, Jared Kushner & everyone involved with the efforts to Free ASAP Rocky & his two friends. Your commitment to justice reform is so appreciated," she tweeted on July 18.

    Source: Twitter

    The Swedish government has signaled Rocky won't get special treatment. Toni Eriksson, press secretary for Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, described the conversation between Lofven and Trump on A$AP's detention as "friendly and respectful." He added that in Sweden "everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings."

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  • Boris Johnson's 'do or die' plan to force through Brexit could be ruled illegal by a Scottish court>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 9:00 PM:)

    boris johnson no deal brexit court illegal

    • Boris Johnson's plan to consider suspending Parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit on October 31, could be ruled illegal.
    • A group of parliamentarians and lawyers are appealing to a Scottish court to seek a guarantee that proroguing Parliament for the purpose of forcing through a no-deal Brexit would be against the law.
    • It relies on the precedent of a previous successful case which found that the UK government was free to unilaterally revoke Brexit.
    • The court is set to rule within weeks , potentially forcing Johnson to seek another Brexit extension.

    Boris Johnson's plan to force Britain out of the EU by the end of October "do or die" could soon be ruled illegal by a Scottish court.

    Johnson has insisted that Britain will leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal, and has refused to rule out suspending parliament in order to allow it to happen, if he becomes prime minister this week.

    However, a group of parliamentarians and lawyers on Monday wrote to the UK government's legal representative in Scotland on Tuesday advising them that they will after seven days sue for a "court guarantee" which could rule any plan to suspend parliament in order to force through Brexit, illegal.

    The case could be heard within weeks, with Johnson's plan potentially being ruled illegal before members of parliament return from their summer break.

    Similar cases have been threatened in recent months by the campaigner Gina Miller and the former Conservative prime minister John Major.

    However, those involved in this case believe it is vital to secure a court ruling now before any attempted suspension of parliament takes place.

    Under the plan, if successful, Johnson could be advised by government lawyers against requesting that the Queen suspend parliament in order to force a no-deal and could then be served with an injunction if he went ahead anyway.

    Read more: The Queen is being dragged into Britain's Brexit crisis

    Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Plaid Cymru MPs have all joined the case, alongside Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Project.

    "If the Prime Minister asks the Queen to suspend Parliament she faces an impossible choice," Maugham said.

    "Either she ignores his advice and breaks with convention or she dismisses Parliament so the Prime Minister can use her prerogative to force through No Deal.

    "Both options explode the notion of the UK as a modern, functioning democracy. We will ask the Courts to assist Her Majesty by ruling on that choice."

    Jo Swinson, who was elected Liberal Democrat leader on Monday with a pledge to "do whatever it takes to stop Brexit," said the case was essential for protecting the UK economy.

    "Liberal Democrats will do everything we possibly can to stop the next Tory Prime Minister from crashing the UK out of the EU," she said.

    "That is why I am adding my name as a petitioner to this important case. Proroguing Parliament so as to crash the UK out without a deal would be catastrophic for our NHS, jobs, and our environment. 

    Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry, who has also joined the case, said that it was "unconscionable that the incoming PM should simply do away with the Westminster Parliament in order to fulfill this slow-motion car crash."

    She added that "we must take all steps we can to prevent prorogation."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • 26 photos show thousands of Puerto Ricans filling a highway, dancing, and riding on horseback to drive Gov. Ricardo Rossello from office in what is likely the island's biggest protest ever>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 8:52 PM:)

    People take to the Las Americas Highway in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 22, 2019 on day 9th

    • On Monday, Puerto Rico had what appeared to be one of its biggest protest ever. Hundreds of thousands of people took over one of the country's largest highways to force Gov. Ricardo Rossello to resign.
    • Rossello has come under fire due to corruption charges leveled against his administration, as well as the leaking of 889 pages of online conversations between him and nine of his aides.
    • The messages are filled with misogynistic and homophobic obscenities, as well as a joke about hurricane victims. People are calling the scandal "Chatgate" or "Rickyleaks".
    • On July 21, Rosello announced via Facebook video he would not seek re-election, but he would not resign as leader. Instead of quelling the demonstrators, it seemed to have fired protesters up further.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Puerto Ricans stormed the streets as they attempted to drive 40-year-old Gov. Ricardo Rossello from office.

    On Monday, Puerto Rico had what appeared to be one of its biggest ever protests. Hundreds of thousands were expected to take over one of the country's largest highways to force Rossello to resign. Reports indicate at least tens of thousands of people showed.

    Rossello has come under fire due to corruption charges leveled against his administration, as well as the leaking of 889 pages of private messages between him and nine of his aides. The scandal — which has been dubbed "Chatgate" or "Rickyleaks" — includes obscenities directed at two female Puerto Rican politicians and at Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin. There was also a joke about dead bodies piling up after Hurricane Maria.

    On July 21, Rosello announced via Facebook video he would not seek re-election, but he would not resign as leader. Instead of quelling the demonstrators, it seemed to have fired them up further.

    Here's how the protests came about and what happened in Puerto Rico on Monday.

    SEE ALSO: Lawsuit targets alleged Puerto Rico power company corruption

    SEE ALSO: 22 celebrities calling for Puerto Rico’s governor to resign after vulgar messages from his group chat leaked

    Things began to deteriorate for Gov. Ricardo Rosello on July 10, when six people were arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiracy. They're accused of directing $15.5 million worth of contracts to politically related consultants. Two of these people were former agency directors in the Puerto Rican government. Rosello ended his vacation in France early to return to Puerto Rico to help with damage control.

    Source: The New York Times

    On July 13, Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism published messages between Rosello and 11 of his aides. The homophobic, misogynistic, and profanity-laced messages discuss and insult former New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, and singer Ricky Martin, among others.

    Sources: CNN, Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism

    Since then, hundreds of thousands protesters have taken to the streets. The mass demonstrations come after a culmination of factors.

    Source: Reuters

    Along with the governor's vulgar chat messages, the island has been dealing with a 13-year recession, the suspected corruption of the current administration, and a nationwide struggle to recover, after a series of deadly hurricanes in 2017, which are estimated to have caused more than $100 billion worth of damage.

    Source: AP

    On July 17, an estimated 500,000 demonstrators took to the streets in San Juan to demand the governor's resignation. The entire island's population is about 3 million people.

    Sources: The Nation, World Population Review

    It is the largest protest movement on the island since demonstrations occurred 15 years ago to successfully end US Navy military training on the island of Vieques.

    Source: Business Insider


    The diversity of the protesters, including age, political ideologies, and class, is notable. According to The New York Times, protesters include retired people, students, hospitality staff, truck drivers, and electricians.

    Source: The Nation, The New York Times

    The protesters have been typically peaceful. Along with filling the streets with songs, there have been yoga protests and demonstrations on jet skis and horses.

    Source: NPR

    But there has been a heavy police presence, and law enforcement have sometimes been aggressive in combating the protests, particularly on the nights of July 15 and 17.

    Source: The Nation

    Police used tear gas on some protesters, and there have been reports of rubber bullets being fired.

    Source: NPR

    On July 17, in New York's Union Square, protests took place in solidarity with Puerto Ricans. Protests have also happened in China, Holland, and Chile. Similar demonstrations are expected in major cities across the US mainland on Monday.

    Source: Refinery29

    Symbols have been attacked in the protests, including the US flag. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US, and some are worried that the instability could cause the US to play more of a role in the governing of the island.

    Source: Business Insider, Washington Post

    On the fifth day of demonstrations, a protester climbed a pole to remove the US flag.

    Hurricane Maria is also remembered. The protester seen here has 4,645 written with special effects makeup on her forehead — one estimate for the number of people who were killed by the storm. This number has been controversial, because the island government originally identified only 64 victims. In August 2018, the government conceded that Hurricane Maria killed more than 2,975 people on the island, which many think was still an underestimate.

    Sources: Reuters, Business Insider

    On July 21, Rosello admitted he was wrong and apologized for the messages. On Facebook Live, he said he was aware of the population's dissatisfaction and discomfort, and while he would not run for re-election, he wasn't standing down. "Only my work will help restore the trust of these sectors," he said in the video.

    Sources: USA Today, Facebook

    But that wasn't good enough for many Puerto Ricans. On July 22, one of the largest protests was held to force Rossello to step down. Organizers aimed for 1 million protesters.

    Source: The New York Times

    One of San Juan's major motorways, Espreso Las Americas, was forced to close down. Along with this, San Juan's biggest shopping mall announced it wouldn't open, university classes were canceled, some banks were closed, and cruise ships were diverted from San Juan.

    Reports haven't confirmed how many people took to the streets, but it was at least in the tens of thousands.

    Source: New York Times

    The highways became overrun with protesters. Seen below is a flag that reads "enough" hung over a highway sign.

    It wasn't just a walking protest. Dancers performed, and at least one protester was riding down the highway on horseback.

    Tweet Embed:
    🐴#Mayagüez #RickyRenuncia #UnNuevoPuertoRico pic.twitter.com/NPTJqmgE0h

    Celebrities, including Puerto Rican rappers Residente and Bad Bunny, joined in on Monday.

    Singer Ricky Martin, who was one of the celebrities personally insulted by Rosello's messages, was also there.

    Read more: 26 celebrities calling for Puerto Rico's governor to resign after vulgar messages from his group chat leaked

    Due to the heat, police reported 18 cases of fainting and dizziness. Luckily, in the afternoon, it rained during the demonstration. The rain didn't deter the protesters.

    Sources: New York Times, CNN

    US President Donald Trump weighed in on Rossello's leadership. During a White House appearance, he accused the governor of being "corrupt and incompetent." He said Washington was wary of sending aid to the island, precisely because of the administration. He also said he was the best thing to ever happen to Puerto Rico.

    Source: The New York Times

    Protesters haven't yet succeeded in getting Rossello to step aside, but he did appear on Fox News in the afternoon and said he wanted to stay in office. "My commitment is to follow through on some of the efforts that I established for the people of Puerto Rico," he said.


    Tweet Embed:
    Shep's face says it all on Fox News. pic.twitter.com/bvoR3d7riE

    Source: The New York Times

    There's been no official word yet whether protests will continue throughout the week, but it looks likely.

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  • Trump said India asked him to help mediate the Kashmir conflict with Pakistan. India quickly said that's not true.>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 8:32 PM:)

    Trump Modi

    • The Indian government on Monday rejected President Donald Trump's claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the president if he would like to help mediate a historic dispute with Pakistan. 
    • During a meeting with Pakistan's prime minister in Washington, Trump said Modi had asked him if he'd help resolve the Kashmir conflict. 
    • Shortly thereafter, a spokesperson for the Indian government said "no such request has been made" by Modi.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    India's government on Monday rejected a claim from President Donald Trump almost as soon as he made it. 

    While meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the White House, Trump said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently asked him if he would step in and work as mediator in resolving the Kashmir conflict. 

    "I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago," Trump said. "He actually said, 'Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?' I said, 'Where?' He said, 'Kashmir.' Because this has been going on for many, many years."

    According to Trump, India's Prime Minister Modi "actually said, 'Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?' I said 'Where?' He said, 'Kashmir.'"

    India's official spokesman just issued statement saying: "No such request has been made by Prime Minister to the US President." pic.twitter.com/ivjhGwDHT2

    — Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 22, 2019


    Not long after, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that "no such request has been made" by Modi to Trump.

    "We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President," Kumar said. 

    Read more: If India and Pakistan have a 'limited' nuclear war, scientists say it could wreck Earth's climate and trigger global famine

    Kumar added, "It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally."

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.

    Kashmir, which is home to 18 million people, is one of the most disputed territories in the world and has been fought over by India and Pakistan since 1947. The region has been partitioned, with India controlling roughly 45% of it and Pakistan controlling 35%. China also seized portions of the territory via a war with India in 1962 and controls roughly 20% of the region. 

    The ongoing dispute over Kashmir continues to lead to violent and deadly clashes, which earlier this year raised concerns that India and Pakistan — two nuclear powers — were headed toward war.

    SEE ALSO: Trump says he could win the war in Afghanistan 'in a week,' but he doesn't want to kill 10 million people

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Iran's best weapon in the new tanker wars against the US and UK is looking more and more like a dud>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 8:22 PM:)

    Iran Navy

    • Iran has engaged in a gunboat showdown with the US and UK, but its main weapon in its fight against the West may be a total dud, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said on Monday.
    • Perry said Iran couldn't raise oil prices that much, even if it was able to shut down a key passage for oil tankers out of the Middle East. 
    • Industry analysts said the old way of thinking about oil price as a proxy for Middle East tensions may be dead, and that something like a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico could hit the US harder than Iranian military action.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Iran has engaged in a gunboat showdown with the US and UK, but its main weapon in its fight against the West may be a total dud, a top Trump administration official said on Monday.

    Since the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran — the country's capital — has seen its economy and currency collapse.

    Iran's best weapon against the US in this fight won't be its naval forces, which have mainly been small boats facing off against unarmed merchant ships. Several experts have told Business Insider that Iran doesn't pose a serious threat to the US Navy or military.

    Instead, Iran has leaned on its ability to raise global oil prices and make the West feel the strain that many Iranians have come to know under harsh US-imposed sanctions.

    But according to US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, that weapon is a dud. 

    "I am concerned about it," Perry said on Monday, referencing a small 2% bump in oil prices after the British ship's capture on Friday. "But we find ourselves in a completely different situation than we were a decade ago."

    "New suppliers should help keep a steady supply of fuel — whether it's crude, natural gas or other secondary products. I think you will see less displacement of the market when there is an event like we see happening," he added.

    "The Iranians will have a more difficult time in influencing the market than they would have 10 years ago," Perry said.

    Tanker fight

    FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman, in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran, June 13, 2019. ISNA/Handout via REUTERS

    In the 1980s, the US fought a war over tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, as the world desperately depended on the free flow of oil there. But 30 years later, the US is the world's biggest producer of hydrocarbons and gets much of its supply from the Gulf of Mexico, not the Gulf of Oman. 

    Iran held up its end of the deal until recently, when it blew caps on enriching uranium but demanded it get the sanctions relief the US and others had promised it in 2015.

    Without the inflow of cash Iran had come to expect, the country turned to violence, threatening to shut down shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a tiny stretch of water between Iran and Oman where 20% of the world's oil supply passes through. 

    First, Iran threatened with words. Then ships started getting mined. Then oil tankers began getting harassed by Iranian vessels. Now a US drone has been shot down, and a UK-owned tanker has been taken, with its international crew detained in Iran. 

    The UK called on Monday for a European coalition of ships to protect tankers in the vital waterway, and the US has also called for international cooperation in policing the waters against Iran. 

    Broken barometer

    oil price markets insider

    "What I find amazing is oil has become a broken barometer for Mideast conflict," Helima Croft, the head of global commodities strategy at RBC told CNBC. "A few years ago, you could almost gauge how serious a security crisis was because of the oil price."

    But today, with unprecedented tensions between the US and Iran, oil hasn't gone up or down very much. Unlike the 1970s and '80s, when the oil price became a potent political force because US consumers directly felt the strain at the pump, it's largely a nonissue.

    One group of analysts said hurricanes could hit the US's oil supply as hard as Iran. 

    "On supply, effects of oil and gas supply disruptions in the US Gulf of Mexico could rival that of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. As the US becomes the largest hydrocarbon exporter, its hurricane season should reassert its impacts on global oil and gas prices," Citigroup analysts wrote in a note over the weekend. 

    While the spreading US-Iranian tensions represent a failure of a diplomatic initiative and some human tragedies, including the fate of the crew of the seized UK-owned ship, and the 17 Iranians Tehran said may face death for spying for the US, it has yet to hit the US where it hurts. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's what 'Narcos' and 'Sicario' get wrong about Mexican drug cartels

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  • The 30 biggest population shifts in recent history>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 7:45 PM:)

    Pilgrims hold umbrellas during Mass in Romania, 2019.

    • INSIDER Data found the 30 countries and territories with the biggest population shifts since 1950.
    • The United Arab Emirates had the most population growth on average, while Niue had the least.
    • Many of the shifts were due to job booms and busts, refugee crises, and varying birth rates.
    • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

    When the global population hit 5 billion in 1987, the United Nations started World Population Day on July 11 to spotlight the growing number of people on the planet.

    Today, there are 7.7 billion people in the world, and with refugee crises, wars, droughts, and changing work opportunities, populations in some countries are booming while others are shrinking.

    By acknowledging the day, the UN hopes to mobilize political will and draw attention to population problems.

    INSIDER Data found the 15 countries with the biggest population growth since 1950, and the 15 countries with the least population growth since 1950. Here are the results.

    SEE ALSO: These will be the world's biggest cities in 2030

    DON'T MISS: The 50 worst commutes in America, ranked

    HIGHEST POPULATION GROWTH: 1. United Arab Emirates: 7.08% average growth since 1950

    The United Arab Emirates has such high growth because of its oil reserves, creating a boom for the country, as well as because it allows any expatriate to apply for citizenship after living there for 20 years, as long as they haven't committed a crime and can speak Arabic. It's worth noting that growth soared here in the 1970s and 2000s, but has been much slower in the last decade.

    2. Qatar: 6.78% average growth since 1950

    One of the reasons Qatar sits at No. 2 is due to the explosion of workers who immigrated mostly to help with building infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which was announced in 2010. The population was less than 700,000 in 2003 and at about 2.5 million in 2016, BBC reported.

    3. Western Sahara: 5.39% average growth since 1950

    This disputed area in northwest Africa has had high population change due to a large number of people living as displaced refugees. Morocco controls about three-quarters of the territory, and has offered its citizens money, food subsidies, and tax exemptions to move there.

    In the 1990s, coastal towns in the Western Sahara became key migration transit points for reaching the Canary Islands, after Spain and Italy tightened visa restrictions and the European Union put pressure on Morocco to control illegal migration, which pushed African migrants to shift their routes.

    4. Sint Maarten: 4.79% average growth since 1950

    Like its French counterpart, Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island of Saint Martin, is known for its beaches, as well as its nightlife, and casinos. A strong tourism industry, including 1.7 million cruise passengers a year, has helped boost population numbers.

    5. Kuwait: 4.76% average growth since 1950

    Kuwait imports a lot of its workforce, which is one of the reasons why its population has grown as much as it has. The country hosts many overseas contract workers from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, who are mostly employed in the construction sector and service industry.

    6. Jordan: 4.36% average growth since 1950

    Between 2004 and 2015, Jordan grew by 87%, going from 5.1 million people to 9.5 million — with the majority of the growth coming from outside the country, including 1.26 million Syrians, Jordan Times reported. Jordan's Department of Statistics attributed a lot of the growth to waves of "forced immigration and refugees".

    7. Mayotte: 4.13% average growth since 1950

    Although Mayotte is one of France's poorest overseas departments, it is still one of the more prosperous regions in the area and has had many immigrants from other Mozambique Channel nations enter it illegally, which has played a role in its growing population.

    8. Djibouti: 3.96% average growth since 1950

    One of the reasons for the high population change is Djibouti's location. Positioned at the crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa, it has increasingly becoming a transit or destination country. Since 2009, Djibouti has become a major point on this migration route for thousands of people.

    9. Bahrain: 3.84% average growth since 1950

    Bahrain has a history of bringing in overseas contract workers, which is a factor in its growing population. The promise of employment is often used to lure workers from India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, according to IOM, the UN's migration organization.

    10. Saint-Martin: 3.65% average growth since 1950

    Saint-Martin's economy centers around tourism, which gets 85% of its economy from tourism. The French side of the island is also a cruise destination, known for its beaches, shopping, and cuisine. The tourism first industry boomed in the 1980s due to opportunities created by tax reductions.

    11. Andorra: 3.61% average growth since 1950

    There are a number of reasons why Andorra has had experienced high population growth. Its citizens have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and it's one of the richest nations due to tourism and its historical status as a tax haven.

    But Andorra's population has fallen more recently, due to low birth rates and the government being selective on who becomes a resident.

    12. French Guiana: 3.52% average growth since 1950

    French Guiana's population has grown in size due to immigrants coming from France, Saint Martin, Suriname, Haiti, and Brazil, and also because of high fertility rates — 44% of the country is younger than 20, while only 1.7% is older than 75.

    13. Oman: 3.45% average growth since 1950

    One of the reasons Oman's population has grown is the country's push to build large infrastructure projects, which requires a lot of overseas labor. Oman gets the majority of its workers from India and Bangladesh, Gulf News reported

    14. Saudi Arabia: 3.45% average growth since 1950

    Saudi Arabia grew exponentially between 1960 and 1990, from a population of 4 million to 16 million, partly because of the country's vast oil reserves. Foreign workers came to the country to help with the workload, and now make up 37% of the population.

    15. Cayman Islands: 3.33% average growth since 1950

    The Cayman Islands' economy depends on tourism and banking. A lot of its population growth comes from the 100,000 companies that base themselves there, to take advantage of its tax haven status.

    LOWEST POPULATION GROWTH: 1. Nuie: -1.51% average growth since 1950

    Nuie did not have a massive population to begin with, but since the 1960s, it fell from 5,000 people to 1,600, The Guardian reported. Fifteen times as many Niueans live in New Zealand for work opportunities, and because Niueans are automatically New Zealand citizens.

    2. Montserrat: -1.42% average growth since 1950

    One of the big issues for Montserrat was when the Soufriere Hills volcano began erupting in 1995, destroying two-thirds of the island, and displacing thousands.

    3. Tokelau: -0.21% average growth since 1950

    One of the main reasons Tokelau's population is falling is because of emigration to Samoa and New Zealand for work opportunities.

    4. Holy See (Vatican City): -0.17% average growth since 1950

    As most of the 800 residents who live in Holy See primarily work for the Roman Catholic Church, often as nuns and priests, the birth rate is very low.

    5. Bulgaria: -0.06% average growth since 1950

    Emigration is the big one for Bulgaria. The country has the lowest average salary in the EU, the lowest minimum wage, the smallest average pension, and 40% are at risk of poverty, the Irish Times reported.

    6. Latvia: -0.03% average growth since 1950

    Emigration is an issue for Latvia, too, where wages are "a joke" — but it's not the only reason for the country's falling population. The former Soviet state also has a low birth rate and high death rate.

    7. Hungary: 0.05% average growth since 1950

    One of the reasons Hungary's population is declining is because more people are dying there than being born, Hungary Today reported. Large numbers are also emigrating, with more than 8% of graduates living abroad. Often these graduates are people of childbearing age who are not living in Hungary, leading to every sixth Hungarian child being born outside the country.

    8. Lithuania: 0.08% average growth since 1950

    Lithuania's population stagnation is largely due to emigration, particularly to the United Kingdom, and more deaths than births. In 1989, when it declared independence from the Soviet Union, Lithuania had 3.7 million people, but it now has 2.8 million.

    9. Croatia: 0.09% average growth since 1950

    Croatia's population is falling due to a combination of more deaths than births, as well as emigration to other countries. Although data on emigration is unclear, Total Croatia News reported that the country had lost about 200,000 people between 2015 and 2017. The last natural population increase for Croatia was in 1997.

    10. Georgia: 0.18% average growth since 1950

    One of the reasons for a falling population is that since the Soviet Union fell, more than 1 million Georgians have emigrated due to lack of opportunities. Another reason is that there is a preference for boys, which has led to sex-selective abortions and fewer females.

    11 (tied). Saint Kitts and Nevis: 0.21% average growth since 1950

    This two-island nation in the Caribbean Sea has had high levels of emigration, but a strong tourism industry and its position as a tax haven have kept population levels more stable in recent decades.

    11 (tied). Saint Helena: 0.21% average growth since 1950

    This volcanic tropical island, famous for housing Napoleon Bonaparte in exile, has had little population growth due in part to its isolation. It's more than 1,200 miles from the nearest major landmass. But it does now have "the world's most useless" airport.

    13. Cook Islands: 0.22% average growth since 1950

    Since 1996, many people left the Cook Islands after the government introduced an economic reform program that led to the loss of public sector jobs, Cook Islands News reported. Another reason was the decline in births, as a result of fewer parents of childbearing ages living in the country.

    14. Ukraine: 0.23% average growth since 1950

    In Ukraine, since the 1990s, a high death rate and low birth rate has led to a declining population. In 2016, a member of Ukraine's Parliament said, "People are dying due to bad living conditions, declining environmental standards, or the war," New Week reported. The country also loses people to emigration.

    15. Romania: 0.24% average growth since 1950

    Romania is losing a lot of its population to people emigrating to other countries in the European Union due to corruption poverty, according to The Guardian. As many as 3.4 million Romanians have left the country since 2007, when it joined the EU, which equates to 17% of the country's population.

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  • The famous connections of Jeffrey Epstein, the elite wealth manager charged with sex trafficking young girls>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 6:52 PM:)

    jeffrey epstein donald trump

    Former hedge-fund manager and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein may have kept his client list under wraps, but he didn't do the same with a social circle that included presidents and Hollywood stars.

    Epstein, who ran a business out of the US Virgin Islands, was known for jetsetting with the likes of former President Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew (the third child of the UK's Queen Elizabeth).

    "I invest in people — be it politics or science," Epstein was known to say, according to New York Magazine. "It's what I do."

    According to a July 22 article from NY Magazine's Intelligencer, a number of royals and royal connections were among Epstein's contacts. That includes Prince Andrew; Prince Andrew's then-wife, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; and Charles Althorp, Princess Diana's brother. According to Intelligencer, all three were named in Epstein's black book; Ferguson and Prince Andrew were also named in his private jet log.

    Read more: How Jeffrey Epstein, the mysterious hedge-fund manager arrested on sex-trafficking charges, made his fortune

    Epstein, 66, was arrested on charges of sex trafficking of minors on July 6 shortly after exiting his private jet in New Jersey. He pleaded not guilty on July 8 and is being held without bail, INSIDER previously reported. However, Epstein pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution in Florida.

    Keep reading to learn more about the assortment of famous people who have crossed paths with Epstein.

    SEE ALSO: Meet Jeffrey Epstein, the financier reportedly arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking who's rubbed elbows with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Kevin Spacey

    DON'T MISS: Meet Bernard and Lisa Selz, the wealthy New York City couple who has donated millions to the anti-vax movement

    President Donald Trump once considered Epstein a friend.

    The future president claimed in 2002 that he had a long friendship with Epstein. "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy," Trump said, according to New York Magazine. "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life." 

    According to Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Trump now believes the crimes Epstein was charged with are "completely unconscionable and obviously criminal." She also labeled them "disgusting," according to a report from the Associated Press.

    "The president told me this morning he hasn't talked to Epstein, he doesn't think he's talked to him or seen him in 10 or 15 years," Conway added. 

    Read more: Everything we know about Trump's connection to financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking

    Former President Bill Clinton traveled with Epstein in 2002 and 2003.

    A statement released by Clinton spokesperson Angel Ureña said the former President traveled to Europe, Asia, and twice to Africa on Epstein's private jet. Clinton's staff and Secret Service agents also went on these trips, which were to further the work of the Clinton Foundation, according to the statement.

    At the time, Clinton told New York Magazine through a spokesperson that Epstein was a "both a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first-century science."

    Ureña also said that Clinton and Epstein haven't spoken in "well over a decade" and that Clinton "knows nothing about the terrible crimes" Epstein was charged with.

    Read more: Bill Clinton said he 'knows nothing' about charges against Jeffrey Epstein

    Actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Chris Tucker also took trips with Epstein.

    Epstein, Clinton, Spacey, and Tucker spent a week in 2002 touring AIDS project sites in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, and Mozambique for the Clinton Foundation, according to a New York Magazine report.

    Spacey has also been charged with sexual assault, although the case may be dismissed, according to The New York Times.

    Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is Epstein's ex-girlfriend — and alleged madam.

    Maxwell, 57, is a British socialite and the daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell.

    She started dating Epstein shortly after moving to New York in 1991, Business Insider previously reported. After they broke up, court documents allege that Maxwell started recruiting underage girls for him to have sex with.

    Read more: What to know about British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's alleged madam

    Prince Andrew and Epstein were close friends, the Guardian reported in 2015.

    Maxwell introduced Epstein and the Duke of York in the 1990s, the Guardian reported, and the two became close friends.

    The Duke is the son of the UK's Queen Elizabeth. He has also been criticized for frequently taking flights on the taxpayer's dime while serving as the country's special representative for international trade. This earned him the nickname "Airmiles Andy," according to the Washington Post.

    Court documents reviewed by the Guardian allege that Epstein instructed Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a 15-year-old employee at Trump's Mar-a-Largo resort, to have sex with Prince Andrew on three separate occasions.

    Buckingham Palace said in 2015 that the allegations against Prince Andrew were "false and without any foundation," according to the Guardian

    Read more: New charges against Jeffrey Epstein highlight his reported past ties to the British royal family

    L Brands CEO Les Wexner is Epstein's only confirmed client.

    Epstein became a trusted confidant of Wexner's while Epstein managed the CEO's fortune, according to Vanity Fair. Wexner has a net worth of $6.7 billion, Bloomberg reports. The magazine reported that Wexner allowed Epstein to take an active role in L Brands, which owns Bath & Body Works, Express, and Victoria's Secret. 

    In 1989, Wexner used a trust to buy an Upper East Side townhouse that is believed to be the largest private residence in Manhattan for $13.2 million, Vanity Fair reported. Epstein moved in after Wexner and his wife, Abigail Koppel, moved to Ohio in 1996. Wexner's trust transferred ownership of the house to Epstein in 2011 for $0, Bloomberg reported.

    Wexner later fired Epstein as his money manager. "Mr. Wexner severed ties with Mr. Epstein more than a decade ago," an L Brands spokesperson told Forbes

    US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta worked with Epstein's legal team to arrange a plea deal after Epstein was charged with solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution in Florida in 2007.

    An investigation by the Miami Herald revealed that Acosta, then a US attorney, had enough evidence against Epstein to request a life sentence. Instead, he reportedly met with one of Epstein's lawyers, who happened to be a former colleague of Acosta's. In the resulting plea deal, Epstein served 13 months in a private wing of a county prison, which he was allowed to leave six days a week to work in his office.

    Business Insider previously reported that Acosta said he was "pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence," on Twitter.

    Tweet Embed:
    The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.

    Acosta resigned on July 12, Business Insider reported.

    Read more: Stunning new report details Trump's labor secretary's role in plea deal for billionaire sex abuser

    Film publicist Peggy Siegal planned a star-studded dinner party for Epstein and Prince Andrew at Epstein's New York mansion in 2010.

    Siegal, known for hosting events to promote films including "The Big Short," "Argo," and "The Revenant" to Oscar voters, invited Epstein to screenings after he was released from prison in 2010, according to The New York Times.

    "I was a kind of plugged-in girl around town who knew a lot of people," Siegal told The New York Times. "And I think that's what he wanted from me, a kind of social goings-on about New York."

    Read more: Meet Peggy Siegal, the NYC publicist who got Jeffrey Epstein into A-list events and has been called the 'best way' to make sure your movie wins an Oscar

    Siegal also planned a dinner party for Epstein and Prince Andrew at his Upper East Side home. The event was attended by Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, and Chelsea Handler. "The invitation was positioned as, 'Do you want to have dinner with Prince Andrew?'" Ms. Siegal said. Many of the guests didn't know who the host was or about his criminal history, The New York Times reported.

    A spokesperson for Siegal told Business Insider that Siegal's relationship with Epstein was social, not professional. Siegal told The New York Times that she ended her relationship with Epstein at the height of the #MeToo era in 2017.

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  • Apple closed its stores early in Hong Kong after violent protests erupted in the city (AAPL)>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 6:46 PM:)

    apple store hong kong

    • Apple closed its retail stores in Hong Kong early on Monday following violent protests that erupted on Sunday evening, as The Wall Street Journal first reported.
    • The closures come after police in Hong Kong used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters after the Chinese government's liaison office in the city had been vandalized.
    • Other companies including Estée Lauder and Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister also dismissed employees early on Monday, according to the Journal.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Apple closed its retail stores in Hong Kong early on Monday as pro-democracy protests throughout the city continued to intensify.

    The early closures, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, come after protests taking place in Hong Kong on Sunday night turned violent, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets on the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators after the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong was vandalized. Following the march, a group of assailants were videotaped attacking subway passengers with batons and other weapons. 

    The hours listed on Apple's website for its Hong Kong locations are listed as "special store hours," with locations closing at 16:00, or 4 p.m., rather than typical Monday closing hours that could range between 21:00 and 23:00, or 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

    The protests, which have been ongoing for seven consecutive weekends, were sparked by a proposal that would enable China to extradite Hong Kong residents for criminal trials. The Hong Kong government has condemned the violent actions taken by both police and demonstrators in statements, according to The Guardian. "The [government] strongly condemns any violence and will seriously take enforcement actions," the government said. 

    Apple is not the only company to adjust its operations following Sunday's events. Estée Lauder and Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister also told employees to leave early, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    Apple's growing presence in Hong Kong

    Apple opened its first retail store in Hong Kong back in 2011 and now operates six stores in the region. It opened its sixth location in Hong Kong in 2016, as MacRumors reported at the time, which is located in the Kwun Tong district. 

    The greater China region is important for Apple considering it's the company's third-largest market. Apple lowered its guidance for its fiscal first quarter of 2019 back in January largely because of challenges in greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan in addition to mainland China.

    But that began to rebound somewhat in the second quarter of 2019. Although sales were down by 22% from the same period a year earlier in that region, it was still an improvement from the holiday quarter when sales were down by 27% year-over-year. 

    SEE ALSO: Huawei abandons its mysterious 'plan B,' placing a huge bet on Trump letting them off the hook in trade deal

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • ICE officers will soon be able to deport undocumented immigrants in the US for under 2 years without a hearing>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 6:46 PM:)


    • US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is expanding its use of the "expedited-removal" deportation program, according to a notice published to the Federal Register. 
    • Expedited removal allows immigration officers to fast-track deportation of immigrants detained within 100 miles of a border or coastline who illegally entered the US within the previous 14 days without a hearing.
    • The new rule enables officers to use expedited removal on immigrants apprehended throughout the US who have been there for less than two years, not just two weeks. 
    • Notably, the new changes to the program also put the burden of proof on apprehended immigrants to show that they've lived in the US more than two years.
    • The American Immigration Council and the American Civil Liberties Union quickly announced they planned to sue the Trump administration over the rule changes. 
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is expanding its use of the "expedited-removal" deportation program to more quickly deport suspected undocumented immigrants without a hearing, according to a notice published to the Federal Register.

    According to the American Immigration Council (AIC), which first tweeted out the link to the Federal Register notice, the program was established in 1966 and expanded in 2017 by an executive order from President Donald Trump, and it now accounts for a substantial portion of annual deportations.

    Up until now, the program allowed relatively low-ranking immigration officers to fast-track deportation of immigrants detained within 100 miles of a border or coastline who illegally entered the US within the previous 14 days without a hearing before a judge in immigration court. 

    But according to experts with the AIC, the rule changes expand ICE's mandate much further, allowing officers to use expedited removal on immigrants apprehended throughout the whole country — not just the 100-mile zone — and who have been in the US for less than two years, not just two weeks. 

    Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the AIC, said the changes were "massive and dangerous," adding, "now, if ICE believes someone is undocumented and has lived in the US for less than two years — with the burden on the immigrant to prove otherwise — they can deport that person within days, with almost no court review allowed."

    Both the AIC and the American Civil Liberties Union quickly announced they planned to sue the Trump administration over the rule changes. 

    The Migration Policy Institute, another immigration-focused think tank, predicted that up to 297,000 people out of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US entered within the past two years, meaning they are now at a new risk of being deported without a hearing. 

    Read more: Trump is escalating efforts to restrict immigration by ending asylum protections for most migrants

    "Perhaps the biggest impact of this new [regulation] will be the requirement that immigrants 'affirmatively show' & convince an immigration officer that they have been here for more than 2 years," Sarah Price, an immigration attorney and policy analyst at the institute, wrote on Twitter. 

    "Living in the shadows, unauthorized immigrants strive to exist without a document trail. Quickly convincing an immigration officer that they have been here for longer than 2 years will not be an easy task for many," she added. 

    A policy primer published by the AIC in 2017 argued that the "virtually unchecked authority" officers have in putting migrants through the deportation proceedings and the lack of due process carries increased the risk of officers incorrectly deporting immigrants who don't fall under the criteria for expedited removal, or those who could have qualified for deportation relief from an immigration. 

    They also argued the fast-tracked nature of the deportation proceedings could affect asylum seekers being improperly pressured to withdraw their asylum applications and deported through expedited removal, arguing, "in essence, the law permits the immigration officer to serve both as prosecutor (charged with enforcing the law) and judge (rendering a final decision on the case)."

    Read more:

    The Pentagon agrees to send another 2,100 troops to US-Mexico border

    A 3-year-old girl was asked to choose between her mom or dad as a border patrol agent tried to separate the family

    Immigrants have rights when ICE comes to arrest them, but experts warn this only goes so far

    SEE ALSO: Photos and video capture Vice President Mike Pence's visit to an overcrowded border facility where some detainees hadn't showered for over a week

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Trump says he could win the war in Afghanistan 'in a week,' but he doesn't want to kill 10 million people>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 6:06 PM:)

    Donald Trump

    • President Donald Trump said he could end the war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has been raging for nearly two decades, in a week, but it would require killing 10 million people.
    • The president said Afghanistan could "be wiped off the face of the earth."
    • His comments came during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who Trump said could help the US "extricate" itself from Afghanistan.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    President Donald Trump said he could win the war in Afghanistan — a brutal conflict the US has been waging for nearly two decades — "in a week," but he doesn't want to kill roughly one-third of the country's population.

    "If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week," the president said on Monday.

    "I just don't want to kill 10 million people," he added. "I don't want to kill 10 million people. I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be gone. It would be over in literally in 10 days."

    The president, who lamented US forces serving as policemen rather than soldiers, did not elaborate on what methods such a plan might employ. But, in the exchange with media on Monday, Trump bragged about dropping the "Mother of All Bombs," also known as the MOAB, on Afghanistan.

    Read more: The US unleashed the 'mother of all bombs' onto an ISIS target in Afghanistan

    "We dropped the largest nonnuclear bomb ever built in history. We dropped it in Afghanistan," he said. "It left a hole in the earth that looked like the moon. It looked like a crater from the moon, still there. Nobody has ever seen anything like it."

    The US dropped the 21,000-pound MOAB on a series of ISIS facilities and tunnels in April 2017, early in Trump's presidency.

    Trump called bombing Afghanistan into oblivion with weapons like this an "easy solution" but said he was not interested in going that route. "I have not chosen that," he said. "Why would we kill millions of people? It wouldn't be fair. In terms of humanity, it wouldn't be fair."

    The president's comments came during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been invited to the White House for the first time to discuss the Taliban and a path to peace in Afghanistan, among other things. In his comments to the press, Trump suggested that Pakistan "is going to help us out to extricate ourselves" from the military conflict that began shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — a conflict that Pakistani military and intelligence officials have been accused of helping to fuel.

    Trump, who supports an "America First" foreign policy, has repeatedly expressed his desire to see US troops withdraw from the Middle East. Speaking with reporters on Monday, he argued that the US troops in Afghanistan have done what they were supposed to do.

    "We've been in there not fighting to win, just fighting to — they're building gas stations. They're rebuilding schools. The United States, we shouldn't be doing that. That's for them to do. But, what we did and what our leadership got us into is ridiculous," he said.

    Trump has said he wants to pull troops out of Afghanistan, and the administration has started reducing the number of troops in country. But he has yet to pull all US troops out because he is concerned about the spread of extremism in the wake of a US withdrawal.

    "Look, I would like to just get out," Trump told Fox News' Tucker Carlson earlier this month. "The problem is, it just seems to be a lab for terrorists. It seems — I call it the 'Harvard of terrorists.'"

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Democrats want Robert Mueller's blockbuster congressional testimony to make the public aware of what's in his report, which most people still haven't read>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 5:56 PM:)

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 29: Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives to make a statement about the Russia investigation on May 29, 2019 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Mueller said that he is stepping down as special counsel and that the report he gave to the attorney general is his last words on the subject. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    • The former special counsel Robert Mueller is testifying before two House committees on Wednesday about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
    • Mueller has previously said he would not reveal information beyond what is already public in the report.
    • Because many Americans, and even members of Congress, have not read the full special counsel report, some Democrats are relying on the media circus the hearings will create to boost the report's exposure.
    • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

    WASHINGTON — Democrats know the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not poised to reveal any Earth-shattering new information during his upcoming testimonies before the House Committees on Intelligence and the Judiciary.

    But they are leaning heavily on the exposure a blockbuster hearing broadcast live across the country will have for an American public — and many lawmakers — who have not yet read his final report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    Read more: The Mueller probe is over, but here are 6 active congressional investigations into Trump

    Mueller himself made clear he would not reveal any new information during a congressional testimony, telling reporters in a May statement he considers the special counsel report as last word on the investigation. 

    "The report is my testimony," he said. "I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress."

    "So beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress," Mueller added.

    Despite his definitive statement that he would not discuss the investigation further, House Democrats remained hellbent on bringing Mueller in to testify in a public setting. As a result, Mueller will appear before two committees on Wednesday. The first will be in front of the House Judiciary Committee, followed by the House Intelligence Committee.

    But the hearing is not so much about revealing new information or getting to the bottom of Mueller's decision-making or conclusions. It is about exposure and elevating what was already published in a report that many Americans and members of Congress have not bothered to read.

    Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told INSIDER the hearing is primarily about being able to hear directly from Mueller about the report.

    "This will be the first opportunity for the public to hear in detail Bob Mueller speak in his own words about his investigation, about the systemic interference by the Russians, about the degree to which the Trump campaign welcomed and encouraged and made use of their help," he said. "And as most people have not had a chance to read his lengthy report, this may be the first time they hear directly from the source. So I think that alone is going to be important."

    Regarding Attorney General William Barr, Schiff said, "It's clear the attorney general doesn't want him testifying at all but we're looking forward to the hearing." But Barr has said he would not object to Mueller testifying, but expressed his belief it would quickly turn into a "public spectacle."

    "I'm not sure what purpose is served by dragging him up there and trying to grill him," Barr said. "I don't think Mueller should be treated that way or subject himself to that, if he doesn't want to."

    Read more: The House just voted down articles of impeachment for President Trump

    Schiff is not the only one banking on the massive media exposure that will come from Mueller's public testimony dominating the airwaves.

    "I think that the report has brought some clarity and his own public statement brought further clarity," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a press conference. "And now when he speaks about it, more people will know what is in the report. I think we should approach it with all of the appropriateness — the seriousness of purpose."

    Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, a Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, told INSIDER he wants to hear "background and context for the report," adding he does not believe Mueller is going to venture beyond it.

    "I think it's going to be an exciting hearing that some people would want," he said. "I really do expect him to stick very closely to the text of the report."

    But a blockbuster news cycle in which Mueller repeatedly discusses what has already been public in the report might be the momentum pro-impeachment Democrats need. A forced vote against the will of Pelosi and top Democratic leaders on an impeachment resolution last Thursday failed, but not without significant support from Democrats.

    Lawmakers scrapped the resolution 332-95, with one abstention. But those numbers could change significantly if Mueller's testimony creates an atmosphere of pressure among Democrats who have so far opposed impeachment efforts.

    Read more:

    There really aren't too many Democrats in Congress who want to impeach Trump

    Freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib bucks Pelosi, urges Democrats not to take Trump impeachment off the table even after Mueller findings

    A GOP congressman suggested Trump could be impeached, and now top Republicans are disowning him

    SEE ALSO: Check out the messages on the giant wall of Post-Its outside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's congressional office

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'Shark Tank' star Robert Herjavec explains what makes America great

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  • 26 celebrities calling for Puerto Rico's governor to resign after vulgar messages from his group chat leaked>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 5:51 PM:)

    ricky martin residente bad bunny

    Celebrities are joining forces to call for the resignation of Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rosselló.

    The movement comes after a nearly 900-page document was published by the non-profit journalism group Centro de Periodismo Investigativo on July 13.

    In it, it's revealed that Rosselló and other officials sent messages laced with homophobic, sexist, and threatening remarks in a group chat. They also made jokes about the aftermath of 2017's Hurricane Maria, which resulted in a death toll of more than 1,400.

    It even details efforts to manipulate the public's perception of the administration via the media and operate a "troll network" to discredit criticism from opposition leaders, according to El Nuevo Día.

    See what 26 artists are saying about the matter.

    Ricky Martin was one of the celebrities mentioned in the group chat's messages. He recently shared a petition that demanded Rosselló's resignation.

    The petition has garnered more than 250,000 signatures.

    Martin attended the march in San Juan on July 17, which began at El Capitolio (the legislature building) and ended at La Fortaleza (the governor's official residence).

    Thousands of people marched alongside him and other celebrities.

    Martin was one of the first to call for Rosselló's resignation after the group chat contents were leaked.

    One official made homophobic remarks about Martin, and called him a "male chauvinist."

    "This is NOT the government that was promised to us in the political campaign that led Rosselló to the governorship," he wrote in a tweet in Spanish. "Not living up to our expectations, that is the biggest disappointment. Governor, your insults and your teasing show us who you really are."

    Read more: Protests in Puerto Rico show no sign of stopping as thousands take to the streets demanding governor resign over leaked text messages

    Lin-Manuel Miranda joined a demonstration at New York City's Union Square on July 17.

    The "Hamilton" creator retweeted several messages about the leaked chat and added the hashtag #RenunciaRossello (which translates into #ResignRossello).

    He tweeted that although he can't make it to Puerto Rico in time for the protest on July 17, he'd join another demonstration in New York City.

    "This is not a moment, it's a movement," Miranda wrote in the tweet. "Never seen coraje (anger) turn so quickly into coraje (courage) ... In solidarity with [Puerto Rico flag emoji] en las buenas y en las malas [translation: in the bad and the good]."

    Residente, one of the founders of the rap group Calle 13, has released a new song with Bad Bunny and iLe hours before the protest on July 17.

    Residente, whose name is René Juan Pérez Joglar, is also one of the first artists to implore the people of Puerto Rico to march in protest of Rosselló.

    His new song is titled "Afilando los Cuchillos" or "Sharpening Knives."

    "Pardon my expressions but like Ricky I'm only letting go of my tensions," Residente rapped in Spanish, referencing Rosselló's response to the leaked document in which he said it was meant to "free up tension."

    Listen to the song here.

    Rapper Bad Bunny took to Instagram on July 16 to announce that he's pausing his "X100PRE" European tour to fly to Puerto Rico.

    The "Mia" rapper made a nine-minute-long video to tell fans that he would be on a plane for eight hours from Ibiza to Puerto Rico to be at the demonstration.

    He added that they shouldn't be afraid to join the march as well.

    "The system for years, for decades has taught us to remain silent," Bad Bunny said. "They have manipulated everything, opinions, the press, the media, etc. and they have directed us to keep quiet. And they have made us believe that those who go out to complain are crazy, they're criminals, they're troublemakers ... This is the time for all those people who maybe haven't dared go out on the streets before to protest something — that maybe they felt that feeling, that maybe they said 'c--- I would like to go out on the street but if this happens, if they say this' ... That can not exist. Everyone has the right. "

    Musician iLe took to Twitter to comment on the demonstrations that took place in Puerto Rico on July 16. She was also present at the march on July 17.

    iLe, whose full name is Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar, is a member of Calle 13 and Residente's sister.

    "Yesterday Puerto Rico showed its caliber with its indignation and its strength," she wrote in Spanish in a tweet. "The people are upset and Ricardo Rossello is confident that he will continue to get away with it once more as a conceited child, but we are not going to allow that plan. #Resign"

    Rapper and actor Princess Nokia said she stands "in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico and the resignation of Ricardo Rosselló" in her Instagram Story.

    The "Brujas" rapper shared images, videos, and stories about what's going on in Puerto Rico in her Instagram Story on July 16.

    She added in one of them, "The leaks are honestly the best thing that could have happened. After years of corrupt government policies and soulless administration, the indictments ARE COMING!"

    Wisin, one of the members of the reggaetón duo Wisin & Yandel, shared a photo of himself wrapped in the Puerto Rican flag along with a lengthy caption that he capped off with "#RickyRenuncia" (#RickyResign).

    "Come on BORICUA the day has come to raise our voice for change, that the priority be our people, our seniors, the future for our children, our education," he wrote in Spanish in the caption. "Let's do the right thing by PUERTO RICO in a peaceful and responsible manner."

    He tagged Rosselló and added, "The people made a decision. It's time to give the people what they want."

    Singer-songwriter Nicky Jam shared a photo to his Instagram with the words, "Puerto Rico has spoken: Governor Rosselló has to go."

    The Grammy award-winner captioned the post with "Fuera #fuerarickyya [Puerto Rico flag emoji]."

    Translation: "Out #OutRickyNow."

    Singer-songwriter Kany García took to Instagram on July 16 to share a video in which she called for Rosselló's resignation.

    "We are outraged, we have deep pain in our chests to know that they have administered so badly this country that we love so much, this country that has given us so much," García said in Spanish in her short clip. "That is why we're demanding that Ricardo Rosselló give us his resignation."

    Luis Fonsi took to Instagram to post a photo of himself holding a large Puerto Rican flag. In his lengthy caption, he acknowledged that although he respects everyone's different ideals, it's "impossible" to keep quiet after seeing the "mocking" messages by the administration.

    "Corruption and theft without measure to the education of our children, the health of the people as well as the plundering of our institutions and values ​​is an unforgivable act," Fonsi wrote in the caption. "Rosselló, think about the country and our island first before any other consideration and immediately resign, make a peaceful transition, avoid more suffering and global shame to our people."

    Benicio del Toro joined the march in San Juan on July 17.

    According to NBC, the Emmy-nominated actor said, "I'm here in support of the people of Puerto Rico."

    Actress and TV host Karla Monroig also marched at the protest in Puerto Rico on July 17.

    She took to Instagram and shared a photo of one of her tweets along with a caption in which she invited others to join in the demonstration.

    "We can protest peacefully," Monroig wrote in Spanish in the caption. "There are many families that will say present. Time to demonstrate not only to the governor but to ALL the politicians (mayors, senators, representatives) that when the people give them their trust, and they betray it, they will deal with the consequences (remove them from their posts)."

    Monroig's husband, singer-songwriter Tommy Torres, was with her during the march on July 17. He also shared a short song directed to Rosselló on July 16.

    "Dear Ricky, I am writing this letter to you," Torres sang in Spanish in the short video. "I do not know if you have understood things well. The people are so disappointed, the right thing would be to step aside. There is no turning back. Don't you see it on the people's faces, there is no trust left for you to govern."

    Rapper PJ Sin Suela released a song on Monday calling for Rosselló's resignation. He was also present at the march in San Juan on July 17.

    The song is titled "P---," aka one of the profane words the governor used toward women in the chat.

    "There are no more buts, there are no more apologies that are worthy, we are doing this until we take you out or you get out," Sin Suela rapped in Spanish.

    Listen to the song here.

    La India, the Grammy award-winning salsa singer, said that she stands with the people demanding for Rosselló's resignation.

    In an interview with El Vocero on Juy 17, La India spoke about the protests that have taken place in San Juan since the chat leaked.

    "My heart is with all the residents of Old San Juan because we have lived a nightmare in recent days. I saw an indignant people, tired of so many things," she said. "The governor's message saying that he will not resign was what made the people lose faith. I saw everything."

    The "Seduceme" singer also shared a video to her Instagram on July 17 of her singing atop a balcony during the march in San Juan.

    Read more: Puerto Rico governor vows to remain in office after violent protests

    When Daddy Yankee accepted one of his awards at the Premios Juventud on July 18, he took the time to call for Rosselló's resignation during his speech.

    The reggaetónero said he would again be the voice of Puerto Rico's people and ask for the governor's resignation.

    "Puerto Rico is tired of the corruption, the abuse and the lies," Yankee said in Spanish. "The department of education is broken, we need to fix the system, please. Let's continue to protest with courage but with intelligence. Demand your rights but with intelligence. Peacefully and without fear, we are hurt but we are brave. Let's move forward Puerto Rico."

    YouTuber and singer Daniel El Travieso opened the Premios Juventud and showed off a hoodie with the words "Ricky Renuncia" ("Ricky Resign") at the end.

    El Travieso also addressed Rosselló when accepting an award for best "LOL."

    "Papito, when you're with a girlfriend and the girlfriend does not want to be with you, you're supposed to leave," he said in Spanish. "Please Ricky, from the heart, stop making us suffer. From human to human, from young to adult, stop making us suffer."

    Singer-songwriter Pedro Capó wore a t-shirt with an image of Gov. Rosselló and the words "Ricky Renuncia" ("Ricky Resign") on it.

    Capó also performed "Con Calma," his hit song with Farruko and Lali Espósito, and capped it off with a call to his fellow Puerto Ricans.

    "The people have spoken, it's time for Rosselló to obey," Capó said in Spanish. "The abuse is over, the calm is over. Puerto Rico stand up. Ricky resign."

    Up-and-coming rappers Lunay and Guaynaa also called for Rosselló to step down at the Premios Juventud.

    Guaynaa, known for his reggaetón hit "Rebota," wore a t-shirt with the words "Ricky Rosselló Renuncia" ("Ricky Rosselló Resign") while performing with Rauw Alejandro, Daddy Yankee, and Lunay.

    Lunay, whose known for his own reggaetón hit "Soltera," told El Nuevo Día after the ceremony on July 18 that he simply has two words for the governor: "Ricky resign."

    "Because we simply gave you an opportunity and you did not know how to take advantage of it," Lunay said in Spanish. "The people granted you our family, our homes, our economic and emotional well-being and you have not known how to value it. The people do not want peace because peace we already have among all of us, the people want Ricky to leave."

    Rappers Anuel AA and Farruko took the time to address Rosselló after their joint performance at the Premios Juventud.

    After their performance of "Delincuente" (which translates to "Delinquent"), which is about their time spent in jail, Farruko gave a brief but impactful speech.

    He said that maybe they "aren't the best to give an example because we've made a lot of mistakes, but you know what, we've accepted our mistakes and we knew how to value ourselves."

    "I hope that the governor of Puerto Rico and all those who are there will do the same with the youth, because they haven't done it," Farruko continued in Spanish. "They've abused us and made fun of us. Have a little dignity, if you have any left, and give up and leave the town in peace. We need leaders and not people who steal from us. "

    Anuel AA added, "Give a better example and [let's have] less delinquents disguised as politicians."

    Watch the full performance here. See their full remarks here.

    DJ Luian asked Rosselló to resign during his acceptance speech at the Premios Juventud.

    After winning an award for the producer you know by shout-out along with Mambo Kingz, the DJ took his moment on the mic to make a call to his fellow Puerto Ricans.

    "Puerto Rico, this is the moment to demonstrate that together we are more and that the good ones are more," he said. "Ricky resign."

    Marc Anthony took to Instagram on Sunday to call for Rosselló's resignation. He also wrote in his caption, "Let's show the world [who] we are. Orderly and Peacefully."

    The Grammy award-winning artist shared a photo of the Puerto Rican flag with a lengthy caption in Spanish and English.

    "Today, after returning from some restful time, I am struck with the hard reality of what our people are living in Puerto Rico," he wrote in his caption. "Your courage moves me. The images of Puerto Rico united in one voice to demand their rights, to denounce injustice and the insensibility of a government against their own people is an act of bravery and the greatest legacy we can leave as citizens of the world."

    He added the hashtags "#ConPuertoRiconosejuega!" (which translates into "you don't mess with Puerto Rico") and "#rickyrenuncia" ("#RickyResign").

    Musician Tito El Bambino shared a video reacting to Rosselló's recent announcement in which the governor said he would resign as president of the PNP political party and won't seek re-election in 2020.

    The "Mi Cama Huele a Ti" singer-songwriter said that after hearing Rosselló's brief address on Facebook Live, he "very respectfully" asks him to step down and restore the peace to the people of Puerto Rico.

    "The most valuable thing that life has taught me ... you know what it's called? Peace," Bambino said in a short video in Spanish. "You will restore peace to all Puerto Ricans if you resign. This has nothing to do with politics or party colors. Please take your family into account, and give peace to the Puerto Ricans who need it."

    Luis Guzmán went on MSNBC on Sunday to talk about the protests that have taken place since July 14. He said that Rosselló is "an inept leader."

    While being interviewed by MSNBC's Kendis Gibson, the "Traffic" actor said that people using their voices the way they have "is huge" for Puerto Rico.

    "The fact that he made fun of all the deaths that happened there in Puerto Rico, the catastrophe that there was during Maria and after Maria, it just shows that he's an inept leader," Guzmán said.

    He also spoke about the bigger political issues that the island's experienced throughout history.

    "What's needed in Puerto Rico is a whole new political system, because the two parties that have dominated the governorship have proven to be corrupt," he said. "They don't have a vision for Puerto Rico, for the future of Puerto Rico, for the children of Puerto Rico, for the infrastructure of Puerto Rico."

    Guzmán added, "The only thing that governors in Puerto Rico do is, 'let's have a referendum on statehood.' That is not progress."

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  • Lawmaker from a Lyme-plagued district demands to know if DoD scientists ever used infected ticks as weapons>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 5:07 PM:)

    FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick, rests on a plant. Non-native ticks, including some with significant veterinary and medical importance, are showing up in Alaska and health officials fear a warmer climate may allow them to become established. A collaborative project between the University of Alaska and state wildlife and veterinary officials is working to understand the risk of non-native ticks such as blacklegged ticks and pathogens they could carry. (CDC via AP, File)

    • A New Jersey congressman added an amendment to a defense spending bill that would require the Department of Defense Inspector General to look into whether military facilities experimented with using ticks to spread biological weapons. 
    • "Lyme Disease is endemic to his District," a spokesperson for Rep. Christopher Smith told INSIDER, referring to the book "Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease," which posits that some diseased ticks were released from government facilities, causing a spike in Lyme cases. 
    • Some experts caution against the book's claims, stating that Lyme has been evident in humans for centuries, on top of questions about how tick-borne illnesses would make sense as a military weapon.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    The US military has a long history of developing dangerous chemical weapons, from Agent Orange, a defoliant that has left Vietnam-era vets with Leukemia and other life-threatening illnesses, to the nerve agent VX, which killed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother Kim Jong Nam in minutes in 2017.

    But a New Jersey lawmaker is concerned that the Pentagon may be hiding research about developing Lyme disease as a biological weapon, part of an unlikely theory that these alleged experiments led to increased Lyme disease infections in the US. 

    Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House last week, requiring the Department of Defense Inspector General investigate whether the DoD experimented with using ticks to spread diseases like Lyme between 1950 and 1975.

    Smith's amendment is based on the idea that insects infected with Lyme disease may have escaped from government labs at Plum Island, New York, and Fort Detrick, Maryland and then begun infecting the civilian population.

    Read more: Navy SEALs are looking into the keto diet to be even more effective on missions

    "Lyme Disease is endemic to his District. The recently published book ['Bitten'] leaves questions about tick-borne diseases as bioweapons unanswered," Julia Nesta, a spokesperson for Smith, told INSIDER via email. Smith's office did not respond to a request for further information. 

    Smith's office referred to "Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease," by Kris Newby, a science writer and former Lyme sufferer. "Bitten" relies on interviews with the late Willy Burgdorfer, a Swiss-born scientist who worked as a bioweapons specialist for the Defense Department and is credited with discovering the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. 

    Smith said there was evidence that Burgdorfer and his colleagues "stuffed ticks with pathogens to cause severe disability, disease — even death — to potential enemies."

    "With Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases exploding in the United States — with an estimated 300,000 to 437,000 new cases diagnosed each year and 10-20 percent of all patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease — Americans have a right to know whether any of this is true," Smith said on the House floor.

    Newby's book posits that the DoD research facilities could have released diseased ticks into the general population, causing an increase in Lyme disease cases during the middle of the 20th century, according to Newsweek. 

    Plum Island

    Newby spoke with INSIDER via phone, saying that Burgdorfer's original lab notes and and letters, as well as interviews with the scientist when he was in his 80s and suffering from Parkinson's, suggest that he was putting biological agents like Venezuelan equine encephalitis in ticks. Newby said that the insects that concerned her were those infected with Lyme and another illness — what she calls a "germ gang bang."

    While Lyme can be very serious if untreated, it is often curable with antibiotics and wouldn't cause an immediate disruption on the battlefield, like VX or other deadly chemical weapons would. Newby said she spoke with a former CIA operative who said he dropped two canisters of infested ticks over Cuba in 1962, during Operation Mongoose.

    While Newby said that the operation "probably didn't work," she told INSIDER that "bug-borne weapons are the perfect weapon" because they're difficult to protect yourself against, and they don't destroy infrastructure. 

    Still, ticks are unlikely to have been useful as a weapon. They can't bite individuals with any specificity or on any timeline, and the effects take days or weeks to affect a person's health. There's also little evidence that tick populations in North America were impacted by proximity to these DoD labs.

    Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a researcher at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem studies, told INSIDER that the tick that spreads Lyme "was known to exist throughout the eastern United States before the discovery of Lyme disease in the 1970s and 80s, so the evidence regarding the distribution of the tick is not consistent with the notion that it was somehow released on Plum Island."

    Ostfeld also said that Idoxes, or blacklegged, ticks, which carry Lyme, "are frequently infected with multiple disease agents" and that "the main source of these multiple infections in ticks is small wild mammals like white-footed mice and eastern chipmunks."

    The House vote will add $1 million to the Centers for Disease Control's Lyme research budget and require the Pentagon to report on "whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

    The Pentagon Inspector General did not respond to INSIDER's request for comment on this story. The government facilities at Fort Ditrick and Plum Island did not respond to emails seeking comment.

    SEE ALSO: Russia wants to arm its troops with small drones that drop bombs because ISIS did it

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Presidential candidate Andrew Yang says he's ready to bounce back from a disappointing first debate performance>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 4:51 PM:)

    andrew yang

    • Entrepreneur and Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang got the least speaking time of any of the candidates on stage in the first round of Democratic debates.
    • Yang was asked only two questions individually in the two-hour debate, and spoke the least of any candidate, talking for just two minutes and 38 seconds.

    • Yang's press secretary and political director Randy Jones told INSIDER the campaign "had no hard feelings" about the way NBC had conducted the debates, and were looking forward to the next round.
    • "A bunch of career politicians interrupting and launching personal attacks on each other really isn't Andrew's style, that's Trump game," Jones said. "If Democrats try to play Trump's game, we're going to lose." 

    • Jones said the campaign hopes for Yang to be able to push other candidates to get on the record about whether they're open to supporting Yang's "Freedom Dividend" universal basic income plan to give every American adult $1,000 a month.
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Entrepreneur and Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang got the least speaking time of any of the candidates on stage in the first round of Democratic debates. But his campaign isn't particularly fazed by his debate debut, and his staff believes they can turn things around when Yang takes the stage next week. 

    In the June 27 debate, Yang — a first-time political candidate — ended up on stage with nine other candidates, including four of the frontrunners: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

    Despite running one of the most unique presidential campaigns and rolling out more policy proposals than any other candidate, Yang was only asked two questions individually in the two-hour debate. As a result, Yang spoke the least of any candidate, talking for just two minutes and 38 seconds.

    While the moderators tried to keep things on track, the debate went off schedule, with Harris confronting Biden over his record on racial issues in a tense exchange which took up several minutes and overshadowed the other candidates. 

    In the immediate aftermath of the debate, Yang accused NBC of deliberately cutting his mic off, which the network has thoroughly denied.

    Yang further explained himself in a July 8 appearance on ABC's "The View." 

    "I was only asked two questions over two hours, which is there for everyone to see, and so I just shared my experience with some supporters after the fact, but we're just thrilled we have another debate in July and in September," Yang said. 

    Read more: Andrew Yang went for a casual look at the Democratic debate, leading Brian Williams to ask 'Would it kill you to throw on a tie?'

    Yang's chances at qualifying for the next debates are on the line: 

    The DNC set much stricter requirements for candidates looking to compete in the next round of debates in September and October, requiring contenders to reach 2% in four DNC-sanctioned polls and obtain 130,000 unique donors, the latter of which Yang has achieved.

    He has until August 29 to reach 2% in three more polls to qualify for the September 12 debate, according to Politico's tracker of Democratic primary polls. For candidates like Yang and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro who have met the donor but not polling requirements, a strong debate performance later this month could help give them the boost they need, like the one Harris received after her takedown of Biden.                                                                                             

    When asked by co-host Meghan McCain how he'll make sure to get more than 2 minutes and 38 seconds of speaking time, Yang joked, "maybe I'll have a sign to hold up or something ... we're very confident we'll get more opportunities in the next debates."  

    "I really would have loved more questions and more air time, but I've got three more bites at the apple," Yang told the Miami Herald immediately after the debate, adding, "the American people just found out a little more about me tonight."

    Next week, Yang will take the stage on July 31 in Detroit, Michigan and will debate alongside Biden and Harris again, as well as Castro, Sens. Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Gov. Jay Inslee. 

    Read more: Here's who will be on stage each night for the Democratic debates hosted by CNN, what time they'll start, and how to watch

    In a phone interview with INSIDER, Yang's press secretary and political director Randy Jones said the campaign "had no hard feelings" about the way NBC had conducted the debates, and were looking forward to the next round in July.

    Consistent with his style and messaging throughout the campaign, Yang didn't attempt to talk over fellow Democrats or launch targeted shots at his fellow candidates. 

    "A bunch of career politicians interrupting and launching personal attacks on each other really isn't Andrew's style, that's Trump game," Jones said. "If Democrats try to play Trump's game, we're going to lose." 

    Andrew Yang debates

    Yang is planning on emphasizing the unique parts of his platform

    The next round of debates, which will take place on July 30 and 31 in Detroit, will be hosted by CNN and moderated by anchors Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, and Dana Bash.

    Unlike the MSNBC-hosted debates, CNN has said that they will not ask candidates to raise their hands or give one-word answers to indicate their positions on questions.

    Jones said he and the campaign were "looking forward" to the next round of debates, and were "confident" that CNN's new rule meant that Yang would be given more speaking time.

    Yang's candidacy is best-known for his unique policy idea of giving every American a universal basic income of $1,000 a month, which he calls The Freedom Dividend, in order to help American workers affected by a changing economy moving towards automation. 

    "If we're only one on the stage willing to discuss UBI and take that step to show we can do this, it'll make people wonder why no one else is willing," Jones said. 

    While Jones did not weigh on on the ongoing debate over whether the DNC should host a separate debate devoted to climate issues, he said he expected to fine-tune Yang's answers on the topic.

    In both the debate and a Business Insider Today town hall in April, Yang said he believed that a universal basic income would help solve climate change by "getting the boot off people's necks" so that they're no longer struggling financially could focus on climate change.

    Read more: Climate activists said the first Democratic debates failed to address the scale of the 'crisis'

    But in the rapid-fire setting of a debate, that answer didn't necessarily come across easily or make a strong impression. Jones said that Yang would adapt his answer to emphasize how UBI can benefit people affected by climate-induced pollution or natural disasters, and the other climate-related components of his platform, like a carbon dividend. 

    Yang also wants to put a spotlight on the "retail apocalypse" 

    Aside from UBI, Jones told INSIDER that the Yang campaign is hoping to spark a discussion on the demise of the brick-and-mortar retail industry, and how the next president should address the rapidly changing state of the retail industry. 

    Jones said he hoped that Yang would get a chance to discuss both how UBI and his proposed American Mall Act will both help retail workers displaced by automation, and find new economically-revitalizing uses for large properties once occupied by malls, which are closing around the country at a rapid pace. 

    Sanders has also made advocating for retail workers an essential component of his campaign, publicly tangling with Wal-mart and the e-commerce giant Amazon on multiple occasions over their treatment of employees. 

    Read more: These haunting photos of the retail apocalypse reveal a new normal in America as Sears clings on after closing hundreds of stores

    Overall, Jones didn't seem too fazed by the lack of speaking time Yang got in the first debate. After all, Yang's initially-obscure campaign came to national prominence not through traditional political channels like debates but by a loyal army of internet meme-makers who call themselves the "Yang Gang" and were the driving force behind Yang's surge in donations and ascent to national prominence in February and March. 

    Jones said that in addition to a stronger debate performance, the Yang team is expanding their grassroots, on-the-ground organizing efforts in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where Yang attended high school. As Jones puts it, the goal is to reach out to people who "the Democratic party has left behind."

    SEE ALSO: The next Democratic debates will make or break several 2020 candidates struggling to survive

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  • Elizabeth Warren just issued a stark warning around a 'coming economic crash' — and outlined a plan to avoid it>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 4:30 PM:)

    elizabeth warren

    • The Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren published a Medium post on Monday expressing her concern for the US economy and suggesting ways to prevent the next downturn.
    • Warren pointed to rising household and corporate debt, as well as a slowing manufacturing sector, as the biggest threats to the American economy.
    • Her plan to prevent the next downturn includes a series of steps including the regulation of leveraged corporate lending and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
    • Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.

    The Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren thinks she knows how to prevent the next economic crisis.

    Warren, who says she spent years before the 2008 financial crisis warning Congress and regulators of the faulty loans that would eventually collapse, wrote a post on Medium on Monday cautioning about another "coming economic crash."

    "When I look at the economy today, I see a lot to worry about again," Warren said. "And I see a number of serious shocks on the horizon that could cause our economy's shaky foundation to crumble."

    Here are the three things Warren says could cause the next recession and how she would address them:

    1) The problem: Household debt

    Warren highlighted climbing student, auto, and overall household debt as some of the biggest risks to the economy. She said slow wage growth and rising costs had forced families to take on debt to pay for housing, childcare, and education.

    The solution(s):

    To ease household debt, Warren proposes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, strengthening unions, closing the pay gap, and allowing workers to elect at least 40% of the board members of US companies.

    "To put our economy — and our families — on firmer ground, it is essential to reduce household debt both by raising people's wages and by bringing down their costs," Warren said.

    Other possible remedies floated by Warren include:

    • Canceling as much as $50,000 in student-loan debt for 95% of people who have it
    • Lowering rent costs
    • Offering universal affordable childcare for all children up to age 5
    • Making public higher education free

    student debt

    2) The problem: Corporate debt

    Leveraged lending, which entails extending credit to companies that already have a lot of debt, is another concern for Warren. She said leveraged lending had increased 40% since President Donald Trump took office, spreading "systematic risk" throughout the economy.

    "These high-risk loans now make up a quarter of all American business loans, and they look a lot like the pre-2008 subprime mortgages: poorly-underwritten loans with minimal protections that are then packaged and sold to investors," Warren said.

    The solution(s):

    To curb corporate borrowing, Warren said she would appoint the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which was created in response to the 2008 financial crisis, to monitor the risks of leveraged lending. She also said federal regulators should apply guidelines that would prevent the loans from being issued.

    Federal debt clock

    3) The problem: A manufacturing recession

    Warren also said the struggling American manufacturing sector presented a threat to the US economy. The Federal Reserve has said the sector declined in growth for two straight quarters, and Warren said wages for manufacturing workers had also slipped below the national average for the first time.

    "We need policies that reverse the manufacturing job losses of the past twenty years by investing in manufacturing instead of undercutting it," Warren said.

    The solution:

    The Green Manufacturing Plan, Warren's initiative to help the sector, would invest $2 trillion in green research, manufacturing, and exporting over the next ten year. Warren says the plan would create a million high-quality jobs while helping to fight climate change.

    Factory Worker

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  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly can't stop falling asleep in department meetings>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 3:42 PM:)

    wilbur ross

    • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly often falls asleep in department meetings and his staff are taking care of scheduling meetings for certain times of the day, according to a new report from Politico.
    • Politico reported that the Department of Commerce under Ross is reaching new levels of dysfunction, where repeated infighting among senior officials and sudden departures of experienced career staff is taking its toll on employee morale.
    • Ross is also coming under fire for spending more time at the White House trying to stay in President Donald Trump's good graces rather than managing the department he leads.
    • It has led one observer familiar with the department's inner workings to describe it as "a disaster over there."
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly often falls asleep in department meetings and his staff are taking care of scheduling meetings for certain times of the day, according to a new report from Politico.

    "Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen so they're very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings," a former outside adviser told Politico. "There's a small window where he's able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep."

    Politico reported that the Department of Commerce under Ross is reaching new levels of dysfunction, where repeated infighting among senior officials and sudden departures of experienced career staff is taking its toll on employee morale. Ross came under fire for spending more time at the White House trying to stay in President Donald Trump's good graces rather than managing the department he leads.

    Ross's bruising defeat at the Supreme Court over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census has tested his relationship with Trump, who appointed him in 2017.

    Read more: The Supreme Court just temporarily blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census

    Rumors of Ross's departure have circulated for months, pushing the 81-year-old Commerce secretary to handle his relationship with the White House instead of holding regular meetings with his staff to steer the department's direction. 

    It has led one observer familiar with the department's inner workings to describe it as "a disaster over there."

    The Commerce secretary pushed back against the report on Monday morning, tweeting that the report isn't connected with reality and he blamed "disgruntled" former employees for characterizing his leadership negatively.

    "Today's Politico report bears no resemblance to reality and appears to be solely sourced from disgruntled former employees whose poor performance led to their departures," Ross said.

    One complaint echoed among many department employees is that Ross isn't a frequent sight at his own department, either holding meetings or boosting staff morale.

    "With our ongoing trade wars and the census looming, Commerce needs functional leadership in order to be effective, and right now they just don't have it," former senior Commerce official Theo LeCompte told Politico.

    Another former advisor in touch with Commerce employees told Politico that Ross is "seen as kind of irrelevant and that "he's not respected in the building."

    Ross also doesn't hold regular meetings with the department's senior staff, which was attributed to a lack of energy on his part, Politico reported. Commerce officials are also trying to avoid having Ross testify again to Congress.

    Ross, alongside Attorney General William Barr, were both held in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives last week in a party-line vote for refusing to turn over documents related to the 2020 census.

    Read more: The House just voted to hold two Trump cabinet officials in contempt of Congress

    Democrats investigating Trump officials' handling of the 2020 census charged the administration's rationale of enforcing the Voting Rights Act was only cover for a politically motivated attempt to exclude noncitizens from being counted in the census.

    SEE ALSO: Huawei reportedly sued US Commerce Department over seized equipment, ramping up trade war tensions

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  • Jo Swinson wins Liberal Democrat leadership and pledges to 'do whatever it takes to stop Brexit'>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 3:24 PM:)

    jo swinson

    • Jo Swinson beat Ed Davey in the race to succeed Vince Cable as the leader of the Liberal Democrats.
    • Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, won on Monday by 47,997 votes to 28,021.
    • She said she was "over the moon" and would do everything she can to stop Brexit.
    • The anti-Brexit party has experienced a surge in support, buoyed by Remain voters who are disillusioned with the Labour Party's message on Brexit.

    LONDON — Jo Swinson has been elected as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, replacing Sir Vince Cable.

    The results of the leadership contest were announced on Monday afternoon, with Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, comfortably beating Ed Davey, the former energy secretary, by 47,997 votes to 28,021.

    Swinson said she was "delighted, honoured, absolutely over the moon to stand before you as the leader of the Liberal Democrats."

    She added: "Liberalism is alive and thriving. In the face of nationalism, populism, the catastrophe of Brexit, the two old parties have failed.

    "Our party has been clear on Brexit from Day One. We believe the UK's best future is as members of the European Union, and that's why, as your leader, I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit."

    She will replace Cable at a time when the party, which has 12 MPs in the House of Commons, is experiencing a surge of support from Remain voters, many of whom have abandoned support for the Labour Party.

    Read more: Jo Swinson interview: The anti-Brexit politician who believes she can be Britain's first Liberal Democrat prime minister

    The Liberal Democrats placed second in May's European Parliament elections, ahead of both the governing Conservative Party and Labour. They're polling at as much as 20%.

    Swinson, first elected to the House of Commons in 2005, was Westminster's youngest MP — the "baby of the House" — until 2009.

    When the Lib Dems went into coalition with Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, she served as a parliamentary undersecretary of state in the business department, later becoming a junior equalities minister.

    She has played a major role in the anti-Brexit movement and is a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a new referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union.

    Swinson has emphasised the importance of leading a new liberal movement, not just a single party.

    Last month she told Business Insider that she was not a "tribal politician" and was best placed to win "new voters across generations" and across "traditional party lines," as well as more MPs from other parties.

    "I was down at the Donald Trump protest last week, and several people came up to me and said they had joined the Lib Dems as a result of seeing me on 'Question Time,'" she told Business Insider. "It is working."

    Anti-Brexit campaigners welcomed Swinson's victory.

    "We welcome the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson," said Naomi Smith, the CEO of Best for Britain.

    "She has already pledged to work with other parties to ensure a Remain Alliance against Boris Johnson's new government is built, taking our work in Brecon and Radnorshire to the rest of the country.

    "Stopping Brexit will require the focus and energy of the country's biggest and boldest politicians. Jo is absolutely one of them, and we look forward to working with her even more closely in the future to stop Brexit."

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  • The UK reportedly told Trump not to threaten Iran while it negotiates for the release of tanker hostages>
    (Politics - July 22 2019 - 3:16 PM:)

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while participating in an Apollo 11 50th anniversary commemoration event in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis??

    • The UK government has asked the Trump administration to avoid making "inflammatory public statements" as it negotiates with Iran over the seizure of a British tanker, The Telegraph reported Saturday.
    • The report said the British government asked the US "not to sabre rattle over tanker seized by Iran."
    • This could be a hint to President Donald Trump to curb his remarks and take the standoff from Twitter, where he leveled threats like, "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran."
    • Top members of the British government, including Prime Minister Theresa May, in recent weeks have publicly criticized Trump over his tweets. 
    • Trump has for the most part avoided belligerent statements and tweets toward Iran over the past few days, other than rejecting a claim from Tehran that it arrested over a dozen citizens spying for the CIA.

    The UK government has asked President Donald Trump to play it cool and avoid escalating a tense standoff with Iran after a British tanker was seized by the Iranians last Friday, according to a report from The Telegraph. 

    The Telegraph reported the British government asked the US "not to sabre rattle over tanker seized by Iran" and to avoid "inflammatory public statements" as it works to resolve the tense situation.

    The White House declined to comment when contacted by INSIDER and the State Department did not immediately respond a request for comment.

    This could be interpreted as a request for President Donald Trump to avoid hostile tweets. Trump frequently makes threats toward US adversaries — including Iran — via Twitter.

    Read more: How the Trump administration got into a showdown with Iran that could lead to war

    He's also been criticized in recent weeks by British leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, over various tweets. 

    Hunt spoke with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the tanker seizure on Friday night, according to The Telegraph. When asked about the situation, Pompeo on Friday told reporters, "We're doing everything we can in the United States to de-escalate with Iran. We want them simply to cease being the world's largest state sponsor of terror."

    The 23-member crew of the Stena Impero, the British-flagged tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, are now hostages of the Iranian government. 

    The crew members are from India, Latvia, Russia, and the Philippines. Iran has claimed they're in "good health," Sky News reported.

    The tanker seizure occurred amid broader, more complicated tensions between the US, the UK, and Iran. 

    The US has been flexing its military muscles at Iran over the past few months as it continues to hammer Tehran with crippling economic sanctions as part of a maximum pressure strategy linked to Iran's nuclear program.

    The US also claimed to have taken down an Iranian drone last week, which Tehran denied, which came roughly a month after Iran shot down a US Navy drone.

    Read more: USS Boxer had a bizarre and dangerous encounter with an Iranian chopper right before the ship destroyed a drone

    And the seizure of the Stena Impero appeared to be relatiation for the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the British earlier this month near Gilbraltar. 

    The Iranians in recent weeks have also broken from the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump pulled the US out of in May 2018, by breaching caps on uranium stockpiling and enrichment. 

    The UK is generally on the side of the US in international relations and they're historic allies. But Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal has been criticized by the British, including Hunt. The UK's reported request for Trump and his top advisers to show restraint after the tanker seizure appears to be more evidence of how strained the relationship has become the US and its closest ally.

    Meanwhile, Iran has claimed it arrested 17 citizens that were spying for the CIA. Trump on Monday scoffed at this assertion, tweeting, "The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!"

    SEE ALSO: Trump and Iran may be on the brink of a war that would likely be devastating to both sides

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