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Chelsea Clinton announces birth of 3rd child, named Jasper
Mon, July 22, 2019 05:58 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — Chelsea Clinton has announced the birth of her third child. Jasper Clinton Mezvinsky was born Monday.
The former U.S. first daughter tweeted that she and husband Marc Mezvinsky “are overflowing with love and gratitude and can’t wait to introduce him to his big sister and brother.”
The couple have a daughter, Charlotte, born in 2014 and another son, Aidan, born in 2016.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton celebrated the news.
Bill Clinton tweeted that the grandparents are “overjoyed and grateful to meet” their new grandson. Hillary Clinton tweeted that she and her husband “are so thrilled.”
The 39-year-old Clinton and 41-year-old investment banker Mezvinsky have been married since 2010 and live in New York.
EarthLink – News
Protester voices: What Puerto Rico demonstrators are saying
By DÁNICA COTO | Tue, July 23, 2019 12:01 EDT
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — José Troche, a 64-year-old doctor from Yauco, sat under the shade in a beach chair as he waited for the march to begin.
“This right now is a dream,” he said as he gestured toward the massive crowd in Puerto Rico’s capital. “The people are united.”
Troche believes Puerto Rico is at a crossroads, and that the upheaval will force people to be more conscious about who they vote into office next year. He said the historic protests have changed the way people think about the island’s political parties and their associations with them: “We have to kick out everyone who is a traitor to the people, regardless of their (political) color.”
When he was younger, he imagined Puerto Rico would have a strong economy and be self-sufficient by this time, but he doesn’t see that happening for at least another 40 years.
“They have misspent the money, and now we’re paying for it,” he said in reference to government officials. “We’re indignant with the island’s situation; so much corruption and lack of respect.”
Rebecca Claudio, a 36-year-old who owns a landscaping company with her husband in the central mountain town of Aibonito, decided to join the protest for her two children.
She and her husband would like to see major improvements in the quality of health and education services that Puerto Rico provides and believe Rosselló should step aside to allow someone else to lead the island and implement what they say are badly needed changes.
“Nothing has improved, except for only a select few,” she said, adding that the protests are giving her hope. “A united people can achieve a lot.”
Claudio said her 10-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter are in public school, but that they don’t have any art or theater classes and lack even basic supplies.
“Sometimes they aren’t able to take tests because there’s no paper,” she said. “Sometimes they don’t even have toilet paper.”
Germán Alejandro Ortiz wiped tears from his eyes as the 43-year-old businessman explained why he decided to join Monday’s protest: “Our people are suffering … We need leaders who will truly take care of our people, not of their friends.”
Ortiz comes from a pro-statehood family, attended the same high school as Rosselló and voted for his father when he ran for governor, but now he wants new people in charge so they can fight corruption and help turn around the island’s economic crisis.
“Right now I don’t have the money to put my daughter in a private school,” he said as he shook his head.
Ada Torres, who is 27 and unemployed, said she moved back to Puerto Rico from Dallas one month ago because she missed the island, but now she has doubts about its future.
She said she would like to find a job in medical billing and coding but the economic crisis is making it difficult.
However, Torres said she was inspired by Monday’s massive turnout and plans to remain in Puerto Rico with the hope that things will eventually change.
“I found it more united than ever, and it excites me so much,” she said. “I like how they’re not thinking about the political status, but thinking about what’s best for the island.”
Lydia Hernández, a 62-year-old retiree, said she joined the protest to help guarantee a better future for her children and granddaughter.
“I’m happy this is happening,” she said as she gestured toward protesters chanting for the governor’s resignation. “I see a determined people. I see a people who defends itself. We will clean house.”
Hernández said the change began after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 20, 2017, and caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.
“People got out of their comfort zone and saw what was really happening,” she said, adding she is tired of the government’s corruption. “The island is suffering.”
Giovanni André Correa, a 17-year-old high school student, joined the protest with his brother even though he believes he will move to the U.S. mainland in search of a better life.
“I want to improve myself,” he said, adding that he wants to study either linguistics or computer science.
Correa attends 12th grade at a private school in Coamo, but believes government officials could greatly improve the education that public school students receive.
“I’d like for everyone to unite, for the governor to know that we’re not going to quit,” he said. “We will keep fighting.”
EarthLink – News
Looking to declaw your cat? Don’t look in New York anymore
By DAVID KLEPPER | Mon, July 22, 2019 02:36 EDT
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York became the first U.S. state to ban the declawing of cats Monday, joining most of Europe, several Canadian provinces and a growing list of American cities that already prohibit a procedure animal advocates call cruel and unnecessary.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the New York ban. Supporters of the new law, which took effect immediately, predict it will lead to similar proposals across the country.
“This is a real triumph for cats and the people who love them,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, who pushed for years and who yielded to temptation when it came feline-themed puns on Monday. “This has catapulted New York to a leadership position when it comes to cruelty against felines.”
Declawing a cat involves slicing through bone to amputate the first segment of a cat’s toes. The operation was once commonly performed to protect furniture and human skin from feline scratching but has in recent years come under scrutiny by animal welfare advocates, cat owners and many vets.
While many vets urged lawmakers to pass the ban, the state’s largest veterinary organization opposed the bill. The New York State Veterinary Medical Society argued that declawing should be allowed as a last resort for felines that won’t stop scratching furniture or humans — or when the cat’s owner has a weakened immune system, putting them at greater risk of infection from a scratch.
“Medical decisions should be left to the sound discretion of fully trained, licensed and state supervised professionals,” the society said in a memo opposing the legislation.
Declawing a cat is already illegal in much of Europe and Canada, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, but no other U.S. state has voted to ban the procedure, which involves amputating a cat’s toes back to the first knuckle.
According to The Paw Project, a California-based group that supports bans on declawing, bills to prohibit the procedure are pending in several states, including New Jersey, California and Massachusetts, where lawmakers held a hearing on the measure Monday.
Supporters of bans cite estimates that a quarter or more of all domestic cats in the U.S. have had the procedure.
“For a cat, declawing is both psychologically and physically harmful,” said Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies, a Bethesda, Maryland-based organization. “The surgery is traumatic, and the resulting disfigurement causes severe pain.”
Under the bill, which easily passed the Democrat-led Senate and Assembly in early June, veterinarians could still perform the procedure for medical reasons, such as infection or injury.
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Iran’s poking at West heightens risks of military missteps
By ROBERT BURNS | Sat, July 20, 2019 05:40 EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rather than tangle with a stronger U.S. military, Iran is poking and prodding its Western antagonists in ways apparently designed to avoid triggering war but that nonetheless seem to heighten the risk of missteps and miscalculation that could lead to an armed conflict with global consequences.
The tensions picked up Friday with Iran reporting it had seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf , one day after the U.S. said it destroyed an Iranian drone that had flown within threatening range of an American warship in the Strait of Hormuz. In June the Iranians shot down a U.S. Navy drone in the same area, prompting President Donald Trump to authorize a military strike on Iran, only to call it off at the last moment .
Trump’s response to the latest escalation in the Gulf captured both the urgency and the unending difficulty of dealing with the Islamic Republic.
“Trouble, nothing but trouble,” Trump told reporters when asked about Iran’s Revolutionary Guard saying it had seized a British tanker.
From Iran’s point of view, the real trouble is Trump, who withdrew the United States last year from a 2015 nuclear deal that offered new hope for Iran’s faltering economy.
The British government said two vessels had been seized by the Iranians, but Iran later said the second ship had departed Iranian waters. The Iranians said the seizure was in response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker two weeks earlier.
The incidents highlighted the precarious state of maritime security in the Gulf and reinforced the Trump administration’s argument for launching a new effort to intensify the monitoring of commercial shipping in and around the Gulf, which handles a large volume of international oil traffic . The administration is organizing what it calls Operation Sentinel with like-minded nations to deter Iran from interfering with commercial shipping.
In the meantime, U.S. Central Command said Friday it put additional patrol aircraft into international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz to monitor the situation. A spokesman, Lt. Col. Earl Brown, said U.S. Naval Forces Central Command was in contact with U.S. ships operating in the area to “ensure their safety.”
The U.S. also is sending American forces, including fighter aircraft, air defense missiles and likely more than 500 troops, to a Saudi air base that became a hub of American air power in the Middle East in the 1990s. Putting U.S. combat forces back in the kingdom after an absence of more than a decade adds depth to the regional alignment of U.S. military power, which is mostly in locations on the Persian Gulf that are more vulnerable to Iranian missile attack.
The high-stakes sparring between Iran and the West is playing out while diplomats maneuver for the real prize: new negotiations to put tighter and longer-lasting wraps on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions that are strangling Iran’s already weak economy.
Trump believes the international agreement he withdrew from is too short-term and too narrow because it does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for extremist militias across the Middle East. His administration has imposed additional sanctions on Iran, including ending a waiver on penalties against nations that buy Iranian oil.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, hinted this past week at Tehran’s interest in a diplomatic solution. He said Iran would be willing to move up parliamentary ratification of an agreement it made with the International Atomic Energy Agency that outlined the agency’s access to Iranian nuclear sites and other information. He said this could be done before the scheduled 2023 ratification if the United States eased sanctions.
The Trump administration showed no immediate interest in that offer, but senior officials, including Trump, periodically emphasize their hope that war is avoided and that both sides can take the preferred diplomatic path.
“We need them to come to the table,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the State Department on Friday. “It’s the right way to resolve these challenges.”
Critics question whether the administration has a viable approach to Iran that can be executed without pushing the U.S. toward war.
“My fundamental question to this administration is: What is the strategy? I know that it is about maximum pressure, but to what end?” said Wendy Sherman, the former undersecretary of state for political affairs who helped the Obama administration negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal.
She said Friday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that she believes the Iranians are weighing the likelihood that they will have to deal with Trump beyond 2020.
“If they think he will be re-elected or think there’s a good chance that he will be, I think we will continue to see proposals from the Iranians,” she said.
The administration faces pressure from members of its own party in Congress to take more aggressive action to punish Iran.
“The ayatollahs will continue their campaign of terror as long as we let them,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. “Outrageous and lawless acts such as this hijacking call for international condemnation and punishment.”
Trump suggested U.S. pressure is hitting Iran’s economy so hard that Iran will be forced at some point to come to the negotiating table.
“Iran is in big trouble right now,” he said. “Their economy is crashing. It’s coming to a crash. They’re trying to bring soldiers back home because they can’t pay them. A lot of bad things are happening to them. And it’s very easy to straighten out or it’s very easy for us to make it a lot worse.”
Associated Press reporter Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
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UK: Europe-led mission will protect vital shipping in Gulf
By GREGORY KATZ | Mon, July 22, 2019 03:53 EDT
LONDON (AP) — Britain announced plans Monday to develop and deploy a Europe-led “maritime protection mission” to safeguard shipping in the vital Strait of Hormuz in light of Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the waterway last week.
Briefing Parliament on the budding crisis, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Iran of “an act of state piracy” that must be met with a coordinated international reaction.
Iranian officials have suggested the Stena Impero was seized and taken to an Iranian port in response to Britain’s role in seizing an Iranian oil tanker two weeks earlier off the coast of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located on the southern tip of Spain.
Hunt announced precious few details of the proposed protection mission, but said Britain’s European allies will play a major role in keeping shipping lanes open. One-fifth of all global crude exports passes through the narrow strait between Iran and Oman.
The foreign secretary said Iran must understand that its actions will only lead to a bigger Western military footprint in the region.
“It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing this increased international presence in the Gulf, because the focus of our diplomacy has been on de-escalating tensions in the hope that such changes would not be necessary,” Hunt said.
He also sought to put distance between Britain and its closest international ally, the United States.
Washington has broken with London on Iran policy as a result of President Donald Trump’s rejection of the international accord designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord last year and re-imposed harsh sanctions, which have had a severe effect on Iran’s economy.
The foreign secretary said the planned European mission was not part of the U.S. policy of exerting “maximum pressure” on Iran.
It was unclear which countries will join the protection force or how quickly it can be put in place. Hunt said he had consulted with foreign ministers of Oman, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Spain and Denmark.
There are no British nationals among the Stena Impero’s 23 crew members — most are Indian, as well as Filipino, Russian and Latvian nationals. Iran released new video showing the ship’s crew for the first time Monday, an apparent attempt to show they were unharmed.
Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei said that there are diplomatic solutions to the current crisis, but he also defended Iran’s actions.
“When you illegally seize a ship in Gibraltar… we don’t deem it as necessary to show tolerance,” he said. “Some countries have asked for the immediate release of the British tanker. Well, we ask those countries to make the same request to Britain first.”
Britain says it acted lawfully off the Gibraltar coast to prevent illegal oil shipments to Syria that would have violated European Union sanctions. It says Iran broke international maritime law by forcing the Stena Impero to change course and go to Iran.
However, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Stena Impero was in violation of “international law on safe passage” in the Strait of Hormuz on the day it was seized. Speaking Monday during a visit to Nicaragua, he said the British ship had “turned off its signaling” for longer than is allowed and “was passing through the wrong channels.”
Britain also says the tanker was in Omani waters at the time, which Iran disputes.
The tanker crisis is unfolding in the final days of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership. The Conservative Party plans to name her successor Tuesday, and the new prime minister — either front-runner Boris Johnson or Hunt — is expected to take office Wednesday.
Friday’s seizure of the Stena Impero came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. In June, Iran shot down an American drone in the Strait of Hormuz, and Trump came close to retaliating with airstrikes.
As the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers unravels, the U.S. has expanded its military presence in the region. Iran has in turn begun openly exceeding the uranium enrichment levels set in the accord to try to pressure Europe into alleviating the pain caused by the sanctions.
European nations are working to save the nuclear deal and have tried to come up with ways to keep trading with Iran, but have run smack into Trump’s sanctions, which also target Iranian oil exports.
In the newly released video on Monday, the Stena Impero crew is seen dressed in red uniforms and seated around a table onboard as an unidentified Iranian man is heard thanking them for their cooperation. A cameraman is heard telling them not to look at the camera.
It wasn’t clear if the crew was under duress to take part in the filming.
Other choreographed shots show a man checking on the ship, the crew sharing a laugh and talking next to a coffee machine inside the ship. The crew’s chefs are seen preparing food. Another video released by Iran’s state broadcaster shows Iran’s flag hoisted on the ship’s bridge.
Meanwhile, officials in Gibraltar say the ship’s crew has been kept on board the vessel since its seizure July 4. Four Indian crewmembers, including the ship’s captain, were arrested, but not charged, and were then bailed. The crew is comprised of Indian, Pakistani and Ukrainian nationals.
Associated Press writer Aya Batrawy from Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Jill Lawless and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.