Trump moves to designate Brazil 'major non-NATO ally'

            <p>By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally.</p>  <p>&quot;I am making this designation in recognition of the Government of Brazil's recent commitments to increase defense cooperation with the United States, and in recognition of our own national interest in deepening our defense coordination with Brazil,&quot; Trump said in a statement to Congress.</p>  <p>In order to grant major non-NATO ally status to a country, Trump has to wait 30 days after notifying Congress of the intended designation.</p>  <p> The benefits of the designation include collaboration on the development of defense technologies, special access to military equipment financing, privileged access to the U.S. defense industry and increased joint military exchanges, exercises and training.</p>  <p>Seventeen other countries hold the status of major non-NATO ally including Israel, Japan and South Korea.</p>  <p>Trump has previously said the United States is looking &quot;very strongly&quot; at granting Brazil some NATO privileges, noting his administration is &quot;very inclined to do that&quot;.</p>  <p>&quot;We are going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it’s NATO or something having to do with the alliance,&quot; the president said in March. </p>  <p>Should Brazil ever clear the lengthy process of ascension, it would become the first Latin American nation to join NATO. All 29 of NATO’s member states are in North America and Europe.</p>  Trump has long been a critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling on other member states to shoulder more of its defense burden by increasing military spending.

UPDATE 2 – Trump exerts privilege over unredacted Mueller report

                                               ADDS CONTEMPT VOTE IN GRAFS 6-7; MOVES UP LAST GRAF AND REFRAMES</p>  <p>By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump exerted executive privilege Wednesday on the unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.</p>  <p>The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Justice Department for an unredacted copy of the report as well as all underlying evidence. Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had set a Monday deadline for the department to comply, but it came and passed as the committee and the department continued talks to breach the impasse.</p>  <p>Those discussions broke down late Tuesday. </p>  <p>Nadler said the president decided to invoke privilege on the document as the committee prepared to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to adhere to the subpoena.</p>  <p>&quot;The department seemed open to sharing these documents with us just yesterday. This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration's blanket defiance of Congress' constitutionally-mandated duties,&quot; Nadler said ahead of the contempt vote.</p>  <p>The committee voted 24-16 later Wednesday to hold Barr in contempt, sending the matter to the full House where the Democratic majority will likely follow suit and trigger a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.</p>  <p>Jessie Liu, the U.S. attorney, would then decide whether a prosecution would be pursued. </p>  <p>Barr released a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress and the public last month, but Democrats have insisted on receiving an uncensored copy.</p>  <p>The White House sharply criticized Nadler, saying in a statement that &quot;neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands.</p>  <p>&quot;Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the Attorney General’s request, the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege,&quot; spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. 

UPDATE – US sanctions Iran's metal sectors as tensions heighten

                              ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT </p>  <p>By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran's iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors Wednesday as tension between the rivals escalates. </p>  <p>The penalties, contained in an executive order, affect what Trump called the Iranian government's &quot;largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue&quot; one year after he pulled the U.S. out of a landmark nuclear accord that placed unprecedented curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. </p>  <p>Trump and his senior officials have embarked upon a wide-ranging campaign to ramp up pressure on the Iranian government in the time since, including reimposing U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil sector that were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement. </p>  <p>&quot;Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct,&quot; the president said in a statement. &quot;Since our exit from the Iran deal, which is broken beyond repair, the United States has put forward 12 conditions that offer the basis of a comprehensive agreement with Iran.&quot;</p>  <p>Trump long decried the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action before unilaterally exiting Washington from the multilateral accord brokered under former President Barack Obama. </p>  <p>The Trump administration has called on the U.S.'s negotiating partners -- the U.K., France, Germany, China, Russia and the EU -- to follow the U.S. lead, but none have to date, insisting the agreement is the best way to ensure Iran not attain a nuclear weapon.</p>  <p>The deal granted Iran sweeping relief from international sanctions in exchange for unprecedented curbs on and inspections of its nuclear program. </p>  <p>In one of the administration's most critical efforts to force Iran to quit the deal, the Trump administration declined to renew waivers that allowed seven countries and Taiwan to continue to import Iranian oil.</p>  <p>Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said earlier Wednesday that Iran would resume high level enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade levels if his country’s interests in the nuclear deal are not protected within 60 days.</p>  <p>Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said Tehran will suspend implementation of two of the deal's key articles, because following through on them is no longer possible due to U.S. sanctions announced May 4 that prohibited the activities.</p>  <p>&quot;Iran is not engaged in escalating tensions, Iran does not want clashes,&quot; Zarif said. &quot;Iran is a party to the dialogue, a country that has proved in recent years that it is possible to solve the fundamental problems of the world through dialogue.&quot;<br> <br> </p>  <p> </p>  <p> 

US sanctions Iran's metal sectors as tensions heighten

             By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran's iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors Wednesday as tensions between the rivals escalates. </p>  <p>The penalties affect what Trump called the Iranian government's &quot;largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue&quot; one year after he pulled the U.S. out of a landmark nuclear accord that placed unprecedented curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. </p>  <p>Trump and his senior officials have embarked upon a wide-ranging campaign to ramp up pressure on the Iranian government in the time since, including reimposing sanctions on Iran's oil sector that were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement. </p>  <p>&quot;Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct,&quot; the president said in a statement. &quot;Since our exit from the Iran deal, which is broken beyond repair, the United States has put forward 12 conditions that offer the basis of a comprehensive agreement with Iran.&quot;

6 dead, including 4 children, in NYC apartment fire

             By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Six people died, including four children, when a raging fire ripped through a New York City apartment early Wednesday. </p>  <p>The fire started on the fifth floor of the Frederick Samuels Houses in a Harlem neighborhood at around 1:40 a.m., according to the New York Post.</p>  <p>Local media identified the deceased as 45-year-old mother Andrea Pollidore, along with her 33-year-old stepson Mac Abdularaulph and four other children listed by the Post as Elijah, 3; Brooklyn, 6; Andre, 8; and Nakiyra, 11.</p>  <p>Other media outlets listed Elijah's age as four years old. It is unclear which age is correct. </p>  <p>&quot;Preliminarily we believe the fire was an accident and that it started in the kitchen on the stove, quickly extended out of the kitchen and eventually involved every room in this apartment including the two rooms where the victims were found,&quot; FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters, according to the Post. </p>  <p>All of the victims were found dead in two bedrooms. </p>  <p>&quot;The kitchen is the closest room to the front door and the fire escapes from this apartment are on the side of that apartment opposite from the bedrooms,&quot; Nigro said. &quot;They were unable to get to either the door of their apartment or the windows on the fire escape.&quot;

UPDATE – Trump exerts privilege over unredacted Mueller report

                              ADDS WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT, DETAILS THROUGHOUT</p>  <p>By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump exerted executive privilege Wednesday on the unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. </p>  <p>The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Justice Department for an unredacted copy of the report as well as all underlying evidence. Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had set a Monday deadline for the department to comply, but it came and passed as the committee and the department continued talks to breach the impasse.</p>  <p>Those discussions broke down late Tuesday. </p>  <p>Nadler said the president decided to invoke privilege on the document as the committee prepared to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to adhere to the subpoena.</p>  <p>&quot;The department seemed open to sharing these documents with us just yesterday. This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration's blanket defiance of Congress' constitutionally-mandated duties,&quot; Nadler said ahead of the contempt vote.</p>  <p>Barr released a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress and the public last month, but Democrats have insisted on receiving an uncensored copy.</p>  <p>The White House sharply criticized Nadler, saying in a statement that &quot;neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands.</p>  <p>&quot;Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the Attorney General’s request, the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege,&quot; spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. </p>  <p>The Judiciary Committee is likely to vote in favor of holding Barr in contempt of Congress when it votes later Wednesday, sending the matter to the full House where the Democratic majority will likely follow suit and send the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. 

Trump exerts privilege over unredacted Mueller report

             By Michael Hernandez </p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump exerted executive privilege Wednesday on the unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. </p>  <p>The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Justice Department for an unredacted copy of the report as well as all underlying evidence. Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had set a Monday deadline for the department to comply.</p>  <p>But Nadler said the president decided to invoke privilege over the document as the committee prepared to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to adhere to the subpoena.</p>  <p>&quot;The department seemed open to sharing these documents with us just yesterday. This decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump administration's blanket defiance of Congress' constitutionally-mandated duties,&quot; Nadler said.

Trump: China stalling to negotiate with 'weak' Democrat

             By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that China is rolling back progress made in trade talks in hopes that a Democrat will be elected to the White House in 2020.</p>  <p>The president made specific mention of former Vice President Joe Biden who is the leading Democratic contender in the race. </p>  <p>&quot;The reason for the China pullback &amp; attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to 'negotiate' with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come,&quot; Trump said in one of two Twitter posts. </p>  <p>&quot;Guess what, that’s not going to happen!&quot; he continued.</p>  <p>Trump threatened to impose new tariffs on China last weekend if a trade pact is not agreed upon by Friday, claiming that Beijing is trying to renegotiate already agreed upon issues.</p>  <p>The president threatened to raise existing duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from current levels of 10%, and impose new 25% tariffs on $325 billion of Chinese imports. </p>  <p>Vice Premier Liu He, China's top trade negotiator, is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Thursday as part of a Chinese delegation to take part in the latest round of negotiations. </p>  <p>The talks were originally supposed to begin Wednesday, and hopes were pinned on them resulting in the elusive trade deal both Washington and Beijing have been seeking to strike. </p>  <p>Global markets tumbled mightily following Trump's weekend threat, as well as concerns it could lead China to call off negotiations. But that was averted when China announced Liu would return to Washington. </p>  <p>&quot;China has just informed us that they (Vice-Premier) are now coming to the U.S. to make a deal. We’ll see, but I am very happy with over $100 Billion a year in Tariffs filling U.S. coffers...great for U.S., not good for China!&quot; Trump said. </p>  <p>Trump has repeatedly claimed that tariffs generate revenue from China that flows into U.S. coffers, but the extra costs associated with tariffs are typically borne by U.S. importers who pass them on to consumers. 

UPDATE – Opposition urges respect for Istanbul revote decision

                UPDATE WITH MORE REMARKS BY MHP LEADER</p>    <p>By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu </p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - A Turkish opposition leader on Wednesday called for respecting the Supreme Election Council’s (YSK) decision of a do-over election in Istanbul. </p>    <p>Devlet Bahceli, head of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara. </p>    <p>Bahceli said his party &quot;surely&quot; respects the decision of the YSK, adding: &quot;We are waiting for everyone to pose the same attitude and same moral consistency.&quot; </p>    <p>He said that the YSK registered the irregularity in Istanbul election in the March 31 local elections. </p>    <p>&quot;All discussions are over. Everybody should respect YSK's decision, Bahceli added. </p>    <p>On Monday, the YSK accepted the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's objection to the local election results in Istanbul with seven votes in favor and four against. </p>    <p>It said the decision was taken as some ballot committee members who served during the elections were not civil servants as required by law. </p>    <p>The YSK announced that a do-over election in Istanbul will be held on June 23.</p>    <p>Touching upon the U.S.’s opposition to Turkey’s purchasing of Russian S-400 missile defense system, Bacheli said the relations between Washington and Ankara are “at the worst level”. </p>    <p>&quot;Threatening Turkey with NATO membership and pressuring the country with the statements of economic sanctions is an act far beyond hostility. The U.S. has no right to do this,&quot; he added.</p>    <p>Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have worsened in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile system, which Washington says will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger congressional sanctions.

Iran accuses US of trying to start war

            By Elena Teslova</p>  <p>MOSCOW (AA) - Some officials in the U.S. administration want to start a war with Iran, but it would be suicide, Iran’s foreign minister said Tuesday.</p>  <p>&quot;Apparently, those who launched the U.S.-Iraq war in 2003 are aspiring to unleash another war, and this time with Iran. This will mean that they are committing suicide,&quot; Mohammad Javad Zarif told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti prior to his visit to Moscow.</p>  <p>He said Tehran does not want a war with any country, but if the U.S. organizes armed clashes with Iran, the country will defend its national interests &quot;with all its strength&quot;.</p>  <p>Asked if Tehran will continue to adhere to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, Zarif said &quot;Iran's patience has its limits&quot;.</p>  <p>He said if the European Union fails to help Iran withstand U.S. sanctions, the country could review the agreement.</p>  <p>One of the important issues right now is the establishment of the Special Trade and Finance Instrument (STFI) between Iran and Europe, called SATMA in Persian – a company registered by Tehran in a bid to speed up trade exchanges between Iran and Europe. </p>  <p>The European special payment channel the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) will permit financial transactions that bypass U.S. sanctions, Zarif said, adding a mechanism similar to INSTEX can be implemented with other countries, including Russia and Turkey.</p>  <p>According to Zarif, Iran is able to sell its oil despite the current sanctions.</p>  <p>&quot;Iran will be able to overcome American sanctions. Many countries have declared their readiness to trade with Iran. Iran and the EU are on the threshold of an agreement that, despite the return of unilateral U.S. sanctions, will make it possible to sell Iranian oil and receive income from it,&quot; he added.