AP News in Brief 04-08-19

  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade just outside Tehran, Iran on Sept. 21, 2016, marking the 36th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

US to designate Iran Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization,” an unprecedented move against a national armed force that could have widespread implications for U.S. personnel and policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

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Officials informed of the step said an announcement was expected Monday, after a monthslong escalation in the administration’s rhetoric against Iran, its support for militia groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, as well as anti-Israel groups in the region and beyond.

It would be the first such designation by any American administration of an entire foreign government entity, although portions of the Guard, notably its elite Quds Force, have been targeted previously by the United States.

Two U.S. officials and a congressional aide confirmed the planned move. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, seemed to anticipate the designation, saying in a tweet Sunday aimed at President Donald Trump that Trump “should know better than to be conned into another US disaster.”

The designation, planning for which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes with sanctions, including freezes on assets the Guard may have in U.S. jurisdictions and a ban on Americans doing business with it or providing material support for its activities.

Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen resigns amid border turmoil

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday amid President Donald Trump’s growing frustration and bitterness over the number of Central American families crossing the southern border.

Trump announced on Sunday in a tweet that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would be taking over as acting head of the department. McAleenan is a longtime border official who is well-respected by members of Congress and within the administration. The decision to name a top immigration officer to the post reflects Trump’s priority for the sprawling department founded to combat terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside,” Nielsen wrote in her resignation letter. “I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse.”

Though Trump aides were eyeing a staff shake-up at Homeland Security and had already withdrawn the nomination for another key immigration post, the development Sunday was unexpected.

Nielsen traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday with Trump to participate in a roundtable with border officers and local law enforcement. There she echoed Trump’s comments on the situation at the border, though she ducked out of the room without explanation for some time while Trump spoke. As they toured a section of newly rebuilt barriers, Nielsen was at Trump’s side, introducing him to local officials. She returned to Washington afterward on a Coast Guard Gulfstream, as Trump continued on a fundraising trip to California and Nevada.

Chief of staff says Dems will ‘never’ see Trump tax returns

WASHINGTON — Democrats will “never” see President Donald Trump’s tax returns, said White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday, as a new front opened in the confrontation between the administration and Congress.

Mulvaney accused Democrats of engaging in a “political stunt” and wanting “attention” after the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, asked the IRS to provide six years of Trump’s personal tax returns and the returns for some of his businesses.

“That is not going to happen and they know it,” Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday.” Asked whether he believe Democrats would ever view the president’s returns, Mulvaney replied: “Oh no, never. Nor should they.”

Last week, Massachusetts Democrat Neal, one of only three congressional officials authorized to request tax returns, requested Trump’s personal and business returns in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. He asked for returns covering 2013 through 2018. He also asked for the documents in seven days, setting an April 10 deadline.

An obscure 1924 statute includes no exceptions to Neal’s authority to ask the Treasury Department for returns and says the department “shall furnish” them when requested. It does require that the review of an individual’s return be conducted by members of Congress in “closed executive session” if the returns are provided without the taxpayer’s consent.

Telemedicine tied to more antibiotics for kids, study finds

NEW YORK — Sniffling, sore-throated kids seen via telemedicine visits were far more likely to be prescribed antibiotics than those who went to a doctor’s office or clinic, according to a new study.

Many of those prescriptions disregarded medical guidelines, raising the risk they could cause side effects or contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs.

“I understand the desire for care that’s more convenient and timely,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Kristin Ray of the University of Pittsburgh. “But we want to make sure that we don’t sacrifice quality or safety or effectiveness in the process.”

The study was being published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Ray and her colleagues looked at more than 340,000 insured children who had acute respiratory illness medical visits in 2015 and 2016.

Smoking pot vs. tobacco: What science says about lighting up

NEW YORK — As more states make it legal to smoke marijuana, some government officials, researchers and others worry what that might mean for one of the country’s biggest public health successes: curbing cigarette smoking.

Though there are notable differences in health research findings on tobacco and marijuana, the juxtaposition strikes some as jarring after generations of Americans have gotten the message that smoking endangers their health.

“We’re trying to stop people from smoking all kinds of things. Why do you want to legalize marijuana?” a New York City councilman, Republican Peter Koo, asked at a recent city hearing about the state’s potential legalization of so-called recreational pot use.

Marijuana advocates say there’s no comparison between joints and tobacco cigarettes. A sweeping federal assessment of marijuana research found the lung-health risks of smoking weed appear “relatively small” and “far lower than those of smoking tobacco,” the top cause of preventable death in the U.S.

From wire sources

Unlike for cigarettes, there’s evidence of certain health benefits from marijuana, such as easing chronic pain. And marijuana can be used without smoking it. Most states now have legal medical pot programs; 10 states and the District of Columbia have approved recreational use.

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Cho Yang-ho, indicted Korean Air chairman, dies at 70

SEOUL, South Korea — Korean Air’s chairman, whose leadership included scandals such as his daughter’s infamous incident of “nut rage,” has died due to illness, the company said Monday.

Cho Yang-ho had been indicted on multiple charges, including embezzlement and tax evasion, and his death came two weeks after a shareholder vote to remove the 70-year-old from the company’s board over a series of scandals surrounding his family. Cho’s death will likely force a court to dismiss his criminal case.

The company said Cho died in the United States but did not specify his illness or provide other details in its statement. Cho had remained chairman, which is a non-board role, even after shareholders ousted him from the board. He had expressed his intent to continue participating in management.

A senior Korean Air executive said Cho had been receiving treatment for an unspecified lung illness since late last year and that his condition “worsened rapidly” following the shareholder vote, apparently because of shock and stress. The executive didn’t want to be named, citing office rules.

Cho’s eldest daughter, Cho Hyun-ah, who was formerly the head of the airline’s cabin service, received worldwide notoriety in 2014 after she ordered a Korean Air passenger plane to return to a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York because she was angry that the crew served her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate.

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Body found in home of man who was an original Mouseketeer

PORTLAND, Ore. — A body has been found in the Oregon home of Dennis Day, an original member of Disney’s “The Mickey Mouse Club” who has been reported missing since July.

Police have not identified the body or released details on how it was found, The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported .

Police in Phoenix, Oregon, on Thursday requested that investigators from Medford examine a body found at the home of Day.

Day, 76, was reported missing July 15 by his husband, Ernie Caswell, who suffers from memory loss. Caswell was in a hospital when he reported Day missing.

Day’s car on July 26 was found at the Oregon coast. A missing person report said Day had “uncharacteristically” left his dog with a friend on the day he disappeared.

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Being Tom Wilson: Inside the life of hockey’s most hated man

ARLINGTON, Va. — Tom Wilson tries not to read everything about him on social media.

You’d think being on the receiving end of endless tweets and messages that are, well, not suitable for work would be reason enough to skip them. But Wilson can’t just ignore it all because sometimes it goes beyond hockey.

“Last year there’s people putting my parents’ address on Twitter and people underneath being like, ‘Oh, good to know,’” Wilson said. “I said: ‘Hey, just so you know, this is out there. The mail and stuff, just make sure you’re aware.’”

Such is life for Wilson, one of the most hated players in the NHL — if not the guy at the top of the list. The Washington Capitals winger has been suspended four times over the past 19 months and there were a few other incidents that might have crossed the line. He is the guy opponents and their fans despise and the player no teammate would willingly do without. Inside the Capitals’ locker room, the 25-year-old Wilson is so admired he could succeed Alex Ovechkin as captain.

In an era where enforcers are hard to find, not only does Wilson play on the edge — he lives on it.

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US pulls forces from Libya as fighting approaches capital

BENGHAZI, Libya — The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to “security conditions on the ground,” a top military official said Sunday as a Libyan commander’s forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias.

A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.

“The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command. “Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue to remain agile in support of existing U.S. strategy.”

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He did not provide details on the number of U.S. troops that have been withdrawn or how many remain in the country.

Footage circulating online showed two apparent U.S. Navy transport craft maneuvering off a beach in Janzour, east of Tripoli, sending up plumes of spray as American forces were ferried from the shore.

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