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Updated: 33 min 13 sec ago

Tributes to Michael Jackson flow on 10th death anniversary

16 hours 32 min ago
LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson’s estate paid tribute to his artistry and charity Tuesday as fans make final preparations for gatherings to celebrate his memory on the 10th anniversary of the King of Pop’s death. “Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian,” the Jackson estate said in a statement to The Associated Press. “A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever.” The estate has doggedly worked to protect and enhance Jackson’s legacy, a task made more challenging this year when two men accused Jackson of molesting them as boys in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” sparking new scrutiny of years-old claims that Jackson preyed on children. Jackson was acquitted of abuse allegations in 2005 and always vehemently denied such allegations, and the estate and his family angrily refuted the men’s claims when the documentary was released in March, noting the men had at one time been among Jackson’s biggest defenders and testified on his behalf at his criminal trial. The estate is using the anniversary of Jackson’s death to celebrate and accentuate Jackson’s vast humanitarian work. It called on fans to honour Jackson’s memory by engaging in charitable acts “whether it’s planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way. … This is how we honour Michael,” the statement read. Fans plan to gather at Jackson’s last home in the Holmby Hills neighbourhood of Los Angeles, where the singer received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on the afternoon of June 25, 2019 from his doctor. Jackson was declared dead at a hospital at age 50. They also plan a vigil at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where Jackson was laid to rest two months later. Some planned to gather around Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One group of fans planned a Hollywood rally Tuesday to declare his innocence of molestation allegations. Co-executors John Branca and John McClain, both major figures in Jackson’s career when he was alive, have taken his badly debt-ridden estate and grossed over $1.3 billion through various Jackson-related projects in the past decade, including the film “This Is It,” a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows and the sale of Jackson assets that included The Beatles catalogue. Jackson left everything to his mother, his children and charity in his will. The singer’s father, Joe, died last year and is buried in the same cemetery as his son, but Michael’s 89-year-old mother, five brothers, three sisters and three kids remain alive and well 10 years later . The death of Jackson was a massive cultural phenomenon, bringing an outpouring of public affection and revival of his songs and largely erasing the taint that remained after his criminal trial, despite his acquittal. It was one of the earliest instances of the mass mourning on social media that would soon become common, and a massive worldwide audience both on TV and online watched his July 27, 2009 public memorial that included touching tributes from family members including daughter Paris and performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton . Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Top Austrian court says Ukrainian oligarch can be sent to US

16 hours 38 min ago
VIENNA - Austria’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that a Ukrainian oligarch who prosecutors say had business ties to President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, can be extradited to the United States in a bribery case. Judges upheld a Vienna court’s ruling that Dymitro Firtash, who was arrested in Austria in 2014 and then freed on 125 million euros ($142 million) bail, can be sent to the U.S. The decision comes days after a Chicago federal judge rejected a motion to dismiss an indictment accusing Firtash of a conspiracy to pay bribes in India to mine titanium, which is used in jet engines. Firtash denies wrongdoing and argued that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over crimes in India. However, federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled that it does because any scheme would have impacted a Chicago-based company. American aviation giant Boeing, based in Chicago, has said it considered business with Firtash but never followed through. It is not accused of any wrongdoing. The Austria Press Agency reported that Justice Minister Clemens Jabloner will now have to decide whether the extradition can go ahead and his decision is likely in coming days. Firtash’s Austrian lawyer and spokesman declined immediate comment after Tuesday’s ruling. In a protracted legal battle, a Vienna court initially ruled against extradition on the grounds that the indictment was politically motivated. A higher Vienna court in February 2017 rejected that reasoning as “insuffiently substantiated” and ruled that Firtash could be extradited. Austria’s Supreme Court of Justice upheld that ruling. Before becoming Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort pursued a business deal with Firtash to redevelop a Manhattan hotel. Manafort isn’t accused of wrongdoing in the Chicago case. Manafort was sentenced in March to more than seven years in prison on federal charges in cases from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The charges related to Manafort’s years of Ukrainian political consulting work. Manafort also faces fraud charges in New York state. The Associated Press

SpaceX launches hefty rocket with 24 satellites

16 hours 49 min ago
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - SpaceX launched its heftiest rocket with 24 research satellites Tuesday, a middle-of-the-night rideshare featuring a deep space atomic clock, solar sail, a clean and green rocket fuel testbed, and even human ashes. It was the third flight of a Falcon Heavy rocket, but the first ordered by the military. The Defence Department mission, dubbed STP-2 for Space Test Program, is expected to provide data to certify the Falcon Heavy - and reused boosters - for future national security launches. It marked the military’s first ride on a recycled rocket. Both side boosters landed back at Cape Canaveral several minutes after liftoff, just as they did after launching in April. But the new core booster missed an ocean platform, not unexpected for this especially difficult mission, SpaceX noted. NASA signed up for a spot on the rocket, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Planetary Society and Celestis Inc., which offers memorial flights into space. An astronaut who flew on NASA’s first space station back in the 1970s, Skylab’s Bill Pogue, had a bit of his ashes on board, along with more than 150 other deceased people. Pogue died in 2014. SpaceX said the mission was one of its most challenging launches. The satellites needed to be placed in three different orbits, requiring multiple upper-stage engine firings. It was going to take several hours to release them all. The Deep Space Atomic Clock by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a technology demo aimed at self-flying spacecraft. Barely the size of a toaster oven, the clock is meant to help spacecraft navigate by themselves when far from Earth. NASA also was testing a clean and green alternative to toxic rocket and satellite fuel. The Planetary Society’s LightSail crowd-funded spacecraft will attempt to become the first orbiting spacecraft to be propelled solely by sunlight. It’s the society’s third crack at solar sailing: The first was lost in a Russian rocket failure in 2005, while the second had a successful test flight in 2015. “Hey @elonmusk et al, thanks for the ride!,” tweeted Bill Nye, the society’s chief executive officer. The Air Force Research Laboratory had space weather experiments aboard, while NOAA had six small atmospheric experimental satellites for weather forecasting. The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in use today. Each first-stage booster has nine engines, for a total of 27 firing simultaneously at liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The first Falcon Heavy launch was in February 2018. That test flight put SpaceX founder Musk’s red Tesla convertible into an orbit stretching past Mars. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

Democratic candidate Sanders to speak at black press meeting

17 hours 9 min ago
CINCINNATI - Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders will be the featured speaker at a black press convention that begins Tuesday evening in Cincinnati. National Newspaper Publishers Association organizers expect some 500 people to join in events including a parents’ town hall, receptions and music capped by a Friday night party led by venerable funk music star Bootsy Collins. Sanders’ Friday address to the group representing some 200 black-owned newspapers comes as the Vermont senator is trying amid the crowded Democratic field to increase his appeal to black voters , after struggling against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 primary states with large black turnouts. Veteran civil rights activist Benjamin C. Chavis Jr., the association’s leader, says the nonpartisan group also invited the other Democratic presidential candidates and Republican President Donald Trump. Sanders campaign has been buying advertising in black newspapers. He recently ran full-page ads in black-oriented newspapers in South Carolina, a key early primary state. “Racism has been used to divide us up and undermine the power of our working-class majority,” Sanders stated in the ads. “Let me be clear: There is no freedom without racial, social and economic equality.” Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat who is co-chairing Sanders’ campaign, will introduce him at the group’s legacy dinner, which will honour Marjorie Parham, now 101, the former longtime publisher of the weekly Cincinnati Herald. Chavis says the convention’s theme is “Innovation, transformation and empowerment” for black community newspapering that dates to the early 19th century. He says there will be workshops on various aspects of the black press that has increased its reach digitally. ___ This story has been corrected to identify the civil rights activist as Benjamin C. Chavis Jr., not Benjamin C. Chavez Jr. ___ Follow Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell Dan Sewell, The Associated Press

Fiancee of Saudi Khashoggi seeks UN action over his killing

17 hours 18 min ago
GENEVA - The fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has taken her campaign for justice over his grisly slaying to the U.N.’s top human rights body and urging the United Nations to take “the next step” following a blistering report from an independent investigator. Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish citizen, says she hasn’t gotten over the Oct. 2 killing of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. She remains haunted by the prospect that he might not really be dead because his body hasn’t been found. She spoke Tuesday at a 90-minute “side event” at the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council organized by Canada. Cengiz provided one of several testimonials on the theme “Silencing Dissent,” which mostly criticized alleged rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Associated Press

In the news today, June 25

17 hours 25 min ago
Five stories in the news for Tuesday, June 25 --- SAINT-JACQUES RETURNS FROM SPACE MISSION David Saint-Jacques returned to Earth on Monday after more than six months aboard the International Space Station. The native of Saint-Lambert, Que., has set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days. The Canadian astronaut was joined by NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko aboard a Soyuz capsule that landed in Kazakhstan. NASA described the landing as “picture perfect” as the capsule descended in Kazakistan at 10:47 p.m. ET. Saint-Jacques was the last to be carried out of the capsule and he gave a thumbs-up sign as he emerged. The crew were offered water and fresh fruit as they sat in chairs about 15-feet away from the capsule before being taken away for initial medical checks.  --- NEW HEARING FOR FERTILITY DOC WHO USED WRONG SPERM A fertility doctor previously disciplined for artificially inseminating several women with the wrong sperm is set to appear before Ontario’s medical regulator today to face additional allegations, including that he used his own sperm in certain procedures. Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin admitted to committing professional misconduct when he appeared before the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s discipline committee in 2013, saying errors in his practice had left three patients with children whose biological fathers were not the ones they intended. The committee suspended him from practising medicine for two months, but Barwin gave up his licence the following year. --- BLACK CIVIL SERVANTS NOT GETTING PROMOTED: MP Qualified black Canadians are being passed over for promotions to senior positions in the federal government due to systemic racial barriers, says Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes. Caesar-Chavannes, who is not running for re-election in October, used her final act in the House of Commons last week to shine a light on what she says is discrimination in the civil service. She says in all of Canada’s history, no black person has been appointed as a federal deputy minister, the bureaucratic head of a department. She also says there has been a “thinning out” of visible minorities at the assistant-deputy-minister level. --- INDIGENOUS SPEAKERS GATHER IN VICTORIA Sto:lo Nation educator Ethel Gardner is confident that the fate of the Coast Salish language Halq’emeylem is looking up, despite its classification as critically endangered by UNESCO. She says the language is alive. Gardner, who also goes by her First Nation’s name Stelomethet, served as an elder-in-residence at Simon Fraser University, where she wrote her dissertation on the relationship between Halq’emeylem, pronouced halk-ah-may-lem, and Sto:lo communities of B.C.’s Fraser Valley. She says decades of arduous work to preserve Halq’emeylem is paying off as more people begin to learn the language. --- WICKENHEISER WAITS FOR POSSIBLE HALL CALL Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser is one of the headliners among eligible players for selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame today. The class of 2019 will be announced this afternoon. Wickenheiser is a 40-year-old native of Shaunavon, Sask. She was one of the top players on four Olympic champion Canadian women’s teams. She retired as the country’s all-time leading scorer after 23 years on the national team and now works at the assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. --- ALSO IN THE NEWS: - Environment Minister Catherine McKenna makes an announcement on how the federal government will allocate a portion of the proceeds collected as a result of carbon pollution pricing, and holds a media availability. - Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan makes an announcement in partnership with the Romo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative on the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. A media availability follows. - Trial for Tasha Mack who faces second-degree murder charges in the death of her boyfriend Joey Crier’s 19-month-old son. The toddler was found outside an Edmonton church in April 2017. - Conference to celebrate Indigenous languages from around the world in support of language revitalization. --- The Canadian Press

Top Austrian court says Ukrainian oligarch can be sent to US

17 hours 36 min ago
VIENNA - Austria’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that a Ukrainian oligarch who prosecutors say had business ties to President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, can be extradited to the United States in a bribery case. Judges upheld a lower Vienna court’s ruling that Dymitro Firtash, who was arrested in Austria in 2014 and then freed on bail, can be sent to the U.S. The decision comes days after a Chicago federal judge rejected a motion to dismiss an indictment accusing Firtash of a conspiracy to pay bribes in India to mine titanium, which is used in jet engines. Firtash denies wrongdoing and argued that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over crimes in India. However, federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled it did because any scheme would have impacted a Chicago-based company, the American aviation giant Boeing. Boeing has said it considered doing business with Firtash but never followed through. It is not accused of any wrongdoing. The Austria Press Agency reported that Justice Minister Clemens Jabloner will now have to decide whether the extradition can go ahead. Firtash’s Austrian lawyer and spokesman declined immediate comment after Tuesday’s ruling. Before becoming Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort pursued a business deal with Firtash to redevelop a Manhattan hotel. Manafort isn’t accused of any wrongdoing in the Chicago case. Manafort was sentenced in March to serve more than seven years in prison on federal charges in cases brought in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The charges related to Manafort’s years of Ukrainian political consulting work. Manafort also faces fraud charges in New York state. The Associated Press

Iran calls new US sanctions ‘outrageous and idiotic’

18 hours 25 min ago
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran on Tuesday sharply criticized new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials, saying the measures spell the “permanent closure” for diplomacy between the two nations. Iran’s president described the White House as “afflicted by mental retardation.” President Hassan Rouhani went on to call the sanctions against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “outrageous and idiotic,” especially as the 80-year-old Shiite cleric has no plans to ever travel to the United States. From Israel, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said talks with the U.S. were still possible and that the U.S. is leaving an “open door” for Iran to walk through. But the comments from Tehran clearly show its leaders think otherwise at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran over its nuclear program and Iran’s downing of a U.S. military surveillance drone last week. “The fruitless sanctions on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy mean the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy with the frustrated U.S. administration,” said Abbas Mousavi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. The crisis gripping the Middle East is rooted in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. a year ago from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran. Recently, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal’s terms by Thursday while also threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 - if Europe doesn’t offer a new deal. Citing unspecified Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Middle East and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict, 40 years after the Islamic Revolution. Trump enacted the new sanctions on Monday against Khamenei and his associates. The sanctions follow Iran’s downing last week of a U.S. surveillance drone, worth over $100 million, over the Strait of Hormuz, an attack that sharply escalated the crisis in the Persian Gulf. After the downing of the drone, Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes but continued his pressure campaign against Iran. U.S. officials also said they plan sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, something that drew Rouhani’s anger during his televised address on Tuesday. “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” an exasperated Rouhani said and called the sanctions “outrageous and idiotic.” “The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” Rouhani added. There was no immediate reaction from Washington early on Tuesday to the remarks from Iran. The sharp comments are reminiscent of North Korea’s verbal attacks on Trump before the dramatic change in course and the start of negotiations with Washington. In 2017, state media quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calling Trump “the mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” However, in Iran’s case, there are no signs Iranian leadership would welcome talks. Mousavi’s statement echoed that of Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, who warned on Monday that the situation in the Persian Gulf is “very dangerous” and said any talks with the U.S. are impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation. Meanwhile, the U.S. envoy at the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen, said the Trump administration’s aim is to get Tehran back to negotiations. The sanctions were announced as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks in the Middle East with officials in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia about building a broad, global coalition that includes Asian and European countries to counter Iran. Pompeo is likely to face a tough sell in Europe and Asia, particularly from those nations still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal. Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Trump was open to real negotiations to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program and “all that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door.” Bolton was meeting with his Russian and Israel counterparts in a first-of-its-kind trilateral security summit in Jerusalem that was focused on Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region, particularly in neighbouring Syria. “As we speak, American diplomatic representatives are surging across the Middle East, seeking a path to peace. In response, Iran’s silence has been deafening,” he said. “There is simply no evidence that Iran has made the strategic decision to renounce nuclear weapons and open realistic discussions to demonstrate that decision.” But only hours later, Bolton told a news conference that “all options remain on the table” if Iran goes over the limit for its low-enriched uranium stockpile as planned by Thursday. “It would not be in their interest to do it but they have done a lot of things recently that are not in their interest,” Bolton said. ___ Associated Press writer Aron Heller in Jerusalem continued to this report. Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press

World Cup exit shows Canada will miss the remarkable Christine Sinclair

18 hours 47 min ago
PARIS - Christine Sinclair has put Canadian soccer on her shoulders for close to 20 years. So when Janine Beckie and not the talismanic captain walked to the penalty spot Monday in Canada’s Women’s World Cup loss to Sweden with a chance to tie the round-of-16 game at 1-1, many wondered why. And in a country where hockey is king, memories of the 1998 Nagano Olympics resurfaced for some. Back then a nation wondered why Wayne Gretzky was nailed to the bench as Canada lost a semifinal shootout to Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic. The similarities are that Canada lost both games and Sinclair and Gretzky are Canadian treasures. But that’s it. Team Canada coach Marc Crawford elected to go with five other shooters while No. 99 crossed his fingers and hoped a sixth would be needed. Sinclair chose her own fate. As is her right. Strikers need to feel in the mood when it comes to spot kicks. Having had her spot kick saved by the same ‘keeper - Hedvig Lindahl - in Canada’s penalty shootout win in the Algarve Cup third-place match in March, Sinclair conferred with Beckie during the video review prior to the 69th-minute penalty at Parc des Prince. “We have a group of players on the team that practise PKs after every practice pretty much and there’s a group of us that are comfortable doing it,” Sinclair explained afterwards. “Hedvig saved mine in the Algarve just a couple of months ago so I went up to Janine and asked her ‘If you want it, it’s yours.’ And she said, ‘Absolutely.'” “I feel bad for even asking her,” she added. “But I have all the faith in the world in her. We all do. She’s fearless out there.” Beckie hit a fine penalty, towards the lower corner. Lindahl made a better save. “I asked her after the game if she’d placed it where she wanted to and she said yes. And I’m like ‘Then you can’t do anything more,'” said Sinclair. “The keeper made a world-class save and you have to tip your hat to her.” Beckie confirmed Sinclair had asked her if she wanted to take it because of what happened at the Algarve Cup. “I said, ‘It’s up to you.’ And she told me to take it,” Beckie related. Beckie does not change her penalty routine, something the Swedes clearly remembered. “I’m not one that changes where I go. I’m confident in my penalty. I thought about it on the spot but yeah she made a fantastic save.”  Coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said Canada doesn’t keep a list of penalty-takers. “It’s the feel of the game and who’s going to step up and Janine did that,” he said. “That’s a tough thing to do. So good for her, she did it. I’m proud of her for sure. “It was actually a pretty decent kick. But an excellent save from Hedvig.”  The 24-year-old Beckie, who has 25 goals in 60 games for Canada, was disconsolate after the game. “I feel like I let the team down, that’s really what I’m feeling right now. Frustrated, disappointed and all the negative emotions.” The missed penalty was not the reason Canada lost, although it would have likely been a different game if it had gone in. A giveaway, sadly by Beckie, set the stage for the 55th-minute goal by Stina Blackstenius, with a major assist to Kosovare Aslanni for driving down the field and delivering a marvellous curling cross that carved opened the Canadian defence. And Canada showed few teeth in front of goal. Sweden took its chance and then battened down the hatches for the 1-0 win. Sinclair, who has 182 goals under her belt, showed her penalty kick mettle four years ago when she slammed home a 92nd-minute penalty for a 1-0 win over China in the 2015 World Cup opener. Sinclair is famous for her composure in front of the goal. “It’s always her. It’s always her that gets the goal that we need to win the cup or win the game,” Rhian Wilkinson, a former teammate who served as a Canadian assistant coach at the World Cup, said before the tournament. And there lies the rub. No one can fault Sinclair for not feeling the vibe for taking a spot kick. After 286 internationals, here’s guessing she knows what she’s doing. As selfless as they come, she put the team before herself by reasoning in this instance, the ball was perhaps better off in someone else’s hands. Canadians aren’t used to that when it comes to women’s soccer. At 36, the remarkable Sinclair is in the twilight of her career. Some time sooner than later, she will walk away for good. Monday proved how difficult that will be.   Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter   Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Democratic candidate Sanders to speak at black press meeting

19 hours 49 min ago
CINCINNATI - Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders will be the featured speaker at a black press convention that begins Tuesday evening in Cincinnati. National Newspaper Publishers Association organizers expect some 500 people to join in events including a parents’ town hall, receptions and music capped by a Friday night party led by venerable funk music star Bootsy Collins. Sanders’ Friday address to the group representing some 200 black-owned newspapers comes as the Vermont senator is trying amid the crowded Democratic field to increase his appeal to black voters , after struggling against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 primary states with large black turnouts. Veteran civil rights activist Benjamin C. Chavez Jr., the association’s leader, says the nonpartisan group also invited the other Democratic presidential candidates and Republican President Donald Trump. Sanders campaign has been buying advertising in black newspapers. He recently ran full-page ads in black-oriented newspapers in South Carolina, a key early primary state. “Racism has been used to divide us up and undermine the power of our working-class majority,” Sanders stated in the ads. “Let me be clear: There is no freedom without racial, social and economic equality.” Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat who is co-chairing Sanders’ campaign, will introduce him at the group’s legacy dinner, which will honour Marjorie Parham, now 101, the former longtime publisher of the weekly Cincinnati Herald. Chavez says the convention’s theme is “Innovation, transformation and empowerment” for black community newspapering that dates to the early 19th century. He says there will be workshops on various aspects of the black press that has increased its reach digitally. ___ Follow Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell Dan Sewell, The Associated Press

Tributes to Michael Jackson flow on 10th death anniversary

20 hours 38 min ago
LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson’s estate paid tribute to his artistry and charity Tuesday as fans make final preparations for gatherings to celebrate his memory on the 10th anniversary of the King of Pop’s death. “Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian,” the Jackson estate said in a statement to The Associated Press. “A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever.” The estate called on fans to honour Jackson’s memory by engaging in charitable acts “whether it’s planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way. … This is how we honour Michael,” the statement read. Fans plan to gather at Jackson’s last home in the Holmby Hills neighbourhood of Los Angeles, where the singer received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on the afternoon of June 25, 2019. He was declared dead at a hospital at age 50. They also plan a vigil at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where Jackson was laid to rest two months later. Some planned to gather around Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The anniversary comes a few months after the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” brought back child molestation allegations against Jackson and threatened to upend an image that had been largely rehabilitated since his death. Jackson’s estate and his family have vehemently denied the stories told by two men in the documentary. One group of fans planned a Hollywood rally Tuesday to declare his innocence. He was acquitted of the sexual abuse of a different boy in a 2005 trial. Co-executors John Branca and John McClain, both major figures in Jackson’s career when he was alive, have taken his badly debt-ridden estate and grossed over $1.3 billion through various Jackson-related projects in the past decade, including the film “This Is It,” a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows and the sale of Jackson assets that included The Beatles catalogue. Jackson left everything to his mother, his children and charity in his will. The singer’s father, Joe, died last year and is buried in the same cemetery as his son, but Michael’s 89-year-old mother, five brothers, three sisters and three kids remain alive and well 10 years later . The death of Jackson was a massive cultural phenomenon, bringing an outpouring of public affection and revival of his songs and largely erasing the taint that remained after his criminal trial, despite his acquittal. It was one of the earliest instances of the mass mourning on social media that would soon become common, and a massive worldwide audience both on TV and online watched his July 27, 2009 public memorial that included touching tributes from family members including daughter Paris and performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton . Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

20 hours 48 min ago
LONGUEUIL, Que. - David Saint-Jacques returned to Earth on Monday after more than six months aboard the International Space Station. The native of Saint-Lambert, Que., has set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days. The Canadian astronaut was joined by NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko aboard a Soyuz capsule that landed in Kazakhstan. Saint-Jacques’ mission began ahead of schedule on Dec. 3, when he was part of the first crewed Soyuz mission following a rocket mishap in October that forced a spacecraft carrying two astronauts to abort and make an emergency landing. Saint-Jacques, 49, took part in a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk in April and a “cosmic catch” of SpaceX Dragon cargo using Canadarm2 - the first time a Canadian astronaut has operated the robotic arm to perform the feat. The engineer, astrophysicist and family doctor also oversaw science experiments and had numerous discussions with kids across the country during his mission. In his final days of the flight, Saint-Jacques said he was refamiliarizing himself with the Soyuz craft that had been parked for the duration of their stay and took them home starting Monday afternoon. He tweeted over the weekend the craft was in fine form despite being parked for six months. “It will take a few hours but we’ll fall back to Earth - literally,” Saint-Jacques explained to reporters last week. “After crossing into Earth’s atmosphere, the parachutes will open, we’ll land in Kazakhstan and be picked up by Russian team and taken to the airport where we’ll return to Houston to be reunited with our families.” When the crew established contact with the search-and-recovery forces right before landing they said they were doing well. NASA described the landing as “picture perfect” as the capsule descended in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. ET. Saint-Jacques was the last to be carried out of the capsule and he gave a thumbs-up as he emerged. The crew was offered water and fresh fruit as they sat in chairs about four metres away from the capsule before being taken away for initial medical checks.  Gov. Gen. Julie Payette welcomed the astronaut back to Earth. In a tweet she said: “We are so glad that you are safely back. Congratulations on a remarkable job on board he International Space Station (ISS) during six months. 204 days in space. Well done.” Saint-Jacques, who is married and has three young children, earlier said he was looking forward to seeing his family again. He’d told reporters he was aware of the physical challenges that await him after six months in zero gravity, which include blood circulation problems, muscle pains and an elongated spine that will return to normal. It could mean trouble walking and moving around for a while. Saint-Jacques’ recovery is first and foremost on the minds of Canadian Space Agency officials. “A big aspect for us here at the agency is to prepare his return in the next few weeks - rehabilitation, physical reconditioning, adapting back to life at 1G,” said Gilles Leclerc, the agency’s director of space exploration. Saint-Jacques is expected to take part in a news conference on Friday from Houston and will return to Canada in mid-July to visit the agency, just south of Montreal. As for the next mission, Leclerc said negotiations are underway to have another member of the corps serve aboard the International Space Station before 2024. - By Hina Alam in Vancouver and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal The Canadian Press

Iran calls new US sanctions ‘outrageous and idiotic’

21 hours 18 min ago
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran on Tuesday sharply criticized new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials, saying the measures spell the “permanent closure” for diplomacy between the two nations. For his part, Iran’s president described the White House as “afflicted by mental retardation.” President Hassan Rouhani went on to call the sanctions against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “outrageous and idiotic,” especially as the 80-year-old Shiite cleric has no plans to ever travel to the United States. From Israel, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said talks with the U.S. were still possible and that the U.S. is leaving an “open door” for Iran to walk through. But the comments from Tehran clearly showed its leaders think otherwise at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran over its nuclear program and Iran’s downing of a U.S. military surveillance drone last week. “The fruitless sanctions on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy mean the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy with the frustrated U.S. administration,” said Abbas Mousavi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. The crisis gripping the Middle East is rooted in Trump withdrawing the U.S. a year ago from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran. Recently, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal’s terms by next week while also threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 - if Europe doesn’t offer a new deal. Citing unspecified Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Middle East and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict, 40 years after the Islamic Revolution. President Donald Trump enacted the new sanctions on Monday against Khamenei and his associates. The sanctions follow Iran’s downing last week of a U.S. surveillance drone, worth over $100 million, over the Strait of Hormuz, an attack that sharply escalated the crisis in the Persian Gulf. After the downing of the drone, Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes but continued his pressure campaign against Iran. U.S. officials also said they plan sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, something that drew Rouhani’s anger during his televised address on Tuesday. “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” an exasperated Rouhani said and called the sanctions “outrageous and idiotic.” “The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” Rouhani added. There was no immediate reaction from Washington early on Tuesday to the remarks from Iran. The sharp comments are reminiscent of North Korea’s verbal attacks on Trump before the dramatic change in course and the start of negotiations with Washington. However, in Iran’s case, there are no signs Iranian leadership would welcome talks. Mousavi’s statement echoed that of Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, who warned on Monday that the situation in the Persian Gulf is “very dangerous” and said any talks with the U.S. are impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation. Meanwhile, the U.S. envoy at the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen, said the Trump administration’s aim is to get Tehran back to negotiations. The sanctions were announced as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks in the Middle East with officials in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia about building a broad, global coalition that includes Asian and European countries to counter Iran. Pompeo is likely to face a tough sell in Europe and Asia, particularly from those nations still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal. Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Trump was open to real negotiations to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program and “all that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door.” Bolton was meeting with his Russian and Israel counterparts in a first-of-its-kind trilateral security summit in Jerusalem that was focused on Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region, particularly in neighbouring Syria. “As we speak, American diplomatic representatives are surging across the Middle East, seeking a path to peace. In response, Iran’s silence has been deafening,” he said. “There is simply no evidence that Iran has made the strategic decision to renounce nuclear weapons and open realistic discussions to demonstrate that decision.” ___ Associated Press writer Aron Heller in Jerusalem continued to this report. Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press

In the news today, June 25

21 hours 32 min ago
Five stories in the news for Tuesday, June 25 --- SAINT-JACQUES RETURNS FROM SPACE MISSION David Saint-Jacques returned to Earth on Monday after more than six months aboard the International Space Station. The native of Saint-Lambert, Que., has set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days. The Canadian astronaut was joined by NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko aboard a Soyuz capsule that landed in Kazakhstan. NASA described the landing as “picture perfect” as the capsule descended in Kazakistan at 10:47 p.m. ET. Saint-Jacques was the last to be carried out of the capsule and he gave a thumbs-up sign as he emerged. The crew were offered water and fresh fruit as they sat in chairs about 15-feet away from the capsule before being taken away for initial medical checks.  --- NEW HEARING FOR FERTILITY DOC WHO USED WRONG SPERM A fertility doctor previously disciplined for artificially inseminating several women with the wrong sperm is set to appear before Ontario’s medical regulator today to face additional allegations, including that he used his own sperm in certain procedures. Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin admitted to committing professional misconduct when he appeared before the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s discipline committee in 2013, saying errors in his practice had left three patients with children whose biological fathers were not the ones they intended. The committee suspended him from practising medicine for two months, but Barwin gave up his licence the following year. --- BLACK CIVIL SERVANTS NOT GETTING PROMOTED: MP Qualified black Canadians are being passed over for promotions to senior positions in the federal government due to systemic racial barriers, says Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes. Caesar-Chavannes, who is not running for re-election in October, used her final act in the House of Commons last week to shine a light on what she says is discrimination in the civil service. She says in all of Canada’s history, no black person has been appointed as a federal deputy minister, the bureaucratic head of a department. She also says there has been a “thinning out” of visible minorities at the assistant-deputy-minister level. --- INDIGENOUS SPEAKERS GATHER IN VICTORIA Sto:lo Nation educator Ethel Gardner is confident that the fate of the Coast Salish language Halq’emeylem is looking up, despite its classification as critically endangered by UNESCO. She says the language is alive. Gardner, who also goes by her First Nation’s name Stelomethet, served as an elder-in-residence at Simon Fraser University, where she wrote her dissertation on the relationship between Halq’emeylem, pronouced halk-ah-may-lem, and Sto:lo communities of B.C.’s Fraser Valley. She says decades of arduous work to preserve Halq’emeylem is paying off as more people begin to learn the language. --- WICKENHEISER WAITS FOR POSSIBLE HALL CALL Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser is one of the headliners among eligible players for selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame today. The class of 2019 will be announced this afternoon. Wickenheiser is a 40-year-old native of Shaunavon, Sask. She was one of the top players on four Olympic champion Canadian women’s teams. She retired as the country’s all-time leading scorer after 23 years on the national team and now works at the assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. --- ALSO IN THE NEWS: - Environment Minister Catherine McKenna makes an announcement on how the federal government will allocate a portion of the proceeds collected as a result of carbon pollution pricing, and holds a media availability. - Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan makes an announcement in partnership with the Romo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative on the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. A media availability follows. - Trial for Tasha Mack who faces second-degree murder charges in the death of her boyfriend Joey Crier’s 19-month-old son. The toddler was found outside an Edmonton church in April 2017. - Conference to celebrate Indigenous languages from around the world in support of language revitalization. --- The Canadian Press

Skinny Vancouver Whitecaps eager to pick up points on four-game road swing

21 hours 47 min ago
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Whitecaps know there’s work to be done as they head out on another tough road swing. Half-way through the season, the ‘Caps (4-6-7) currently sit a single point out of playoff position and need some road wins to muscle their way into the post-season. The next opportunity will come against F.C. Dallas (7-6-4) on Wednesday. A win could swing the standings in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference, said Vancouver striker Fredy Montero. “They’re a playoff team at the moment so we want to get points from them because at the end of the day we are rivals,” he said Monday. “We want to get the spot that they have right now.” The game in Dallas will be the first of four road contests in a row for the Whitecaps and coach Marc Dos Santos wants his team to handle the trip the same way they dealt with a swing to New York and Kansas City in May. The ‘Caps battled to ties in both games on that trip. The distance will be different this time around, Dos Santos said, but the quality of opponents will be comparable. “The mentality and the type of approach tactically we had we have to do a very similar - if not better -job,” he said. The Whitecaps will be without some key pieces for this trip, however. Goalie Maxime Crepeau, midfielder Russell Teibert and centre backs Doneil Henry and Derek Corneilus are all off playing for Canada in the Concacaf Gold Cup, and winger Lass Bangoura has been called up to the Guinean national team. The absences have forced Dos Santos to make some lineup changes, including moving midfielder Andy Rose to the centre back position. While the change has come with a learning curve, Rose said he’s enjoyed getting to know another position. “I’m the sort of player that just wants to be on the pitch and help the team in anyway possible,” he said. The Whitecaps have already faced off against the Torros once this season, taking a tight 2-1 victory over F.C. Dallas at B.C. Place on May 25. “That was a really good win, a hard-fought win,” Rose said. “We had to be patient, we defended deep at times. It was a great step for us in the right direction. So we want to continue that.” The win kicked off a strong run of form for the ‘Caps, who have gone undefeated in their last five matchups. Four of those games have ended in draws, including Saturday’s 2-2 result against the Colorado Rapids in Vancouver. The Rapids got off to an early 2-0 lead, but the Whitecaps battled back, dominating 69.4 per cent of the game’s possession, putting nine shots on target and breaking a club record for touches with 915. Dos Santos was pleased with the squad’s resiliency. “Our reaction during those (last) 70 minutes was not only good but was phenomenal. The possession, the goal scoring chances, almost turning the game around for 3-2,” he said. “So that’s positive.” The draw was the team’s seventh of the season, tying the Whitecaps with Sporting Kansas City for the most in the Western Conference.  “That means that if we don’t win, we don’t lose. We’re very competitive in every game,” Dos Santos said. “Now, we need to get to the other side. It’s all good to say in the last 12 games we only lost two, but we feel that we’re so close to winning more.” F.C. Dallas has also been on a roll lately, taking seven points from their last three MLS outings. They beat Toronto FC 3-0 on Saturday. The Whitecaps know what they’re up against heading into Texas, Rose said. “Certainly in transition they’re a good team,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of youth, a lot of energy. And we need to find ways to match that.” Teams like Dallas are always tough to play, especially when they’re on their home turf, Montero said. “We know it’s going to be hard (on Wednesday) but at the end of the day, we’re ready for that,” he said. “We’re focused on getting the result.”   VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (4-6-7) AT F.C. DALLAS (7-6-4) Wednesday, Toyota Stadium CALL UPS: F.C. Dallas is also missing a few bodies due to the Gold Cup. Midfielder Bryan Acosta has suited up for Honduras, Carlos Gruezo is playing midfield for Ecaudor and defender Reggie Cannon is with Team USA. HONOUR ROLL: Four Torros players made the MLS team of the week this week, including Jesus Ferreria, Paxton Pomykal, Matheus Bressanelli, Dominique Badji. Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez was dubbed head of the all-star squad. Whitecaps Ali Adnan and Yordy Reyna also received team of the week honours. BATTLING THE ELEMENTS: The weather may present an extra challenge for the Whitecaps on Wednesday. The temperature in Dallas is forecast to reach 33 Celsius and will likely feel even warmer due to the humidity. Back in Vancouver, the mercury hit a high of 19 Celsius on Monday. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Ottawa fertility doctor who used wrong sperm back before medical regulator

21 hours 47 min ago
TORONTO - A fertility doctor previously disciplined for artificially inseminating several women with the wrong sperm is set to appear before Ontario’s medical regulator today to face additional allegations, including that he used his own sperm in certain procedures. Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin admitted to committing professional misconduct when he appeared before the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s discipline committee in 2013, saying errors in his practice had left three patients with children whose biological fathers were not the ones they intended. The committee suspended him from practising medicine for two months, but Barwin gave up his licence the following year. A notice of hearing says Barwin will now face allegations of incompetence, of failing to maintain the standard of practice of the profession and of engaging in dishonourable or unprofessional conduct. It says the allegations relate to his failing to ensure the correct sperm was used in his practice and to his using his own sperm to inseminate patients, as well as to his responses to the college during its investigations into these issues. Though Barwin already gave up his medical licence, the college could revoke it if he is found guilty on these additional grounds. That would alert other medical regulators should he apply to practise medicine elsewhere. The Canadian Press

Iran slams new US sanctions, says they mean end of diplomacy

22 hours 16 min ago
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran on Tuesday slammed the Trump administration over new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials, with the Foreign Ministry saying the measures spell “permanent closure” of diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. President Donald Trump enacted the new sanctions on Monday against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his associates. U.S. officials also said they plan sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency on Tuesday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying that Trump’s move means the end of diplomacy between the two countries. “The fruitless sanctions on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy mean the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy with the frustrated U.S. administration,” Mousavi said. Washington says the measures were taken to discourage Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and supporting militant groups. This comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. Mousavi’s statement echoed that of Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, who warned on Monday that the situation in the Persian Gulf is “very dangerous” and said any talks with the U.S. are impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation. Meanwhile, the U.S. envoy at the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen, said the Trump administration’s aim is to get Tehran back to negotiations. The sanctions follow Iran’s downing last week of a U.S. surveillance drone, worth over $100 million, over the Strait of Hormuz, an attack that sharply escalated the crisis in the Persian Gulf. After the downing of the drone, Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes but continued his pressure campaign against Iran. Trump last year re-imposed sanction on Iran after pulling the U.S. out of the nuclear pact that world powers made with Tehran in 2015. Other nations stayed in the deal, which eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. The latest round of sanctions denies Khamenei and senior Iranian military figures access to financial resources and blocks their access to any financial assets they have under U.S. jurisdiction. Trump said the new sanctions are not only in response to the downing of the American drone. The U.S. has blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers this month near the Strait of Hormuz. Citing those episodes and intelligence about other Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. The sanctions were announced as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was holding talks in the Middle East with officials in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia about building a broad, global coalition that includes Asian and European countries to counter Iran. Pompeo is likely to face a tough sell in Europe and Asia, particularly from those nations still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal. Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Trump was open to real negotiations to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program and “all that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door.” Bolton was meeting with his Russian and Israel counterparts in a first-of-its-kind trilateral security summit in Jerusalem that was focused on Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region, particularly in neighbouring Syria. “As we speak, American diplomatic representatives are surging across the Middle East, seeking a path to peace. In response, Iran’s silence has been deafening,” he said. “There is simply no evidence that Iran has made the strategic decision to renounce nuclear weapons and open realistic discussions to demonstrate that decision.” ____ Associated Press writer Aron Heller in Jerusalem contributed to this report. Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press

Monday’s Games

23 hours 28 min ago
Monday’s Games Women’s World Cup United States 2 Spain 1 Sweden 1 Canada 0 — MLB American League N.Y. Yankees 10, Toronto 8 Boston 6, Chicago White Sox 5 Kansas City Royals 2, Cleveland Indians 3  National League Philadelphia 13, N.Y. Mets 7 Chicago Cubs 8, Atlanta 3 Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 8 Rockies 2, Giants 0 — The Canadian Press

Police release more than 1,000 files from Smollett probe

23 hours 41 min ago
Chicago police on Monday released more than 1,000 files from the investigation into Jussie Smollett’s claim he was attacked by two men, including video footage that for the first time shows the “Empire” actor with a thin, white rope wrapped around his neck that he told detectives was a noose. The footage from body cameras worn by police officers who responded on Jan. 29 to what Smollett said was a racist and homophobic attack by two large men has Smollett’s face blurred out because, as police explained, he was considered a victim at that point. The footage shows officers walking into the apartment, where they encounter the actor wearing the rope, before one asks him, “Do you want to take it off or anything?” “Yeah, I do. I just wanted you all to see it,” Smollett says before unwinding the rope, loosening it and placing it on the kitchen counter. Police have said he told them the attackers wrapped the rope around his neck. In the video, he tells officers that the attackers poured bleach on him. After he is informed about the recording Smollett says he doesn’t want to be filmed and the camera is turned off. In all, police released nearly 1,200 different individual files on Monday, including thousands of pages of documents, arrest reports and handwritten notes from police. Added up, there is more than 90 hours of video, much of it hour after hour of surveillance cameras high above city streets. As the hunt for the two men Smollett said attacked him continued for weeks, some in the city started to wonder if the whole thing was a hoax. And those suspicions made it into the documents. On Feb. 1, Cmdr. Edward Wodnicki urged investigators to confirm key information given by Smollett about the night in question: “Verify and I mean verify that the victim got off a plane at O’Hare. Big issue if that was a lie. CALL me as soon as this is completed.” It was, in fact, confirmed. Then on Feb. 25, a sergeant sent an email saying that she’d received a tip from a caller whose name is redacted. “He has a friend close to the inner circle of the subject,” the email reads. “The friend shared that the entire event was orchestrated by (redacted).” The footage itself illustrates the growing skepticism within the Chicago Police Department, starting with the fact that much of it was retrieved from surveillance cameras. Police collected the footage as they tried to piece together the route that two brothers took across the city to the spot where police say they acted out a staged attack of the actor. The department released footage that shows the two brothers, Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, in a cab the night of the incident. Both are wearing what appear to be light-colored hazmat suits and gloves, with one of the brothers tightening his around his face. There is also footage of officers handcuffing the brothers - who have acknowledged participating in a staged attack - on the tarmac at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport when they returned on a flight to Chicago from Nigeria, and putting them in police cars for a trip to a city police station where they were detained. Monday’s release of documents and video files was not expected to shed much new light on what happened - largely because so much information has already been made public in the case. In February, for example, when the charges were announced, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson laid out in minute detail how investigators came to conclude that the incident was not a hate crime as Smollett claimed but a carefully staged hoax directed by the actor himself to promote his career. Also, in the wake of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office’s stunning announcement in March that it was dropping all the charges against Smollett, the Police Department released more than 700 pages of documents and Foxx’s office released another 2,000 pages of documents, including internal office communications. Police said when Smollett was charged that there was no footage of the actual staged attack because the surveillance camera they said Smollett hoped would capture the incident was, unbeknownst to him, not working. Among the footage released Monday is that of Smollett’s creative director Frank Gatson meeting officers in the lobby of the Chicago high-rise apartment building and giving them a summary of the evening as they take the elevator to Smollett’s apartment. Gatson tells officers that the alleged attack made him emotional. “They put a makeshift, what do you call that thing, a noose around his (expletive) neck,” he tells officers. On Monday, Smollett’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment. Fox Entertainment announced in April that Smollett would not appear in the sixth and final season of “Empire.” ___ Associated Press writers Ed White and Roger Schneider contributed to this report from Detroit. ___ Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case. Don Babwin And Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press

Iran slams new US sanctions, says they mean end of diplomacy

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 23:47
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran on Tuesday slammed the Trump administration over new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials, with the Foreign Ministry saying the measures spell “permanent closure” of diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. President Donald Trump enacted the new sanctions on Monday against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his associates. U.S. officials also said they plan sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency on Tuesday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying that Trump’s move means the end of diplomacy between the two countries. “The fruitless sanctions on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy mean the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy with the frustrated U.S. administration,” Mousavi said. Washington says the measures were taken to discourage Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and supporting militant groups. This comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. Mousavi’s statement echoed that of Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, who warned on Monday that the situation in the Persian Gulf is “very dangerous” and said any talks with the U.S. are impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation. Meanwhile, the U.S. envoy at the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen, said the Trump administration’s aim is to get Tehran back to negotiations. The sanctions follow Iran’s downing last week of a U.S. surveillance drone, worth over $100 million, over the Strait of Hormuz, an attack that sharply escalated the crisis in the Persian Gulf. After the downing of the drone, Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes but continued his pressure campaign against Iran. Trump last year re-imposed sanction on Iran after pulling the U.S. out of the nuclear pact that world powers made with Tehran in 2015. Other nations stayed in the deal, which eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. The latest round of sanctions denies Khamenei and senior Iranian military figures access to financial resources and blocks their access to any financial assets they have under U.S. jurisdiction. Trump said the new sanctions are not only in response to the downing of the American drone. The U.S. has blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers this month near the Strait of Hormuz. Citing those episodes and intelligence about other Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. The sanctions were announced as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was holding talks in the Middle East with officials in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia about building a broad, global coalition that includes Asian and European countries to counter Iran. Pompeo is likely to face a tough sell in Europe and Asia, particularly from those nations still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal. Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press

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