Utah man suspected of threatening President Joe Biden shot and killed as FBI served warrant

Utah man suspected of threatening President Joe Biden shot and killed as FBI served warrant
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The complaint in US District Court against Craig Deleeuw Robertson, featured threatening online postings by Robertson. (AP)
Utah man suspected of threatening President Joe Biden shot and killed as FBI served warrant
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The complaint in US District Court against Craig Deleeuw Robertson, featured threatening online postings by Robertson. (AP)
Utah man suspected of threatening President Joe Biden shot and killed as FBI served warrant
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The complaint in US District Court against Craig Deleeuw Robertson, featured threatening online postings by Robertson. (AP)
Utah man suspected of threatening President Joe Biden shot and killed as FBI served warrant
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The complaint in US District Court against Craig Deleeuw Robertson, featured threatening online postings by Robertson. (AP)
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Updated 10 August 2023
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Utah man suspected of threatening President Joe Biden shot and killed as FBI served warrant

Utah man suspected of threatening President Joe Biden shot and killed as FBI served warrant
  • Craig Deleeuw Robertson of Provo, Utah, had posted his latest threat on social media after learning of Biden's forthcoming trip to the midwestern state

PROVO, Utah: An armed Utah man accused of making violent threats against President Joe Biden was shot and killed by FBI agents hours before the president landed in the state Wednesday, authorities said.
Special agents were trying to serve a warrant on the home of Craig Deleeuw Robertson in Provo, south of Salt Lake City, when the shooting happened at 6:15 a.m., the FBI said in a statement.
Robertson was armed at the time of the shooting, according to two law enforcement sources who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an ongoing investigation.
Robertson posted online Monday that he had heard Biden was coming to Utah and he was planning to dig out a camouflage suit and begin “cleaning the dust off the M24 sniper rifle,” a post that came after months of graphic online threats against several public figures, according to court documents. Robertson referred to himself as a “MAGA Trumper,” a reference to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, and also posted threats against top law enforcement officials overseeing court cases against Trump.
Neighbors described Robertson as a frail, elderly man — his online profile put his age as 74 — who walked with the aid of a hand-carved stick. Though he regularly carried guns, they said he didn’t seem a threat.
“There’s no way that he was driving from here to Salt Lake City, setting up a rifle and taking a shot at the president — 100 percent no way,” said neighbor Andrew Maunder outside the church across from Robertson’s street.
Biden flew to Utah Wednesday ahead of a visit to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City Thursday to talk about the PACT Act, which expanded veterans benefits. He also planned to hold a reelection fundraiser. A White House official who requested anonymity to discuss the matter said Biden was briefed after the raid.




US President Joe Biden is welcomed by Governor of Utah Spencer Cox after arriving at Wright Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake City on August 9, 2023. (REUTERS)

Robertson’s posts indicated he did appear to own a long-range sniper rifle and numerous other weapons, as well as camouflage gear known as a “ghillie suit,” investigators said in court records. Robertson was charged under seal Tuesday with three felony counts, including making threats against the president and against FBI agents investigating him, court documents show.
Robertson also referenced a “presidential assassination” and also posted threats against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, US Attorney General Merrick Garland and New York Attorney General Letitia James, authorities said.
“The time is right for a presidential assassination or two. First Joe then Kamala!!!” authorities say Robertson wrote in a September 2022 Facebook post included in the filings. No attorney was immediately listed for Robertson in court documents and family members of Robertson could not be immediately reached for comment through publicly available phone numbers.
The FBI investigation began with a tip about the Bragg threat from Trump’s own social media platform Truth Social in March, after Robertson posted about “waiting in the courthouse parking garage” with a suppressed weapon and wanting to “put a nice hole in his forehead.” His account has since been suspended from the platform.
No further details were immediately released about the shooting, which is under review by the FBI.

At the Provo house where the confrontation apparently took place and which is connected with Robertson through public records, law enforcement could be seen Wednesday going in and out and removing items.
A broken window could be seen next to the door and the blinds inside were askew.
The road leading to the house was blocked by police. It is just up the street from a meeting house of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the Wasatch Mountains rising in the background. Neighbors said authorities showed up around Robertson’s house early Wednesday and they heard a boom and possible gunshots.
Travis Lee Clark, who’s known Robertson for years from working at their church ward together, described Robertson as “frail of health,” a masterful woodworker and an “established icon” in their community. Robertson propped himself on a wood walking stick he’d carved himself, said Clark, who was surprised he was considered a serious threat.
“He was a boomer, and he was very political and sometimes made off-color jokes ... but nothing that indicated it was a threat,” said Clark, who added that he hadn’t seen Robertson’s Facebook posts until after his death.
Clark said Robertson had a collection of perhaps 20 guns, though he noted that that wasn’t unusual for the area.
Paul Searing, a businessman who lived in Provo before relocating to nearby Orem, said he had followed Robertson online for years and even warned him when he believed the other man was crossing a line in his posts.
“He believed in his right to bear arms. He believed in his right to say what he feels. When it came down to it, he knew the Lord wouldn’t have approved of killing innocent people,” Searing said. “Things got out of hand because he just was really frustrated.”
According to court documents, two FBI Agents came to Robertson’s house after the initial warning about him from Truth Social in March. They found Robertson wearing a Trump cap and what one described in a search warrant affidavit as an “AR-15 style rifle lapel pin.”
According to the affidavit, he told them his initial threat was just “a dream” and demanded they only return with a warrant. In a Facebook post days later cited in the affidavit, he said: “To my friends in the Federal Bureau of Idiots: I know you’re reading this and you have no idea how close your agents came to ‘violent eradication.’”
In another undated social media post cited in the document, Robertson wrote: “Hey FBI, you still monitoring my social media? Checking so I can have a loaded gun handy in case you drop by again.” A post from July 21 post unearthed by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism, reads: “If I really told you what I’d like to do to Joe Biden Facebook would censor me and the FBI would pay me another visit.”
Rita Katz, SITE’s co-founder, said the social media posts attributed to Robertson show the challenges for law enforcement officials who must decide when speech rises to the level of an actual threat.
“Because you have the freedom of speech, it can be very difficult to tell what is allowed and what is not allowed,” she said.
Robertson had a custom woodworking business but did not renew his license after it expired last year, according to state records. On LinkedIn, Robertson said he worked for 45 years as a structural steel and welding inspector before retiring and starting his business, saying he specialized in “custom designs.”
State court records showed Robertson pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge in 1998 but no details about the allegations were immediately available.
Biden, meanwhile, is in the middle of a trip to the Western United States, and flew to Salt Lake City after spending Wednesday in New Mexico, where he spoke at a factory that will produce wind towers.

 


Norway, Ireland and Spain formally recognizing Palestine as a state

Norway, Ireland and Spain formally recognizing Palestine as a state
Updated 6 sec ago
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Norway, Ireland and Spain formally recognizing Palestine as a state

Norway, Ireland and Spain formally recognizing Palestine as a state
  • Israel recalls envoys to Ireland and Norway over their moves to recognize a Palestinian state

COPENHAGEN: Norway, Spain and Ireland are formally recognizing Palestine as a state, the countries’ leaders said on Wednesday.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said: “There cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition.”

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris meanwhile said he expected other countries to join Ireland, Spain and Norway in taking such a step in the coming weeks.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also announced his country will recognize Palestine as a state on May 28.

Several European Union countries have in the past weeks indicated that they plan to make the recognition, arguing a two-state solution is essential for lasting peace in the region.

Israel recalled envoys to Ireland and Norway over their moves to recognize a Palestinian state.

“Today, I am sending a sharp message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not go over this in silence. I have just ordered the return of the Israeli ambassadors from Dublin and Oslo to Israel for further consultations in Jerusalem,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.

Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta, had agreed to take their first steps toward Palestinian recognition, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace.

The efforts come as a mounting death toll in Gaza from Israel’s offensive to rout Hamas prompts calls globally for a ceasefire and lasting solution for peace in the region.

Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but mirror its moves, has been an ardent supporter of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The terror has been committed by Hamas and militant groups who are not supporters of a two-state solution and the state of Israel,” the Norwegian government leader said.

“Palestine has a fundamental right to an independent state,” Gahr Store told a press conference.

The move comes as Israeli forces have led assaults on the northern and southern edges of the Gaza Strip in May, causing a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, and sharply restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

The Scandinavian country “will therefore regard Palestine as an independent state with all the rights and obligations that entails,” Gahr Store said.

Norway’s recognition of a Palestine state comes more than 30 years after the first Oslo agreement was signed in 1993.

Since then, “the Palestinians have taken important steps toward a two-state solution,” the Norwegian government said.

It said that the World Bank determined that Palestine had met key criteria to function as a state in 2011, that national institutions have been built up to provide the population with important services.

“The war in Gaza and the constant expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank still mean that the situation in Palestine is more difficult than it has been in decades,” the Norwegian government said.


China to continue to strengthen ties with Iran, state media says

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. (AFP file photo)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. (AFP file photo)
Updated 22 May 2024
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China to continue to strengthen ties with Iran, state media says

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. (AFP file photo)
  • “Iran has lost outstanding leaders and China has lost good friends and partners, said Wang, according to Xinhua news

BEIJING: China will continue to strengthen strategic cooperation with Iran, safeguard common interests, and make endeavors for regional and world peace, Chinese state media reported on Tuesday, citing comments from Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Wang made the remarks in talks on Tuesday with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari, while attending a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
“Iran has lost outstanding leaders and China has lost good friends and partners, said Wang, according to Xinhua news. “In this difficult time, China firmly stands by Iranian friends,” he said, referring to the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday.

 


Shaken passengers arrive in Singapore after turbulence-hit flight

Shaken passengers arrive in Singapore after turbulence-hit flight
Updated 22 May 2024
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Shaken passengers arrive in Singapore after turbulence-hit flight

Shaken passengers arrive in Singapore after turbulence-hit flight
  • The airline said the aircraft was a Boeing 777-300ER with a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board
  • A 73-year-old British passenger died of a suspected heart attack and at least 30 people were injured

SINGAPORE: More than 140 passengers and crew from a Singapore Airlines flight hit by heavy turbulence that left dozens injured and one dead finally reached Singapore on a relief flight Wednesday morning after an emergency landing in Bangkok.
The scheduled London-Singapore flight on a Boeing 777-300ER plane diverted to Bangkok after the plane was buffeted by turbulence that flung passengers and crew around the cabin, slamming some into the ceiling.
A 73-year-old British passenger died of a suspected heart attack and at least 30 people were injured.
“I saw people from across the aisle going completely horizontal, hitting the ceiling and landing back down in like really awkward positions. People, like, getting massive gashes in the head, concussions,” Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight told Reuters after arriving in Singapore.
Photographs from the interior of the plane showed gashes in the overhead cabin panels, oxygen masks and panels hanging from the ceiling and luggage strewn around. A passenger said some people’s heads had slammed into the lights above the seats and punctured the panels.
Singapore Airlines took 131 passengers and 12 crew on the relief flight from Bangkok that reached Singapore just before 5 a.m. (2100 GMT). There were 211 passengers including many Australians, British and Singaporeans, and 18 crew on board the original flight; injured fliers and their families remained in Bangkok.
“On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased,” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a video message.
Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) is looking into the incident, and the US National Transportation Safety Board is also sending representatives for support.
The plane encountered sudden extreme turbulence, Goh said, and the pilot then declared a medical emergency and diverted to Bangkok.
Aircraft tracking provider FlightRadar 24 said at around 0749 GMT the flight encountered “a rapid change in vertical rate, consistent with a sudden turbulence event,” based on flight tracking data.
“There were thunderstorms, some severe, in the area at the time,” it said.
The sudden turbulence occurred over the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar about 10 hours into the flight, the airline said. Turbulence has many causes, most obviously the unstable weather patterns that trigger storms, but this flight could have been affected by clear air turbulence, which is very difficult to detect.
Turbulence-related airline accidents are the most common type of accident, according to a 2021 NTSB study.
While the airline said 30 people were injured, Samitivej Hospital in Thailand said it was treating 71 passengers.
From 2009 through 2018, the US agency found that turbulence accounted for more than a third of reported airline accidents and most resulted in one or more serious injuries, but no aircraft damage.
Singapore Airlines, which is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading airlines and is a benchmark for much of the industry, has not had any major incidents in recent years.
Its last accident resulting in casualties was a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei, where it crashed on Oct. 31, 2000 at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, killing 83 of the 179 people on board.
 

 


Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces

Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces
Updated 22 May 2024
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Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces

Over 1 million claims related to toxic exposure granted under new veterans law, Biden announces
  • In raw numbers, more than 1 million claims have been granted to veterans since Biden signed the so-called PACT Act into law in August 2022, the administration said Tuesday

NASHUA, N.H.: President Joe Biden, aiming to highlight his legislative accomplishments this election year, traveled to New Hampshire on Tuesday to discuss how he’s helped military veterans get benefits as a result of burn pit or other toxic exposure during their service.
“We can never fully thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made,” Biden said to the veterans and their families gathered at a YMCA. “In America, we leave no veteran behind. That’s our motto.”
In raw numbers, more than 1 million claims have been granted to veterans since Biden signed the so-called PACT Act into law in August 2022, the administration said Tuesday. That amounts to about 888,000 veterans and survivors in all 50 states who have been able to receive disability benefits under the law.
That totals about $5.7 billion in benefits given to veterans and their survivors, according to the administration.
“The president, I think, has believed now for too long, too many veterans who got sick serving and fighting for our country had to fight the VA for their care, too,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough told reporters on Monday. PACT stands for “Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics.”
The PACT Act is relatively lower profile compared to the president’s other legislative accomplishments — such as a bipartisan infrastructure law and a sweeping tax, climate and health care package — but it is one that is deeply personal for Biden.
He has blamed burn pits for the brain cancer that killed his son, Beau, who served in Iraq, and has vowed repeatedly that he would get the PACT Act into law. Burn pits are where chemicals, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste were disposed of on military bases and were used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before the law, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied 70 percent of disability claims that involved burn pit exposure. Now, the law requires the VA to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to burn pit or other toxic exposure without veterans having to prove the link.
Before Biden’s planned remarks, he went to a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The president met there with Lisa Clark, an Air Force veteran who is receiving benefits through the PACT Act because her late husband, Senior Master Sergeant Carl Clark, was exposed to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, marked the milestone by praising the veterans who advocated for the law.
“For far too long, our nation failed to honor its promises to our veterans exposed to toxins in military conflicts across the globe— until we fought like hell alongside veterans to finally get the PACT Act signed into law,” Tester, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said.


Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza

Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza
Updated 22 May 2024
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Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza

Blinken says he’ll work with US Congress to respond to ICC move on Gaza
  • The United States is not a member of the court, but has supported past prosecutions, including the ICC’s decision last year to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration is willing to work with Congress to respond to the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders over the Gaza war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, amid Republican calls for US sanctions against court officials.
Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Blinken called the move “profoundly wrong-headed” and said it would complicate the prospects of reaching a hostage deal and a ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he had reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s defense chief and three Hamas leaders “bear criminal responsibility” for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Both President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and his political opponents have sharply criticized Khan’s announcement, arguing the court does not have jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict and raising concerns over process.
The United States is not a member of the court, but has supported past prosecutions, including the ICC’s decision last year to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.
“We’ll be happy to work with Congress, with this committee, on an appropriate response” to the ICC move, Blinken said on Tuesday.
He did not say what a response to the ICC move might include.
In a later hearing, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Blinken he hoped to work together with the administration to express the United States’ opposition to the ICC prosecutor.
“What I hope to happen is that we level sanctions against the ICC for this outrage, to not only help our friends in Israel but protect ourself over time,” said Graham.
Republican members of Congress have previously threatened legislation to impose sanctions on the ICC, but a measure cannot become law without support from President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, who control the Senate.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration accused the ICC of infringing on US national sovereignty when it authorized an investigation into war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The US targeted court staff, including then-prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, with asset freezes and travel bans.