Trump downplays Jan. 6 on the anniversary of the Capitol siege and calls jailed rioters ‘hostages’ 

Trump downplays Jan. 6 on the anniversary of the Capitol siege and calls jailed rioters ‘hostages’ 
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Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on January 06, 2024 in Newton, Iowa, during which he described his supporters facing insurrection charges for the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots as "hostages." (Getty Images/AFP)
Trump downplays Jan. 6 on the anniversary of the Capitol siege and calls jailed rioters ‘hostages’ 
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Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
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Updated 07 January 2024
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Trump downplays Jan. 6 on the anniversary of the Capitol siege and calls jailed rioters ‘hostages’ 

Trump downplays Jan. 6 on the anniversary of the Capitol siege and calls jailed rioters ‘hostages’ 
  • Trump spent much of his speech assailing President Biden, casting him as incompetent and the real threat to democracy
  • Also stepped up attack against GOP nomination rival Nikki Haley, warning: “Nikki will sell you out just like she sold me out” 

NEWTON, Iowa: Former President Donald Trump, campaigning in Iowa Saturday, marked the third anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol by casting the migrant surge on the southern border as the “real” insurrection.
Just over a week before the Republican nomination process begins with Iowa’s kickoff caucuses, Trump continued to claim that countries have been emptying jails and mental institutions to fuel a record number of migrant crossings. There is no evidence that this is the case.
“When you talk about insurrection, what they’re doing, that’s the real deal. That’s the real deal. Not patriotically and peacefully — peacefully and patriotically,” Trump said, quoting from his speech on Jan. 6, before a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol as part of a desperate bid to keep him in power after his 2020 election loss.
Trump’s remarks came a day after Biden delivered a speech near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where he cast Trump as a grave threat to democracy and called Jan. 6 a day when “we nearly lost America — lost it all.”




Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)

With a likely rematch of the 2020 election looming, both Biden and Trump have frequently invoked Jan. 6 on the campaign trail. Trump, who is under federal indictment for his efforts to overturn his 2020 loss to Biden, has consistently downplayed or spread conspiracy theories about a riot in which his supporters — spurred by his lies about election fraud — tried to disrupt the certification of Biden’s win.
Trump also continued to bemoan the treatment of those who have been jailed for participating in the riot, again labeling them “hostages.” More than 1,230 people have been charged with federal crimes connected to the violence, including assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy.
Trump was holding a pair of commit-to-caucus events in Newton in central Iowa and Clinton in the state’s far east just over a week before voting will begin on Jan. 15.
After Trump spoke in Newton, he signed hats and other items people in the crowd passed to him, including a copy of a Playboy magazine that featured him on the cover.
One man in the crowd, Dick Green, was standing about 15 feet away, weeping after the former president autographed his white “Trump Country” hat and shook his hand.
“It’ll never get sold. It will be in my family,” Green said of the hat.
A caucus captain and a pastor in Brighton, Iowa, Green said he had prayed for four years to meet Trump.
“I’ll never forget it,” he said. “It’s just the beginning of his next presidency.”




Donald Trump supporters wait his arrival during a "Commit to Caucus" rally in Clinton, Iowa, on January 6, 2024. (AFP)

Trump spent much of his speech assailing Biden, casting him as incompetent and the real threat to democracy. But he also attacked fellow Republicans, including the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, whose “no” vote derailed GOP efforts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
“John McCain, for some reason, couldn’t get his arm up that day,” said Trump of McCain, who was shot down over Vietnam in 1967 and spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war. The injuries he suffered left him unable to lift his arms over his head.
Earlier Saturday, Trump courted young conservative activists in Des Moines, speaking to members of Run GenZ, an organization that encourages young conservatives to run for office. Many in the audience at the Embassy Suites hotel in Des Moines seemed surprised to see Trump, whose visit had not been previously announced.
Trump’s campaign is hoping to turn out thousands of supporters who have never caucused before as part of a show of force aimed at denying his rivals momentum and demonstrating his organizing prowess heading into the general election.
His chief rivals, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, were also campaigning in the state as they battle for second place in hopes of emerging as the most viable alternative to Trump, who is leading by wide margins in early state and national polls.
Trump has used the trip to step up his attacks against Haley, who has been gaining ground. He again cast her Saturday as insufficiently conservative and a “globalist’ beholden to Wall Street donors, and accused her of being disloyal for running against him.
“Nikki will sell you out just like she sold me out,” he charged.




Former ambassador Nikki Haley, shown in this picture campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 5, 2024, says Trump is worried about her rising poll numbers. (REUTERS)

On Friday night, Trump highlighted several recent Haley statements that drew criticism, including her comment that voters in New Hampshire correct Iowa’s mistakes (“You don’t have to be corrected,” he said) and her failure to mention slavery when asked what had caused the Civil War.
“I don’t know if it’s going to have an impact, but you know like … slavery’s sort of the obvious answer as opposed to her three paragraphs of bulls---,” he told a crowd Friday.
In Newton, he said that he was fascinated by the “horrible” war, which he suggested he could have prevented.
“It’s so fascinating,” he said. “It’s just different. I just find it… I’m so attracted to seeing it... So many mistakes were made. See that was something I think could have been negotiated, to be honest with you.”
Haley’s campaign has pointed to his escalating attention, including a new attack ad, as evidence Trump is worried about her momentum.
“God bless President Trump, he’s been on a temper tantrum every day about me ... and everything he’s saying is not true,” Haley told a crowd Saturday in North Liberty, Iowa. 
 


Blinken will be the latest top US official to visit China in a bid to keep ties on an even keel

Blinken will be the latest top US official to visit China in a bid to keep ties on an even keel
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Blinken will be the latest top US official to visit China in a bid to keep ties on an even keel

Blinken will be the latest top US official to visit China in a bid to keep ties on an even keel
The United States and China also are battling over trade and commerce issues, with President Joe Biden announcing new tariffs on imports of Chinese steel this past week
Talks between Blinken and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected, although neither side will confirm such a meeting is happening until shortly before it takes place

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China this coming week as Washington and Beijing try to keep ties on an even keel despite major differences on issues from the path to peace in the Middle East to the supply of synthetic opioids that have heightened fears over global stability.
The rivals are at odds on numerous fronts, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, Taiwan and the South China Sea, North Korea, Hong Kong, human rights and the detention of American citizens. The United States and China also are battling over trade and commerce issues, with President Joe Biden announcing new tariffs on imports of Chinese steel this past week.
The State Department said Saturday that Blinken, on his second visit to China in less than a year, will travel to Shanghai and Beijing starting Wednesday for three days of meetings with senior Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Talks between Blinken and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected, although neither side will confirm such a meeting is happening until shortly before it takes place.
The department said in a statement that Blinken would “discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues,” including the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.
He will also talk about progress made in “resuming counternarcotics cooperation, military-to-military communication, artificial intelligence, and strengthening people-to-people ties” and will reaffirm how important it is for the US and China to be “responsibly managing competition, even in areas where our two countries disagree,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
The trip follows a phone call this month between Biden and Xi in which they pledged to keep high-level contacts open, something they had agreed to last year at a face-to-face summit in California. Since that call, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has visited China and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has spoken by phone with his Chinese counterpart. Meetings at lower levels also have taken place.
Despite those encounters, relations are rocky. The US has recently become more vocal in its calls for China to stop supporting Russia’s military-industrial sector, which Washington says has allowed Moscow to boost weapons production to support the war against Ukraine.
“We see China sharing machine tools, semiconductors, other dual-use items that have helped Russia rebuild the defense industrial base that sanctions and export controls had done so much to degrade,” Blinken said Friday. “Now, if China purports on the one hand to want good relations with Europe and other countries, it can’t on the other hand be fueling what is the biggest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War.”
Blinken also has pushed for China to take a more active stance in pressing Iran not to escalate tensions in the Middle East. He has spoken to his Chinese counterpart several times since the Israel-Hamas war began six months ago as he has sought China’s help in getting Iran to restrain proxy groups it has supported, armed and funded in the region.
That topic has taken on new urgency since direct back-and-forth attacks by Iran and Israel on each other’s soil in the past week.
Also high on the agenda for Blinken will be Taiwan and the South China Sea.
The US has strongly condemned Chinese military exercises threatening Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province and vowed to reunify with the mainland by force if necessary. Successive US administrations have steadily ramped up military support and sales for Taipei, much to the anger of Chinese officials.
In the South China Sea, the US and others have become increasingly concerned by provocative Chinese actions in and around disputed areas. In particular, the US has voiced objections to what it says are Chinese attempts to thwart legitimate activities by others in the waterway, notably the Philippines and Vietnam.
That was a major topic of concern earlier this month when Biden held a three-way summit with the prime minister of Japan and the president of the Philippines.

London police apologize after threatening to arrest ‘openly Jewish’ man near pro-Palestinian protest

London police apologize after threatening to arrest ‘openly Jewish’ man near pro-Palestinian protest
Updated 20 April 2024
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London police apologize after threatening to arrest ‘openly Jewish’ man near pro-Palestinian protest

London police apologize after threatening to arrest ‘openly Jewish’ man near pro-Palestinian protest
  • London’s Metropolitan Police Service on Friday afternoon apologized for the language the officer used in describing Falter’s appearance
  • “In an effort to make a point about the policing of protest we caused further offense,” the force said

LONDON: London’s police force has been forced to issue two apologies after officers threatened to arrest an “openly Jewish” man if he refused to leave the area around a pro-Palestinian march because his presence risked provoking the demonstrators.
Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap when he was stopped by police while trying to cross a street in central London as demonstrators filed past on April 13.
One officer told Falter he was worried that the man’s “quite openly Jewish” appearance could provoke a reaction from the protesters, according to video posted by the campaign group. A second officer then told Falter he would be arrested if he refused to be escorted out of the area because he was “causing a breach of the peace.”
London’s Metropolitan Police Service on Friday afternoon apologized for the language the officer used in describing Falter’s appearance, but said counter demonstrators had to be aware “that their presence is provocative.”
The Met later deleted that apology from its social media accounts and issued a second statement.


“In an effort to make a point about the policing of protest we caused further offense,” the force said. “This was never our intention. We have removed that statement and we apologize.”
“Being Jewish is not a provocation. Jewish Londoners must be able to feel safe in the city.”
The episode highlights the challenges London police face amid the boiling tensions surrounding the war in Gaza, with some Jewish residents saying they feel threatened by repeated pro-Palestinian marches through the streets of the British capital.
While the marches have been largely peaceful, many demonstrators accuse Israel of genocide and a small number have shown support for Hamas, the group that led the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and which has been banned by the British government as a terrorist organization.
The Met has deployed thousands of officers during each of the dozen major marches as it sought to protect the rights of the pro-Palestinian protesters and prevent clashes with counter-demonstrators and Jewish residents.
Following Falter’s confrontation with police, the Campaign Against Antisemitism issued a call for Londoners to exercise their right to walk wherever they choose on April 27, when another pro-Palestinian march is scheduled.
In response, the Met emailed Falter about what it described as his intention to “protest” next week and offered to meet with him to discuss ways to “ensure we can police the event as safely as possible,” according an exchange of correspondence released by the campaign group.
Falter rejected the idea that he was staging a protest, saying he was planning to go for a walk as a “private individual” and others might choose to join him.
“Unfortunately @MetPoliceUK is missing the point,” he said on the social media site X. “This is not a protest or counterprotest. Anyone who wishes to walk around London on Saturday 27th April … is free to do so. Even if they are ‘quite openly Jewish.’”


Man arrested after Denmark’s Billund Airport evacuated over bomb threat

Man arrested after Denmark’s Billund Airport evacuated over bomb threat
Updated 20 April 2024
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Man arrested after Denmark’s Billund Airport evacuated over bomb threat

Man arrested after Denmark’s Billund Airport evacuated over bomb threat
  • Investigations into the incident are continuing, the police said

COPENHAGEN: A man was arrested in Denmark on Saturday in connection with a bomb threat at Billund Airport, the country’s second largest aviation hub, police said in a statement.
The airport, in central western Denmark, was evacuated and remains shut following the threat.
“The evacuation has proceeded calmly and as expected, with travelers following our instructions,” police inspector Michael Weiss said in a statement.
Investigations into the incident are continuing, the police said, adding it was not clear when the airport would reopen.


Indonesia on highest alert as Sulawesi volcano continues to erupt

Indonesia on highest alert as Sulawesi volcano continues to erupt
Updated 20 April 2024
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Indonesia on highest alert as Sulawesi volcano continues to erupt

Indonesia on highest alert as Sulawesi volcano continues to erupt
  • Over 7,500 people living near the volcano have so far been evacuated
  • Volcanic activity is common in Indonesia, which lies on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’

JAKARTA: Indonesian authorities were on the highest alert on Saturday as a volcano in North Sulawesi continued to erupt. Thousands living nearby have been forced to leave their homes.

Mount Ruang, located on the northern side of Sulawesi Island, had at least eight eruptions since April 16, including a major one on Wednesday evening, which prompted Indonesia’s volcanology agency to issue its highest alert, which indicates an active eruption.

The center recorded at least two eruptions on Saturday, with the crater emitting white-gray smoke more than 1,200 meters above its peak after midnight, followed by another eruption at noon that released an ash column of about 250 meters.

“Based on visual observations, as of April 20, 2024, at 12:15 p.m., there is still high volcanic activity in Mt. Ruang,” Muhammad Wafid, head of the geology department at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, said in a statement.

“The potential danger is an explosive eruption that may cause the mountain to spew volcanic rocks in different directions, followed by clouds, as well as effusive eruption, or lava flow.”

With authorities having established a six-kilometer exclusion zone around the volcano, around 7,500 people have so far been evacuated, including more than 1,500 residents who live on the smaller island where Mount Ruang stands, and around 6,000 people living on neighboring Tagulandang island, northeast of the volcano, according to the latest data from Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Thousands more are still at risk.

The international airport in Manado city, less than 100 kilometers away from Mount Ruang, is closed until at least Sunday because of volcanic ash.

“There are still concerns, because tremors and volcanic earthquakes are still being recorded by our devices, indicating magmatic fluid supply is still moving from the depth to the surface,” Hendra Gunawan, who heads Indonesia’s volcanology agency, told Arab News.

“There’s still potential for more eruptions … And a tsunami may occur if there is a large flow of volcanic material into the sea.”

Indonesia, a vast archipelago nation, has around 120 active volcanoes. The country experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin known as the “Ring of Fire.”


Moscow says 50 Ukrainian drones shot down as attacks spark fires at Russian power stations

Moscow says 50 Ukrainian drones shot down as attacks spark fires at Russian power stations
Updated 20 April 2024
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Moscow says 50 Ukrainian drones shot down as attacks spark fires at Russian power stations

Moscow says 50 Ukrainian drones shot down as attacks spark fires at Russian power stations
  • Fifty drones were shot down by air defenses over eight Russian regions, including 26 over the country’s western Belgorod region
  • Russia’s Defense Ministry said that it had shot down a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet

KYIV: Ukraine launched a barrage of drones across Russia overnight, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said Saturday, in attacks that appeared to target the country’s energy infrastructure.
Fifty drones were shot down by air defenses over eight Russian regions, including 26 over the country’s western Belgorod region close to the Ukrainian border. Two people — a woman with a broken leg and the man caring for her — died during the overnight barrage, after explosions sparked a blaze that set their home alight, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on social media. A pregnant woman and her unborn child were also killed in shelling later Saturday, he said.
Drones were also reportedly destroyed over the Bryansk, Kursk, Tula, Smolensk, Ryazan, Kaluga regions across Russia’s west and south, as well as in the Moscow region.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said that it had shot down a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet. It provided no details and the claims could not be independently verified.
Ukrainian officials normally decline to comment about attacks on Russian soil. However, many of the drone strikes appeared to be directed toward Russia’s energy infrastructure.
The head of the Kaluga region, Vladislav Shapsha, said Saturday that a drone strike had sparked a blaze at an electrical substation, while Bryansk Gov. Alexander Bogomaz and Smolensk Gov. Vasily Anokhin also reported fires at fuel and energy complexes.
In recent months, Russian refineries and oil terminals have become priority targets of Ukrainian drone attacks, part of stepped-up assaults on Russian territory.
Ukrainian drone developers have been extending the weapons’ range for months, as Kyiv attempts to compensate for its battlefield disadvantage in weapons and troops. The unmanned aerial vehicles are also an affordable option while Ukraine waits for more US military aid.
Moscow also said Friday evening that an American citizen known to have fought with Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine between 2014 and 2017 had died in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region.
Russell Bentley, 64, was no longer involved in military operations and previously worked for state-owned Russian news agency Sputnik. His death was confirmed by his former battalion and by Margarita Simonyan, head of the state-funded television channel RT, who described him as “a real American.” He used the call-sign “Texas” and had spent time in prison on charges of drug smuggling before leaving the United States.
No information has been released as to the cause of Bentley’s death, but local police had previously reported the American as missing on April 8.
Meanwhile, Russia attacked Ukraine overnight with seven missiles, and air defenses downed two missiles and three reconnaissance drones, the Ukrainian air force said Saturday.
Gov. Oleh Kiper, head of Ukraine’s Odesa region, said that ballistic missiles had damaged infrastructure overnight, but did not provide further details. Previous attacks on the Black Sea city on Friday damaged port infrastructure, including two food export terminals, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Russian shelling also killed two men, including an 81-year-old pensioner in the city of Vovchansk, said Gov. Oleh Syniehubov, head of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.
A 60-year-old woman was also injured after shelling struck a nine-story apartment block, he said.