Canada declares Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group

Canada declares Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group
Ottawa on Wednesday listed Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity, while calling on Canadians in the Islamic country to leave. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 19 June 2024
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Canada declares Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group

Canada declares Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group
  • “Our government has made the decision to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code,” Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said
  • Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, noting that Ottawa broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran several years ago, urged Canadians against travel to Iran

OTTAWA: Ottawa on Wednesday listed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity while calling on Canadians in the Islamic country to leave.
“Our government has made the decision to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code,” Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told a news conference.
Flanked by Canada’s foreign and justice ministers, he accused the Iranian regime of “support for terrorism” and “having consistently displayed disregard for human rights both inside and outside of Iran, as well as a willingness to destabilize the international rules-based order.”
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, noting that Ottawa broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran several years ago, urged Canadians against travel to Iran.
“For those who are in Iran right now. It’s time to come back home,” she added.
The terrorism listing bars members of the Guards from entering Canada and Canadians from having any dealings with individual members or the group. Any assets the Guards or its members hold in Canada may also be seized.
Iranian expats and families of the victims of Flight PS752, which was downed by Iran shortly after takeoff from Tehran in January 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew, including 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents, have long pressed Ottawa to designate the militia as a terrorist entity.
MPs last month unanimously voted to do so.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration had, until now, expressed a reluctance, explaining that a terror listing could be too broad and inadvertently impact Iranians in Canada opposed to the regime.
The Canadian blacklist includes nearly 80 entities including Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Daesh group and the Proud Boys, a North American neo-fascist militant group.
Ottawa has previously listed the Quds Force, a branch of the Guards, as a terrorist entity, and in 2022 permanently denied entry to more than 10,000 Iranian officials, including members of the Guards.
The United States listed the Guards as a foreign terrorist organization in April 2019.
Earlier this month, the European Union also sanctioned the Guards for allegedly supplying drones to Russia and its allies in the Middle East.
The decision to add the Guards to Canada’s terror list comes amid tensions between Ottawa and Tehran. Canada and other nations have sued Iran at the International Court of Justice over the downing of Flight PS752.
Tehran has claimed a missile strike on the aircraft was carried out by mistake.
Ahead of the press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland described the Iran regime as “brutal, repressive, theocratic and misogynist.”


UK’s Starmer uses European forum to press for EU reset, Ukraine support

UK’s Starmer uses European forum to press for EU reset, Ukraine support
Updated 12 sec ago
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UK’s Starmer uses European forum to press for EU reset, Ukraine support

UK’s Starmer uses European forum to press for EU reset, Ukraine support
  • “This meeting of European leaders is an opportunity to push on and begin delivering on the people’s priorities,” Starmer said

LONDON: Prime Minister Keir Starmer will use his role as host of a European forum on Thursday to press his desire to reset Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union and to reaffirm support for Ukraine.
Two weeks after winning a large majority in an election and fresh from his first international trip to NATO in Washington as prime minister, Starmer hosts the European Political Community (EPC) of more than 40 nations at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, to build cooperation on border security.
The one-day meeting of a group set up after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 provides Britain’s new leader another opportunity to push for closer defense cooperation especially before the possible election of Donald Trump who suggests that Europe must do more to protect its own security.
“We cannot let the challenges of the recent past define our relationships of the future. That is why European security will be at the forefront of this government’s foreign and defense priorities, and why I am focused on seizing this moment to renew our relationship with Europe,” Starmer said in a statement.
“The EPC will fire the starting gun on this government’s new approach to Europe, one that will not just benefit us now, but for generations to come.”
Starmer has been determined to reset EU ties after the 2016 vote to leave the bloc created years of rancour. He has said he does not see Britain rejoining the single market or customs union in his lifetime.
A decision by his predecessor Rishi Sunak to call an early election means Starmer can use NATO and the EPC to advance early talks.
Officials stress that the talks are very much in their infancy, and the ultimate goal of negotiating a security pact, covering a broad range of areas such as energy, supply chains, pandemics and migration will come much later in negotiations when the EU has been clear there will be no “cherry picking.”
But the EPC offers Starmer, flanked by foreign minister David Lammy and Nick Thomas-Symonds, his minister for EU relations, another chance to hold meetings in numbers it would normally take a new government months to set up.
In Washington, defense minister John Healey said the Labour team there had “met and talked with every one of the 32 member (NATO) nations, Ukraine of course ... and the Indo Pacific four nations that are here as well.”

MIGRATION AND MOLDOVA
At Blenheim Palace, the leaders, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, are expected to not only express renewed support for Kyiv but also to discuss energy security, safeguarding democracy and migration.
Some critics say the EPC is little more than a talking shop, often offering no firm agreements, but others say its informal nature encourages wider conversations, which one German government source said strengthens “geopolitical cohesion between the EU and third countries in the region.”
A French official said London wanted the EPC to call for action against the Russian shadow fleet of tankers, which avoid sanctions, by closing the loopholes, while Moldova, which borders Ukraine, and France would work on cooperation to fight against foreign interference.
Starmer would take part in the migration working group and the Moldova Group to underline the country’s sovereignty and democracy in the face of Russian interference. He will also champion a move to deploy staff to a new rapid returns unit to take control of national borders.
But perhaps most important to Starmer is the development of personal relationships with other leaders, something he says is essential to the way he works to get the best results.
He hosted Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris at his country residence Chequers on Wednesday and will entertain French President Emmanuel Macron over dinner on Thursday. He will also have a number of bilateral meetings, including with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
“This meeting of European leaders is an opportunity to push on and begin delivering on the people’s priorities,” Starmer said.


Biden tests positive for COVID-19, White House says

Biden tests positive for COVID-19, White House says
Updated 18 July 2024
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Biden tests positive for COVID-19, White House says

Biden tests positive for COVID-19, White House says

US President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 while on a campaign trip to Las Vegas on Wednesday and is experiencing mild symptoms, the White House said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced the positive test for the 81-year-old Democrat after the president of UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights organization, said Biden would not be able to speak at a scheduled event due to the diagnosis.
“He is vaccinated and boosted and experiencing mild symptoms, Jean-Pierre said.


‘Of all the places’: Deep red Butler, Pennsylvania, grapples with Trump assassination attempt

‘Of all the places’: Deep red Butler, Pennsylvania, grapples with Trump assassination attempt
Updated 18 July 2024
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‘Of all the places’: Deep red Butler, Pennsylvania, grapples with Trump assassination attempt

‘Of all the places’: Deep red Butler, Pennsylvania, grapples with Trump assassination attempt
  • Butler, home to some 13,000 people, and the county whose grand courthouse graces its square are named for a Revolutionary War general

BUTLER, Pennsylvania: On the streets of Butler, Pennsylvania, in the wake of Saturday’s assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump, the same four words have been spoken again and again: “Of all the places.”
Butler, home to some 13,000 people, and the county whose grand courthouse graces its square are named for a Revolutionary War general. American flags wave along its main drag alongside black-and-white photos of local heroes who died in other wars fought in the name of democracy. The first jeep was produced here in 1940 at the request of the US Army.
It’s rural. It’s neighborly. And it’s Trump country.
“Of all the places to go after him and try something. We’re like, in Butler County?” said Cindy Michael, a 44-year-old health care worker. “Everybody’s just shocked. So shocked.”
Trump isn’t the first person to have held the office of president who has been the target of a shooting in the area. Long before he became the nation’s first president, George Washington “narrowly escaped death” when a Native American shot at him from less than 15 paces away. A state historical marker marks the spot on a trail about 14 miles (22 kilometers) southwest of Butler.
This county on the western edge of a presidential swing state is a Trump stronghold. He won Butler County — where turnout hovers around an impressive 80 percent — with about 66 percent of the vote in both 2016 and 2020. About 57 percent of Butler County’s 139,000 registered voters are Republicans, compared with about 29 percent who are Democrats and 14 percent something else.
Between 2016 and 2020, Trump gained nearly 10,000 more votes in Butler County, but that wasn’t enough for him to carry Pennsylvania. Gains by President Joe Biden in the state’s cities and suburbs — and he secured 9,000 more votes in Butler County than Hillary Clinton in 2016 — helped him displace Trump from the White House.
Still, Butler County’s support for Trump runs deep. Local attorney Patrick Casey said that may have been part of the problem.
“A friend said to me this morning, ‘I think everyone assumed that Donald Trump would be safe in Butler County,’ and I replied to that friend by reminding him that when Pope John Paul II was shot in an assassination attempt, it occurred in Vatican City,” Casey said. “Who would have thought there could have been a safer place than that?”
Indeed, the atmosphere was relaxed and neighborly at the Butler County fairgrounds on the day of the rally. Couples held hands, parents corralled their children, a woman accompanied her 75-year-old mother for a birthday treat. That was until 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks fired shots, including the one that Trump says struck his ear. A Secret Service sniper returned fire and killed Crooks. A bystander was shot and killed, and two more were injured.
Whether Butler can even approach a return to normal remains to be seen.
“We are deeply saddened by what has occurred here in our hometown,” Brenckle’s Farm and Greenhouse, which is located just outside the fairgrounds where the shooting happened, said in a Facebook post Monday. “Butler is a peaceful community and all who live here share similar qualities. The community is kind, generous and would give you the shirt off of their back if you needed it.”
While what happened that day weighs heavily on residents’ hearts, it did not appear to be swaying their votes. Some Trump supporters said the assassination attempt strengthened their resolve to vote for him while others said it didn’t impact their political feelings at all.
Victoria Rhodes, 25, a nurse who moved to Butler four months ago from Nashville, Tennessee, said she is still deciding how she will vote in November. She said what just happened in her new hometown isn’t a factor.
“This will be my first time voting in a presidential election,” she said. “I think I’m still trying to decide, because the political scene right now is kind of crazy.” While she is hopeful the assassination attempt will turn down the temperature on America’s political conversation, she said her experience has been that friends her age are able to speak about their political differences without anger.
Jamie Brackley, who manages the motorcycle shop in downtown Butler, called himself “a neither” in terms of declaring a political party. As for whether the attempt on Trump’s life will affect his politics, he said: “No. I’m a conspiracy theorist already, so it doesn’t affect me one way or another.”
Democrat Laneice Olesnevich, 66, has lived all her life in Butler. She called it “a good Christian town.”
Olesnevich said she remains undecided on her choice for president but that the assassination attempt wouldn’t affect her decision. Rather, she was waiting for more information on Trump’s running mate — he selected US Sen. JD Vance, of Ohio, later on Monday — and on Biden’s health.
“I feel bad for those parents of that young man, because you know their life now has become a living hell, and I don’t think (what he did) will make any difference in my decision,” she said.
She added: “I pray for this country daily, because we definitely need something to change everybody’s anger.”
In a place where people know each other, it’s common to consider the impact of such a cataclysmic event on individual people, especially those with a direct connection to what happened. It’s one more reason why the shock will linger for years.
“The world’s a crazy place,” said Jodie Snider, of nearby Clarion, a retired police officer, Army officer and sharpshooter, who was visiting the Butler County Courthouse on Monday. “Of all places, Butler.”


Who is Usha Vance? Yale law graduate and wife of vice presidential nominee JD Vance

Who is Usha Vance? Yale law graduate and wife of vice presidential nominee JD Vance
Updated 18 July 2024
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Who is Usha Vance? Yale law graduate and wife of vice presidential nominee JD Vance

Who is Usha Vance? Yale law graduate and wife of vice presidential nominee JD Vance
  • Chilukuri Vance left the law firm where she worked shortly after her husband was chosen as Trump’s running mate

WASHINGTON: Usha Chilukuri Vance, Yale law graduate and trial lawyer, was thrust into the spotlight this week after her husband, JD Vance, was chosen as Donald Trump’s running mate in the 2024 presidential election.
Chilukuri Vance, 38, was raised in San Diego, by Indian immigrants. Her mother is a biologist and provost at the University of California at San Diego; her father is an engineer, according to JD Vance’s campaign. She received an undergraduate degree at Yale University and a master of philosophy at the University of Cambridge through the Gates Cambridge scholarship.
After Cambridge, she met her husband back at Yale, where the two studied law. In his 2016 memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” JD Vance said the two got to know each other through a class assignment, where he soon “fell hard” for his writing partner.
“In a place that always seemed a little foreign, Usha’s presence made me feel at home,” he wrote.
They graduated in 2013 and wed the following year.
After law school, Chilukuri Vance spent a year clerking for Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he served as an appeals court judge in Washington, followed by a year as a law clerk to Chief Justice John Roberts.
She has since become a trial lawyer for the Munger, Tolles and Olson law firm at its San Francisco and D.C. offices. Chilukuri Vance left the law firm where she worked shortly after her husband was chosen as Trump’s running mate.
“Usha has informed us she has decided to leave the firm,” Munger, Tolles & Olson said in a statement. “Usha has been an excellent lawyer and colleague, and we thank her for her years of work and wish her the best in her future career.”
Chilukuri Vance was not available Tuesday for comment, according to a spokeswoman for JD Vance’s campaign.
In his memoir, Vance credited part of his success and happiness to his wife.
“Even at my best, I’m a delayed explosion— I can be defused, but only with skill and precision,” Vance wrote. “It’s not just that I’ve learned to control myself but that Usha has learned how to manage me.”
Voter records show that as of 2022, Chilukuri Vance was a registered Republican in Ohio, and voted in the Republican primary that year — the same election that her husband was running in the Republican senate primary.
JD and Usha Vance live in Cincinnati, and have three children: Ewan, Vivek and Mirabel. Outside of work, she served on the Cincinnati Symphony Board of Directors from September 2020 to July 2023.


Explosions heard in Kyiv, air raid alert sounds: AFP

Explosions heard in Kyiv, air raid alert sounds: AFP
Updated 18 July 2024
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Explosions heard in Kyiv, air raid alert sounds: AFP

Explosions heard in Kyiv, air raid alert sounds: AFP
  • Kyiv was rocked last week by a Russian missile barrage that devastated a renowned children’s hospital

KYIV, Ukraine: Explosions rang out over the Ukrainian capital Kyiv late Wednesday and air raid sirens sounded, as officials urged residents to take shelter over the threat of a Russian aerial attack.
AFP journalists in central Kyiv reported hearing loud blasts echo over the city while Mayor Vitali Klitschko said air defense systems had opened fire.
He said emergency services were working on the scene where debris from a Russian drone had been shot down.
Ukrainian officials have been appealing to the country’s Western allies for more air defense systems to thwart a spate of fatal Russian drone and missile attacks.
Kyiv was rocked last week by a Russian missile barrage that devastated a renowned children’s hospital and sparked a wave of international condemnation.
The Kremlin said the damage to the facility in the center of the capital had been caused by Ukrainian air defense systems.