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Dutch investigators to charge four suspects with murder over downing of MH17

Dutch investigators to charge four suspects with murder over downing of MH17Four men with links to the Russian military have been charged with murdering nearly 300 people on board an airliner shot down over Ukraine. Dutch investigators issued international arrest warrants for Russians Igor "Strelkov" Girkin, Oleg Pulatov, and Sergic Dubinsky, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. The men are accused of procuring and organising the deployment of the Russian missile launcher that shot down flight MH17 in 2014. Announcing the charges on Wednesday, Fred Westerbeke, the Netherlands’ chief prosecutor, condemned the Kremlin for trying to obstruct the investigation. "We have the proof that the Russian Federation was involved in this tragedy one way or another," he said. "Russia has not provided any information...and that is a slap in the face of all of the relatives of the bereaved," he said. Former FSB officer Igor "Strelkov" Girkin was the top separatist commander when MH17 was shot down Credit:  MAXIM ZMEYEV/REUTERS All 298 people on board flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed when it was blown out of the sky by a Russian-made Buk missile on July 17, 2014. About two thirds of the victims were Dutch. Ten Britons were also killed. It was the bloodiest single day in the war between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatist forces which has killed more than 10,000 people over the past five years. An image showing the Russian Buk missile launcher that shot down MH17 moving through separatist held territory before the incident.  Credit: Universal News & Sport (Europe) Russia has always denied involvement. But Australia and the Netherlands said last year that they hold Russia legally responsible for the shootdown and have said they will seek reparations. The Dutch-led joint investigation team, which also includes Australian, Malaysian, Belgian and Ukrainian investigators, said the men named on Wednesday were instrumental in bringing the Buk 9M38  missile involved into Ukraine from Russia. All were senior members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), a separatist movement largely funded and directed from Moscow. Mr Girkin, a former officer in Russia’s Federal Security Service, was the DNR’s “minister of defence” and top military commander at the time. Investigators painstakingly reconstructed the nose of MH17 to analyse the missile damage Credit: Dutch Safety Board Mr Dubinsky, Mr Pulatov, and Mr Kharchenko ran the DNR's military intelligence service, which is believed to have controlled and escorted the Russian BUK missile launcher on the day of the downing. Investigators say Mr Pulatov and Mr Dubinsky are serving or former members of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. Mr Westerbeke said he was “realistic” about the prospects of bringing the suspects, who currently reside in Russia and separatist-held parts of Ukraine, to trial. But he added that investigations into the chain of command would continue, and that detectives are anxious to speak to soldiers from the 3rd battalion of Russia’s 53rd air defence brigade, which they believe provided the weapon and the crew. A separatist fighter stands on wreckage of the airliner near the village of Grabovo in July 2014 Credit: MAXIM ZMEYEV/Reuters He declined to say how far up the Russian chain of command the investigation could lead. But part of the evidence presented on Wednesday was an intercepted telephone conversation in which Alexander Borodai, DNR’s “prime minister,” asks Vladislav Surkov, an influential advisor to Vladimir Putin, for military reinforcements. Silene Fredriksz, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in the disaster, said she was “satisfied” with the announcement. "There is a court case on March 9 2020 against four people for murder," she told reporters after family members were briefed on the charges. "I am happy that the trial is finally going to start and that the names have been announced. It's a start.” The Kremlin said it had no reason to trust the investigation and that its position on the incident has not changed. "Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite expressing an interest right from the start and trying to join it,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin. The Russian foreign ministry called the findings "absolutely unfounded accusations aimed at discrediting the Russian Federation in the eyes of the international community." Mr Girkin, who has fallen out of favour with the Kremlin since 2014, said in a statement: "I can only say that militia did not shoot down the Boeing." The man who answered a phone number previously listed for Sergei Dubinsky said he did not know him. Emails to addresses linked to Mr Dubinsky and Mr Pulatov did not immediately receive a response. Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, said:  “The Russian Federation must now cooperate fully with the prosecution and provide any assistance it requests in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2166. “The charges brought against these individuals today show that the international community stands together against the impunity of those responsible for the despicable murder of 298 innocent people.”

POSTED JUNE 19, 2019 8:05 AM

The Latest: Alex Jones sanctioned in Sandy Hook lawsuit

The Latest: Alex Jones sanctioned in Sandy Hook lawsuitA Connecticut judge has imposed sanctions on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for an outburst on his web show against a lawyer for relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting. Judge Barbara Bellis on Tuesday ordered the Infowars host to pay some of the relatives' legal fees and prohibited him from filing motions to dismiss their defamation lawsuit against him. The families of several of the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 shooting are suing Jones, Infowars and others for promoting a theory that the massacre was a hoax.

POSTED JUNE 18, 2019 5:21 PM

Why grisly UN report on Khashoggi murder will not change Trump policy toward Saudi Arabia

Why grisly UN report on Khashoggi murder will not change Trump policy toward Saudi ArabiaThe Trump administration was mum on UN report, which found "credible evidence" high-level officials in Saudi Arabia were involved in Khashoggi's death.

POSTED JUNE 19, 2019 5:08 PM

Boeing's troubled 737 MAX gets huge vote of confidence from IAG

Boeing's troubled 737 MAX gets huge vote of confidence from IAGUS aircraft giant Boeing got a welcome vote of confidence in its beleaguered 737 MAX plane on Tuesday when International Airlines Group, owner of British Airways, said it wanted to buy 200 of the planes. It was a coup for Boeing since up to now IAG has been a longtime client of Airbus for its single-aisle jets, used on some of its most popular routes. "We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators," IAG's chief Willie Walsh said in a statement.

POSTED JUNE 18, 2019 2:16 PM

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido under pressure over alleged misappropriation of aid funds

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido under pressure over alleged misappropriation of aid fundsVenezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has launched an investigation after two members of his team allegedly stole money destined to help deserting Venezuelans soldiers in Colombia. The pair, Kevin Rojas and Rossana Barrera – sister-in-law of opposition politician Sergio Vergara, Mr Guaido’s right-hand man – are accused of taking the money designated for supporting Venezuelans in the Colombian border town of Cucuta and blowing it on hotels, clubs, designer clothes and cars. A failed attempt to get humanitarian aid into the country on February 23 saw more than 40 soldiers abandon President Nicolas Maduro and swear allegiance to his rival, Mr Maduro. Within three days, that number had swollen to 270 and Mr Guaido, in Cucuta to try and push the aid into Venezuela, praised the deserting soldiers as heroes. He officially designated Mr Rojas and Ms Barrera with the task of caring for the soldiers, who had defected at enormous risk to themselves and their families. Yet Colombian police became suspicious when Mr Rojas and Ms Barrera began living a lavish lifestyle and burning through money. Colombia's President Ivan Duque, left, greets Venezuelan soldiers who defected as he visits the border area near Cucuta on February 23 In one night alone, according to the PanAm Post, they spent over three million Colombian pesos (£700) in a nightclub and hotel. Ms Barrera, the website reported, told Mr Guaido’s team in Caracas that she was paying for seven hotels in Cucuta, used to house the soldiers. Yet in reality she was only paying for two; the other five hotels were paid for by Colombia’s government and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. She also claimed there were 1,450 soldiers in her care; in reality the figure was 700. In mid May Ms Barreras, using a false email, invited members of the Bogota diplomatic elite to a fundraiser at the exclusive Pajares Salina restaurant in the city. She said the event was organised by Mr Guaido’s appointed “ambassador” to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti. The fundraiser was cancelled when Mr Calderon’s team alerted other diplomatic missions in Bogota that they were not behind the event. Aerial picture showing smoke billowing from trucks which were carrying humanitarian aid and which were set ablaze on the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge between Cucuta in Colombia (left) and Urena (right) in Venezuela, on February 23 Colombian authorities are said to have caught on to the excessive spending and misappropriation of funds and alerted Mr Guaido and fellow Popular Will leader Leopoldo Lopez, but reportedly received no response. Finally, on May 27 Mr Calderon’s team called a meeting in Cucuta, and asked Ms Barrera to show her accounts. She informed them she had spent $100,000 (£80,000), but was unable to provide substantial receipts, the website claimed. On Monday Mr Guaido said there would be a full investigation. "Dictatorships cover up corruption," he tweeted. "We don't." Ms Barrera and Mr Rojas are believed to still be in Colombia. He announced that he was appointing Lester Toledo, coordinator of the humanitarian aid, to oversee the inquiry. Juan Guaido stands on a lorry carrying humanitarian aid in Cucuta on February 23. It failed to pass the border “We are fulfilling our promise regarding humanitarian aid with firmness and transparency,” he said. “I’ve told Lester Toledo to head an investigation into Colombia and provide a statement to all the press and international allies.” Mr Toledo on Tuesday demanded prison sentences for those found guilty of corruption, saying they had asked the Colombian attorney general to open an investigation. He also insisted that the $213 million (£169m) in aid sent by the United States was managed directly by Washington, and had never entered Mr Guaido’s hands. The scandal has dealt a serious blow to Mr Guaido’s team, however, and has been seized upon by Mr Maduro. A recent poll by opposition-aligned Datincorp found only 36 per cent of Venezuelans recognise Mr Guaido as head of state, down from 49 per cent in February. Mr Maduro, whom Mr Guaido has repeatedly vowed to remove from office, has seen his recognition increase from 34 per cent in February to 41 per cent in June. He has been quick to highlight the alleged opposition theft, saying it shows Mr Guaido's camp cannot be trusted. "Corruption isn't new in the opposition," he said. "The evidence is coming out."

POSTED JUNE 19, 2019 6:15 AM

Echoing Beijing, Duterte’s Government Now Calls Boat Collision an ‘Accident’

Echoing Beijing, Duterte’s Government Now Calls Boat Collision an ‘Accident’(Bloomberg) -- The Philippine government has fallen in with Beijing’s explanation that a Chinese vessel didn’t intentionally hit a Filipino boat in the South China Sea on June 9.Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday described the incident as "just an accident," adding the Chinese vessel may have left after hitting and sinking a Philippine boat with 22 fishermen out of fear of being “besieged” by other boats near Reed Bank.“Maybe the other side didn’t mean to brush against our boat,” Lorenzana said at a televised briefing in Manila on Wednesday.The Philippines’ Navy chief earlier said the Chinese vessel "rammed" the Filipino boat which was anchored when it was hit, while the spokesman of the military unit in charge of the disputed waters said the incident was "far from accidental." Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin also protested the incident, which he said he’d call a "hit and run."Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not favoring China after the incident, said Lorenzana, who has also called for an apology and compensation from the Chinese vessel’s captain for damaging the Philippine boat.China’s Foreign Ministry earlier described the incident as an “accidental collision,” while Beijing’s embassy in Manila said the Chinese vessel’s crew was “afraid” of other Philippine boats in the area, prompting the captain to leave the Filipino fishermen.The sunken Philippine boat’s crew wants Duterte to ask China to hold the Chinese vessel’s captain criminally liable for abandoning them at sea, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said at a separate briefing after meeting the fishermen.“There is no justification to the act of the Chinese vessel to abandon the Filipino fishermen. Under international maritime laws, that is illegal. Under human laws, that is immoral,” Pinol said.To contact the reporter on this story: Andreo Calonzo in Manila at acalonzo1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecilia Yap at, Ruth PollardFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

POSTED JUNE 19, 2019 3:26 AM

Top 20: Best Submarines, Aircraft Carriers, Bombers and Fighter Jets Ever

Top 20: Best Submarines, Aircraft Carriers, Bombers and Fighter Jets EverOver the last century, nations have invested tremendous resources in bomber aircraft. In today's world, where everyday it seems a new piece of military technology is poised to take over the battlefield and make everything else obsolete, there are several weapons of war that seem to have some staying power. Aircraft carriers, while some may consider them obsolete, remain one of the ultimate ways to display national power and prestige, with the unique capability to attack targets from the world's seas with deadly accuracy.Submarines have many uses. Whether it is to exercise sea control, deter an enemy with underwater nuclear weapons or ensure you have the ability to strike with various types of conventional weapons like cruise missiles on land, subs seem to be only gaining in prominence. This first appeared in November 2017.Then there is the bomber. Some are old, like the B-52. Some are just getting started, like the B-21 Raider. Some we don't know much about, like Russia's PAK-FA. Yet, one thing is clear: Bombers can still make or break any conflict that could occur now or in the future. And fighter jets are not going anywhere. The F-35 is the ultimate example--considering the massive cost--of this important military asset having clear staying power (the only debate at this point is whether it will be manned or unmanned).

POSTED JUNE 19, 2019 12:09 PM

Cards' Nkemdiche arrested after traffic stop

Cards' Nkemdiche arrested after traffic stopPolice in Scottsdale, Ariz., arrested Arizona Cardinals defensive end Robert Nkemdiche for alleged speeding and driving without a license earlier this month, ABC 15 Arizona reported Wednesday. The incident occurred June 6 at 6:30 a.m., according to police documents obtained by the TV station. Police allege that Nkemdiche was driving 75 mph in a 45 mph zone.

POSTED JUNE 19, 2019 8:21 PM

Egypt's former president Morsi quietly buried in Cairo

Egypt's former president Morsi quietly buried in CairoEgypt's first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi was buried Tuesday, as the UN backed calls for an independent investigation into his death after he collapsed in a Cairo courtroom. The Islamist, who was overthrown in 2013 after a year of divisive rule and later charged with espionage, was buried at a cemetery in eastern Cairo's Medinat Nasr, one of his lawyers said. Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said family members had washed Morsi's body and prayed the last rites early Tuesday at Leeman Tora Hospital.

POSTED JUNE 18, 2019 3:32 PM

Read the full statement from acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about a 2010 domestic case

Read the full statement from acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about a 2010 domestic caseActing Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan's full statement on a domestic violence case

POSTED JUNE 18, 2019 1:07 PM

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