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Britain Went Ahead To Seek Arms Deals With Saudi Arabia After Murder Of Khashoggi Which It Condemned |RN

Theresa May standing next to a vase of flowers on a table       © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited 

 

The British government pursued arms deals with Saudi Arabia in the weeks after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, even as it publicly condemned the murder.

Khashoggi was killed by Saudi officials inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, prompting global condemnation and calls for a re-evaluation of ties with the Kingdom.

As the UK government called for answers over the dissident’s death, British trade officials responsible for arms sales continued to hold high-level meetings with their Saudi counterparts.

A delegation from the Defence and Security Organisation – an office within the Department for International Trade that promotes arms exports for UK companies – travelled to Riyadh on 14 and 22 October, according to a Freedom of Information request obtained by the Mirror newspaper.

The latter of those meetings came on the same day as the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, condemned Khashoggi’s killing “in the strongest possible terms” in a speech to parliament.

“Whilst we will be thoughtful and considered in our response, I have also been clear that if the appalling stories we are reading turn out to be true, they are fundamentally incompatible with our values and we will act accordingly,” Mr Hunt said on October 22.

The foreign secretary made a point of announcing the cancellation of a planned visit to Riyadh by the trade secretary, Liam Fox. However, he did not disclose that meetings over arms sales were still taking place.

Even before the murder of Khashoggi, the UK government had been under pressure to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia over alleged war crimes and rising civilian casualties in Yemen.

Riyadh intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to reinstate the internationally recognised government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was ousted by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The fighting has killed at least 10,000 civilians – most of whom were victims of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition – and left nearly 16 million people on the brink of famine.

The coalition has admitted causing civilian casualties, but attributes the deaths to “unintentional mistakes”, and says it is committed to upholding international law. The Houthis have also targeted civilians throughout the conflict, according to the UN.

Since the war began, the UK has licensed £4.7 billion worth of weapons to Saudi forces, making it by far the largest buyer of UK arms. Khashoggi’s killing brought new pressure on the British government to reassess its ties to Saudi Arabia, after Germany and Norway halted all future arms sales to Riyadh.

“Jeremy Hunt was quick to join the condemnations of the killing, but he has done nothing to stop the arms sales. How many more atrocities and abuses would it take for him to act?” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade.

“It has used these weapons to devastating effect in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition have inflicted the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was yet another appalling crime by the Saudi authorities.”

Even as more evidence has emerged pointing to the culpability of the Saudi government in Khashoggi’s killing, the UK appears to have made no substantial change to its relationship.

British prime minister Theresa May held face-to-face talks last month with Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader whose close aides carried out the killing and subsequently attempted to cover it up.

The prime minister said she stressed “the importance of a full, transparent and credible investigation into the terrible murder” during her meeting with the Crown Prince at the G20 summit in Argentina. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Ms May of not following through with action.

“Rather than be robust, as she promised, we learned the Prime Minister told the dictator ‘please don’t use the weapons we are selling you in the war you’re waging’ and asked him nicely to investigate the murder he allegedly ordered,” Mr Corbyn said last month.

“Leaders should not just offer warm words against human rights atrocities but back up their words with action,” he added.

Mr Hunt has defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing Britain’s “important strategic partnership” with the country “which has saved lives on the streets of Britain.”

The Saudi meetings are not the first time that Britain has been criticised for putting trade before human rights concerns. British academic Matthew Hedges was detained for months in the United Arab Emirates and accused of spying on behalf of the UK.

During the five months Mr Hedges was held in solitary confinement, Mr Hunt called the arrest “appalling” and criticised the UAE publicly. Behind the scenes, however, high-level trade meetings continued apace. Liam Fox, the trade secretary, Baroness Rona Fairhead, UK Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion and Alistair Burt, Britain’s Minister for the Middle East, all met with UAE officials to drum up trade between the two countries.

Polly Truscott, Amnesty International UK’s foreign affairs expert, told The Independent in November that the UK has “long given the impression that security and trade interests trump human rights concerns in the UAE.”

“With Matthew Hedges’ case, it almost seems to have come as a surprise to the government that the UAE actually locks up people after deeply unfair trials,” she said.

The Freedom of Information request by the Mirror found that the 14 October talks focused on “Riyadh Operations Centre requirements,” which is likely a reference to the operations centre where Saudi strikes against Yemen are coordinated.

Commenting on the meetings with Saudi officials, a government spokesperson told The Independent: “The government takes its export responsibilities very seriously, operating one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. Risks around human rights abuses are a key part of any licensing assessment.

“Visits by officials from the UK will continue to play a role in maintaining our relationship with Saudi Arabia including in how we work together to tackle regional threats, and support mutual national security and prosperity interests.”

(Independent)

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Millionaire’s Girlfriend Dies After ‘Rough’ Lovemaking Marathon Session |RN

A multi-millionaire who left his injured and bleeding partner to die after “rough sex” at their home is set to be sentenced by a High Court judge.

Property developer John Broadhurst was, last week, cleared of murdering Natalie Connolly and causing her grievous bodily harm, but admitted her manslaughter on the grounds of gross negligence, Yahoo News has reported.

A trial was told that Broadhurst dialled 999 from his then home in Kenrose Mill, Kinver, near Stourbridge, informing the operator he had found his partner “dead as a doughnut” at the bottom of the stairs.

Miss Connolly, aged 26, was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic on the morning of December 18, 2016.

A post-mortem showed the mother-of-one had suffered more than 40 separate injuries, including serious internal trauma.

A trial at Birmingham Crown Court was told that Broadhurst claimed Miss Connolly was injured as a result of consensual sexual activity after both of them drank alcohol and took drugs.

The 40-year-old businessman – said during his trial to be worth up to £15 million – admitted manslaughter by leaving Miss Connolly unsupervised and failing to contact the emergency services in circumstances where “a risk of death as a result of her condition would have been obvious.”

Prosecutors had alleged that Broadhurst “totally lost it” during a drink and drug-fuelled sex session, before leaving Miss Connolly to die.

Broadhurst, now of Blakeshall Farm, Wolverley, will be sentenced on Monday by Mr. Justice Julian Knowles.  (Punch)

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Cohen Sentenced To 3 Years After Implicating Trump In Hush-money Scandal

New York Times

Michael D. Cohen, the former lawyer for President Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday morning in part for his role in a scandal that could threaten Mr. Trump’s presidency by implicating him in a scheme to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with him.

The sentencing in federal court in Manhattan capped a startling fall for Mr. Cohen, 52, who had once hoped to work by Mr. Trump’s side in the White House but ended up a central figure in the inquiry into payments to a porn star and a former Playboy model before the 2016 election.

Judge William H. Pauley III said Mr. Cohen had committed a “smorgasbord” of crimes involving “deception” and motivated by “personal greed and ambition.”

“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” the judge said.

Before he was sentenced, a solemn Mr. Cohen, standing at a lectern, sounded emotional but resolved as he told the judge he had been tormented by the anguish and embarrassment he had caused his family.

“I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” he said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” – a reference to Mr. Trump – “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

Mr. Cohen said the president had been correct to call him “weak” recently, “but for a much different reason than he was implying.”

“It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Cohen then apologized to the public: “You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”

Federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and home in April, and he later turned on Mr. Trump, making the remarkable admission in court that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange the payments.

Mr. Trump at first denied knowing anything about the payments, but then acknowledged that he had known about them. This week, he insisted that the payments were “a simple private transaction” — not election-related spending subject to campaign-finance laws.

He also maintained that even if the hush-money payments were campaign transactions in violation of election regulations, that should be considered only a civil offense, not a criminal one.

Since Mr. Cohen came under investigation, Mr. Trump has mocked him as a “weak person” who was giving information to prosecutors in an effort to obtain leniency when he is sentenced.

In fact, Mr. Cohen did not formally cooperate with prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan. In addition to the campaign-finance violations, the sentence covered Mr. Cohen’s guilty pleas to charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and making false statements to Congress.

He took a calculated gamble in pleading guilty to this litany of federal crimes without first entering into a cooperation agreement with the government. He offered to help prosecutors, but only on his terms, and there were some subjects he declined to discuss.

His lawyers argued he should not serve time in prison. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said he deserved around four years.

Judge Pauley had the final say. The judge said Mr. Cohen’s assistance to the special counsel’s office, though useful, had not “wiped the slate clean,” and a “significant term” of prison was justified.
In the end, the judge gave Mr. Cohen three years for the crimes he committed in New York and two months for lying to Congress, to be served at the same time. He was also asked to pay nearly $2 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution.

Mr. Cohen’s sentencing was unusual because it involved guilty pleas he made in two separate cases, one filed by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and a later one by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the case brought by Mr. Mueller’s office, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, as well as about the extent of the involvement of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen revealed that Mr. Trump was more involved in discussions over the potential deal during the election campaign than previously known.

The investigation of Mr. Cohen by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan burst into public view in April when the F.B.I. raided his office, apartment and hotel room. Agents hauled off eight boxes of documents, about 30 cellphones, iPads and computers, even the contents of a shredder.

Four months later, on Aug. 21, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements to a financial institution.

Mr. Cohen admitted in court that he had arranged the payments “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.
The payments included $130,000 to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, which the government considers an illegal donation to Mr. Trump’s campaign since it was intended to improve Mr. Trump’s election chances. (The legal limit for individual contributions is $2,700 in a general election.)

Mr. Cohen also admitted he had arranged for an illegal corporate donation to be made to Mr. Trump when he orchestrated a $150,000 payment by American Media Inc. to a former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, in late summer 2016.

Prosecutors in Manhattan wrote last Friday to Judge Pauley that Mr. Cohen, in arranging the payments, “acted in coordination with and at the direction” of Mr. Trump, whom they referred to as Individual 1.

On Nov. 29, charged by Mr. Mueller’s office with lying to Congress, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty again.

The two prosecuting offices each wrote to Judge Pauley, offering sharply contrasting portrayals of Mr. Cohen.

The Southern District depicted him as deceitful and greedy and unwilling to fully cooperate with its investigation. It said it declined to sign Mr. Cohen as a formal cooperator because he refused to discuss fully any crimes in his past or crimes by others that he was aware of — its policy for witnesses who seek to cooperate.

The Southern District wrote to the judge that Mr. Cohen had a “rose-colored view of the seriousness” of his crimes, which they said were “marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.”

Mr. Mueller, on the other hand, said Mr. Cohen had “gone to significant lengths to assist” the Russia investigation and recommended that he receive some credit for his help.
Lawyers for Mr. Cohen, who once claimed he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump, cited his cooperation with Mr. Mueller and his attempts to assist the Southern District prosecutors in asking that he be spared prison.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers, Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, argued in a memorandum to the judge that Mr. Cohen had taken responsibility for his crimes and had cooperated with Mr. Mueller’s office, meeting seven times with those prosecutors to offer information. They also noted that Mr. Cohen had met twice with prosecutors in Manhattan.

Mr. Trump last week weighed in with his own sentencing recommendation, tweeting angrily, “He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”    (The Sun)

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BREAKING: Police Foil Terrorist Attack In Netherlands, Arrest Seven Suspects |RN

Dutch police arrested seven men suspected of plotting to carry out a “major terrorist attack” at a high-profile event using explosive belts and an AK-47 assault rifle, on Thursday, the public prosecutor’s office said.

“Police arrested seven men on Thursday… suspected of being at a very advanced stage of preparation for a major terrorist attack in the Netherlands,” it said in a statement, adding one of the suspects had wanted to kill “many victims”.

(AFP)

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BREAKING: Trump Says Woodward’s White House Book Is A Scam |RN

President Donald Trump

Donald Trump on Friday slammed investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s damning portrayal of the inner workings of the US president’s administration as a “scam,” alleging that it includes made-up quotes.

“The Woodward book is a scam. I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up. The author uses every trick in the book to demean and belittle,” Trump tweeted.

(AFP)

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Kremlin Accuses US Of Meddling In Russia’s Affairs |The Republican News

                               Russian President Vladimir Putin

Kremlin on Monday accused the US of  “crudely” trying to recruit Russian nationals to act as its agents, adding that this showed Washington was meddling in Russian affairs.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked during a conference call to comment on a report in the New York Times which said the F.B.I. and US Justice Department had tried unsuccessfully to recruit Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska as an informer between 2014 and 2016.

“The fact is that the US in recent years is working crudely using its intelligence services, trying to recruit Russian citizens, exerting moral and other pressure on them.

“ I think these incidents in the most eloquent manner testify to the attempts to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs,” Peskov said.

(Reuters/NAN)

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Woman Munches Rapist’s Manhood As He Asks For A Head |RN

A woman escaped an alleged sex attacker by biting down on his penis after he forced her to give him oral sex, police say.

The woman, who has not been named, allegedly ate away at Spencer Franklin’s privates after he reportedly broke into her home last Thursday morning, Metro UK has reported.

After sneaking into the house in Kansas City, Missouri, he is said to have climbed on top of her and said ‘It’s OK. I’m not going to hurt you.’

He is then said to have forced himself on the woman, who was so frightened her knife-wielding attacker was going to stab her whatever she did that she bit down on him.

That prompted him to knife her in the torso and thigh, reports say, with the woman managing to escape to the front door as her roommate returned from walking her dog.

They called the police, with doorbell camera footage leading cops to Franklin, 24.

The woman he is accused of attacking later identified him from a police line-up.

When he was arrested, police found teeth marks on his penis, which was still bleeding, it is claimed.

His alleged victim is recovering from the stab wounds he reportedly inflicted on her, which required stitches.  (Punch)

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