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Trump Revealed Intelligence Secrets to Russians in Oval Office: Officials

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2017)

CapturePresident Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation, two U.S. officials said on Monday, plunging the White House into another controversy just months into Trump’s short tenure in office.

The intelligence, shared at a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, was supplied by a U.S. ally in the fight against the militant group, both officials with knowledge of the situation said.

The White House declared the allegations, first reported by the Washington Post, incorrect.

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false,” H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters at the White House, adding that the leaders reviewed a range of common threats including to civil aviation.

“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known…I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” he said.

The White House also released a statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said the Oval Office meeting focused on counterterrorism, and from Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, who called the Washington Post story false.

Still, the news triggered concern in Congress.

The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, called Trump’s conduct “dangerous” and “reckless”.

Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the allegations “very, very troubling” if true.

“Obviously, they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to come to grips with all that’s happening,” he said of the White House.

The latest controversy came as Trump’s administration reels from the fallout over his abrupt dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey and amid congressional calls for an independent investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

One of the officials said the intelligence discussed by Trump in his meeting with Lavrov was classified “Top Secret” and held in a secure “compartment” to which only a handful of intelligence officials have access.

After Trump disclosed the information, which one of the officials described as spontaneous, officials immediately called the CIA and the National Security Agency, both of which have agreements with a number of allied intelligence services around the world, and informed them what had happened.

While the president has the authority to disclose even the most highly classified information at will, in this case he did so without consulting the ally that provided it, which threatens to jeopardize a long-standing intelligence-sharing agreement, the U.S. officials said.

Since taking office in January, Trump has careened from controversy to controversy, complaining on the first day about news coverage of his inauguration crowds; charging his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, with wiretapping; and just last week firing the FBI director who was overseeing an investigation into potential ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.

Trump, a Republican who has called allegations of links between his campaign team and Russia a “total scam,” sharply criticized his 2016 election rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for her handling of classified information as secretary of state, when she used a private email server.

The FBI concluded that no criminal charges against Clinton were warranted, but Comey said she and her colleagues had been “careless” with classified information.

In his conversations with the Russian officials, Trump appeared to be boasting about his knowledge of the looming threats, telling them he was briefed on “great intel every day,” an official with knowledge of the exchange said, according to the Post.

Some U.S. officials have told Reuters they have been concerned about disclosing highly classified intelligence to Trump.

One official, who requested anonymity to discuss dealing with the president, said last month: “He has no filter; it’s in one ear and out the mouth.”

One of the officials with knowledge of Trump’s meeting with the Russian called the timing of the disclosure “particularly unfortunate,” as the President prepares for a White House meeting on Tuesday with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, an ally in the fight against Islamic State.

Trump’s first foreign trip also begins later this week and includes a stop in Saudi Arabia, another Islamic State foe, and a May 25 NATO meeting in Brussels attended by other important U.S. allies. He also has stops planned in Israel and the Vatican.

The president’s trip and latest uproar over his meeting with Russian officials come amid rumors that he might shake-up his senior staff in a bid to refocus his administration.

Written by: Reuters

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NASA postpones astronaut launch due to bad weather

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2020)

NASA aborted its planned mission – the first crewed launch from American soil to the International Space Station – on Wednesday due to bad weather conditions.

The organization said in a tweet that the launch was scrubbed due to weather. “There were no issues with the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.”

The mission was called off just 17 minutes before the launch.

“Today’s Launch America attempt was an instantaneous launch window. Due to orbital mechanics, we need to make sure that at the time we launch, we are able to reach the Space Station on time and accurately. Because of this, we could not wait for clear weather today,” NASA said.

NASA said that it would resume an attempt to launch the Demo-2 mission at around 3:22 local time on Saturday, May 30. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA added that the mission will be SpaceX’s – a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company – final test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.

“The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station,” the statement said. 

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Trump seeks full withdrawal from Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2020)

US President Donald Trump has reiterated full US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Speaking to the reporters on Tuesday, Trump said that he wants to bring American soldiers back home from Afghanistan.

“We’re there 19 years, and, yeah, I think that’s enough…We can always go back if we have to. If we have to go back, we’ll go back and we’ll go back raging. And there, we’ll go back as warriors, fighters,” Trump said.

Trump did not set a date for the full pullout from Afghanistan, saying, “but as soon as reasonable.”

The US signed a deal for bringing peace in Afghanistan on February 29, in Qatar.

According to the deal, the U.S. troops roughly reduced to 8,600 in Afghanistan, and the country committed to full drawdown within 14 months after the agreement.

“We’re having very positive talks. We’re having very positive talks. We want to bring our soldiers back home. We want to bring them back home. And we’re not only talking about there, but we’re talking about other countries also,” US President noted.

As a part of the US-Taliban deal, the Afghan government released 900 Taliban prisoners on Tuesday, bringing the total released to 2000, a move forward to promote the Afghan peace process.

The Taliban welcomed the government’s actions, saying that the group “will release a remarkable number of prisoners soon.”

“We’re dealing with the Taliban. We’re dealing with the president. And the president now has gotten themselves straightened out with the two presidents. But we’re dealing with — because they had — as you know, they had competing factors — and factions,” Trump said.

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Masks too dangerous for infants: Japanese health experts

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2020)

Face masks should not be used by children under the age of two as it can make breathing difficult, the Japan Pediatric association said.

According to Japan’s coronavirus guidelines, the Japanese should wear masks to prevent contracting with the virus, but the medical organization has warned parents that masks can be too dangerous for infants.

“It is possible that masks make it difficult for infants to breathe and increase the risks of heatstroke,” the organization said in leaflet quoted by CNN.

The leaflet said, “Masks are not necessary for children under two.”

The newborns’ respiratory systems have narrower airways, wearing face masks can make it difficult more difficult for infants to breathe and can place a heavy burden on their hearts.

Japan lifted the state emergency across the country on Monday after it witnessed a decrease in the number of infections in the country.

So far, 16,581 people have been infected with the COVID-19 in Japan and 830 others have died of the virus.

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