Categories
leaders Lebanon's

Lebanon’s leaders were warned in July that explosives ‘could destroy’ Beirut, report says – Fox News

Lebanese security officials who were concerned about the massive stockpile of ammonium nitrate in Beirut’s port had sent a letter to the country’s prime minister and president two weeks before the blast, warning that the material “could destroy” the capital city if it exploded, a report says.

The letter had summed up the results of a judicial investigation launched in January surrounding the 2,750 tons of highly-explosive material being kept there, Reuters reported, citing a senior security official. The ammonium nitrate ended up exploding following a fire on August 4, killing at least 220 people, injuring more than 7,000 others, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

“There was a danger that this material, if stolen, could be used in a terrorist attack,” an official involved in writing the letter told Reuters.

TREY YINGST REPORTS FROM LEBANON AFTER PRIME MINISTER, CABINET RESIGN

“I warned them that this could destroy Beirut if it exploded,” he added.

Reuters could not independently confirm the contents of the letter, but a representative for Prime Minister Hassan Diab said his government acted immediately upon receiving it.

“The current cabinet received the file 14 days prior to the explosion and acted on it in a matter of days,” the official told Reuters. “Previous administrations had over six years and did nothing.”

Diab and his Cabinet resigned Monday in the wake of the explosion’s fallout.

President Michel Aoun, meanwhile, said last week he was aware of the ammonium nitrate in Beirut and ordered security and military agencies under his watch to take care of the issue, Reuters reports.

“[The state security service] said it is dangerous. I am not responsible! I don’t know where it was put and I didn’t know how dangerous it was,” the news agency quoted him as saying. “I have no authority to deal with the port directly. There is a hierarchy and all those who knew should have known their duties to do the necessary.”

BEIRUT COP KILLED IN ANTI-GOVERNMENT CLASHES

The investigation launched in January reportedly centered around the hangar at the port where the material was being kept after it was seized from a Russian-chartered, Moldovan-flagged ship in December 2013.

The probe was initiated after it was discovered that the hangar was unguarded and had a hole in one of its walls, according to Reuters.

Prosecutor General Oweidat, at the conclusion of the investigation, “gave orders immediately” to secure and repair the hangar, another security official told the news agency.

The fire that ended up sparking the explosion was caused by workers who were welding on-site, Reuters reports.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Given that there were fireworks stored in the same hangar, after an hour a big fire was set off by the fireworks and that spread to the material that exploded when the temperature exceeded 210 degrees,” the official said.

“Only because the hangar faces the sea, the impact of the explosion was reduced. Otherwise all of Beirut would have been destroyed,” he added. “The issue is all about negligence, irresponsibility, bad storage and bad judgment.”

Fox News’ Talia Kaplan contributed to this report. 

Read More

Categories
leaders power

Power Five leaders met Sunday to discuss viability of 2020 college football season, talks continue Monday – CBS Sports

Watch Now:
Fall CFB Season Won’t Be Played, According To Two Power Five AD’s
(8:49)

Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday to discuss the viability of playing the 2020 college football season this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, multiple sources tell CBS Sports. The commissioners will meet again Monday morning. The acknowledgement from the highest-ranking athletic voices in the conferences is that playing college football or any sports this fall is unlikely.

ESPN first reported what was deemed an “emergency” meeting, citing several sources. However, the Sunday meeting was previously scheduled and not unplanned, sources tell CBS Sports.

“It’s an ongoing conversation we’ve been having for weeks,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports on Sunday night. “We talk almost every day. I’m not aware decisions have been made.”

He added: “You don’t want to believe everything you read. It was a regularly scheduled call. We talked about a whole bunch of different things. All of us would be less than honest if we wouldn’t acknowledge that the trend lines are troubling and the last two weeks or three weeks have not been positive.”

CBS Sports reported Saturday that two Power Five athletic directors deemed the cancellation of fall sports and the 2020 college football season an ‘inevitable’ conclusion of talks within their respective conferences.

“I think it’s inevitable [the season will not be played in the fall],” a veteran Power Five athletic director said Saturday.

“It’s not fair what we’re doing to our coaches and student-athletes,” another long-time Power Five AD said Saturday. “The sooner we can come to a finality, the better.”

Neither AD wished to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.

A recent discussion among Big Ten presidents was reported to be the impetus for the meeting as league presidents appear to be leaning toward canceling their conference’s season and hoped to see where the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC stood.

Big Ten presidents have yet to vote on whether to cancel fall sports in 2020, CBS Sports reported Saturday.

Bowlsby is not sure whether the Power Five conferences will be united on a decision to cancel the season. “Ultimately, we have to do what’s best for our league,” he said.

The MAC on Saturday became the first FBS conference to cancel its 2020 college football season. UConn, an independent program, canceled its season on Wednesday.

“I’m of the opinion it’s when, not if [the 2020 season is canceled],” the second AD said. “[The MAC announcement] adds more momentum to the finish line. I think everyone’s medical group is now all telling them the same thing. We all keep having the same conversations.”

More than 30 Power Five players, including multiple potential first-round draft picks, have opted out of playing in 2020 citing health concerns.

Pac-12 presidents will meet in a regularly scheduled call on Tuesday. A Power Five source told CBS Sports they believe the Pac-12 is “very close to voting.” The ACC, Big 12 and SEC also have regularly scheduled meetings this coming week.

The Big Ten on Saturday announced it was “indefinitely” delaying a move to Phase 3 of practice that would have allowed players to use pads. The Detroit Free Press reported that Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is believed to prefer attempting to play a season in spring 2021. The Big Ten was the first conference to announce it would move to a conference-only schedule a number of weeks ago. 

Read More

Categories
leaders power

Power 5 Leaders Exploring Possibility of Staging Their Own Fall Sports Championships – Bama Maven

In anticipation of the NCAA Board of Governors potentially canceling or postponing fall sports championships, Power 5 conference leaders have begun exploring the possibility of staging their own championships in those affected sports, multiple sources have told Sports Illustrated. This could be seen as a first step toward a long-theorized breakaway from the NCAA by the 65 schools that play college sports at the highest level.

The Board of Governors, comprised primarily of university presidents and chancellors from all levels of the NCAA, has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday. At that time it is expected to make a decision on the fate of fall sports championships other than FBS football, which has a championship outside the NCAA structure. However, the board also could delay action until later in August.

In recent days, Power 5 conference officials began seeking feedback from their members about the feasibility of staging their own championships during the fall, sources told SI. When asked if such a move away from the NCAA championship structure could be seen as a precedent-setting rift between the national governing body of college sports and the Power 5, one athletic director said, “If I were (NCAA president Mark) Emmert, I’d be really worried about it. He’s got to keep the Power 5 together.”

Another Power 5 athletic director said he thinks the chances of breakaway fall championships are remote, but added, “I think this is representative of the poor relationship between the (NCAA) national office and our conferences.”

Multiple sources said part of the motivation for the Power 5 considering hosting its own fall Olympic sports seasons is to justify playing football, the revenue-driving sport for all athletic departments at that level. If all the other sports are canceled but football perseveres on its own, the optics would open up the schools to severe criticism. Thus, playing all fall sports would allow those schools to say that they are not uniquely subjecting football players to any risk.

Sources described the discussions about breakaway championships as preliminary in nature, the first steps in gauging both interest and feasibility. An Atlantic Coast Conference administrator said the concept is “hypothetical” in nature and not mature yet, but “if the NCAA does something, it could shift it from neutral to first gear.” 

Given the P5 incentive to justify football, the Board of Governors’ decision—and rationale—will be critical. If it decides to cancel fall sports championships for COVID-19 health and safety reasons, it would be difficult for the Power 5 to justify going its own way without a plan that they can definitively protect their athletes. But if the board says that the cost of safely conducting championships is prohibitive, the Power 5 could have an avenue to play all its fall sports—football included.

“We’re all trying to think, hey, what can we do for our kids, so they have a season and a chance to compete for a championship,” one Power 5 athletic director said. “And, quite frankly, how can we justify playing football?”

The cost of trying to create a bubble of sorts at NCAA championship events like the volleyball tournament, with regionals and a Final Four would be significant. With rapid testing for all participants, secure lodging and transportation, sterilizing the event and practice venues, the bills would add up. Multiply that across eight sports and three different levels of NCAA participation, and this would easily be the most expensive series of fall championships the association has funded—and it comes after the NCAA just took a huge financial hit with the cancelation of the 2020 basketball tournaments.

That is where the Power 5 could step in and collectively foot the bill for its own fall championships, which would be one-third or less of the total cost outlay to the NCAA. A source within the Olympic sports community said it would be “very easy” for the P5 conferences to contract out to established event management companies to hold their own championships.

The Board of Governors could make separate rulings for Divisions II and III, where a number of leagues already have postponed or canceled fall sports. Several Division I schools from FCS conferences, such as the Ivy League and Patriot League, have postponed fall sports as well. Sources told SI they are expecting a cancellation or postponement at the DII and DIII levels, but are unsure what will happen at the DI level.

If the NCAA board again delays action, it might further inflame a membership that has an increasing urgency for certainty about the upcoming seasons. One athletic director described the limbo as “mentally unhealthy” for his fall-sports athletes. The NCAA’s non-football fall sports are men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, field hockey and men’s water polo.

For decades, the Power 5 conferences—the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific-12 and Southeastern—have continued to amass power and revenue at a rate that has separated them from the rest of college athletics. That separation led those leagues to gain their own autonomy at the NCAA legislative level, crafting rules that fit their specific needs.

Football has been the driving force behind that, as media-rights deals for those leagues have skyrocketed over the last decade. The FBS Group of 5 conferences—the American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt—have struggled to keep up as the revenue gap has widened.

The schools in those conferences, plus independent institutions, may want to try to join the proposed Power 5 fall championships, a source theorized. If the NCAA sees more than one-third of its 350-plus Division I members basically ignore a postponement or cancelation, the undermining of the association’s power would be immense.

Already, the NCAA’s lack of influence at the Power 5 level has never been more glaring than in 2020. Since canceling winter and spring championships last March, the NCAA has largely been on the sidelines watching the individual conferences grapple with the pandemic. It issued return-to-sport guidelines in the spring and updated them recently, but behind the scenes, college administrators have grown increasingly critical of Emmert and the entire NCAA for a perceived lack of leadership.

“It’s almost like they’re frozen,” one athletic director said.

One veteran college administrator described the NCAA and Power 5 as having long been embroiled in an “existential crisis,” and wondered whether this fall sports gambit could be “the crack in the armor” that leads to an eventual split.

“Is this the final break?” The source asked. “You could have two championships: one from the (Power 5) and potentially some Group of 5s joining them, and a second one for everybody else in the spring. … It’s going to be real strange.”

Read More

Categories
leaders Trillion

EU leaders reach $2 trillion deal on recovery plan after marathon summit – CNBC

The 27 European Union governments have reached a breakthrough agreement over new fiscal stimulus, following marathon talks in Brussels that lasted four days.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has been tasked with tapping financial markets to raise an unprecedented 750 billion euros ($857 billion). The funds will be distributed among the countries and sectors most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and will take the form of grants and loans. 

European Council President Charles Michel said early Tuesday that he believes this deal will be seen as a “pivotal moment” for Europe.

“Europe, as a whole, has now a big chance to come out stronger from the crisis,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said.

The heads of state had been locked in talks since Friday morning to discuss the proposed fund and the EU’s next budget. However, deep differences on how to divide the amount between grants and loans, how to oversee its investment and how to link it with the EU’s democratic values prolonged the talks into one of the longest EU summits in history.

In the end, they agreed to distribute 390 billion euros, out of the total 750 billion fund, in the form of grants — a significant reduction from an initial proposal made by France and Germany in May for 500 billion euros of grants. The EU also agreed that net debt issuance will end in 2026 and that they will repay all the new debt by 2058.

In the meantime, member states will also have to develop plans outlining how they will invest the new funds. These so-called Reform and Recovery plans will have to be approved by their European counterparts, by qualified majority — rather than by unanimity as had been insisted upon by the Netherlands at one point. 

In addition to the recovery fund, the EU said its next budget, which will fund initiatives between 2021 and 2027, will total 1.074 trillion euros. The two combined bring upcoming investments to the level of 1.824 trillion euros.

“This recovery fund will help us to almost double the European budget for the years to come,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday morning.

They committed 30% of their total expenditure from the recovery fund and the next EU budget to address climate concerns. The EU has said it wants to be climate neutral by 2050. 

The recovery fund will be available from January 2021 and there will be no new bridge financing until then. This is because the EU has taken other measures since the crisis struck to provide liquidity to the member states if they are needed.

In April, finance ministers had already approved a 540 billion euro package of short-term fiscal stimulus and this comes on top of what the individual governments announced separately for their own economies since the pandemic first struck Europe.

In addition, the European Central Bank is buying government bonds as part of its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program, which totals 1.35 trillion euros.

Taxation

European governments will have to find new financial resources to repay some of the additional debt, and this includes new taxes. 

The deal states that there should be a non-recycled plastic waste levy introduced as of Jan. 1, 2021, and that a carbon border adjustment mechanism and a digital duty should be in place by Jan. 1, 2023. The latter represents almost a two-year delay from what an earlier proposal suggested in terms of digital taxation.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte smiles during a last roundtable discussion following a four days European summit at the European Council in Brussels.

STEPHANIE LECOCQ | AFP | Getty Images

Why it matters

The latest deal from Brussels marks a precedent for common debt borrowing at the EU level, something that many countries, including Germany, opposed for a long time. But this oppositional stance had softened in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

“With the biggest-ever effort of cross-border solidarity, the EU is sending a strong signal of internal cohesion. Near-term, the confidence effect can matter even more than the money itself,” analysts at Berenberg bank said in a note Tuesday.

The European Union is often criticized for not having a common fiscal policy, as is the case in the United States. Recent surges in anti-EU sentiment in some nations have sparked concerns over a potential break-up of the union.

“The EU and the euro zone are not en route towards fiscal union. But they are taking a significant step towards stronger fiscal co-ordination when it matters. The deal sets a precedent. The EU issues debt in a crisis. Expect some common fiscal response to play a greater role in future crises as well,” the Berenberg analysts said.

Some analysts had weighed the possibility of an impasse at the summit and further talks at a later stage, given how far apart the leaders were when they arrived in Brussels.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said Tuesday that they were “encouraged that leaders were able to find agreement earlier than expected. Taken together, we therefore see the agreement as welcome, supporting our view that the Euro area is well placed to recover from the Covid shock.”

Read More

Categories
leaders struggle

EU leaders struggle with ‘mission impossible’ at deadlocked recovery summit – Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders appeared to be nearing agreement on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies on Monday after the chairman of their fractious four-day summit presented a new proposal to bridge gaps between them.

EU Council President Charles Michel said he was confident the compromises he had offered the 27 leaders could be the basis for a deal on the 750 billion euro recovery fund that many say is critical to dispel doubts about the bloc’s very future.

“I know that the last steps are always the most difficult but … I am convinced that an agreement is possible,” he told reporters before heading back to the leaders.

Slow to coordinate their initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic and already weakened by Britain’s departure from the bloc, a deal on the economic aid would demonstrate to eurosceptics that it can step up to a crisis and remain united.

“It has been a long summit and a challenging summit but the prize is worth negotiating for,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said as the Brussels summit dragged into its fourth day – approaching the record length set at a 2000 meeting in the French city of Nice.

European nations have done a better job of containing the coronavirus than the United States after a devastating early few months that hit Italy and Spain particularly hard, collaborating on medical, travel and economic fronts.

The European Central Bank has pumped unparalleled money into economies to keep them going while the EU capitals hammer out their recovery fund.

Diplomats said it remained uncertain that the leaders could put aside the rancour that stood in the way of a compromise over hours of haggling through the weekend.

Emotions ran high at a dinner the previous evening as a group of fiscally frugal northern nations led by the Netherlands stood their ground on the level of free grants within a proposed special recovery fund of 750 billion euros overall.

President of the European Council Charles Michel (L) and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (R) meet with Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin (2nd R), Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (4th R) and Belgium’s Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes (3rd R) during European Union Council over a post-virus economic rescue plan, in Brussels, Belgium July 19, 2020. Francois Walschaerts/Pool via REUTERS

“STINGY EGOTISTS”

French President Emmanuel Macron lost patience in the early hours of Monday, banging his fist on the table in frustration at “sterile blockages” by the “frugals”, two diplomats said.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also railed against the “frugals”, branding them “a group of stingy, egotistic states that look at things very narrowly through the prism of their own interests”.

Poland would be a top beneficiary of the recovery package, receiving tens of billions of euros in grants and cheap loans, along with high-debt Mediterranean-rim countries that have taken the brunt of the pandemic in Europe.

Despite the continued rhetorical skirmishing, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sounded optimistic that there could be accord on the stimulus package and, linked to it, the EU’s 2021-2027 common budget of around 1.1 trillion euros.

Hopes for a deal to help address Europe’s deepest recession since World War Two sent Italy’s borrowing costs to their lowest since early March and pushed the euro to a 19-week high.

Michel proposed that within the 750 billion euro recovery fund, 390 billion should be non-repayable grants, down from 500 billion originally proposed, and the rest in repayable loans.

Slideshow (4 Images)

His document, seen by Reuters, also envisages that national plans to spend money would have to be approved by a qualified majority of EU governments. The Netherlands had pushed for a veto on aid for countries that backslide on economic reform.

Disbursement would also be linked to governments observing the rule of law. Hungary, backed by eurosceptic ally Poland, has threatened to veto the package if funds are made conditional on upholding democracy.

($1 = 0.8728 euros)

Additional reporting by Kate Abnett and Yun Chee Foo in Brussels, and by Reuters bureaus across Europe; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Read More

Categories
Community leaders

NYC community leaders clash over Black Lives Matter goal – New York Daily News

A Bronx man at the center of New York City’s Black Lives Matter movement came after the Rev. Al Sharpton with both barrels over remarks the minister made last week about black-on-black violence amid a rash of shootings across the city.

Hawk Newsome, the chairman of Black Lives Matter’s Greater New York chapter, said the long-time civil rights activist is out of touch, and said Sharpton’s point-the-finger preaching has given Republicans and the police ammunition to try to discredit the cause.

“Black Lives Matter can be identified as the new civil rights movement,” Newsome told the Daily News. “Sharpton being a civil rights activist has to point fingers at himself as well. The older guard is to blame for some of this violence. They should have cleaned up this mess a long time ago. Why hasn’t he started a stop the violence program?”

Newsome said he took issue with remarks Sharpton made at a funeral for Brandon Hendricks-Ellison, 17, a promising college basketball prospect who was shot to death by a stray bullet in the Bronx last month just two days after graduating high school.

Sharpton pushed for stronger gun control measures and said the Black community has to work to fix its own problems.

“Yes, we’re going to deal with policing,” Sharpton said in his eulogy. “But we also have to deal with our communities. We can’t do anything until we learn to respect everyone one of us. The way to teach America that Black lives matter is to teach it to each other first.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks at the funeral of Brandon Hendricks-Ellison at First Baptist Church of Bronxville on Wednesday, July 15.

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks at the funeral of Brandon Hendricks-Ellison at First Baptist Church of Bronxville on Wednesday, July 15. (Barry Williams/for New York Daily News)

But Newsome said the roots of violence go much deeper.

“We fully understand that the true cause of violence is poverty and desperation,” Newsome said. “They are playing into the white racist narrative by pointing fingers at the community. The true cause of our pain is this shrewd capitalist society that leaves us living in unsafe housing conditions. We are under employed. The zip codes with the highest rates of poverty have the highest rates of violence.

“I would expect Al Sharpton to talk about that, but he is full of crap, and he’s an ineffective leader,” Newsome said. “Instead of pointing fingers and chasing news cameras, he should be doing the real work in our community.”

Sharpton declined to respond to Newsome’s remarks. But a Sharpton associate, the Rev. Stephan Marshall, said Sharpton has been speaking for 30 years about Black-on-Black crime and the need for Black communities to address the problem.

The Daily News front page on July 16, 2src2src:.

The Daily News front page on July 16, 2020:. (New York Daily News)

Last month, the official Black Lives Matter Global Network distanced itself from Newsome after Newsome said in a Fox News interview that the new movement “would burn down this system and replace it.”

BLM Global Network managing director Kailee Scales said Newsome’s comments at the time were not an official statement of the organization.

“Hawk Newsome has no relation to the Black Lives Matter Global Network,” Scales said.

Newsome is a former president of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, which is not an affiliate chapter of the global network. Although there are many groups that use “Black Lives Matter” or “BLM” in their names, only 16 are considered affiliates of the BLM Global Network.

Marshall said the official organization has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Sharpton on a variety of racial issues.

“We support that group. We respect that fight,” said Marshall, a liaison with Sharpton’s National Action Network. “There’s no division between the National Action Network and the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Marshall said Newsome is just trying to stir up trouble.

“Saying that Black lives have to matter to Black Lives Matter is almost a curse to Hawk Newsome,” Marshall said. “We see who he is. He’s a fraud. Families from around the country wouldn’t be calling us if we were ineffective.”

Sharpton’s teach-it-to-each-other-first advice echoed the sentiments of at least one family touched by the recent spate of gun violence.

After 1-year-old Davell Gardner was shot and killed on July 12 as he sat in a stroller at a late-night Brooklyn park barbecue, his angry grandmother, Samantha Gardner wondered about the mission of the Black Lives Matter movement, as did many on social media who responded to Davell’s tragic death.

“I feel like this,” Gardner said. “You all are ranting and raving about Black lives. But you take a life that was only a year and half old. And it’s not fair. It’s not fair to the grandparents. It’s not fair to the mother. It’s not fair to the father, the whole family in general.”

Toddler Davell Gardner was shot and killed at a Brooklyn barbecue on July 12.

Toddler Davell Gardner was shot and killed at a Brooklyn barbecue on July 12. (Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)

A day after the Bedford-Stuyvesant shooting, angry residents looked for answers.

Breaking News Newsletter

As it happens

Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.

“They march for everyone else,” screamed a woman near the scene about Black Lives Matter protesters “Where they at?”

Newsome expressed his condolences to Davell’s family and the loved ones of all the recent shooting victims. He said protests are only the first wave of action against systemic racism and community violence, which he said are related.

“What we’re trying to do is next level,” Newsome said. “I’m protested out.”

He said the next level includes food distribution, financial and wealth-management training and advice on entrepreneurial opportunities.

“People can march and whoop and holler, but we’re actually instituting programs to make our communities safer,” Newsome said. “I’ve been marching for five years. It’s time to go in and build something.”

Read More