Attorney’s in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin finished closing arguments on Monday following weeks of testimony as the nation braces for a verdict while jurors deliberate. Attorneys from both sides are seeking to distill three weeks of testimony in order to convince jurors to acquit or convict Chauvin on second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Jurors in Hennepin County District Court first began hearing testimony in the case on March 29.
War & Terrorism
“We do not support and do not think it’s at all helpful that Iran is saying it’s going to move to enrich to 60 percent,” Biden told reporters in Washington. US President Joe Biden on Friday called Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 60% purity unhelpful but said he is pleased Tehran is still in indirect talks with Washington about both countries resuming compliance with the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. Iran on Friday said it had begun enriching uranium to 60%, its highest level ever and a step closer to the 90% that is weapons grade, at its Natanz plant, where an explosion occurred earlier this week that Tehran blamed on Israel.
Wars often arise from uncertainty. When strong countries appear weak, truly weaker ones take risks they otherwise would not. Sloppy braggadocio and serial promises of restraint can trigger wars, too. Empty tough talk can needlessly egg on aggressors. But mouthing utopian bromides convinces bullies that their targets are too sophisticated to counter aggression.
An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel stole the country’s nuclear archive, in what appears to be the first public admission of the 2018 Mossad operation by an Iranian official. Momeen Rezaei, secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council that reports directly to the supreme leader, told Iran’s Mehr News on Wednesday that the country needs a major revamp of its security. “The country has been widely exposed to security violations, and the example is that in less than a year, three security incidents have occurred: two explosions and one assassination,” said Rezaei. The two explosions took place at the Natanz nuclear site, first in July, taking out about three-fourths of the above-ground centrifuge assembly facility, and then on Sunday night, when the site’s electric grid and backup system were destroyed, along with large numbers of centrifuges. The assassination was of the head of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November.
Driving to Taliban-controlled territory doesn’t take long. Around 30 minutes from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, passing large craters left by roadside bombs, we meet our host: Haji Hekmat, the Taliban’s shadow mayor in Balkh district. Perfumed and in a black turban, he’s a veteran member of the group, having first joined the militants in the 1990s when they ruled over the majority of the country. The Taliban have arranged a display of force for us. Lined up on either side of the street are heavily armed men, one carrying a rocket propelled grenade launcher, another an M4 assault rifle captured from US forces. Balkh was once one of the more stable parts of the country; now it’s become one of the most violent.
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the 2,500 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan would be pulled out by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. That feels like a very arbitrary date and very well could be setting the United States up for a future disaster. It was former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who wrote in his 2014 memoir that Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Gates has reaffirmed that assessment multiple times since. In 2012, Biden, by his own admission (though he’s tried to clarify since), opposed the raid of the previous year that took out the 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden. The killing of Bin Laden was the most successful national security achievement of the Obama administration, and Biden was on the wrong side of it. The Washington Examiner has reported that not only Gates but also former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director Leon Panetta and former President Barack Obama himself are on record confirming Biden’s opposition to the raid.