Saudi forces say Houthi missile intercepted over Saudi city – state media

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi air defence forces intercepted a missile fired by Houthi fighters in neighbouring Yemen at the southern Saudi city of Najran on Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition said. In a statement carried by state news agency SPA the coalition said that according to initial findings an Indian resident was injured by falling debris after the missile was intercepted. The Houthi-run Saba news agency earlier said a missile was fired at a Saudi National Guard base in Najran, and that it had led to “losses in the ranks of the enemy and its military equipment”. The Iran-aligned Houthis have launched scores of missiles at the kingdom since the coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 after the Houthis drove Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile. Last week, Saudi air defence forces intercepted a flurry of missiles, and falling debris caused the first death in the capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supplying missile parts and expertise to the Houthis, who have taken over the Yemeni capital Sanaa and other parts of the country. Tehran and the Houthis deny the charge.

Tesla says Autopilot was engaged during fatal Model X crash

Tesla says Autopilot was engaged at the time of a deadly Model X crash that occurred March 23rd in Mountain View, California. The company posted a statement online late Friday, after local news reported that the victim had made several complaints to Tesla about the vehicle’s Autopilot technology prior to the crash in which he died. After recovering the logs from the crash site, Tesla acknowledged that Autopilot was on, with the adaptive cruise control follow distance set to a minimum. The company also said that the driver, identified as Apple engineer Wei “Walter” Huang, had his hands off the steering wheel and was not responding to warnings to re-take control.

The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.

The driver of the car, Huang, was headed southbound on California’s Route 101 when his Model X crashed headfirst into the safety barrier section of a divider that separates the carpool lane from the off-ramp to the left. The front end of his SUV was ripped apart, the vehicle caught fire, and two other cars crashed into the rear end. Huang was removed from the vehicle by rescuers and brought to Stanford Hospital, where he died from injuries sustained in the crash, according to Mercury News. The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) has launched an investigation into the incident. Tesla said the reason the crash was so severe was because the attenuator had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced. “We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash,” the company said, echoing a comment it made earlier in the week. In its statement, Tesla admits that Autopilot is an imperfect system, but argues its far better than the alternative.

Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur. It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists.

No one knows about the accidents that didn’t happen, only the ones that did. The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe. There are about 1.25 million automotive deaths worldwide. If the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle were to be applied, it would mean about 900,000 lives saved per year. We expect the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars.

Huang’s death occurred less than a week after a self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, sparking a national debate about the safety of autonomous cars. Tesla has faced questions about Autopilot before, when a Florida driver died from a collision with a tractor-trailer in 2016. The NTSB found that Autopilot operated mostly as intended, but it “gave far more leeway to the driver to divert his attention to something other than driving,” which contributed to the crash. The NTSB has also recently looked into a January 2018 accident where the driver of a Model S claims to have been using Autopilot when the car crashed into a fire truck.

McCabe’s legal defense fund exceeds fundraising goal twice

(CNN)The fundraising page for a legal defense fund for fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has managed to raise $500,000 within its first 48 hours. By Saturday morning, the GoFundMe page had far surpassed its updated fundraising goal of $250,000, largely through small donations, since it was set up Thursday with an initial goal of $150,000. “Although we know legal fees could exceed that based on the path ahead, we will not be raising the goal again,” a spokesperson for McCabe told CNN in an email. The page says the fund is intended for use in dealing with a Department of Justice inspector general investigation, congressional inquires, and potential lawsuits. After more than two decades of service in the FBI, McCabe was fired earlier this month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said he was taking the action after the inspector general and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded McCabe had made “an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions,” which is a career-ending offense. McCabe was fired a little more than 24 hours before his expected retirement on his 50th birthday, when he would have become eligible to receive early retirement benefits. The firing could put a significant portion of those benefits in jeopardy, CNN has reported. The FBI’s former second-in-command has denied he misled the inspector general when questioned about authorizing FBI agents to speak with the news media. McCabe also argued his termination is part of the administration’s larger effort to discredit the FBI and the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. According to the GoFundMe page, the funds raised will be solely used for his legal defense. McCabe “will continue to fight for the pension and benefits he deserves, rather than accept any crowdfunding for that purpose,” the page said, adding that any remaining funds will be donated to charity. Nick Bit: The DON needs to be very worried… this guy is not going away!

Trump’s call for tariffs creating anxiety in the farm belt

HOSPERS, Iowa (AP) — In Sioux County, where swine barns interrupt the vast landscape of corn-stubbled fields, exports of meat, grain and machinery fuel the local economy. And there’s a palpable sense of unease that new Chinese tariffs pushed by President Donald Trump – who received more than 80 percent of the vote here in 2016 – could threaten residents’ livelihood. The grumbling hardly signals a looming leftward lurch in this dominantly Republican region in northwest Iowa. But after standing with Trump through the many trials of his first year, some Sioux County Trump voters say they would be willing to walk away from the president if the fallout from the tariffs causes a lasting downturn in the farm economy. “I wouldn’t sit here today and say I will definitely support him again,” said 60-year-old hog farmer Marv Van Den Top. “This here could be a real negative for him.” Last week, Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on a range of Chinese goods, a move aimed at punishing Beijing for stealing American technology. The Chinese government responded with a threat to tag U.S. products, including pork and aluminum, with an equal 25 percent charge. That sent a chill through places like Sioux County, which ranks first among Iowa’s 99 counties in agricultural exports. In 2016, the county sold $350 million in meat, grain, machinery and chemicals overseas. Far closer to the sparsely populated crossroads of South Dakota and Minnesota than Iowa’s bustling Des Moines metro area, Sioux County is home to just 34,000 people, but more than 1 million hogs, 6 million chickens and nearly as impressive numbers of cattle and sheep. Brad Te Grootenhuis sells about 25,000 hogs a year and could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if the tariffs spark a backlash from China. He said it’s possible he would abandon Trump if pork’s price decline continues and lasts. “Any time you’re losing money, nobody’s happy,” the 42-year-old farmer said. “I’ve got payments to make, plain and simple.” “There is an uncertainty to exactly what the next two to three years are going to look like,” Schmidt said. A Trump voter in 2016, Schmidt said that if “things are bad and someone better comes along, we’re willing to take a look.”

Trump tells advisers he wants U.S. out of Syria – senior officials

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has told advisers he wants an early exit of U.S. troops from Syria, two senior administration officials said on Friday, a stance that may put him at odds with U.S. military officials who see the fight against Islamic State as nowhere near complete.A National Security Council meeting is set for early next week to discuss the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State in Syria, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plan.  Two other administration officials confirmed a Wall Street Journal report on Friday that said Trump had ordered the State Department to freeze more than $200 million in funds for recovery efforts in Syria while his administration reassesses Washington’s role in the conflict there. Trump called for the freeze after reading a news report that the U.S. had recently committed an additional $200 million to stabilise areas recaptured from Islamic State, the paper said. The funding was announced by departing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February at a meeting in Kuwait of the global coalition against Islamic State.

The decision to freeze the funds was in line with Trump’s declaration during a speech in Richfield, Ohio, on Thursday, where he said it was time for America to exit Syria.

A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said that “in line with the President’s guidance, the Department of State continually re-evaluates appropriate assistance levels and how best they might be utilized, which they do on an ongoing basis.”“We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” Trump said on Thursday, based on allied victories against Islamic State militants. “Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon, we’re coming out,” Trump said. “We’re going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.”  U.S. military officials have warned that the militants could regain the freed areas quickly unless they are stabilized. Nick Bit: Why is Trump really leaving Syria when the peace is not settled yet. Thats because Trumps video tape producer and black market banker PUTIN demand it. pretty simple equation!

President Trump accuses Amazon of scamming the USPS

He also says that The Washington Post should register as a lobbyist

This morning, Trump once again tweeted about online retailer Amazon.com, alleging that it is scamming the United States Postal Service and that the agency should raise its shipping rates. He also says that The Washington Post — owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — should register as a lobbyist. Earlier this week, Axios reported that President Donald Trump wanted to take on Amazon. The President followed up with a tweet on March 29th, saying that Amazon was taking advantage of the USPS, paying little in state and local taxes, and putting retailers out of business. The New York Times outlined earlier this week that Amazon has collected sales taxes since April 2017. The retailer reported $957 million in income taxes last year. The Times also lays out that while the USPS is losing money — it reported losses of $2.7 billion in 2017 — these losses are due in part to declining volumes of “marketing and first-class mail,” and the agency’s requirement to prefund the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund each year, which costs over $5 billion annually. Indeed, the growth in package shipping from retailers like Amazon have been beneficial to the agency, which “have offset its general shortfalls in revenue.” The Washington Post reports that officials have explained to the President that Amazon’s contracts with the USPS are profitable.

In his second tweet, the president says that the retailer is taking advantage of the USPS, saying that Amazon is scamming the agency. He cites a Citi Bank report (via the Times) which says that the agency’s rates are underpriced, and that price adjustments could bring in additional revenue of $2.6 billion each year. The Times notes that while Amazon does have a shipping arrangement with the USPS, the agency has reviewed the rates and found them to be profitable, and has said that said rates are competitive in the marketplace. The Post cites officials who say that Trump’s anger towards Amazon is a result of the paper’s coverage of his administration, and claims that it is acting as a lobbyist on behalf of Bezos. The Post says that while it is owned by the Amazon CEO, it operates independently of the retailer. We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update if we hear back.

Dem senator: It’s likely that Trump will fire Mueller

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said on Friday that he believes that President Trump is likely to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, saying that the recent ousters of top administration officials make such a move all the more probable.

“I think the president’s abrupt recent actions in how he dismissed the VA secretary, the secretary of State, other key members of his Cabinet suggest that this is something he is likely to do,” Coons said. Coons said that many lawmakers believe that it would be “dreadful” if Trump fired Mueller, who is carrying out the law enforcement investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But many of those same lawmakers do not think that Trump would actually go through with it, Coons said. He challenged that notion by pointing to the recent spate of dismissals among the top ranks of the Trump administration. Trump has moved in recent weeks to shakeup his Cabinet. The series of firings began earlier this month with the abrupt dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. That was followed by the firing of national security adviser H.R. McMaster last week. And on Wednesday, Trump announced that he had fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and tapped White House physician Ronny Jackson to replace him. Trump has publicly and privately bristled at Mueller’s investigation, which he has called a “witch hunt” intended to undermine his presidency. Those complaints have long fed speculation that he could try to fire the special counsel. The New York Times reported in January that Trump had once tried to have Mueller fired shortly after the special counsel’s appointment last year. The president reportedly backed off from that demand after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign. Some lawmakers have called for Congress to pass legislation that would curb the president’s ability to do away with Mueller. One proposal, introduced by Coons and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), would require that Mueller be informed in writing of the specific reason for his firing and that he be given the ability to appeal such a decision.

Trump told aides not to publicly tout move to supply weapons to Ukraine: report

Trump told aides not to publicly tout move to supply weapons to Ukraine: report
© Getty Images

President Trump reportedly told aides not to publicly promote a decision last year to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine to bolster the country’s fight against pro-Russia separatists. NBC News reported Thursday that Trump wanted his aides to downplay the decision to arm Ukrainian forces because he was concerned it would rattle relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He doesn’t want us to bring it up,” one White House official sai. “It is not something he wants to talk about.” Trump has faced scrutiny for his apparent reluctance to publicly criticize Moscow and Putin. But officials told NBC News that Trump has taken a harder line toward Russia in private.  In a phone call with the Russian leader last week, for example, Trump warned that if the two Cold War foes were to reignite the arms race, the U.S. would come out on top.  “If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I’ll win,” Trump reportedly told Putin. And after Putin delivered a speech earlier this month in which he unveiled nuclear weapons that he claimed were capable of evading missile defense systems, Trump called the leaders of France, Germany and Britain to say that their countries needed to ban together, according to NBC News. Just this week, Trump moved to expel 60 Russian officials operating in the U.S. That move came as part of a coordinated effort with two dozen other countries to punish Moscow for the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter on British soil. But even after that decision, Trump has not offered any public condemnation of Russia’s alleged actions.

Ex-FBI deputy McCabe’s online legal defense fund nears $300,000 in hours

 

FILE PHOTO: FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (C) arrives to testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by the Trump administration but has said he was terminated because he is a crucial witness in the Russia investigation, has raised more than $292,000 in seven hours to help cover costs defending against other ongoing government probes, the funding website showed. A statement on the GoFundMe internet page unveiled earlier on Thursday said the goal was to raise $150,000 from the public but it was raised to $250,000 because of a response that “has been remarkable and beyond our expectations.” The action represents an escalation of the battle between McCabe and the administration over his firing amid heavy criticism by President Donald Trump. It also raises the prospect that McCabe could legally challenge his termination in the future. “Andrew McCabe’s FBI career was long, distinguished, and unblemished,” the statement said. “His reward for that has been a termination that was completely unjustified, amidst repeated ad hominem The report used as the basis for the firing has still not been made public. Following McCabe’s termination, Trump took to Twitter, where he declared it was a “great day for Democracy.” McCabe’s dismissal came less than two days before his 50th birthday, when he would have been eligible to retire from the Federal Bureau of Investigation with his full pension. McCabe has disputed the findings by the inspector general’s office. He said he believes he is facing administration retaliation because he is a crucial witness into whether Trump may have tried to obstruct a criminal probe now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. While he was the FBI’s No. 2 official, McCabe was deeply involved in overseeing investigations related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and whether Russia colluded with Trump’s campaign. Trump has denied that any collusion occurred and Russia has denied meddling.Reuters has reported that McCabe kept contemporaneous notes following his conversations with Trump, as well as notes related to former FBI Director James Comey’s conversations with Trump.  Trump fired Comey in 2017, prompting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller as special counsel. Trump later acknowledged in a televised interview that he fired Comey over “this Russia thing.”

Russia tests its new nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile

  • Russia tested its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the second time on Friday.
  • The nuclear weapon called Sarmat will replace the current Soviet-era missile called Veovoda.
  • The test was carried out at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, as spaceport in the west of Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2018.
Yuri Kadobnov | POOL | Reuters Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2018.

Russia tested its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the second time on Friday, the country’s defense ministry said in a tweet. The nuclear weapon called Sarmat will replace the current Soviet-era missile called Veovoda. Russia’s ministry of defense tweeted a video showing the ICBM taking off.

It’s the second test of Sarmat. The first took place towards the end of last year.

The test was carried out at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, as spaceport in the west of Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled details of the missile in March. At the time, he said that the ICBM “can reach any point in the world.” The ICBM was unveiled as part of a raft of defense measures during his annual State of the Union address earlier this month.There are worries about the rising tension between some countries when it comes to nuclear weapons. North Korea has also been carrying out tests of its ICBM. Russia’s missile test comes at a time when it faces backlash from other major nations after Britain blamed the country for the poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal. The U.S. and other countries have expelled some Russian diplomats. The Kremlin responded on Thursday by expelling 60 American diplomats from Russia.