Day: May 9, 2017

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BELLWETHER The national security battle the media isn't discussing


A fascinating battle is shaping up between two American entrepreneurs for control of a desert mine in California that could be the key to reviving domestic production of rare earths, the metals and materials that are critical to our national security.

But there’s a catch: one entrepreneur is linked to a Russian billionaire. The other is relying on a technology company – from China.

Mountain Pass is an unsightly hole in the earth once owned by a company called Molycorp that produced more critical metals than any facility in the world. Molycorp went bankrupt in 2015 because it could not compete with Chinese rare earth producers, who don’t have the same environmental regulations that govern U.S. mining.

China now produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earths – metals that are needed for U.S. fighter jet engines, satellite guided rockets, missiles like the Tomahawk Cruise that was used to attack Syria last month, and consumer products ranging from computers to iPhones to GPS systems and microwave ovens.

China now produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earths – metals that are needed for U.S. fighter jet engines, satellite guided rockets, missiles like the Tomahawk Cruise that was used to attack Syria last month, and consumer products ranging from computers to iPhones to GPS systems and microwave ovens.

Bellwether has argued that our complete mineral reliance on China – which could cut off exports any time, for any reason – threatens our national security. Now, two entrepreneurs who share that concern are offering different visions of how to revive our domestic production.

Tom Clarke, who has turned abandoned coal mines into more environmentally friendly operations, wants to do something similar with Mountain Pass, though he admits he has no background in critical minerals. He hopes to get financing from Vladimir Iorich, a Russian-born investor who made a fortune producing cheap steel – that kind that has reduced American production to a fraction of its former output. Clarke’s biggest stumbling block: his nemesis owns some of the mineral rights to Mountain Pass.

“Our plan is no different from what we’ve done in Appalachia,” says Clarke. “We are going to put people back to work.” Clarke acknowledges that not having any Mountain Pass mineral rights makes it more difficult for his plan to succeed, and is considering importing foreign ores and processing them in California.

The other contender, hedge fund manager James Litinsky, says he’ll put Mountain Pass back to work using the most advanced technology available. His problem: that technology comes from Shenghe Resources, a Chinese company that would be unlikely to do anything against its government’s wishes.

Both men say their partners will not have control of a revived Mountain Pass. But neither can guarantee that promise. Further complicating the situation, any attempt to bring foreigners into an American business would have to be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an arm of the Treasury Department.

Litinsky says that his plan has cleared financial and operational hurdles and, once approved, could result in hundreds of jobs for American workers at an environmentally friendly facility.

There’s no guarantee that either Litinsky or Clarke will succeed in putting Mountain Pass back to work when their bids are considered by a bankruptcy judge in June. But either plan would be a welcome first step in restoring American mining, even if there are some foreign fingers in the pie.

John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including “Pope John Paul II : Biography.



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COMEY OUT: Trump fires FBI Director


President Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, ending a rocky 10-plus months for the nation’s top law enforcement officer, whose agency is now investigating whether Trump’s presidential campaign had ties to Russia’s election meddling.

“The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions, and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump said.  

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump informed Comey that he had been terminated and removed.

Spicer also said the president’s decision was based on “the clear recommendations” of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

A search for a new permanent FBI director will begin immediately.

The White House made the stunning announcement shortly after the FBI corrected a sentence in Comey’s sworn testimony on Capitol Hill last week.

The director told congressional lawmakers that Huma Abedin, as a top aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had sent “hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information.   

On Tuesday, the FBI said in a two-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that only “a small number” of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices.

Most of the email chains on the laptop containing classified information were not the result of forwarding, the FBI said.

Comey first ran into problems during the 2016 presidential race when he opened an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server system for emails while at the State Department.

He concluded that Clinton, then the Democrat presidential nominee, had not acted criminally with classified emails but said she had been “extremely careless.”

He announced a second probe regarding the emails and Abedin’s handling of them in the closing days of the race.

Clinton has said that investigation largely contributed to her loss to Trump.

The FBI and other members of the U.S. intelligence community, as well as Congress, are now investigating the extend to which Russia was involved in stealing and making public emails from Clinton’s presidential campaign.

 “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Trump said in a letter to Comey, obtained by Fox News.

Comey, 56, was nominated by President Barack Obama for the FBI post in 2013 to a 10-year term. Praised for his independence and integrity, Comey has spent three decades in law enforcement and has been no stranger to controversy.

 

Fox News’ Joseph Weber, Serafin Gomez, Lesa Jansen and John Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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Kelly's racy pics leak?


Kelly Rohrbach may be the latest celebrity to be targeted by hackers.

Private photos of the “Baywatch” actress were allegedly posted online without her consent. According to The Sun, the images feature Rohrbach in lingerie and in the signature red swimsuit.

‘BAYWATCH’ ACTRESS KELLY ROHRBACH RECALLS STRUGGLE TO FIT INTO ICONIC SWIMSUIT

“This hacking couldn’t have come at a worse time for Kelly,” a source told the UK-based news site. “She’s looking forward to the biggest night of her life… but instead she’s having to deal with intimate, private pictures being published online by some pervert.”

The 27-year-old model-turned-actress is set to walk the red carpet this weekend for the premiere of “Baywatch,” which also stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra and David Hasselhoff. Rohrbach is starring as CJ Parker, the role that was originally played by Pamela Anderson in the hit American series. The movie hits theaters May 25th. 

Rohrbach has not confirmed the alleged leak.

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Many other female stars have recently become victims of a hacking spree. TMZ reported in March that Amanda Seyfried’s legal team sent a cease and desist letter to Celeb Jihad, demanding they immediately take down personal photos of the star.

Emma Watson also took legal action after a dozen private images of her trying on various outfits were stolen and posted online. Earlier that week, Mischa Barton’s laywer sent out a warning to anyone potentially shopping around nude footage of the actress.

But the scandals didn’t end there. That same month, WWE superstar Paige confirmed that private, racy photos and a video were stolen and leaked online. Soon after, an explicit photo of Demi Lovato in an unzipped top was circulating online.

And this week, four female UFC fighters were feared to be the latest celebrities to have naked pictures shared online by hackers.



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'Nightmare house' Zillow listing tells buyers don't ask about mysterious occupant upstairs


A recent house listing on Zillow in South Carolina is gaining attention for its mystery occupant upstairs that agents are telling potential buyers “don’t bother asking” about the occupant living upstairs rent-free.

Should someone buy the home in Cayce, a city near Colombia, the listing says that person assumes responsibility for the tenant upstairs.

It specifically states: “Upstairs apartment cannot be shown under any circumstances. Buyer assumes responsibility for the month-to-month tenancy in the upstairs apartment. Occupant has never paid, and no security deposit is being held, but there is a lease in place. (Yes, it does not make sense, please don’t bother asking.)”

The single-family home appears to be a diamond in the rough, as the listing states — a two-bedroom house with a separate cottage.

The property is being sold “as-is” with no repairs, no clean-up and no warranties expressed or implied.

According to the post, there is a mysterious tenant who lives upstairs from you that never pays rent and the owner has never seen.

The listing came to light when a Twitter user posted about it, calling it a “nightmare house.”

Click here for more from KTVU.

 

 



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NFL great Nick Buoniconti diagnosed with dementia: 'I would not have played' – NFL player Michael Oher turns himself in after Uber driver's assault claim


NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti can’t tie his shoes or read a book anymore, nor can he believe the game he loved so much has robbed him of life’s smallest joys. In October 2016, Buoniconti was diagnosed with neurodegenerative dementia, Sports Illustrated reported.

“I can’t remember how to tie a tie, I can’t remember how to lace my shoes,” Buoniconti, 75, told Sports Illustrated in an emotional video interview. “My left arm won’t do what my brain tells it to do.”

Buoniconti, a two-time Super Bowl champion and co-captain of the revered 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins, is suffering from memory loss, neurocognitive and neuromotor deficits.

MAN SURVIVES ‘HANGMAN’S FRACTURE’ AFTER CRASH

“The answer would be no — I would not have played football,” Buoniconti, whose linebacker son also suffered injuries from the game, told Sports Illustrated. After a helmet-first tackle in 1985, Marc Buoniconti, then a linebacker at Citadel, was left a quadriplegic.

Nick Buoniconti’s wife, Lynn, said she noticed some of the first signs of dementia about five years ago but thought they may be related to age.

NEW JERSEY’S NEW OPIOID LAW RAISES CONCERNS AMONG DOCTORS

“I was diagnosed with many concussions — at least 10,” Buoniconti, who is now considered a fall-risk and has around-the-clock help, told Sports Illustrated. “Super Bowl VI against the Dallas Cowboys, I was knocked silly, and I really don’t remember much about the game.”

Buoniconti is critical of the NFL and said he feels the league hasn’t done enough to protect players in the long-term. He said the league’s $1 billion concussion settlement is for the NFL, not the players.

CAN THE PAIN MEDICATION KETAMINE ALSO RELIEVE DEPRESSION? 

“CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] to me is something that the NFL doesn’t recognize until you die — that to me is the biggest criminal act,” he told Sports Illustrated. “I feel forgotten. I just wish they would think of the guys who did pave the way. This is not a game we’re playing — this is life or death.”

Lynn revealed Buoniconti has sought treatment at UCLA, but he said his symptoms are only worsening. He no longer golfs and can’t read the sports section of a newspaper.

‘I MADE IT’: STUDENT WITH DOWN SYNDROME LEARNS HE’S ACCEPTED TO COLLEGE

“When you start taking everything away from someone, they want to give up, so my challenge every day is not having Nick give up,” she told Sports Illustrated.

“I am navigated by trying to keep a positive attitude and remembering all the unbelievable times Nick and I had together,” Lynn continued. “That sustains me through this time that is really, really difficult because Nick is my best friend — and he still is — he’s just a different best friend now.”

Buoniconti’s brain will be donated to Boston University for research after his death, Sports Illustrated reported.



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QUIET ON THE BORDER Arrests plummet as DHS touts enforcement push


U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is reporting another drop in the number of individuals apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Homeland Security data, the number of people apprehended in April dropped 5 percent from the month before – and 68 percent from the same period last year.

DHS spokesman David Lapan attributed the drop to a “change in our enforcement policy.”

“People in Central America are waiting and watching what happens rather than taking the long journey,” Lapan said.

He added, “When you get here, it’s likely you will be caught and returned to your country. We’re going to enforce the laws.”

April saw a total of 11,129 individuals apprehended on the southwestern border. That’s down from 12,196 in March.

Apprehensions have been declining steadily since the beginning of 2017. They had surged last fall around the time of the presidential election, with officials recording 47,213 apprehensions last November.

However, Lapan cautioned that the smuggling of illicit drugs across the border is up.

Specifically, he said, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling remains “at levels we’re not comfortable with.”

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.



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Census director abruptly quits people-counting agency


The director of the people-counting Census Bureau is leaving his job just as the agency steps up its once-a-decade tally, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson was expected to leave the agency at the end of the year but instead will depart June 30, according to a government statement. Thompson said he is pursuing “opportunities in the private sector.”

“Your experience will be greatly missed,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the same statement.

Thompson testified to a House committee last week that the 2020 Census was on track. Members of the panel expressed concern about the escalating costs and overruns of the decennial accounting exercise mandated by the Constitution. The 2010 Census was the costliest U.S. Census in history, at about $12.3 billion, Robert Goldenkoff, strategic issues director for the Government Accountability Office. Thompson, who was confirmed to his post in 2013, told the same panel that the cost of the 2020 Census will cost about $12.5 billion.

CRITICS WANT TO SPLIT UP NINTH CIRCUIT COURT, WHICH WILL HEAR TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN

Some of the increased projection is the result of modernizing the counting process, Goldenkoff said.

Asked whether Secretary Wilbur Ross or Trump himself had asked Thompson to step down, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said by email: “He’s simply retiring from public service. He spent 30 years in public service and 10 in the private sector.”

The Census, conducted every 10 years since 1790, is critical to determining how to run the country as it grows and diversifies. Beyond government spending, the private sector also uses demographic information collected in the enumeration.

The U.S. recently surpassed 325 million people. By 2044, whites are expected to become a minority. In 2020, the questionnaire is expected to include a new classification for Americans who are of Middle Eastern descent.

The director is nominated by the president for a five-year term and confirmed by the Senate.

 



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Trump adviser vows to release video of Hillary's concession – Clinton novel icing on the cake for world's richest author


A key member of President Trump’s communication team says he has video of Hillary Clinton’s concession call and is promising to release it in the near future.

On Tuesday, Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, tweeted a screenshot of a telephone call Clinton aide Huma Abedin made to Kellyanne Conway on election night to concede. The photo shows a two-minute call from Abedin at 2:30 a.m., with her telephone number blurred out.

Click for more from The Washington Examiner.

 



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Thailand bomb blasts near mall wound dozens


More than 50 people were hurt after suspected insurgents in Thailand set off two bombs in the vicinity of a busy shopping center in the southern part of the country on Tuesday.

A small bomb first exploded outside the mall’s food court in the city of Pattani. Shortly afterwards, a bomb in a bag inside a pickup truck exploded, the Bangkok Post reported. The military initially blamed firecrackers as the source of the first blast.

No deaths were immediately reported.

DEADLY AVALANCHE AT FRENCH ALPS

The violence came amid a bloody insurgency being waged by Muslim separatists in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces. Those areas are the only ones with Muslim majorities in the predominantly Buddhist country.

More than 6,500 people have been killed since 2004.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Tortoise escapes from Texas classroom – 5 lions escape from wildlife park


A Southlake, Texas middle school is asking for local residents to be on the lookout for its missing tortoise named Samsung.

Students at Carrol Middle School’s animal sciences class typically care for the 50-pound reptile. But on Friday Samsung escaped from the unlocked patio at the school where he is kept.

TEEN GOES TO PROM IN AN OPEN COFFIN, HEARSE

Michael David Pyeatt believes he spotted him later that evening at Gateway Church, which is near the school in Southlake.

He said he didn’t realize the tortoise was on the loose at the time and just assumed it was a wild animal.

Pyeatt said a passing motorist actually stopped to move him out of the street. The church’s security guards call animal control but no one answered.

Southlake police are now helping the school search for Samsung. Anyone who spots him can call the school at 817-949-5400.

Story first appeared in Fox 4 News.



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