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Intelligence community criticizes New York Times report on Russia-Taliban bounty plan

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Top intelligence community officials are speaking after a news report about Russia paying the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan, denouncing leaks of confidential information to the media.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe, and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien released statements Monday condemning the disclosure of such information to the public.

The three statements were similar in messages, and all declined to confirm the report itself, saying intelligence was still being evaluated. The statements also reflected each other due to concerns they raised about leaks by top intelligence officials.

“We are still investigating the alleged interference mentioned in the media reports and we will inform the President and Congressional leaders at the appropriate time,” Ratcliffe said Monday, “Unfortunately, unauthorized disclosures now jeopardize our ability to discover the full story regarding these allegations. “

Haspel criticized the leaks from the intelligence community and said they “compromise and disrupt critical inter-agency work to collect, assess and attribute guilt.”

On Friday, the New York Times reported that President Trump and the National Security Council were briefed on the undercover operations in March, but had not taken any action in response.

The White House and the commander in chief have denied the report on multiple occasions.

“No one informed me or told me, @VPPence, or the Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by the Russians, as reported through an anonymous source by Fake News @nytimes. Everyone denies it and there have not been many attacks on us, ”Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday regarding the report.

The National Security Council is endorsing denials from the White House, and O’Brien said: “Although we do not normally discuss such matters, we constantly evaluate intelligence reports and report to the President as necessary.”

Members of the US Special Operations Service conduct combat operations in support of Operation Resolute Support in Southeast Afghanistan
Members of the US Special Operations Service conduct combat operations in support of Operation Resolute Support in Southeast Afghanistan.The 75th Ranger Regiment

Because the allegations in recent newspaper articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump has not been informed of the articles. However, the Administration, including National Security Council staff, has been preparing in case the situation warrants action, “O’Brien continued.

O’Brien joined Haspel and Ratcliffe in criticizing the leak of such confidential information and said: “To government officials who betray the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, their actions jeopardize our national security. No matter the motivation, there is never a justification for such conduct. “

Both the Taliban and the Russian Foreign Ministry have also denied the accusation.

In an interview with NBC News on Monday, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin and a senior Kremlin official, called the allegations “100 percent bullfighting.”

“You know, maybe I can say it’s a little rude, but this is 100 percent bulls,” said Peskov, “It’s a little bit diplomatic, but it’s bull-t.”

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Senator Menendez blocks compensation to families of al-Qaeda-bombed American victims

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The daughter of a diplomat who lost her father and younger brother in the 1998 US Embassy terror attack in Kenya is furious with New Jersey Senator Bob Menéndez for preventing her and others from receiving millions. in victim compensation money.

Edith Bartley called Menendez’s actions a “parody” in the aftermath of the murder of her Queens-born father, Julian Bartley, the first African-American Consul General in Nairobi and the highest-ranking US diplomat killed in the attack.

He also claimed his brother, Jay, 20, who was doing a summer internship at the embassy.

Menendez has so far blocked a $ 300 million deal in which Sudan, which acted as the scene of the explosion and another bomb in Tanzania, would pay the families of the 12 Americans who killed $ 10 million each, while foreigners who they worked at the embassy they would get only $ 800,000.

“It would be a parody for any member to block the passage of this deal on compensation levels,” Bartley wrote in a June 4 letter to the powerful Democrat.

Menendez, the highest-ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Post that he was concerned that the deal “simply does not do justice to the many victims who worked at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in some cases for decades, and that they are now US citizens. “

He added: “We must be sure that the United States reaches the best possible agreement for every American family affected by these horrible terrorist attacks.”

Spectators stand at the foot of damaged buildings in Nairobi, Kenya, after a large explosion tore apart a building in the Kenyan capital in 1998, heavily destroying the United States Embassy.
Spectators stand at the foot of damaged buildings in Nairobi, Kenya, after a large explosion tore apart a building in the Kenyan capital in 1998, heavily destroying the United States Embassy.AP

A total of 224 people died in the coordinated bombings on August 7, 1998 in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and more than 4,000 people were injured.

The U.S. Sudan Accord has bipartisan support in Congress, and the Senate is reviewing it and is expected to vote on the issue in the coming days.

For Bartley, the fight is deeply personal.

“My whole world stopped and was never the same from that moment on,” said Bartley, who was a law student at the University of Missouri at the time. “I felt so helpless when I heard what happened … because I couldn’t protect my little brother. I had to do something.”

He decided to use his law studies to help his family and others obtain justice.

Bartley now acts as a spokesperson for the families of the Americans killed in Nairobi and has worked on legislation that would add impact statements to federal lawsuits against terrorists and their sponsors.

If the deal is approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sudan, which toppled its military dictator last year, will be removed from the US list of terrorist sponsors and will no longer be subject to sanctions.

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Yoko Ono’s health is on the decline, confined to Dakota’s apartment

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Three years ago, when the National Association of Music Editors presented Yoko Ono with her Centennial Song Award, Sean Lennon pushed his mother onto the stage at 42 Cipriani Street in a wheelchair, surprising some who didn’t they realized that the formidable avant-garde artist was incapacitated

But with her signature shades, black leather jacket, and white Panama hat, John Lennon’s widow did not seem to miss a beat when she began a brief acceptance speech addressing the elephant in the room.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, clutching the award in one hand and a microphone in the other as Sean whispered to her what was happening. “I learned a lot from this disease. I am thankful that I went through that.”

While it is unclear what “illness” he was referring to, Ono, now 87, is still ill, requires 24-hour care and rarely leaves his large apartment in Dakota, a source close to his staff told The Post. In photos taken at rare public appearances, including a women’s march at Columbus Circle last year and at a commemoration of John in Liverpool in May 2018, Ono is confined to a wheelchair or walks with great difficulty using a cane, to often supported by a caregiver or Sean for support.

It has also been selling some real estate assets in recent years.

“It has definitely slowed down, like anyone at that age,” said Elliot Mintz, a close family friend who has known Ono for almost 50 years, and has acted as a spokesperson for the family, representing John Lennon’s heritage since the murder of the former Beatle in December 1980. “But she is as sharp as she was before.”

John Lennon and his artist wife Yoko Ono in 1969.
John Lennon and his artist wife Yoko Ono in 1969.fake pictures

Mintz told The Post that he last saw Ono at his 87th birthday party in February. He was one of over 30 guests, including Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner, singer Cyndi Lauper, and Ono’s daughter Kyoko, 56, from her previous marriage to John with film producer Anthony Cox. .

Two years after their divorce in 1971, Cox fled with Kyoko and raised her in Christian fundamentalist communes. Ono fought for years for Kyoko, who began communicating with her mother after John’s murder. According to Mintz, Ono is now very close to Kyoko and Sean, her 44-year-old son with Lennon.

“Sean is his best friend,” said Mintz. “They dine two or three times a week, and he occasionally brings out his mother as a guest star in his band.”

Sean hosts Ono’s birthday party every year, meticulously obsessing over decorations and flower arrangements, Mintz said. In February, he took over Bar Wayo at the South Street Seaport for the party, where guests celebrated with champagne. In previous years, Sean and Ono have taken the stage to perform.

But this year, the celebration was more discreet. “She put out the candles with Sean and was one of the last to leave,” Mintz told the Post. “She was in a good mood. I helped her into her wheelchair and gently helped her into her car. “

Mintz declined to comment on Ono’s personal medical history. “She is a particularly special being,” he said. “In these 87 years, she has lived 400.”

Yoko Ono was born in 1933 to a Tokyo banking family whose fortune suffered during World War II. The family faced starvation and were often forced to trade household items for food while seeking refuge from Allied bombing.

Despite wartime hardships, Ono inherited his family’s business acumen. In addition to becoming a cutting-edge artist who once opened her show at MoMA yelling into a microphone, she is also a hard-nosed businesswoman, a prodigious real estate investor who, after her marriage to John in 1969, began to accumulate a mini property empire that spanned New York City, the Hudson Valley, the Hamptons, Palm Beach, Ireland and England. He has also compiled a considerable art collection that includes works by his old friend Andy Warhol.

Today, Ono has reported assets of $ 700 million. He still owns multi-million dollar properties in Manhattan, as well as hundreds of acres in northern Delaware County, public records show. She lives in the same nine-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of The Dakota, which she once shared with John. It also maintains an adjacent unit in the West 72nd Street building for visitors, and two small one-bedroom spaces without kitchens that it uses for staff, a source told The Post. And she has a first-floor office that was once used by John as a recording studio.

“He got up early every morning, went down to the study, and ran the family business, which allowed John to be a stay at home mom,” Mintz said, adding that John had no real business sense, and that he often needed his help to discover as much as possible. mundane financial matters, such as how much to tip a waiter when paying for a meal in a restaurant.

But Ono has been losing assets. In 2017, he sold a building at 110 W. 79th St. that he had owned since 1988. He purchased the property, which houses two residential units, for just under $ 500,000 and downloaded it for $ 6,450,000, according to public records. In 2013, he sold a 5,700-square-foot penthouse at 49-51 Downing St. in West Village, which Sean occupied for years, for $ 8.3 million.

Although Ono still owns more than 600 acres near Franklin, New York City, the locals say it’s been years since they saw her in the area where she used to vacation with Sean and groups of friends. John and Ono purchased the property and 100 Holstein cows to establish a breeding operation before Mark David Chapman shot him dead in front of Dakota on December 8, 1980.

“We haven’t seen it in a long time,” said Roland Greefkes, an iron craftsman who made a wrought iron gate for the Ono property. “I never met anyone like her. She is really something special. “

The directors of charities that she has always supported echo that sentiment. Although the charity that started with John, the Spirit Foundations, had contributions of just under $ 25,000 from it in 2018, Ono makes most of his charitable donations directly. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic in New York, she donated $ 250,000 to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, to support frontline healthcare workers.

“In these 87 years, she has lived 400.”

– Elliot Mintz about her friend Yoko Ono, who saw her family lose her fortune, they took a daughter from her and witnessed the murder of her husband, John Lennon.

“Montefiore was specifically chosen because Yoko wanted to help a hospital in a COVID-affected community that lacked the ability to reach out to wealthy donors and board members like Cornell, NYU, Mount Sinai and others in Manhattan,” he said. Mintz

He has also recently supported musicians he has worked with in the past who have fallen through hard times. He helped Stanley Bronstein, who played on his Plastic Ono Band, when he needed emergency medical attention, Mintz said.

But hunger is still his favorite cause. “I remember being hungry and I know it is very difficult to be hungry,” said Ono in a 2013 interview. “One day I did not bring a lunch box. The other children asked, don’t you want to eat? I just said, no, I am not hungry.” .

Ono recently donated $ 50,000 to the West Side Hunger Campaign, which during the pandemic has provided thousands of meals to needy and unemployed residents in their Upper West Side neighborhood. And he has a 30-year relationship with WhyHunger, a New York-based nonprofit organization that fights food deprivation worldwide.

Yoko Ono Changes New York City’s Property Portfolio

“She has been a true philanthropic partner,” Noreen Springstead, the group’s executive director, told The Post. “She is the most energetic, lively person and is very practical. She has been incredibly invested for over three decades. “

A few years ago, Ono allowed WhyHunger to license the lyrics and drawings of John’s song “Imagine” for a global campaign against hunger, helping the charity to raise almost

$ 7 million for his projects in New York and around the world, Springstead said.

And it was for “Imagine,” the 1971 utopian anthem, that Ono collected the Centennial Song Award for her late husband in 2017. While sitting in her wheelchair on stage, the hosts of the National Association of Music Editors the surprised with a second prize. , after playing an old audio clip of John saying that Ono should be credited as a co-writer on “Imagine”.

“That should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because so much of it, the lyrics and the concept, came from Yoko,” the former Beatle said in a voiceover. “But those days he was a little more selfish, a little more macho, and I omitted to mention his contribution.”

Ono smiled when Sean whispered the news to his mother.

“This is the best time of my life,” he told the audience.

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Controversial monument and meeting place KKK reopens for Fourth of July

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Despite public outrage and calls for its removal, the world’s largest Confederate monument has reopened just in time for the July 4 celebrations.

Featuring a nine-story bas-relief stone of the Confederate “heroes” and slave owners, General Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial welcomes visitors this weekend, though the laser The light show (which illuminates the carvings and tells the story of the Confederacy) is still waiting.

The mountain is a notorious meeting place for the Ku Klux Klan, who “reborn” upon it.

In 1915, the KKK was brought back to that mountain with a burning cross, and the defenders of the carvings were members of the hate group carrying cards. After the mountain was completed, “a neo-Confederate theme park park” sprung up around the site, including a plantation house, a “Gone with the Wind” museum, according to a report from the Atlanta History Center, the New reported. York Times. Since then, KKK members have gathered at Stone Mountain annually to hold protests, according to the Times.

The opening has angered Black Lives Matters protesters and civil rights groups, which have long called for the destruction of the monument.

“Here we are in Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and we still have the largest confederate monument in the world,” Gerald Griggs, vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP civil rights group, told the Daily Mail. “It is time for our state to get on the right side of history.”

In 2017, during his failed run for governor, Stacey Abrams wrote a series of tweets detailing the mountain’s history and calling for the relief to be removed.

“The removal of the Bas-relief from the Stone Mountain Confederates has been a constant debate since the state purchased the property in 1958,” Abrams wrote. “Paid for by the founders of the 2nd KKK, the monument had no other purpose than to celebrate racism, terror and division when it was carved in 1915.

“We should never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union,” he continued. “Confederate monuments belong to museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor throughout our state.”

Adding insult to injury, Stone Mountain’s population is over 78% African American, according to the US Census.

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