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Iran claims it has arrested 17 members of a CIA spy ring

Iran said Sunday night it broke up a CIA spy ring and arrested 17 Iranians recruited to collect information on the country’s nuclear and military sites. It comes as Britain convenes an emergency meeting over Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran accused the tanker of various legal infractions.

Trump’s tweet, which also mentioned an Iranian drone shot down by the U.S. Navy last week after the unmanned vehicle wandered too close to the USS Boxer, echoed comments made earlier in the morning by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and cast Tehran as flailing amid tough U.S. sanctions that threatened to strangle its economy.

“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth,” Trump wrote. “Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”

The roundup of the alleged espionage cell ensnared 17 people during the past several months and was completed by the end of March, an Iranian official said at a news conference in Tehran. The official was identified only as the director of the counterespionage department of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, which is highly unusual in Iran, as officials usually identify themselves at press conferences.

Trump promises ‘strong’ response to Iran

“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas…where they collected classified information,” said a ministry statement read on state television.

Pompeo, while not commenting directly on the spy report, advised caution and noted Iran has a history of lying.

“I can’t add much to it specifically,” Pompeo told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “I would urge everyone who’s reading that story that the Iranian regime has a long history of lying. They lied about where they shot down the American UAV, they now lied about where they took down this tanker. It’s part of the nature of the Ayatollah to lie to the world. I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion of Iranian actions taken. ”

Pictures of some of the alleged spies were reportedly shown on state TV, which also broadcast a documentary purporting to show a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian in the United Arab Emirates.

Tehran also announced in June the takedown of a CIA spy ring, but it was not immediately clear if those alleged spies were the same as those referenced Monday.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency was the first organization to report on the matter, according to Reuters. The identities of those arrested were not immediately known.

The U.S. has increased its military presence in the Persian Gulf region in recent weeks after it alleged provocative moves by Tehran that included attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, the downing of a U.S. drone and the seizure of a British tanker.

Trump’s tweets at Democratic women of color denounced as racist

President Trump said Sunday that four minority, liberal congresswomen who have been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” prompting other Democrats — including Pelosi — to leap to their defense.

Pelosi denounced Trump’s tweets as “xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation,” while the four congresswomen promised to continue fighting Trump’s agenda and accused him of trying to appeal to white nationalists.

House Republicans hoping to pin Mueller down on key issues on Russia probe

Trump’s remark swiftly united a House Democratic caucus that had been torn apart in recent days by infighting between Pelosi and the four freshman women of color — Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.). It also comes after Trump announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were preparing to round up migrant families that have received deportation orders across the country.

ICE raids targeting thousands of migrants will reportedly begin this weekend

A nationwide operation targeting thousands of undocumented migrant families will reportedly begin on Sunday. The New York Times says raids are expected to take place in at least 10 major cities, and will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE is reportedly targeting about 2,000 migrants who are here illegally and were ordered deported. The agency has said that while its focus is on arresting people with criminal histories, any immigrant found in violation of U.S. laws would be subject to arrest.

Backlash grows over Trump administration policy to split migrant families

Last Friday, President Trump renewed his threat to order mass deportations of undocumented migrant families. The raids were postponed in June after the president previewed the operations on Twitter, stating ICE would remove “millions of illegal aliens.”

The raids have been a flash point in immigrant communities across the country. But acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan disputed the term “raid” in an interview with CBS News last month, instead labeling the action “interior enforcement.”

“If you are a mother with a kid, is that mother going to be handcuffed? No, she doesn’t need to be handcuffed,” Morgan added. “But if you are a criminal alien and you’ve been convicted of murder, sexual assault, and et cetera, are you going to handcuffed? You bet ya, you are going to be handcuffed.”

The possible raids come amid increasing scrutiny over conditions at migrant detention centers. On Wednesday, reporters toured a new Health and Human Services facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas. Video shows clean rooms and children in classrooms – which contrasts troubling images from a recent DHS Inspector General report that condemned unsanitary conditions and dangerous overcrowding at some CBP facilities.

In an emotional hearing Wednesday, Yazmin Juárez said she blamed unsafe conditions and poor medical care at an ICE detention center in Dilley, Texas for the death of her 1-year-old daughter Mariee. Lawmakers were visibly shaken by her testimony, and some were brought to tears.

“It’s like they tore out a piece of my heart,” she said in Spanish. “Like they tore out my soul.”

As for unaccompanied migrant children, U.S. officials said yesterday that there are only about 200 in CBP custody, down from 2,500 in May.

Democrats ramp up calls for Alex Acosta’s resignation

Pressure is growing on Alex Acosta, President Trump’s labor secretary, to step down. Democrats are blasting Acosta for a secret and generous plea deal he approved for financier Jeffrey Epstein more than a decade ago, when Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Florida.

Jeffrey Epstein case: Why Alex Acosta is “public enemy No. 2”

Epstein served 13 months in jail after being accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, but was often released during the day. Epstein now faces child sex trafficking charges in New York City, where prosecutors say a raid of his home turned up hundreds of lewd photos.

Indictment claims Jeffrey Epstein knew girls he abused were as young as 14

Prosecutors are urging more women to come forward and accuse Jeffrey Epstein, the well-connected billionaire financier charged with sexually abusing underage girls. The 66-year-old is charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty Monday in New York City, 11 years after accepting a secret plea bargain for similar charges in Florida.

Report calls conditions at Border Patrol facilities a “ticking time bomb”

he Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general is warning acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan that “immediate” action is needed to address squalid conditions in migrant detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Urgent issues… require immediate attention and action,” acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello writes. “Specifically, we encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.”

[Read the full DHS OIG report below.]

Previous inspector general memos and reporting from news organizations have documented unsanitary and often unsafe conditions inside detention centers operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which handles immigration enforcement at the nation’s borders, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which has custody of migrants after they’re processed by CBP.

CBP facilities have been plagued by overcrowding and poor resource management, leading to outbreaks of communicable disease and allegations that the agency is under-nourishing detainees.

Costello writes that, during inspections of five separate Border Patrol facilities, department inspectors “observed serious overcrowding and prolonged detention of unaccompanied alien children (UACs), families, and single adults that require immediate attention.”

TSA allowing migrants to fly without proper ID: Report

Federal law requires unaccompanied migrant children to be screened by CBP within a 72-hour timeframe, but the inspector general’s report found that 31 percent of the children in facilities it visited were being held for a longer period of time.

“At one facility, some single adults were held in standing room only conditions for a week and at another, some single adults were held more than a month in overcrowded cells,” the report assessed. “We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained.”

One senior manager described the situation to the inspector general as “a ticking time bomb.”

Tuesday’s report follows a series of visits from Democratic members of Congress to a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who visited the complex, claimed that officers had told female migrants to “drink out of the toilets” if they were thirsty.

When DHS inspectors were visiting one site, they had to make an early departure “because our presence was agitating an already difficult situation,” according to the report.

“When detainees observed us, they banged on the cell windows, shouted, pressed notes to the window with their time in custody, and gestured to evidence of their time in custody,” Costello wrote.

The report outlined several ways in which some CBP facilities have “struggled to meet” the agency’s own standards for migrant detention, including no access to showers and standing-room-only detention for a week’s time.

Over the objection of progressive Democrats in Congress, an additional $4.6 billion was approved to address the strained resources at the southern border. Some Democrats scoffed at the lack of controls over how the Trump administration could spend the money, leading to concerns it could be used for purposes other than alleviating overcrowding in detention facilities.

“DHS must transfer single adults to ICE custody as quickly as possible,” the inspector general emphasized. “Within DHS, long-term detention is ICE’s responsibility.”

This supports previous Newsweek reporting which revealed the full urgency of the humanitarian crisis at the southern border: the number of migrants in CBP custody was growing at a rate of 1,000 per week. DHS has engaged the military to construct tent cities at six sites along the border to facilitate the transfer of single, adult migrants from CBP to ICE custody.

As the inspector general’s report noted, in the first eight months of fiscal year 2018, a little under 100,000 were apprehended by Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley. In the same time period of fiscal year 2019, that number swelled to nearly a quarter-million, a 124 percent increase. The proportion of migrants arriving as family units has surged above every other category, increasing by 269 percent year-over-year.

Despite the department’s awareness of the scale of the challenge it faces, the report said the inspector general remains concerned “that DHS is not taking sufficient measures to address prolonged detention in CBP custody among single adults.”

 

Lawmakers call border facilities “horrifying” as CBP investigates Facebook group

Democrats Joaquin Castro and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were among about a dozen members of Congress who toured southern border facilities Monday. They described deplorable conditions inside the two facilities. Customs and Border Protection is also under fire over a secret Facebook group that includes thousands of current and former agents. Some users mocked migrant deaths and posted sexist and racist jokes about lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez.

Tom Homan: Democrat debate showed 2020 hopefuls don’t have a clue about how to handle border crisis

Democrats slam Trump for meeting with Kim Jong Un

Donald Trump has become the first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea, after meeting Kim Jong-un in the area dividing the two Koreas.

Mr Trump and the North Korean leader posed for handshakes before talking for nearly an hour in the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ).

Both countries agreed to set up teams to resume stalled nuclear talks.

Their last summit broke down in February with no progress on denuclearisation in North Korea.

Critics have dismissed the occasion – the two leaders’ third face-to-face encounter in just over a year – as a political theatre and say North Korea still needs to show that it is serious in getting rid of its nuclear weapons.

Trump, Xi to meet over trade at G-20 summit this week

What happened at the DMZ?
In a meeting apparently arranged after Mr Trump invited Mr Kim on Twitter on Saturday, they shook hands across the demarcation line between the Koreas before Mr Trump briefly crossed into North Korea, a symbolic milestone.

“Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place,” a smiley Mr Kim told Mr Trump through an interpreter in an encounter broadcast live on international television.

“Big moment,” Mr Trump said, “tremendous progress.”

Looking relaxed, Mr Kim crossed into South Korea and alongside Mr Trump said: “I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future.”

Trump-Kim meeting as it happened
In pictures: Smiles and handshakes at DMZ
The encounter had initially been billed as a short greeting but Mr Trump and Mr Kim ended up talking for almost an hour in a building known as the Freedom House, on the South Korean side.

For a brief moment, Mr Trump and Mr Kim were joined by South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, an unprecedented three-way gathering.

Speaking next to Mr Trump in a rare statement to the press, Mr Kim said the meeting was a symbol of their “excellent” relationship.

Who is sending aid to North Korea?
North Korea’s sidelined human rights crisis
Calling their friendship “particularly great”, Mr Trump – who once referred to Mr Kim as “little rocket man” – said it was a “great day for the world” and that he was “proud to step over the line” between the Koreas.

North Korean media have yet to mention the talks – including in the 20:00 (11:00 GMT) Korean Central TV bulletin – although typically they wait until the next day to report on the news.

Have other US presidents visited?
A number have been to the armistice line that has divided the peninsula since the Korean War ended in 1953, largely to show support for the South.

Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have been to North Korea, flying into the capital, Pyongyang, but only after they left office.

Barack Obama wore a bomber jacket and binoculars for his visit to the armistice line. Mr Trump changed the optics, opting for a business suit.

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