Today's Intel

Dec. 13, 2018

REUTERS

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for crimes including orchestrating hush payments to women in violation of campaign laws before the 2016 election, and he promised to keep cooperating with the U.S. government against his former boss.

A rush of Democrats will likely announce U.S. presidential bids in January in an unusually early start to the 2020 election cycle, lining up for what is poised to be a crowded race to take on President Donald Trump.

Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, said on Wednesday she supports a proposal that would limit the terms of senior Democratic leaders, likely paving the way for her to reclaim the speaker's post in January when her party takes control of the chamber.

The United States plans to counter the rapidly expanding economic and political influence of China and Russia in Africa, where the two nations use corrupt business practices with little regard for the rule of law, according to prepared remarks on Thursday by U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.

A fire overnight at a warehouse in Congo's capital destroyed thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes that were due to be used in the country's long-delayed Dec. 23 presidential election, authorities said on Thursday.

Yemen's warring parties agreed to a ceasefire in the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah and placing it under local control at the close of talks on Thursday in a breakthrough for U.N.-led peace efforts to end the war.

A Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers at a bus station in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Israel's military said, hours after Israeli forces killed two Hamas fugitives it blamed for earlier deadly attacks.

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits tumbled to near 49-year lows last week, which could ease concerns about a slowdown in the labor market and economy. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 206,000 for the week ended Dec. 8, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

AP Top Stories

As U.S. President Donald Trump re-imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran last month, hackers scrambled to break into personal emails of American officials tasked with enforcing them, The Associated Press has found - another sign of how deeply cyberespionage is embedded into the fabric of US-Iranian relations.

Donald Trump has insisted he is "not concerned" about the threat of impeachment because "the people would revolt if that happened".

The U.S. rejected the European Union's proposal to reform the World Trade Organization, dealing a blow to international efforts to bolster the Geneva-based body, which has come under attack from President Donald Trump's administration.

The former president of a fraternity at a private Christian university in Texas has been spared jail time after being accused of raping a fellow student at a party, in a decision which has devastated the victim and her family.

Twenty one prisoners, most of them members of Islamic State jailed on terrorism charges, broke out of a prison in northern Iraq but 15 of them have been recaptured, Kurdish security officials said on Thursday.

Five Democrats saved House Republicans from an embarrassing floor defeat Wednesday, voting with the GOP on a farm bill rule that controversially included language blocking a vote on U.S. involvement in Yemen.

Nelson Martinez, the jailed former head of Venezuela's state-run oil giant PDVSA who was arrested last year as part of anti-corruption purge, died in state custody Wednesday.

Pakistan on Wednesday condemned a U.S. decision to add it to a list of nations that infringe on religious freedom, calling the move "unilateral and politically motivated."

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to again ban Iranian ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and to maintain an arms embargo that is scheduled to be lifted in 2020 under the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

Japan has chosen the character for 'disaster' to symbolize 2018. The public chose the symbol following a series of natural disasters.

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki arrived Thursday in Mogadishu, marking improved relations in his first visit to neighboring Somalia since he took office in 1993.

BBC

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the famed Indian independence leader, has been removed from a university campus in Ghana's capital, Accra. The petition said Gandhi was "racist" and African heroes should be put first. Ghana's government said the statue would be relocated.

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro has accused the US of plotting to kill him and topple his government. President Trump has labelled the leftist leader a dictator and has imposed sanctions.

A monk meditating in a forest in the Indian state of Maharashtra has died in a leopard attack. Rahul Walke had been "meditating under a tree" in the Tadoba forest, which is a protected tiger reserve, officials told PTI news agency.

WND

State regulators have been ginning up a scheme to charge a fee for text messaging on mobile phones to help support programs that make phone service accessible to the poor. The wireless industry and business groups have been working to defeat the proposal, now scheduled for a vote next month by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Two groups of Central American migrants made separate marches on the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana Tuesday, demanding that they be processed through the asylum system more quickly and in greater numbers, that deportations be halted and that President Trump either let them into the country or pay them $50,000 each to go home.

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