Iran satellite photos show burning space center launch pad
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Iran’s third attempt to launch satellite appears to end in failure

Images show smoldering rocket remains on launchpad at Khomeini Space Center; Islamic Republic failed to send satellites into orbit in January and February

This satellite image from Planet Labs Inc., that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, shows a fire at a rocket launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province on Aug. 29, 2019. (Planet Labs Inc, Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP)
This satellite image from Planet Labs Inc., that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, shows a fire at a rocket launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province on Aug. 29, 2019. (Planet Labs Inc, Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

Feiglin said poised to withdraw from September elections

Moshe Feiglin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are set to hold a joint press conference today, amid reports the two are close to reaching a deal that would see the libertarian party leader drop out of next month’s elections in exchange for a cabinet post in the next Netanyahu government.

Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin speaks at a Passover event in Tel Aviv, April 14, 2019. (Flash90)

Reports in Hebrew-language media say Feiglin is expected to to announce the withdrawal of his Zehut party from the September 17 election re-do.

Yesterday, Feiglin told Army Radio that he met with the prime minister twice this week to discuss the terms of an agreement. He said he would withdraw from the race if Netanyahu guaranteed to implement measures for eased restrictions on cannabis.

EU backs US-Iran talks but says nuclear deal must stay

The EU’s diplomatic chief says the bloc will support talks between the US and Tehran, but only if the current nuclear deal with Iran is preserved.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini gives a cautious welcome to the idea of negotiations, after US President Donald Trump said Monday he was ready to meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani within weeks.

“We are always in favor of talks, the more people talk, the more people understand each other better, on the basis of clarity and on the basis of respect,” Mogherini says as she arrived for a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Helsinki.

But she added “first and foremost what is existing needs to be preserved” — specifically the 2015 deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. “We will always advocate for the full respect by all sides of the UNSC resolutions and that includes the JCPOA.”


Draft UN report warns of rising seas, storm surges, melting permafrost

Humanity should brace itself for serious blowback over the next few centuries from oceans and Earth’s frozen zones, according to the draft of a major UN report obtained by AFP.

Our longtime habit of loading the atmosphere with planet-warming CO2 has spawned a host of consequences, starting with irreversible sea-level rise, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Special Report.”

Even under optimistic scenarios in which warming is capped at two degrees Celsius, Earth will likely see more than a 100-fold increase in the damages caused by superstorms and 280 million people displaced by rising seas, the report found.

In this Thursday, March 10, 2016 photo, ice breaks off the Perito Moreno Glacier in Lake Argentina at Los Glaciares National Park near El Calafate in Argentina’s Patagonia region (AP Photo/Francisco Munoz)

The planet’s ice- or snow-covered regions, known as the cryosphere, have also been hammered by man-made warming, with ice sheets shedding more than 400 billion tonnes in mass each year, and mountain glaciers — the fresh water source for a billion people in the Andes, Himalayas and elsewhere — threatened with local extinction.

A third to 99 percent of the world’s permafrost could also melt by 2100 if emissions continue unabated, potentially releasing a carbon bomb of greenhouse gases, according to the findings.


Police re-questioning suspect in 1982 murder of Nava Elimelech

Police are examining an old suspect in the gruesome 1982 murder of 12-year old Nava Elimelech, whose death has gone unsolved for nearly four decades.

Most of the details of the investigation are under a court-imposed gag order, but reports in Hebrew-language media say the male suspect is being questioned by the Lahav 433’s major crimes unit.

Nava Elimelech, 12, who was murdered in 1982. (Yossi Aloni)

The questioning comes a day after police returned a pair of earrings that Elimelech was wearing the day of her murder.

Elimelech’s body was exhumed earlier this month as the long-dormant case suddenly heated up after years with no new leads. Citing unspecified new developments in the case, police investigators brought the remains to the Abu Kabir forensic institute for testing. Investigators did not elaborate on the nature of the new evidence and a gag order has been imposed on the case.

Merkel underscores support for 2 states in talks with Abbas

Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany continues to believe a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinian is the only way for both peoples “to live in peace and security.”

Merkel stresses her support for a two-state solution ahead of talks Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Chancellery in Berlin.

Abbas says, “we appreciate Chancellor Merkel’s efforts to create multilateral cooperation aside from unilateral solutions to create stability and peace in the world.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, address the media during a joint statement prior to a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on Aug. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

He stresses the importance of Germany’s role in the Middle East and thanked the country for its financial support for Palestinians’ health services, education and the strengthening of civil society.

Germany is one of the biggest donors to the Palestinians having given them some 110 million euros ($121.8 million) in 2018.

— AP

Egypt says jihadist fighter arrested, search underway for 80 others

Egyptian security officials say they arrested a suspected militant and are pursuing 80 others in a province west of Cairo for plotting an imminent attack.

The officials say the home of 25-year-old Hammad Mohamed Shafei was raided in Senofar village in Fayoum province. They say he’s a member of the militant Hasm group, which authorities have linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter with reporters. They didn’t elaborate on the planned attack.

Egyptians walk outside the National Cancer Institute in the capital Cairo on August 5, 2019, the morning after a car bombing. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)

The Hasm group has been tied to a massive explosion earlier this month in Cairo, when a car filled with explosives crashed outside the county’s main cancer hospital, killing at least 20 people.

Egypt has long battled militants led by an Islamic State affiliate in Sinai.

— AP

British teen who recanted Cyprus rape claim against Israelis freed on bail

The 19-year-old British woman facing criminal charges in Cyprus for allegedly falsely accusing 12 Israelis of raping her is released on bail, according to local news reports.

The InCyprus news site reports the woman was freed from Nicosia Prison earlier today after her father posted the €5000 ($5,536) bail set by the Famagusta district court on Tuesday. Her release is conditioned on her staying in Cyprus for her October 2 trial for making a false rape claim against 12 Israeli teenagers at an Ayia Napa resort last month.

The woman is also required to report to the Nicosia police station three times a week, and must surrender her passport to Cypriot authorities.

Police officers escort a 19-year-old British woman, center, from the Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29, 2019. (AP/Petros Karadjias)

The 19-year-old tourist has pleaded not guilty to a “public mischief” charge, which comes with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of around 1,700 euros for allegedly making the false claim.

She originally told police that 12 Israelis had raped on her on July 17 at a hotel in the resort of Ayia Napa. Cypriot police immediately arrested the Israelis aged 15-18, holding some of them for nearly two weeks until the woman recanted her claim during questioning, saying there had been consensual sexual contact with some of the suspects. The woman reportedly told investigators she filed the rape report because she felt “angry and insulted” when some of the Israelis recorded video of her having consensual sex with a number of them.

She later changed her story, claiming that law enforcement officers pressured her into admitting she had fabricated her initial report by denying her access to an attorney and threatening to arrest her friends.

Breaking silence after attack, Abbas condemns violence against civilians

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denounces violence against civilians a week after a bombing attack in the West Bank killed an Israeli teenager and wounded her father and brother.

“We condemn the use of violence against civilians and we respect the Semitic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” Abbas says, speaking to reporters alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

His statement does not refer to any specific attacks against Israelis.

Second sister dies in suspected drunk driving accident in Ashkelon

The sister of the 17-year-old girl who was killed earlier today in a suspected drunk driving crash in Ashkelon has succumbed to her injuries, according to reports.

Yarin Maoul, 19, died at Barzilai Medical Center hours after her younger sister Tahel was killed in the crash early this morning.

Their 14-year-old sister was also in the car at the time, and remains in serious condition.

According to reports, the driver, who was also seriously injured in the accident, was Yarin’s boyfriend. Police suspect he was speeding and under the influence of alcohol when he slammed the car into a tree on a traffic island.

Israel exposes identities of Iran officials it says are behind Hezbollah missile project

The Israeli military reveals the identities of four senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials involved in a joint project to manufacture precision-guided missiles for the Lebanese terror group, in a dramatic move apparently serving as a tacit threat to the officers.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus says this program is being led on the Iranian side by Brig. Gen. Muhammad Hussein-Zada Hejazi, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, operating under the direct command of IRGC chief Qassem Soleimani.

The army says IRGC Col. Majid Nuab is responsible for the technical aspects of this program, which dates back to 2016.

The complicated logistics of transporting the machinery necessary to create these precision-guided missiles is managed by IRGC Brig. Gen. Ali Asrar Nuruzi, according to the IDF.

This joint project is being led for Hezbollah by Fuad Shukr, a senior member of the Lebanese group, who acts as a close adviser to its leader Hassan Nasrallah and is wanted by the United States for his role in the 1983 bombing of a US Marines barracks in Beirut, Conricus says.

The Israeli military says it is releasing this information and plans to reveal more intelligence on this Iran-led plot in order to push the Lebanese government and international community to take action to halt this project.

“Iran is endangering Lebanese by trying to produce precision guided missiles on Lebanese soil, using the Lebanese people as human shields,” Conricus says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Germany eases nationality law for offspring of Nazi victims

Germany is making it easier for descendants of those persecuted by the Nazis to regain German citizenship, which could help some Britons seeking European Union passports post-Brexit.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says he revised legislation to open new categories of eligibility, such as for descendants of women who were forced to emigrate from Germany and lost their citizenships through marriages with non-German men before April 1, 1953.

Seehofer says many descendants from such marriages living in Britain who applied for German citizenship after the 2016 Brexit referendum have been rejected, but will now be able to get approval.

A German passport will give them the right to live and work in Germany and the European Union if Britain leaves the EU later this year.

— AP

PA condemns Honduras, Nauru for recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli capital

The Palestinian Authority calls moves by Honduras and Nauru to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital an “affront to international law,” and says it will reassess diplomatic ties with the central American nation in response.

A statement from Hanan Ashrawi — a longtime aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee — says the decision by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez to open an embassy branch in Jerusalem this week is a “hostile act against the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights.”

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi speaks at a press conference in Ramallah on February 24, 2015. (WAFA/File)

“Honduras has aligned itself with rogue states that disregard international law and willfully undermine its standing,” the statement says.

“The Palestinian leadership will reassess its relationship with Honduras,” it says, and calls on Arab states to sever all diplomatic and commercial ties with Honduras to protest Hernandez’s decision.

The statement also denounces Nauru for its change in policy regarding Jerusalem and its “shameful” voting record at the United Nations on Palestinian issues.

“Nauru is violating also its obligations under international law and the UN Charter and must be held accountable for these violations,” Ashrawi’s statement says.

Feiglin officially withdraws his far-right Zehut party from elections

Moshe Feiglin says he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reached a deal that will see him withdraw his far-right Zehut party out of next month’s Knesset race, and rejoin the Likud in the next Netanyahu-led government.

At a joint press conference, Netanyahu announces that he and Feiglin are “embarking on a new journey together.” He tells Feiglin: “I see you as a minister and partner in my next government.”

“The issue of eased restrictions for medical cannabis users must change,” Netanyahu says. “Medical cannabis must be legalized.”

The prime minister says he also agreed to increase economic competition in Israel as part of the agreement with Feiglin.

Prime Minister and Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Zehut party chairman Moshe Feiglin (L) give a joint press statement in Ramat Gan on August 29, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

“We need to create more competition in the economy… where there’s limited competition, the’s always cartels,” he says.

Speaking after Netanyahu, Feiglin says an agreement with Netanyahu has been reached, but asks members of Zehut to approve him withdrawing from the race in a party referendum on Sunday.

He goes on to praise the deal he reached with Netanyahu, saying it will open up the Israeli economy for greater prosperity.

Iraq slams Bahrain FM for defending alleged Israeli strikes on army bases

Iraq condemns Bahrain’s top diplomat for defending a series of strikes against a powerful Iran-backed military force, acknowledging for the first time it believes the recent attacks on army bases were carried out by the Jewish state.

A string of Hashed al-Shaabi bases across Iraq have been hit by explosions and drone sightings over the past five weeks that the force has blamed on Israel and the US.

Earlier this week, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa accused Iran of “declaring war on us” through allied armed groups, including the Hashed al-Shaabi in Iraq.

“Whoever strikes them and destroys their stacks of equipment cannot be blamed. This is self-defense,” he tweeted.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, July 17, 2019 (YouTube screenshot)

The comments prompted a sharp response from the Iraqi foreign ministry, who says it “rejects and condemns the Bahraini foreign minister’s tweet about the recent attacks on Arab territories and the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashed) by Zionist enemy under the pretext of self-defense.”

It is the first time the Iraqi government had referred to attacks on the Hashed as carried out by Israel, although a statement by the presidency earlier this week said it was investigating “indications of foreign involvement.”

The Hashed has accused Israel of carrying out the latest attack on one of its units near the Iraqi-Syrian border on August 25.


Netanyahu tells Iran, Hezbollah officials to ‘watch out’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is “determined” to prevent the Iran-backed Hezbollah from producing precision-guided missiles across the border in Lebanon.

Speaking at a press conference to announce his electoral agreement with Moshe Feiglin, Netanyahu tells reporters that Israel “won’t sit aside and let our enemies make weapons they will use to destroy us.

“We are determined to stop this project,” Netanyahu says, before warning Hezbollah and Iranian officials Israel identified as being behind the accelerated missile production in Arabic to “watch out.”

Iran satellite photos show burning space center launch pad

Satellite images appear to show the smoldering remains of a rocket at an Iranian space center that was to conduct a US-criticized satellite launch.

The satellite pictures were taken this morning of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran’s Semnan province.

The photos show black smoke and part of a painted launch pad apparently scorched away.

David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells The Associated Press: “Whatever happened there, it blew up and you’re looking at the smoldering remains of what used to be there.”

NPR first reported on the satellite images.

Iran was to launch the Nahid-1 satellite in the coming days. There had been activity at the space center in recent days.

There was no immediate reaction from Iran.

— AP

Federal charges for Ohio man who threatened Jewish community center

Federal authorities are announcing charges against an Ohio man accused of threatening a Jewish community center in a video police say shows him shooting a rifle.

Police in New Middletown in northeastern Ohio arrested 20-year-old James Reardon on Aug. 16 after police say he posted a video on Instagram last month of himself shooting a semiautomatic rifle.

This undated photo provided by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office shows James Reardon Jr, who is accused of threatening a Jewish center in Ohio. (Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The video included sounds of sirens and screaming with the caption: “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist.”

A federal charge filed Aug. 19 and unsealed today charges Reardon with transmitting threatening communications via interstate commerce.

Police say they found weapons and anti-Semitic information at Reardon’s home.

A message seeking comment was left with his attorney.

— AP

Blue and White slam Netanyahu-Feiglin election deal

Blue and White party pans the deal between Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Feiglin, accusing the prime minister of “buying” the Zehut party leader with a cabinet seat.

Blue and White, Netanyahu’s main rivals in the September 17 elections, say the prime minister was driven to make the deal in a bid to secure his immunity from prosecution.

“Netanyahu only cares about Netanyahu, and this time he bought Feiglin in exchange for immunity,” the party says in a statement. “Israelis understand the choice is between an immunity government that is only concerned with Netanyahu or a broad government under Blue and White, who will look out for all Israeli citizens.”

The prime minister is facing an indictment — pending a hearing — for corruption in three separate cases.

Reports surfaced repeatedly in the weeks before and after the April election claiming Netanyahu was demanding that Likud lawmakers and MKs from potential coalition partners agree to support granting him parliamentary immunity from prosecution in the graft cases as a precondition for joining his planned coalition.

Netanyahu has denied making such a demand of any party or lawmaker.

Trump administration proposing easing rules on climate-changing oil emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing revoking Obama-era regulations on climate-changing methane leaks from many oil facilities, a move that environmental groups say is meant to renounce the agency’s overall legal authority to regulate the gas in the fight against global warming.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the proposed rule follows US President Donald Trump’s directions to remove “unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry.”

An illustrative photo of an oil pump (Photo credit: Shutterstock images)
An illustrative photo of an oil pump (Photo credit: Shutterstock images)

The step will be the latest in a series easing the previous administration’s emissions controls on the oil, gas and coal industries, including a 2016 rule regulating oil-industry methane leaks as a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act.

Methane is a component of natural gas that’s frequently wasted through leaks or intentional releases during drilling operations. The gas is considered a more potent contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide, although it occurs in smaller volumes.

Under Trump, both the Interior Department and the EPA have proposed a series of rules — some blocked by courts — to loosen regulations of methane emissions.

— AP

Netanyahu reportedly tried to thwart Trump-Zariftalks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to intervene to stop the renewal of nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran, according to Channel 13 news.

The report says that Netanyahu reached out to Donald Trump several times during the G7 summit in France this week to make sure he would not meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, but the US president was not available to take his call.

US President Donald Trump, left, welcomes visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Both the White House and Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the report.

At the G7 summit on Monday, Trump said there was “really good chance” he could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, although Rouhani wants sanctions lifted before agreeing to such high-profile talks.

Judge ends case against Epstein, with a nod to the accusers

A judge has formally ended the criminal case against financier Jeffrey Epstein.

US District Judge Richard Berman grants prosecutors’ request to dismiss charges against Epstein after he killed himself in jail Aug. 10 while he was awaiting his sex trafficking trial.

This March 28, 2017 photo provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

The judge’s action was anticipated after Epstein’s death.

It comes after an unusual hearing Berman held Tuesday where sixteen women detailed how Epstein abused them. The women said he used his financial power and connections to famous people to make them vulnerable to sexual attacks that sometimes went on for years.

The allegations mirrored the criminal charges in which prosecutors said Epstein repeatedly assaulted women and teenage girls in the early 2000s.

Attorney General William Barr has promised the Justice Department will pursue those who enabled Epstein to carry out sex attacks.

— AP

IDF cancels leave for combat soldiers in northern Israel

The Israel Defense Forces cancels leave for all combat soldiers serving along the northern border, amid a tense standoff with the Iran-backed group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Combat troops are ordered to stay at their bases until further notice.

A picture taken on August 26, 2019, shows Israeli soldiers patrolling near the northern Israeli town of Avivim, close to the border with Lebanon. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

The directive comes after Israel accused Iran and Hezbollah of stepping up attempts to build missile-production facilities in Lebanon, warning that these efforts are putting Lebanon and its civilian population in danger.

Polls show Feiglin move makes virtually no difference for Netanyahu

The latest poll shows that Moshe Feiglin dropping out of the race and joining Likud for the upcoming elections makes virtually no difference in the distribution of seats.

The poll conducted by Channel 12 news shows Likud strengthening by one Knesset seat, but it comes at the expense of his likely coalition partners Yamina, and not his center and left rivals.

The poll conducted yesterday among 502 respondents has Likud winning 31 of the 120 Knesset seats if elections were held today, up from 30 seats Channel 12 poll conducted last Friday.

Gantz’s Blue and White is predicted to win 30 seats, the same as last week. The poll shows the Yamina list headed by Ayelet Shaked winning 10 seats, down from the 11 it was predicted to win last week.

Yamina is a right-wing slate that will likely be a part of Netanyahu’s coalition if he is reelected.

Assailants fire air rifle at Blue and White supporters in Rehovot

Unidentified assailants open fire with air rifle at Blue and White activists during a campaign events in Rehovot.

According to reports, the shots were fired from a moving car when party co-leader Yair Lapid got up to give a speech.

Police are investigating the incident, and are looking for the vehicle used in the drive-by.

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Iran satellite photos show burning space center launch pad

Satellite images appear to show the smoldering remains of a rocket at an Iranian space center that was to conduct a US-criticized satellite launch.

The satellite pictures were taken this morning of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran’s Semnan province.

The photos show black smoke and part of a painted launch pad apparently scorched away.

David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells The Associated Press: “Whatever happened there, it blew up and you’re looking at the smoldering remains of what used to be there.”

NPR first reported on the satellite images.

Iran was to launch the Nahid-1 satellite in the coming days. There had been activity at the space center in recent days.

There was no immediate reaction from Iran.

— AP