US: Saudis recruited Twitter workers to spy on users
SAN FRANCISCO — The Saudi government recruited two Twitter employees to get personal account information of their critics, prosecutors said Wednesday.
A complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi government officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of thousands of Twitter accounts.
The accounts included those of a popular journalist with more than 1 million followers and other prominent government critics.
It also alleged that the employees — whose jobs did not require access to Twitter users’ private information — were rewarded with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts. They were charged with acting as agents of Saudi Arabia without registering with the U.S. government.
The Saudi government had no immediate comment through its embassy in Washington.
Deadly ambush shows Mexico lost control of area
COLONIA LEBARON, Mexico — When drug cartel gunmen opened fire on American women and children in northern Mexico, the Mexican Army, the National Guard and Sonora state police were not there to protect them. It took them about eight hours just to arrive.
To villagers and others, the bloodshed seemed to demonstrate once more that the government has lost control over vast areas of the country to the drug traffickers.
“The country is suffering very much from violence,” said William Stubbs, a pecan and alfalfa farmer who serves on a community security committee in the American-dominated hamlet of Colonia LeBaron. “You see it all over. And it ain’t getting better. It’s getting worse.”
The lack of law enforcement in rural areas like the northern states of Chihuahua and Sonora once led the dual U.S.-Mexican residents of places like Colonia LeBaron to form their own civilian defense patrols.
Stubbs said that after the 2009 killing of anti-crime activist Benjamin LeBaron, residents positioned themselves each night for two years with high-powered binoculars to keep watch from the large “L” for “LeBaron” that stands on a hillside above the town.
Europeans look to China as global partner, shun Trump’s US
PARIS — When France’s president wants to carry European concerns to the world stage to find solutions for climate change, trade tensions or Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he no longer calls Washington. He flies to Beijing.
President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China this week suggests that the United States risks being sidelined on the global stage under President Donald Trump. One moment spoke volumes: Chinese President Xi Jinping sampling French wines, which Trump’s administration recently slapped with heavy new tariffs.
Macron portrayed himself as an envoy for the whole European Union, conveying the message that the bloc has largely given up on Trump, who doesn’t hide his disdain for multilateralism.
Just as the Trump administration formally launched the process of pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement , France and China issued a “Beijing call” on Wednesday for increased global cooperation in fighting climate change and better protecting biodiversity. Both countries have deplored the U.S. withdrawal.
“One country’s isolated choice can’t change the course of the world. It only leads to marginalization,” Macron said.
AP Analysis: Activity at Iran’s nuclear site raises risks
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Ten years ago while flanked by the leaders of Britain and France, then-President Barack Obama revealed to the world that Iran had built a “covert uranium enrichment facility” amid tensions with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
A decade later, Iran’s Fordo facility is back in the news as Iran prepared Wednesday to inject uranium gas into the more than 1,000 centrifuges there to pressure the world after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Tehran’s nuclear deal.
The resumption of nuclear activity at Fordo pushes the risk of a wider confrontation involving Iran even higher after months of attacks across the Middle East that the U.S. blames on Tehran. Israel, which has carried out pre-emptive airstrikes on its adversaries’ nuclear programs in the past, also is repeating a warning that it will not allow Iran to have atomic weapons.
Tehran, which maintains its program is peaceful, is gambling that its own maximum pressure campaign will be enough to push Europe to offer it a way to sell Iranian crude oil abroad despite U.S. sanctions
Activity at Fordo, just north of the Shiite holy city of Qom, remains a major concern for nuclear nonproliferation experts. Buried under a mountain and protected by anti-aircraft batteries, Fordo appears designed to withstand airstrikes. Its construction began at least in 2007, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, although Iran only informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog about the facility in 2009.
Safety questions still swirl in Paradise year after wildfire
PARADISE, Calif. — There was “no way in hell” Victoria Sinclaire was rebuilding in Paradise.
She’d thought she was going to die during the six hours it took her to escape the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. The town where she’d raised her family was nearly wiped out, two of her three cats had disappeared into the flames, and she “was done.”
Sinclaire and tens of thousands of others in nearby communities fled the wind-whipped inferno that killed 85 people and incinerated roughly 19,000 homes, businesses and other buildings on Nov. 8, 2018.
Despite her vow to stay away, Sinclaire’s family was one of the first to rebuild, braving the enduring threat of wildfires, and now, repeated power outages as the nation’s largest utility tries to prevent its equipment from sparking blazes on windy days like it did in Paradise a year ago.
Weeks after the fire, Sinclaire had an epiphany when she returned to the ruins of her home, where she raised a daughter and nearly two dozen foster children over eight years. Even rescue groups eventually found her two missing cats.