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US President's son Hunter Biden convicted in firearms case (Ld)

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Washington, June 11 (IANS) A US jury on Tuesday found Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, guilty of all three crimes he was charged with in relation to a firearms case.

Biden faces a maximum punishment of 25 years but is more likely to get away with much less being a first-time offender.

President Biden can pardon him, but he has said repeatedly that he will not do so if his son is found guilty.

In a statement on the jury verdict, Joe Biden said, “As I said last week, I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today. So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride in seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery.

“As I also said last week, I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal. Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.”

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This is the first time that the child of a sitting US President has been tried on criminal charges and convicted.

The Junior Biden also faces a second trial in September for tax evasion.

Hunter Biden was charged with two counts of filing false information on forms he filled to buy a firearm in 2018. He had lied that he was not using narcotics at the time. The third count refers to possessing a firearm when he was using drugs.

He was tried in a federal court in Wilmington, the family’s hometown in Delaware state. The jury took only three hours to reach the verdict after the two sides wrapped up their final arguments on Monday.

Jill Biden, the first lady and Hunter Biden’s stepmother, had attended the trial on most days and was in the court just a few minutes after the verdict was read.

Biden’s conviction follows soon after another chapter was added to US history with Donald Trump becoming the first former President to be convicted of criminal charges.

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A New York jury had held him guilty on May 31 on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal payments to an adult film star to not speak out about an affair they had in 2005. Trump has denied the affair.

While his sentencing date has been set for July 11, Trump completed a key pre-sentencing interview with the authorities on Monday.

The two convictions are separated not only by the crimes, but also the manner in which the two men and their families have handled them.

Trump has railed the trial calling it politically motivated and has riled against the judge, attacking him personally and his family.

The Biden family has taken it stoically and said before that they will accept the verdict, which, as the jury said, is that Hunter Biden is guilty as charged.

Politically, the conviction is likely to weaken Trump’s allegations that the Biden-led White House has weaponised the justice department to stop him from running for the President’s post.

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As with everything else, Trump has a tenuous relationship with truth. The New York case was a state case, not federal. Two of the other three cases he faces are federal, and the third is a state case again. It’s the same justice department that prosecuted the President’s son and won a guilty verdict.

–IANS

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In rare move, US diverts missiles ordered by other countries to Ukraine

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Yashwant Raj Washington, June 20 (IANS) The US on Thursday announced, that in an “extraordinary” step, it was reprioritising “hundreds” of air defence missiles ordered by other countries and sending them instead to Ukraine for its defence from Russia.

These interceptor missiles are meant for American-supplied Patriot and NASAMS air defence systems.

The White House said missiles ordered by other countries will be delivered but will be delayed by at least 16 months. It refused to disclose the number of countries whose orders will be affected but said Taiwan was not among them.

Announcing the extraordinary measure, John Kirby, the spokesperson for the US National Security Council, said that the broader message for Russia was that “if you think you’re going to be able to outlast Ukraine, and if you think you’re gonna be able to outlast those of us who are supporting Ukraine, you’re just flat out wrong. And we’re going to make sure that we give you print the critical air defence capabilities they need now and into the future”.

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Asked about the number of these reprioritized missiles, he said they were “in the realm of the hundreds”.

Kirby went on to say the countries whose orders would be delayed had been informed and that they understood why the US was doing it.

“We have of course informed all the affected countries that we are taking this extraordinary step and we’re making every effort to minimize any negative impact to countries with affected foreign military sales cases. If any of our other partners were ever in a situation similar to Ukraine’s we would go to extraordinary lengths to support their security as well.”

These missiles will begin reaching Ukraine before the end of summer and the supplies will continue over the next 16 months, shoring up the country to defend its cities and populations from Russian missiles.

US President Joe Biden has committed his administration to defend Ukraine for as long as it takes and has sent billions of dollars worth of defence equipment by itself and with allies in Europe and Asia.

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–IANS

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Israeli army says they killed a Hezbollah commander in south Lebanon

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Beirut/Tel Aviv, June 20 (IANS/DPA) The Israeli army said on Thursday that they killed another pro-Iranian Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon.

It said that “terrorist Fadel Ibrahim” was eliminated by an Israeli aircraft in a precise strike in the area of Deir Kifa in southern Lebanon.

The army said: “Ibrahim was the commander of Hezbollah operations in the Jouaiyya area, as part of his role, Ibrahim was responsible for planning and carrying out terror attacks against Israel and commanding Hezbollah ground forces in the area of Jouaiyya.”

Hezbollah confirmed his death and said that in response to the attack in Deir Kifa, the Shiite militia reportedly fired dozens of rockets at targets in northern Israel.

The Lebanese news agency NNA had previously reported that one person was killed in a drone strike on a car in the affected area.

There were also Israeli attacks on other places in southern Lebanon like Khiyam and Iqlim al-Tuffah region.

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The Israeli military also said it had destroyed a rocket launcher on Lebanese soil.

There are concerns that the conflict between the Israeli military and the Hezbollah militia will continue to expand.

–IANS/DPA

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Over 3300-year-old cargo ship uncovered off Israel's coast

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Jerusalem, June 20 (IANS) An over 3,300-year-old ship’s cargo of hundreds of intact Canaanite storage amphorae was revealed at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, 90 km off Israel’s coast, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the London-based gas and oil company Energean said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The IAA said that under the cargo, found 1.8 km deep in the sea, is probably the skeleton of a 12-14 meter-long ship, as yet unexcavated, the oldest found in the world in the deep seas.

Last year, the ship was discovered by an underwater robot during a survey by Energean, which operates in the Israeli gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Energean and the IAA recently conducted a complex operation to extract two sample amphorae from opposite ends of the ship to minimize disturbance to the intact assemblage of the ship and its cargo.

The IAA noted that the ship likely sank due to a storm or an attempted piracy attack, which were common events in the late Bronze Age.

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Examination revealed that the amphora type found in the cargo was designed for efficiently transporting relatively cheap, mass-produced products such as oil, wine, and other agricultural goods like fruit.

The large quantity of amphorae on board indicates significant commercial ties between their country of origin and the ancient Near Eastern lands on the Mediterranean coast, the IAA said.

It added that this period saw a rise in international commerce, with organised commercial networks, tax collection, and trade supervision.

Advancements in ship manufacturing allowed for greater cargo volumes, boosting the status of port cities in the eastern Mediterranean, with goods transported in amphorae to the Aegean Sea, Crete, and Mycenaean Greece.

–IANS/DPA

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German minister says deal soon for deporting Afghans, Syrians

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Potsdam (Germany), June 20 (IANS/DPA) German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has expressed confidence that the country will soon find ways to deport immigrants convicted of serious crimes or deemed Islamist threats to Afghanistan and Syria.

“We are in concrete negotiations on this and are confident that we will be able to achieve this for this group,” Faeser said on Thursday at a meeting with the state interior ministers from Germany’s 16 federal states just outside Berlin.

There are only a small number of such people, Faeser stressed. She said the German government is examining the extent to which repatriation via neighbouring countries would be possible in the case of Afghan nationals, citing Uzbekistan as a country that had been previously discussed.

However, Faeser did not want to publicly name any countries with which talks are ongoing out of fears of “jeopardizing the concrete negotiations we are currently conducting.”

Germany halted deportations to Afghanistan after the Taliban, a radical Islamist group, seized power over the country in August 2021.

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But resuming deportations to Afghanistan and war-torn Syria has been a hot-button issue in Germany, particularly in the wake of the slaying of a policeman by a knife-wielding Afghan migrant during an attack in the German city of Mannheim in May.

–IANS/DPA

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Egyptian consular teams search for missing Haj pilgrims in Saudi hospitals

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Cairo, June 20 (IANS/DPA) The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it has deployed consular teams in Mecca and the holy sites to find missing Egyptians, amid reports that hundreds have died due to intense heat during the Haj pilgrimage.

Consular teams are currently visiting hospitals to find Egyptian citizens receiving treatment or bodies of those who have passed away and match them with lists of people reported missing by their relatives, the ministry said in a statement.

Unconfirmed reports said that hundreds of Egyptians died during the Haj. The privately-owned Masrawy website published a report under the headline “A terrifying toll,” which included a list with names of 323 Egyptians who have reportedly died during the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

However, authorities have not released any official toll.

The foreign ministry said that since there is a large number of Egyptian pilgrims who are not registered with the official Haj database, it needs “double the effort and longer time to search for those missing and find their relatives.”

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The ministry said it will continue “to exert all efforts in coordination with the Saudi authorities to ensure finding the missing Egyptian citizens as quickly as possible,” and secure their return back home.

Some 1.8 pilgrims took part in this year’s Haj, one of the five pillars of Islam, which began in Mecca on Friday evening in blistering heat.

The temperature in Mecca and other nearby holy sites hovered around 50 degrees Celsius through Tuesday’s final pilgrimage day.

–IANS/DPA

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