Israeli intel agencies believe Vienna talks will lead to U.S. return to Iran nuclear deal

Associated Press

Iran offers upbeat assessment of progress in nuclear talks

A senior Iranian official offered a cautiously upbeat assessment of progress in talks aimed at bringing the United States back into world powers’ 2015 deal with Tehran on its nuclear program, saying Saturday that a “new understanding” appears to be taking shape. Iran has been negotiating with the five powers that remain in the agreement — France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China — in Vienna over the past two weeks. An American delegation also has been in Vienna, but not talking directly to Iran.

Reuters

Iran, China say signs of progress at nuclear talks

VIENNA (Reuters) -A new understanding is emerging at talks aimed at salvaging Iran’s nuclear deal with global powers, Tehran’s chief negotiator said on Saturday according to Iranian state media, as China’s delegate also reported progress. Abbas Araqchi said after a meeting of remaining parties to the 2015 deal that the Iranian delegation had submitted proposed texts on nuclear issues and the lifting of sanctions, and that work on a common text, “at least in areas where there are common views”, could begin.

Associated Press

High-ranking Iranian general dies of heart disease at 65

A high-ranking general key to Iran’s security apparatus has died, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced on Sunday. Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi, who died at 65, served as deputy commander of the Quds, or Jerusalem, force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. The unit is an elite and influential group that oversees foreign operations, and Hejazi helped lead its expeditionary forces and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

Reuters

Saudi and Iran held talks aimed at easing tensions, say sources

The April 9 meeting in Iraq, first reported www.ft.com/content/852e94b8-ca97-4917-9cc4-e2faef4a69c8 by the Financial Times on Sunday, did not lead to any breakthrough, the Iranian official and one of the regional sources familiar with the matter said. The regional source said the meeting focused on Yemen, where a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi group since March 2015. “This was a low-level meeting to explore whether there might be a way to ease ongoing tensions in the region,” the Iranian official said, adding that it was based on Iraq’s request.

Axios

Republican leaders raked in sizable donations from grassroots supporters

Republican leaders turned to grassroots supporters and raked in sizable donations after corporations cut them off post-Jan. 6.Why it matters: If those companies hoped to push the GOP toward the center, they may have done just the opposite by turning Republican lawmakers toward their most committed — and ideologically driven — supporters.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeBy the numbers: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign committee didn’t get a single corporate PAC donation during the first quarter of the year, new reports show.Compare that to Q1 2019, when the McConnell Senate Committee received $625,000 from 157 corporate PACs and trade associations.Yet McConnell’s total haul this year was about $100,000 larger than the same period last cycle. The Kentuckian brought in more than $1.9 million — all from individual donors.That included more than $700,000 from “unitemized” donations, or those under $200, compared to less than $200,000 in that classification during Q1 2019.The same pattern is evident for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. His campaign received nearly $2.2 million in contributions from January through March, compared with under $1.7 million during the first quarter of 2019.Like McConnell, McCarthy did it with next to no corporate support. The Californian got more than $300,000 from 66 companies and trade groups in Q1 2019.This year, just two PACs — the National Federation of Independent Businesses and a trade group representing California beet growers — gave him a total of $2,800.Small-dollar donations to McCarthy also spiked: he received nearly $1.4 million in unitemized donations, compared with under $190,000 during Q1 2019.The big picture: January’s Capitol insurrection and subsequent fights over voting rights laws drove a wedge between corporate America and their traditional Republican allies.Many businesses stopped giving while they reviewed their policies and lawmaker behavior, forcing lawmakers to look elsewhere.While McConnell raked in individual donations, he also became the face of the GOP’s feud with corporate America. He warned of “serious consequences” for companies that use financial and political muscle to advance policy goals at odds with the GOP.His fundraising appeals, meanwhile, plugged issues sure to resonate with the party’s grassroots, such as voter fraud, media bias and “cancel culture.”Between the lines: It’s those sorts of issues — as well as public fealty to former President Donald Trump — that have produced some of the GOP’s biggest fundraising successes of late. Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas — who drew corporate America’s ire for leading efforts to block certification of President Biden’s victory — both posted mammoth first-quarter fundraising numbers, despite bringing in a combined total of just $4,400 in corporate PAC money.Far-right freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who was stripped of her committee assignments in February, received more than $3.2 million in Q1, more than any other non-leadership House member of either party. More than three quarters of it came from small-dollar donations.In Arkansas, former Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ gubernatorial campaign shattered state fundraising records, bringing in over $4.8 million in the first quarter.Yes, but: Some GOP members of Congress who voted to impeach Trump also posted impressive first-quarter fundraising numbers.Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the House GOP conference chair and one of Trump’s most high-profile Republican critics, raised about $1.5 million. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) brought in more than $1.1 million.Many of those members have also attracted GOP primary challengers and drawn Trump’s personal ire. Their opponents likely will be strong grassroots fundraisers going forward.Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.

Reuters

Israel and Greece sign record defence deal

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israel and Greece have signed their biggest ever defence procurement deal, which Israel said on Sunday would strengthen political and economic ties between the countries and the two countries’ air forces launched a joint exercise. The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training centre for the Hellenic Air Force by Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period, Israel’s defence ministry said. The training centre will be modelled on Israel’s own flight academy and will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italy’s Leonardo, the ministry said.

Associated Press

Suburban Minneapolis police shoot, kill alleged carjacker

Police in suburban Minneapolis shot and killed a man Sunday afternoon who was allegedly involved in a carjacking and fired shots at pursuing officers, according to a release from the Burnsville Police Department. The release said officers encountered the suspect, believed to be a white man in his 20s, driving a vehicle with stolen plates in Burnsville, south of Minneapolis. Shortly after the suspect crashed the vehicle, officers received a report that the same man had then stolen a car from a woman at gunpoint.

Associated Press

China says US-Japan actions are stoking division

China hit back at the U.S.-Japan show of alliance during talks between President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, calling it an “ironic attempt of stoking division.” China said Suga and Biden’s news conference Friday, in which they issued a joint statement on shared values in democracy and human rights and aired concerns about China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific region, had gone “far beyond the scope of normal development of bilateral relations.”

Associated Press

Highlights: An interview with China’s vice foreign minister

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng spoke with The Associated Press on a range of issues from U.S.-China relations to human rights. Le took on President Joe Biden’s strategy of working with others in Europe and Asia to confront China, a concern for Chinese policy makers. “The Biden administration is saying that the U.S. has returned to multilateralism,” he said.

Reuters

U.S. stops short of branding Vietnam, Switzerland, Taiwan currency manipulators

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday said Vietnam, Switzerland and Taiwan tripped its thresholds for possible currency manipulation under a 2015 U.S. trade law, but refrained from formally branding them as manipulators. In the first semi-annual foreign exchange report issued by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the Treasury said it will commence “enhanced engagement” with Taiwan and continue such talks with Vietnam and Switzerland after the Trump administration labeled the latter two as currency manipulators in December.

Reuters

Hong Kong bans flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for 2 weeks

Hong Kong will suspend flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines from April 20 for two weeks after the N501Y mutant COVID-19 strain was detected in the Asian financial hub for the first time, authorities said in a statement late on Sunday. The three countries would be classified as “extremely high risk” after there had been multiple imported cases carrying the strain into Hong Kong in the past 14 days, the government said. Hong Kong has recorded over 11,600 cases in total and 209 deaths.

Reuters

‘A very good weird’: Israel drops outdoor COVID mask order

Israelis went about barefaced on Sunday after the order to wear masks outdoors was rescinded in another step towards relative normality thanks to the country’s mass-vaccination against COVID-19. With about 81% of citizens or residents over 16 – the age group eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Israel – having received both doses, contagions and hospitalisations are down sharply. But entry by foreigners is still limited and non-immune Israelis who return from abroad must self-isolate, due to concern virus variants could challenge the vaccine.

SPIN

Kathleen Hanna and Ad-Rock Talk Bikini Kill, Beastie Boys With Dan Rather

Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna are the latest subjects on Dan Rather’s special “Musical Family” themed season of The Big Interview. In a clip from the show, Ad-Rock discusses last year’s Beastie Boys documentary and Hanna reflects on the catalyst that sparked Bikini Kill’s 2019 reunion. “Part of it was…

Associated Press

Macron says nations must ‘define red lines’ with Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron says that while dialogue with Russia is essential, “clear red lines” carrying possible sanctions must also be drawn with Moscow over Ukraine. Referring to a recent buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, Macron said in an interview with American broadcaster CBS News, “We will never accept new military operations on Ukrainian soil.” “And I think after an unacceptable behavior, indeed, we have to sanction,” Macron said when asked about the possibility of sanctions.

Variety

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Tops Box Office Again, Crosses $80 Million in the U.S.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” remained atop the domestic box office in its third weekend of release. The Legendary and Warner Bros. movie added another $7.7 million from 3,001 theaters, boosting its North American tally to $80.5 million. The film looks to be the first to cross $100 million in the U.S and Canada since the pandemic […]

The Telegraph

Former archbishop’s aide faces questions over ‘missing’ £300,000

An aide to the former Archbishop of Canterbury faces questions from the charity watchdog over allegations that proceeds from the sale of a £300,000 church property “disappeared”. The Charity Commission is assessing allegations that two leading bishops “beguiled” elderly congregants to sign over their status as trustees of church properties for “precisely nothing”. It is claimed that proceeds from the sale of property meant for the benefit of local congregations have allegedly “disappeared without an audit trail”. The commission is examining complaints from trustees over possible irregularities in charity accounts overseen by the Bishop Primus and Bishop of the Northern Diocese, the Rt Rev Dr John Fenwick – a former adviser to Lord Carey, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury – and the Bishop of the Southern Diocese, the Rt Rev Paul Hunt. West Midlands Police said it was reviewing an allegation of fraud to establish if any offences may have been committed. Bishop Fenwick leads the Free Church of England, a splinter group from the Church of England that was forged in the mid 19th century. He is supported in his role by Bishop Hunt. It is alleged that Bishop Fenwick assured congregants that £300,000 from the sale of St Stephen’s Church in Middlesbrough was being held in the FCE Central Trust. However, the complainants say the company’s records do not show any record of the money being deposited. The commission has received allegations that the transfer of property from congregants to the trust has happened because “frail, elderly” trustees are “being persuaded that it will relieve them of the stresses of trusteeship and safeguard the future of the property”. The watchdog is also assessing claims that the trust was registering local churches’ land and buildings in its name without ever paying for them, nor reflecting their value in the accounts. “Perhaps [this is] because Bishop Fenwick has been persuading befuddled, elderly and weary local church trustees to sign over their properties to Central Trust for precisely nothing,” one complainant alleged. The commission is also assessing an allegation that around £30,000 “disappeared without an audit trail” from the bank account of Emmanuel Free Church of England, Morecambe, in 2017. The FCE Central Trust responded on behalf of both bishops, saying it “vigorously refutes the allegations”. “If they are indeed the subject of Charity Commission and police investigations (though the Trust has been contacted by neither) then it would be inappropriate to comment further,” it said. Bishop Fenwick said St Stephen’s Church was sold after consultation with the congregation because it was “found to be in a dangerous state of repair”. He said a portion of the proceeds of the sale were used to hire a minister – for £24,000 per year, plus accommodation costs and expenses – in the hope of “reviving the congregation” in April 2018. After two years, “there had been no significant growth in the size of the congregation”, and the minister was made redundant in February 2021.