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Briefing :- 7/6/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 7th of June, 2017 :-

1. 12 killed, 39 injured in twin attacks on Iranian Parliament, shrine in Tehran :-

Twelve people were killed in twin attacks on Iran’s parliament complex and the shrine of its revolutionary leader claimed by the Islamic State group on Wednesday, its emergency services chief said.

Dozens of people were wounded in the attacks, which ended after a standoff lasting several hours as the gunmen holed up in parliamentary office buildings.

Iranian media said all four terrorists were killed and that the siege was over.

A security guard was killed when gunmen burst into Tehran’s parliament complex, while a gardener was killed when armed assailants entered the grounds of Khomeini’s mausoleum in the south of the city, the ISNA news agency reported.

Lawmaker Elias Hazrati said three assailants, one with a pistol and two with AK-47 assault rifles, raided parliament, according to the state television website.

ISNA news agency quoted a member of the parliament as saying that all the parliament doors were shut and one of the assailants was surrounded by the security forces.

One member of parliament told state broadcaster IRIB that there were four gunmen inside the parliamentary complex in central Tehran, armed with rifles and a pistol.

In a separate incident, an armed man opened fire at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini and wounded a number of people, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

ISNA quoted an unnamed source saying that the attacker at the mausoleum had blown himself up.

“Fighters from the Islamic State attacked the Khomeini mausoleum and the parliament building in Tehran,” the agency said, citing a “security source”.

Saurabh Kumar, Indian envoy to Iran has said no Indian has been harmed in the attacks.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini launched the Islamic revolution in 1979.

2. Debris from missing Myanmar military plane found in sea: Official :-

Debris from a missing Myanmar military plane carrying more than 100 people was found in the Andaman Sea late Wednesday, a local official and an air force source told AFP.

“Now they have found pieces of the damaged plane in the sea 136 miles (218 km) away from Dawei city,” said Naing Lin Zaw, a tourism official in Myeik city, adding that the navy was still searching the sea.

An air force source requesting anonymity confirmed a navy search and rescue ship had found pieces of the plane.

A Myanmar military plane carrying 116 people went missing on Wednesday between the southern city of Myeik and Yangon, according to the office of the army chief and an airport source.

“Communication was lost suddenly at about 1:35 pm (07:05 GMT) when it reached about 20 miles west of Dawei town,” the commander-in-chief’s office said in a statement.

An airport source said the plane was carrying 105 passengers and 11 crew when it took off.

The passengers were believed to mainly be family members of military men based in the coastal region.

“We think it was a technical failure. Weather is fine there,” the source told AFP, asking not to be named, adding there was no news of the plane so far.

3. U.S. President Donald Trump to nominate Christopher Wray as FBI Director :-

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he is tapping former Justice Department official Christopher Wray to serve as his new FBI director, on the eve of critical testimony by his ousted predecessor.

Wray, a partner at King & Spalding law firm in Washington and Atlanta, served as assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005, working closely with the FBI.

“I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

At King & Spalding, the Yale Law School graduate chairs a unit representing entities and individuals in white collar criminal and regulatory enforcement issues, civil litigation and internal corporate investigations, according to the law firm’s website.

At the Justice Department, he helped handle corporate fraud scandals, served on president George W. Bush’s Corporate Fraud Task Force and oversaw major fraud investigations including that of energy giant Enron.

He also helped coordinate the agency’s response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The announcement came just one day before sacked FBI director James Comey gives highly-anticipated testimony on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

Comey is expected to dispute Trump’s claim that the then-FBI chief told him multiple times that he was not under investigation, CNN reported, citing sources familiar with Comey’s thinking.

That potential bombshell testimony — in which Comey also may address whether Trump urged him to halt or ease up on an investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia — takes place before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Adding to the drama, a top-secret NSA report leaked this week examines repeated attempts by hackers from Russian military intelligence to break into US voting systems before last year’s presidential election.

Keen to crack down on leaks, the Trump administration quickly announced the arrest of 25-year-old intelligence contractor Reality Winner on charges she violated the espionage act.

No definitive evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia has yet come to light.

But the allegations have drawn a comparison to the 1970s Watergate scandal that brought down president Richard Nixon.

4. Trump asked ex-FBI director James Comey to end Flynn probe :-

U.S. President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end the agency’s investigation into ties between former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia, according to a source who has seen a memo written by Comey.

The explosive new development on Tuesday followed a week of tumult at the White House after Trump fired Comey and then discussed sensitive national security information about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Comey memo, first reported by the New York Times, caused alarm on Capitol Hill and raised questions about whether Trump tried to interfere with a federal investigation.

The White House quickly denied the report, saying in a statement it was “not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Comey wrote the memo after he met in the Oval Office with Trump, the day after the Republican president fired Flynn on Feb. 14 for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations last year with Russia’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak.

“I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey, according to a source familiar with the contents of the memo.

The New York Times said that during the Oval Office meeting, Trump condemned a series of government leaks to the news media and said the FBI director should consider prosecuting reporters for publishing classified information.

Coming the day after charges that Trump disclosed sensitive information to the Russians last week, the new disclosure further rattled members of Congress.

“The memo is powerful evidence of obstruction of justice and certainly merits immediate and prompt investigation by an independent special prosecutor,” said Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they wanted to see the memo.

Republican U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz, chairman of a House of Representatives oversight committee, said his committee “is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.”

Legal experts took a dim view of Trump’s comments, as quoted in the memo.

“For the president to tell the FBI to end a potential criminal investigation, that’s obstruction of justice,” said Erwin Chereminsky, a constitutional law professor and dean of University of California, Irvine School of Law. “This is what caused President Nixon to resign from office.”

But the experts said intent was a critical element of an obstruction of justice charge, and the president’s words could be subject to interpretation and possibly put into the context of other actions, like Comey’s termination.

The fact that the president apparently said he “hoped” Comey would end the Flynn investigation rather than more directly ordering it “makes for a weaker but still viable case,” said Christopher Slobogin, a criminal law professor at Vanderbilt University Law School.

Flynn’s resignation came hours after it was reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House weeks earlier that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail for contacts with Kislyak before Trump took office on Jan. 20.

Kislyak was with Lavrov at the White House when Trump disclosed the sensitive information.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment on the details of the memo.

An emailed fundraising appeal by Trump’s political organisation and the Republican National Committee sent out after reports of the Comey memo said Trump was being victimized by an “unelected bureaucracy.”

“You already knew the media was out to get us,” it said. “But sadly it’s not just the fake news… There are people within our own unelected bureaucracy that want to sabotage President Trump and our entire ‘America First’ movement.”

The new development came as Republican and Democratic lawmakers pressured Trump to give a fuller explanation for why he revealed sensitive intelligence information to Lavrov.

The information had been supplied by a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State militant group, the officials said.

5. Watergate ‘pales’ compared with Trump-Russia collusion : Former U.S. Intelligence head :-

The Watergate scandal pales in comparison to events in Washington surrounding US President Donald Trump and alleged links between his campaign and Russia, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Wednesday.

Clapper questioned Trump’s continued pro-Russian stance, saying his sharing of intelligence with Russia “reflect either ignorance or disrespect, and either is very problematic”.

“I think if you compare the two that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we’re confronting now,” Clapper told reporters in Canberra, Australia’s capital.

The break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington in 1972, and subsequent cover-up, brought down former Republican US President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Clapper’s appearance in Canberra comes before highly anticipated testimony by sacked FBI director James Comey before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday.

The committee is examining whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials to interfere in the US presidential election.

Trump in May removed Comey as director of FBI, despite a US Justice Department probe into contacts between presidential aides and Russia, raising the spectre of political interference in the investigation.

Trump has called the probe a “witch hunt” and said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Clapper said it was “inexplicable” that Trump continued his pro-Russia stance despite evidence Moscow sought to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.

“His subsequent actions, sharing sensitive intelligence with the Russians and compromising its source, reflect either ignorance or disrespect and either is very problematic,” said Clapper.

Trump disclosed highly classified information about a planned Islamic State operation to Russia’s foreign minister in an Oval Office meeting in May, two US officials have said.

6. India to elect new President on July the 17th :-

With President Pranab Mukherjee’s term in office coming to a closure on July 24, India will go on polls to elect their new President on July 17.

The counting of the votes will be done on July 20.

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced today that the last date of notification is June 14, while the last date of filing the nominations is June 28.

The scrutiny of nomination will be held on June 29 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is July 1.

The election will be held by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both the Houses of the Parliament –the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha elected members of all the state legislative assemblies and with the elected members of the legislative assembly of the Union Territories including Delhi and Puducherry.

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