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German minister accuses Qatar of funding Islamic State fighters

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BERLIN (Reuters) – German Development Minister Gerd Mueller accused Qatar on Wednesday of financing Islamic State militants who have seized wide areas of northern Iraq and have posted a video of a captive American journalist being beheaded.

“This kind of conflict, this kind of a crisis always has a history … The ISIS troops, the weapons – these are lost sons, with some of them from Iraq,” Mueller told German public broadcaster ZDF.

“You have to ask who is arming, who is financing ISIS troops. The keyword there is Qatar – and how do we deal with these people and states politically?” said Mueller, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the center-right Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Mueller did not elaborate and presented no evidence of a Qatari link to Islamic State. A German government spokesman said he was checking whether Mueller’s remarks reflected the official view of Berlin.

Officials at the Foreign Ministry of Qatar, a wealthy Gulf Arab state, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his accusation.

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Qatar has denied that it supports Islamist insurgents in Syria and Iraq. Diplomats and opposition sources say that while Qatar supports relatively moderate rebels also backed by Saudi Arabia and the West, it also has backed more hardline factions seeking to set up a strict Islamic state.

In March, David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, cited reports of Qatari backing for Islamist fighters in Syria and described this as a “permissive jurisdiction” for donors funding militants.

Qatar has also strongly backed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed since the Egyptian military overthrew an elected Islamist president in 2013, and has given refuge to many foreign Islamists including from Hamas and the Taliban.

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Proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has overrun broad swathes of Sunni Muslim-populated northern and western Iraq with little resistance. They have pushed back Kurdish regional forces allied with the Baghdad central government and driven tens of thousands of minority communities including Christians and Yazidis from their homes.

Islamic State circulated a video on Tuesday that purported to show the beheading of American journalist James Foley in revenge for U.S. air strikes against the insurgents in Iraq.

Germany’s foreign and defense ministers said on Wednesday that Germany was prepared to send arms to Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq fighting Islamic State and would immediately deliver military equipment such as helmets and security vests.

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(Reporting by Michelle Martin, Amena Bakr and Angus McDowall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


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Pence abruptly canceled trip because person he was meeting was about to be busted by the feds

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The White House abruptly canceled a planned trip to New Hampshire to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from being seen with somebody about to be busted for interstate drug trafficking of fentanyl, Politico reported Monday.

"Among the problems was a federal law enforcement probe involving individuals Pence would likely encounter, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the incident. If Pence stepped off the vice presidential aircraft, one of the people he would have seen on the ground was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration for moving more than $100,000 of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire," Politico reported.

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‘Do you love Puerto Rico?’: Fox News’ Shep Smith rips governor to shreds

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Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló was outed for cold and heartless comments he exchanged about his own island in wake of the horrific hurricanes that destroyed the island in 2017. He's also being forced to ask questions about the corruption involving the funding for hurricane relief. Nearly 1 million people have taken to the streets demanding accountability and action.

In his first interview, Rosselló may have assumed he'd meet a friendly audience on Fox News, but Shep Smith let him have it.

"The corruption is rampant in Puerto Rico," Smith said. "Economically Puerto Rico is in a fiscal crisis, $70 billion in debt and a 13-year recession. In the leaked 900 pages of profanity-laced messages, dubbed RickyGate, after you, sir, you made light of the casualties of the Hurricane Maria, you tossed homophobic and misogynistic remarks, You were calling the former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverit a whore. Of the oversight board that rules Puerto Rico's finances, you said, 'Go F-yourself. And when your representative to that board said he is salivating to shoot the woman who is the mayor of San Juan, you said, 'You’d be doing me a grand favor.' So, attacks on woman, gays, dead relatives on your own island and after that who is left to support you? Is it even safe for you to govern?"

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Puerto Ricans launch biggest protest yet against governor

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Angry protesters blocked the main road in Puerto Rico's capital on Monday as they launched what was expected to be the largest yet of a wave of demonstrations seeking the resignation of the US territory's embattled governor.

Marching under sunny skies in San Juan, the demonstrators sang, chanted, danced and carried the territory's red, white and blue flag with a lone star.

Altogether, hundreds of thousands were expected to turn out.

Puerto Ricans are up in arms over alleged corruption involving money meant to be for victims of Hurricane Maria in 2017, which left nearly 3,000 dead.

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