In Iran deal, Obama sees validation for diplomatic gamble that has shaped his presidency
WASHINGTON (AP) — To President Barack Obama, the historic nuclear accord with Iran is a validation of an arduous, politically fraught diplomatic gamble, one he foreshadowed before winning the White House and one that will shape his legacy long after he leaves.
The deal to curb Iran's nuclear program may prevent Tehran from developing a bomb or being the target of U.S. military action during Obama's presidency. But whether the agreement succeeds in stemming Iran's nuclear ambitions after his tenure is a far murkier question.
The sheer amount of time and political capital Obama invested in the Iran talks has fueled speculation that he had too much on the line to walk away from the negotiating table, no matter the compromises in a final deal. Obama authorized secret talks with Iran in 2012, followed by nearly two years of formal negotiations alongside Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. His rapprochement with Iran sent U.S. relations with Israel plummeting to near-historic lows and deepened tensions with Congress.
Even with the high-stakes implications of an Iranian nuclear program at stake, the talks over time seemed to represent more than simply the quest for a deal. They were a referendum on Obama's belief that even America's most ardent enemies can be brought in line by wielding diplomacy and economic pressure instead of military might.
"It represents the core of who he is and what his presidency stands for," said Julianne Smith, a former Obama White House and Pentagon official. "He needs it to validate that approach."
In Arab world, worries that nuclear deal will boost Iran in power struggle across region
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The nuclear deal with Iran was met with a profound wariness in the Arab world, where concerns are widespread that the easing of its international isolation could tip the already bloody contest for power in the region toward Shiite-led Tehran.
Arab countries have deep fears of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, and some have been skeptical that a deal will prevent that from happening. But equally high for key Sunni-dominated Gulf allies of the United States is the worry that a deal gives Iran the means — through an economic windfall — and an implicit green light to push influence in the region.
The Arab world has been polarized for years in a worsening proxy conflict between Iran and Gulf powers, particularly Saudi Arabia, fueling Sunni-Shiite tensions and stoking wars. In Syria, Iran's support has ensured the survival of President Bashar Assad against Sunni rebels backed by Gulf nations in a devastating civil war, now in its fifth year. Yemen has been torn apart this year as Saudi Arabia, leading a coalition air campaign, has tried to help fend off Shiite rebels supported by Tehran. In Iraq, Saudi Arabia has opposed the growing power of Iran even since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein and the rise of a government led by Shiite politicians close to Iran.
"Deal or no deal, tension in the region is not going to go away," said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University. "If Iran is bent on acting as a hegemon, as a regional power, I think we are in for some difficult times."
Saudi Arabia issued a pointed warning, saying Iran must use any economic gains from the lifting of sanctions to improve the lives of Iranians, "rather than using them to cause turmoil in the region, a matter that will meet a decisive reaction from the nations of the region," in a statement carried on the state news agency late Tuesday.
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1. WHAT IRAN DEAL MEANS FOR OBAMA
The nuclear accord represents a validation of the president's diplomatic gamble, one that will shape his legacy long after he leaves office.
The Latest: Greek banks to remain shut through Thurs, after parliament votes on austerity
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest on Greece's financial crisis (all times local):
Greece's finance ministry says the banks will remain closed through Thursday.
The ministry says the transactions that can be carried out at the few bank branches that are allowed to open are being broadened. Apart from allowing pensioners without bank cards to withdraw 120 euros per week, they will also process payments for credit card bills, debts to the state like taxes and utility bills, and the payment of insurance company bills.
Greek economy on its knees even if bailout deal relieves worst fears over euro future
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece has a tentative rescue deal, but relief that it is not falling out of the euro is unlikely to last long: its economy has taken a huge hit.
Months of political brinkmanship, uncertainty and bank closures have hurt companies and brought everyday business to a standstill. And new economic measures meant to secure the bailout are forecast to put the country, which emerged last year from six years of economic crisis, through more misery.
"No one is producing. No one is buying. Everyone is scared," said 59-year-old Dimitris Farmakis, who has a cloth-making firm in Athens.
On top of a slump in demand, Farmakis' business is hit hard by a government limit on money transfers that makes it impossible to buy supplies from overseas. He's cut down on production and given his staff time off.
"In a few weeks we won't be producing due to these shortages," Farmakis said.
Tragic fatal encounter with police captured on video is released by Los Angeles federal judge
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The police dashboard cameras that captured officers shooting Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino only depict part of the tragedy of his death in a Los Angeles suburb two years ago.
Video released by a federal judge Tuesday after news media organizations argued the public had a right to see the footage showed Diaz-Zeferino disobeying orders to keep his hands up, but with his palms open by his waist.
Judge Stephen V. Wilson unsealed the video so the public could see what led the city of Gardena to pay $4.7 million to settle a lawsuit with Diaz-Zeferino's family and another man wounded in the shooting that followed a botched report of a bicycle theft early the morning of June 2, 2013.
"The fact that they spent the city's money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public's interest in seeing the videos," Wilson wrote in a 13-page decision. "Moreover, defendants cannot assert a valid compelling interest in sealing the videos to cover up any wrongdoing on their part or to shield themselves from embarrassment."
Against a backdrop of intense public scrutiny of police shootings nationwide, a lawyer for The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg argued the videos should be unsealed under a First Amendment right to access court documents.
First-hand look at Mexico drug lord's escape tunnel shows dimension of ingenuity, audacity
ALMOLOYA, Mexico (AP) — Mexico's most prized prisoner paced his cell, first to the latrine, then the shower, then the bed. At every turn around the tiny room, drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman checked the shower floor hidden by a half wall, because even jailed criminals get their privacy.
In his final sweep, Guzman sat on his bed and took off his shoes. Then he walked back to the shower, stooped behind the wall and disappeared. It was the beginning of an escape odyssey straight out of the pages of fiction, and the media were given a peek on Tuesday of the deep and sophisticated tunnel that led the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, whose illicit drug trafficking reach includes Europe and Asia, swiftly to freedom late Saturday night.
Government video of Guzman's final moments in his cell and a reporter's climb into the tunnel put real dimensions to a high-tech engineering feat three stories underground, where planners and builders managed to burrow through dirt and rock right to the one spot in Guzman's cell that surveillance cameras couldn't see.
Mexico's security commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said Tuesday that up to the moment Guzman disappeared, his pacing was considered normal for someone who lives in about 5 square meters (60 square feet) with only an hour a day outside for exercise. But there was nothing usual after he lifted a slab of concrete shower floor and descended into a warm and humid man-made underworld, where a motorcycle rigged to two carts on rails waited to whisk him away.
Guzman either rode on the bike or in one of the carts for a mile (1.5 kilometers) in the dirt tunnel built just high enough for a man called "Shorty" to stand without hitting his head. When he reached the other end, he climbed a wooden ladder through a large, wood-framed shaft with a winch overhead that had been used to drop construction supplies into the tunnel. After pulling himself up 17 rungs, he reached a small basement, where a blue power generator the size of a compact car provided the electricity to illuminate and pump oxygen into the underground escape route.
A year after MH17 brought down over Ukraine, relatives still grieving, waiting for answers
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — On their son Bryce's birthday this year, Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand and her husband Rob went to a Dutch air base, watched pall bearers solemnly unload seven coffins from a military cargo plane and wondered if they contained parts of the remains of Bryce or his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers.
For many families of the 298 people killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down July 17 last year over eastern Ukraine, uncertainty and agonizing waiting is still woven into the fabric of life a year later.
"Your world stops with a bang," Silene said at her home in Rotterdam, where flowers and mementos to Bryce and Daisy still dominate the living room. The couple's bedroom is still the same disorderly mess it was the day they left for a vacation to Bali. "Everything around you continues. You try to participate, but it's just hard."
As if waiting for remains of loved ones were not bad enough, families also still have not received conclusive answers to many questions about the crash: Who brought down the plane? Will the perpetrators ever face justice? Why was the Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur even flying over a war zone?
International investigators say it will be October before they publish the official cause of the crash. A Dutch-led criminal investigation into the downing won't be done until the end of the year — adding to family frustrations.
Money in the tank: Presidential election already fueled by $377 million for ads, polling, more
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press review shows that the 2016 presidential race has already collected roughly $377 million from donors.
The first peek behind the fundraising curtain comes by midnight Wednesday, when most candidates must file their initial reports to federal regulators.
Those documents will include the names of everyone who gave at least $200. The maximum contribution for the primary is $2,700. The Federal Election Commission reports also will provide details about spending.
Many super PACs, which do not have contribution limits, file reports in late July.
Ahead of the deadlines, many candidates and their supportive groups have publicized fundraising totals. Those numbers show that about half the money disclosed so far will benefit just two of the 22 presidential hopefuls, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush.
Teen finally makes it home after Wash. mountain plane crash; searchers find wreckage
SEATTLE (AP) — A teenager who survived a small plane crash, then managed to find her way off a rugged Washington state mountainside finally made it home to Bellingham, just as word came that searchers had located wreckage in the area where she emerged from the woods.
Aerial searchers reported spotting wreckage, but crews were not able to reach the heavily wooded north-central Washington site Tuesday night and no positive identification has been made of either the missing plane or its two missing occupants, Leland and Sharon Bowman of Marion, Montana, said Barbara LaBoe, a Washington state Transportation Department spokeswoman for the plane search.
LaBoe said efforts to reach the site would resume Wednesday. Search officials planned to assess whether air crews can be used and also will coordinate any ground crew searches with the Skagit County sheriff's office, she said.
Survivor Autumn Veatch, 16, has said the Bowmans, her step-grandparents, did not survive the Saturday crash. She provided searchers with clues to the location of the wreckage.
The plane piloted by Leland Bowman was bringing her home from a Montana visit.