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US drops charges against guards on duty when Epstein committed suicide

US prosecutors on Thursday dismissed charges against two New York prison guards who admitted to falsifying records on the night the US financier Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in his cell in 2019.

The decision came a day after Epstein’s long-time associate British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of recruiting young girls to be sexually abused by him.

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Federal prosecutors signed a “nolle prosequi” to drop charges against former guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas after the two completed community service work as part of an earlier legal agreement.

The New York prison warders had been indicted in November 2019, three months after Epstein’s death by hanging in his cell in August as he was awaiting trial for sex crimes.

They were accused of not having made their rounds on the night of August 9 to 10, 2019, and of having remained in their office, surfing the Internet.

Noel and Thomas admitted to forging documents to make it appear that they had made their rounds that night.

Epstein, a multimillionaire financier and member of the US and international jet set, was found dead at dawn on August 10. The autopsy concluded suicide by hanging, although his sudden death in custody fueled widespread controversy and conspiracy theories.

Then-US attorney general William Barr denounced “serious” lapses in the allegedly secure prison where Epstein had been held since his arrest in July 2019 and prosecuted for sex crimes, in particular against young girls.

On Wednesday, Epstein’s companion and accomplice Maxwell was found guilty by a Manhattan federal court of a series of crimes including trafficking in young girls between 1994 and 2004 for the benefit of Epstein.

Maxwell, 60, faces decades in prison although a sentencing date has not yet been set.

Her brother Kevin Maxwell told ABC News Thursday that he was convinced of his sister’s innocence and that her appeal would prove successful, even though he believed Epstein was guilty of the crimes he was charged with.

“The reality is that there are myriad jury cases, miscarriages of justice involving juries, where the verdicts have been overturned on appeal. This will just be yet another one,” Maxwell said.

Read more:

Ghislaine Maxwell convicted in Epstein sex abuse case

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Israel has not met requirements to join Visa Waiver Program: US

Israel has not met eligibility requirements to join the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP), the US State Department said on Wednesday, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected his country to join soon.

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Israel is yet to grant free passage for Palestinian-Americans at its airports and into the occupied West Bank, which Washington says is required for Israel to meet the condition of reciprocity to join the program, which would allow Israelis visa-free access to the United States.

Israel “still has significant work to complete on a short timeline to meet all program requirements” by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said by email.

The apparent discord came as tensions spiked between the allies over a contested Israeli judicial overhaul plan.

Netanyahu said earlier on Wednesday that new legislation meant Israel would join in September, and that Israel would in the coming months address outstanding requirements, which it did not detail.
It was unclear if Israel planned to change its approach to Palestinian-Americans.

“Participation in the VWP requires that Israel provide equal treatment and entry rights to all US citizens and nationals, at Israel’s ports of entries and checkpoints, just as the United States would grant such visa-free travel privileges to Israeli citizens,” said the State Department's Patel.

“This includes Palestinian-Americans, including those on the Palestinian Authority population registry.”

Before Netanyahu's announcement, his national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said on Twitter that parliament was due to ratify the last of four bills “that will advance us toward getting the US visa waiver for the citizens of Israel.”

That appeared to refer to the Knesset plenum’s approval in final readings on Wednesday of a law setting up a new national immigration database linked with airline passenger manifests.

Washington had previously called for greater access to databases in Israel about its travelers to the United States.

Read more:

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White House: US doesn’t believe civil war will break out in Israel

Israel’s President Herzog urges immediate halt to judicial overhaul

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Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan appointed as UAE VP

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has appointed Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the country’s vice president and Minister of Presidential Court, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Wednesday.

Sheikh Mansour was appointed alongside current VP Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, according to WAM.

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Top US general warns of high ammo use in event of major war

America’s top military officer warned Wednesday that war between the United States and another major power would see “off the charts” munitions consumption and said there is work to be done to ensure the country is prepared.

Ukraine and Russia have fired huge amounts of artillery ammunition since Moscow invaded its neighbor in February 2022, sparking concerns about the amount the United States — which has supplied large amounts of shells to Kyiv — has on hand.

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A “big lesson learned comes out of Ukraine, which is the incredible consumption rates of conventional munitions in what really is a limited regional war,” General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee.

“If there was a war on the Korean peninsula or a great power war between United States and Russia, United States and China, those consumption rates would be off the charts,” he said.

“We’ve got a ways to go to make sure our… stockpiles are prepared for the real contingencies.”

Milley’s remarks came a day after Undersecretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo said the United States aims to greatly expand the production of artillery shells.

“We’re… investing in production capacity — $1.45 billion to expand the 155 mm artillery production from 14,000 a month to over 24,000 later this year, which includes a sixfold increase in production capacity by FY28 to over 85,000 units per month,” he said at an Association of the United States Army symposium.

The country is also seeking to increase production of Javelin launchers and missiles as well as ammunition for HIMARS precision rocket launchers — equipment that has played a key role in Ukraine’s fight against Russian troops, Camarillo said.

Read more: Russia did not intercept B-52 bombers over Baltic Sea: US Air Force

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