Authorities in Gibraltar said they intercepted Thursday a super tanker believed to be breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to war-ravaged Syria, while a senior Spanish official said the operation was requested by the United States. Gibraltar port and law enforcement agencies, assisted by Britain's Royal Marines, boarded the Grace 1 early Thursday, authorities on the British overseas territory at the tip of Spain said in a statement. It added that the vessel was believed to be headed to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria, which is a government-owned facility under the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad and subject to the EU's Syrian Sanctions Regime. The EU, and others, has imposed sanctions on Assad's government over its continued crackdown against civilians. They currently target 270 people and 70 entities. Spain's caretaker foreign minister said the tanker was stopped by British authorities after a request from the United States. Josep Borrell told reporters in Madrid that Spain is assessing the implications of the operation because the detention took place in waters it considers its own. Britain insists Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom but Spain argues that it is not, and the tanker operation risks offending the Spanish. "We're looking into how this (operation) affects our sovereignty," said Borrell, who was nominated earlier this week to become the EU's foreign policy chief. The Spanish claim that the U.S. requested the operation switched attention to whether the tanker was carrying Iranian crude. The Gibraltar authorities didn't confirm the origin of the ship's cargo but Lloyd's List, a publication specialized in maritime affairs, reported this week that the Panama-flagged large carrier was laden with Iranian oil. Experts were said to have concluded that it carried oil from Iran because the tanker wasn't sending geographic information while in Iranian waters. According to a U.N. list, the ship is owned by the Singapore-based Grace Tankers Ltd. According to the data firm Refinitv, the vessel likely carried just over 2 million barrels of Iranian crude oil. Tracking data showed that the tanker made a slow trip around the southern tip of Africa before reaching the Mediterranean. The tanker's detention comes at a particularly sensitive time as tensions between the U.S. and Iran grow over the unraveling of a 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from last year. Trump has also slapped sanctions onto Iran and recently approved the passage of a carrier group, bombers and fighter jets to the Persian Gulf. In recent days, Iran has broken through the limit the deal put on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and plans on Sunday to boost its enrichment. Meanwhile, oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz have been targeted in mysterious attacks as Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen launch bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia. The U.S. has rushed thousands of additional troops, an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and F-22 fighters to the region, raising fears of a miscalculation sparking a wider conflict. Last month Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone, further stoking those fears. Iran's intelligence minister said Thursday that any negotiations with the U.S. would have to be approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and would require the lifting of U.S. sanctions. Khamenei has until now ruled out talks with the U.S., saying that Washington cannot be trusted. On Thursday, the official IRNA news agency quoted Information Minister Mahmoud Alavi as saying "if the supreme leader permits, negotiations between Iran and the United States will be held." He added, however, that Tehran would not negotiate under pressure. There was no immediate reaction to the tanker's detention from Syria, which has suffered severe fuel shortages as a result of the civil war and Western sanctions that have crippled the country's oil industry, once the source of 20 percent of government revenues. Iran, which has provided vital military support to Assad, extended a $3 billion credit line for oil supplies beginning in 2013 but the Iranian aid dwindled as Washington restored tough sanctions. In November, the U.S. Treasury Department added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shipping oil to Syria and warned of "significant risks" for those violating the sanctions. Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, which has in the past been a transit port for energy shipments without known buyers, said he has informed the EU about developments. In a statement, the British government welcomed the "firm action" by authorities in Gibraltar.

Photo: In this June 3, 2019 file photo, a pilot speaks to a crew member by an F/A-18 fighter jet on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.  By Thursday, June 27, 2019, Iran says it will have over 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium in its possession, which would mean it had broken out of the atomic accord. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)

Iran's president warned European partners in its faltering nuclear deal on Wednesday that Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to "any amount that we want" beginning on Sunday, putting pressure on them to offer a way around intense U.S. sanctions targeting the country. The comments by President Hassan Rouhani come as tensions remain high between Iran and the U.S. over the deal, which President Donald Trump pulled America from over a year ago. Authorities on Monday acknowledged Iran broke through a limit placed on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. An increasing stockpile and higher enrichment closes the estimated one-year window Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the nuclear deal sought to prevent. Meanwhile, the U.S. has rushed an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and F-22 fighters to the region and Iran recently shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone. On Wednesday, Iran marked the shootdown by the U.S. Navy of an Iranian passenger jet in 1988, a mistake that killed 290 people and shows the danger of miscalculation in the current crisis. Speaking at a Cabinet meeting in Tehran, Rouhani's comments seemed to signal that Europe has yet to offer Iran anything to alleviate the pain of the renewed U.S. sanctions targeting its oil industry and top officials. Iran's nuclear deal currently bars it from enriching uranium above 3.67%, which is enough for nuclear power plants but far below the 90% needed for weapons. "In any amount that we want, any amount that is required, we will take over 3.67," Rouhani said. "Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table," Rouhani added. "Go back to understanding, to respecting the law and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Under those conditions, all of us can abide by the nuclear deal." There was no immediate reaction in Europe, where the European Union just the day before finalized nominations to take over the bloc's top posts. On Tuesday, European powers separately issued a statement over Iran breaking through its stockpile limit, calling on Tehran "to reverse this step and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal." Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to have less than 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67%. Both Iran and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency confirmed Monday that Tehran had breached that limit. While that represents Iran's first major departure from the accord, it still remains likely a year away from having enough material for a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, but the West fears it could allow Iran to build a bomb. Meanwhile on Wednesday, relatives of those killed in the 1988 downing of the Iranian passenger jet threw flowers into the Strait of Hormuz in mourning. The downing of Iran Air flight 655 by the U.S. Navy remains one of the moments the Iranian government points to in its decades-long distrust of America. They rank it alongside the 1953 CIA-backed coup that toppled Iran's elected prime minister and secured Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's absolute power until he abdicated the throne before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Just after dawn on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes sent a helicopter to hover over Iranian speedboats the Navy described as harassing commercial ships. The Iranians allegedly fired on the helicopter and the Vincennes gave chase, the Navy said. Unacknowledged for years afterward by the Navy though, the Vincennes had crossed into Iranian territorial waters in pursuit. It began firing at the Iranian ships there. The Vincennes then mistook Iran Air flight 655, which had taken off from Bandar Abbas, Iran, heading for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, for an Iranian fighter jet. It fired missiles, killing all 290 people on board. The U.S. later would give USS Vincennes Capt. William C. Rogers the country's Legion of Merit award, further angering Iran. Iranian state television aired footage Wednesday of mourners in the strait, as armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard fast boats patrolled around them. They tossed gladiolas into the strait as some wept.


 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. (AP Photo)

Christine Lagarde is resigning as managing director of the International Monetary Fund in light of her nomination to be the next president of the European Central Bank. Lagarde has already given up her day-to-day duties as head of the IMF, and the international lending agency has named a top deputy, David Lipton, as acting managing director. Legarde said in a prepared statement Tuesday, "I have made this decision in the best interest of the Fund, as it will expedite the selection process for my successor." Lagarde said her resignation will be effective on Sept. 12. Lagarde took over the IMF after her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was ensared in sexual assault allegations. As managing director, she coordinated large bailout loans for Greece in concert with the ECB and European Union.

Invest Saint Lucia is today one step closer to the launch of a Business Incubator and Accelerator Programme, designed to foster greater entrepreneurship on the island, through effective nurturing, mentorship and direct access to markets. Representatives from several local government agencies, banking officials, young entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders, met at the Coco Palm Resort on Tuesday July 9th, 2019 to further concretize the programme and agree upon the ideal framework to guide entrepreneurs seeking to establish successful businesses in the near future. Discussions were led by the international consultants on the project, CREEDA Projects, headed by Julian Webb and Thea Chase. Speaking at the gathering, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs Minister, Honourable Bradley Felix, recognized that in today’s global business environment, entrepreneurship has been the life blood to many economies through evident growth, economic development as well as job creation and as a result, “there needs to be a deliberate attempt to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and continuous improvement among our youth and wider society towards sustainable growth”. The Minister noted that the Government of Saint Lucia through Invest Saint Lucia (ISL), is embarking on strengthening the entrepreneurship ecosystem with the introduction of the business incubator and accelerator programme. Business incubation and acceleration have been acknowledges as one of the principal means of providing a comprehensive range of business support services that can contribute to the successful establishment of new micro and small enterprises and the growth of fledging ones. A business incubator and accelerator’s main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the programme with good prospects for future growth and expansion. A key element of a Business Incubation and Acceleration Programme is that of an incubator space. According to CEO of Invest Saint Lucia, Roderick Cherry “we are now in the final stages of designing an accelerator and incubator program which is expected to be completed by December 2019. This will provide start-ups and existing small businesses with a variety of business support services to further improve business operations”. Cherry further confirmed that “Invest Saint Lucia is eagerly looking forward to the launch of this service, as it is a tremendous avenue for growth of businesses in Saint Lucia, which is of course part of Invest Saint Lucia’s mandate. “ The CEO is of the firm belief that the enhancement of business competitiveness will stimulate the economy, encourage inclusive economic growth, improve on sectoral linkages in the local economy and scale up or assist in the internationalization of local businesses.


Scherie Murray

A Jamaican-born businesswoman has announced her intention torun for the congressional seat held by popular Democrat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of four congresswomen of colour targeted in alleged racist tweets by US President Donald Trump last week. Scherie Murray, a Republican who moved with her family from Jamaica to New York at agenine, accusesprogressive movement star Ocasio-Cortez (popularlyknown as AOC)of being more interested in promoting herself than actually performing for her district - whichincludeseasternBronx and portions of north-central Queens in New York City. "AOC chooses self-promotion over service, conflict over constituents, resistance over assistance. We need to build bridges, not burn them down," Murray tweeted. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “Queens and the Bronx needs someone who will create jobs instead of turning them away,” she said. Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old self-described democratic socialist, is one of four members of a high-profile "squad" of newly-elected women of colour who have garnered attention for their outspoken liberal views. Ocasio-Cortez and the so-called "squad" -Republicans Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan - were controversiallytold by Trump last week to "go back" to their home countries, though all are citizens and three were born in the United States. Trump'scomments have been widely condemned as racist. In an interview with Fox News, Murray accusedOcasio-Cortez of being "far to the left" and "not connecting with everyday Americans". Specifically addressing the publicised Green New Dealchampioned by Ocasio-Cortez, she reportedlysaid: “We know that it certainly will kill jobs.” Murray, who grew up in Queens, is reportedly the founder of a TV production and advertising company called The Esemel Group.

A screen grab from a video of a nightmarish taxi ride in St Andrew amid a cabbie's getaway from the police.

The police say they are still searching for a taxi driver who recently led them on a high-speed chase through sections of the Corporate Area with a number of passenger at his mercy in the process. The vehicle was reportedly heading to Half-Way Tree when the incident unfolded as the driver made his getaway. The incident was captured by one of the passengers on her phone, and posted on social media. Watch the video below. The just over two-minute video showed the female screaming and asking the driver to release her from the speeding vehicle, but all her calls were ignored. Amidst it all, another female passenger who was in the vehicle and heard her co-passenger's pleas, tried to calm her. The police said they have seen the video and have called on passengers to be careful about their choices of public passenger vehicles.


Serena Williams.

Serena Williams will try again for a record-equaling 24th major title as one of 13 Grand Slam women's champions who gained direct entry into the U.S. Open. The top 98 men and 102 women based on this week's world rankings were automatically entered Wednesday into the field for the final major of the year, which will be played Aug. 26 through Sept. 8. Williams lost to Simona Halep on Saturday in the Wimbledon final. She also lost last year in the final at Flushing Meadows to Naomi Osaka of Japan, leaving her one behind Margaret Court's total of 24 Grand Slam titles. Along with Williams, Halep and Osaka, the rest of the Grand Slam champions in the women's field are No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, past U.S. Open champions Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Angelique Kerber, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko. Both fields will be rounded out by 16 players from the U.S. Open qualifying tournament and eight wild cards.

David Silva celebrates scoring against West Ham.

Raheem Sterling struck a brace and Rodri made his debut as Manchester City came from behind to comfortably beat West Ham 4-1 in a pre-season friendly in China. Mark Noble converted a 26th-minute penalty but David Silva and Lukas Nmecha, who also scoredfrom the spot, combined to overturn City'sdeficit by the break. England star Sterling took charge from there, scoring twice after his half-time introduction to give Pep Guardiola a winning start to the tour of Asia. Club-record signing Rodri lasted almost 70 minutes on his first appearance since joining from Atletico Madrid for a reported £62.8m. Left-back Angelino, brought back to Manchester after a season at Eredivisie side PSV, also started and it was his blatant handball that gifted Hammers captain Noble the opener. Spanish midfielder Silva quickly equalised following a superb pass fromteenage compatriot Adrian Bernabe and young forward Nmecha stroked the Premier League champions ahead after bring tripped by Angelo Ogbonna. Two composed finishes from Sterling in the space of 13 second-half minutes completed the scoringand booked City's place alongside Wolves, 4-0 victors over Newcastle United, in Saturday's final of the Premier League Asia Trophy. West Ham meet Newcastle in the tournament's third-place play-off before returning home to face Fulham, for which new signing Sebastian Haller should be available.


In this photograph taken Saturday July 13, 2019, health workers wearing protective suits take their shift at a treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. More than 1,600 people in eastern Congo have died as the virus has spread in areas too dangerous for health teams to access.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

The deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an international health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO)announced Wednesday after the virus spread this week to a city of 2 million people. A WHO expert committee declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, even though other experts say it has long met the conditions. More than 1,600 people have died since August in the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, which is unfolding in a region described as a war zone. A declaration of a global health emergency often brings greater international attention and aid, along with concerns that nervous governments might overreact with border closures. (In this photograph taken Sunday July 14, 2019, an Ebola victim is put to rest at the Muslim cemetery in Beni, Congo DRC. The head of the World Health Organization is convening a meeting of experts Wednesday July 17, 2019 to decide whether the Ebola outbreak should be declared an international emergency after spreading to eastern Congo's biggest city, Goma, this week. More than 1,600 people in eastern Congo have died as the virus has spread in areas too dangerous for health teams to access. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)) The declaration comes days after the virus was confirmed in Goma, a major regional crossroads in northeastern Congo on the Rwandan border, with an international airport. Worries about the spread of the disease were also heightened after a sick Congolese fish trader travelled to Uganda and back while symptomatic — and later died of Ebola. While the risk of regional spread remains high, the risk outside the region remains low, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after the announcement in Geneva. The international emergency "should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help," he said. Tedros insisted that the declaration was not made to raise more money — even though WHO estimated "hundreds of millions" of dollars would be needed to stop the epidemic. Dr Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, said she hoped the emergency designation would prompt a radical reset of Ebola response efforts. "The reality check is that a year into the epidemic, it's still not under control, and we are not where we should be," she said. "We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results." (Photo:In this photograph taken Saturday July 13, 2019, a health worker wearing a protective suit enters an isolation pod to treat a patient at a treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)) Liu said vaccination strategies should be broadened and that more efforts should be made to build trust within communities. This is the fifth such declaration in history. Previous emergencies were declared for the devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people, the emergence of Zika in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic and polio. WHO defines a global emergency as an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. Last month, the outbreak spilled across the border for the first time when a family brought the virus into Uganda after attending the burial in Congo of an infected relative. Even then, the expert committee advised against a declaration. Alexandra Phelan, a global health expert at Georgetown University Law Center, said Wednesday's declaration was long overdue. "This essentially serves as a call to the international community that they have to step up appropriate financial and technical support," she said but warned that countries should be wary of imposing travel or trade restrictions. Such restrictions "would actually restrict the flow of goods and health care workers into affected countries so they are counterproductive," she said. Future emergency declarations might be perceived as punishment and "might result in other countries not reporting outbreaks in the future, which puts us all at greater risk." WHO had been heavily criticized for its sluggish response to the West Africa outbreak, which it repeatedly declined to declare a global emergency until the virus was spreading explosively in three countries and nearly 1,000 people were dead. Internal documents later showed WHO held off partly out of fear a declaration would anger the countries involved and hurt their economies. The organization's emergency committee will meet again within three months to assess the situation. Committee members will review whether the outbreak is still a global emergency and whether other measures are needed. (Photo:In this photograph taken Saturday July 13, 2019, health workers wearing protective suits take their shift at a treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)) Wednesday's announcement prompted fear in eastern Congo, where many do business across borders and travel overseas. "I am vaccinated and I protect myself against Ebola," said Zoe Kibwana, 46, a shoe salesman who does business in Uganda, just 70 kilometres (40 miles) from Beni. "Closing the borders would handicap our economy. The health ministry and WHO need to end this epidemic as soon as possible." The current outbreak is spreading in a turbulent Congo border region where dozens of rebel groups are active and where Ebola had not been experienced before. Efforts to contain the virus have been hurt by mistrust among wary locals that has prompted deadly attacks on health workers. Some infected people have deliberately evaded health authorities. The pastor who brought Ebola to Goma used several fake names to conceal his identity on his way to the city, Congolese officials said. WHO on Tuesday said the man had died and health workers were scrambling to trace dozens of his contacts, including those who had travelled on the same bus. Congo's minister of health resisted the characterization of the outbreak as a health emergency. "We accept the decision of the committee of experts but one hopes that it's a decision that wasn't made under pressure of certain groups that want to use this as a way to raise funds for certain humanitarian actors," said Dr. Oly Ilunga. Those working in the field say the outbreak is clearly taking a turn for the worse despite advances that include the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine. Dr. Maurice Kakule was one of the first people to survive the current outbreak after he fell ill while treating a woman last July before the outbreak had even been declared. "What is clear is that Ebola is an emergency because the epidemic persists despite every possible effort to educate people," he told the Geneva meeting.

In this Jan. 19, 2017, file photo provided by U.S. law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, centre, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. (U.S. law enforcement via AP, File)

The Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been sentenced to life behind bars in a U.S. prison, a humbling end for a drug lord once notorious for his ability to kill, bribe or tunnel his way out of trouble. A federal judge in Brooklyn handed down the sentence Wednesday, five months after Guzman's conviction in an epic drug-trafficking case. The 62-year-old drug lord, who had been protected in Mexico by an army of gangsters and an elaborate corruption operation, was brought to the U.S. to stand trial after he twice escaped from Mexican prisons. Before he was sentenced, Guzman, complained about the conditions of his confinement and told the judge he was denied a fair trial. He said U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan failed to thoroughly investigate claims of juror misconduct. "My case was stained and you denied me a fair trial when the whole world was watching," Guzman said in court through an interpreter. "When I was extradited to the United States, I expected to have a fair trial, but what happened was exactly the opposite." The harsh sentence was pre-ordained. The guilty verdict in February at Guzman's 11-week trial triggered a mandatory sentence of life without parole. The evidence showed that under Guzman's orders, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in court papers re-capping the trial. They also said his "army of sicarios" was under orders to kidnap, torture and murder anyone who got in his way. The defense argued he was framed by other traffickers who became government witnesses so they could get breaks in their own cases. Guzman has been largely cut off from the outside world since his extradition in 2017 and his remarks in the courtroom Wednesday could be the last time the public hears from him. Guzman thanked his family for giving him "the strength to bare this torture that I have been under for the past 30 months." Wary of his history of escaping from Mexican prisons, U.S. authorities have kept him in solitary confinement in an ultra-secure unit at a Manhattan jail and under close guard at his appearances at the Brooklyn courthouse where his case unfolded. Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government's "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado, known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." Most inmates at Supermax are given a television, but their only actual view of the outside world is a 4-inch window. They have minimal interaction with other people and eat all their meals in their cells. While the trial was dominated by Guzman's persona as a near-mythical outlaw who carried a diamond-encrusted handgun and stayed one step ahead of the law, the jury never heard from Guzman himself, except when he told the judge he wouldn't testify. But evidence at Guzman's trial suggested his decision to stay quiet at the defense table was against his nature: Cooperating witnesses told jurors he was a fan of his own rags-to-riches narco story, always eager to find an author or screenwriter to tell it. He famously gave an interview to American actor Sean Penn while he was a fugitive, hiding in the mountains after accomplices built a long tunnel to help him escape from a Mexican prison. There also were reports Guzman was itching to testify in his own defense until his attorneys talked him out of it, making his sentencing a last chance to seize the spotlight. At the trial, Guzman's lawyers argued that he was the fall guy for other kingpins who were better at paying off top Mexican politicians and law enforcement officials to protect them while the U.S. government looked the other way. Prosecution descriptions of an empire that paid for private planes, beachfront villas and a private zoo were a fallacy, his lawyers say. And the chances the U.S. government could collect on a roughly $12.5 billion forfeiture order are zero, they add. The government's case, defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said recently, was "all part of a show trial."