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  • China and Myanmar’s Latest Sign of Improving Relations

    (Bloomberg) -- China and neighboring Myanmar agreed to expedite several projects designated as part of the pan-Eurasia Belt and Road Initiative in a sign of growing ties between both countries.The two sides inked 33 agreements as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a visit to the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw on Saturday, where he met his counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi.They agreed to jointly develop the so-called China-Myanmar Economic Corridor between the southern Yunnan province and Mandalay. There was also a concession and shareholders agreement for the development of the multi-billion dollar special economic zone and deep-sea port in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State.The two-day trip, Xi’s first of the year, saw the Chinese leader also meet the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s powerful armed forces, Min Aung Hlaing. As the sole land bridge between two regional giants -- India and China -- Myanmar has the potential to tap into global supply chains at a time when western businesses have been hesitant to bankroll projects due to the ongoing Rohingya crisis.Beijing reiterated its willingness to provide support to Myanmar over the repatriation and resettlement of those displaced from Rakhine State, without mentioning the Rohingya, according to a joint statement released Saturday.That follows the statement earlier this month from Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, who said China will support talks with Dhaka for the repatriation of some 700,000 Rohingya refugees living in camps across the border in Bangladesh.Since the mass exodus of Myanmar’s ethnic Muslim population began in 2017, the nation has increasingly turned to China to fulfill its economic expansion ambitions. In the first 11 months of 2019, investment from China reached $20.9 billion, accounting for more than a quarter of foreign direct investment, according to government data.(Updates with statement in fifth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Khine Lin Kyaw in Myanmar (Non BLP Loc) at kkyaw1@bloomberg.net;Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at pheijmans1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Shamim AdamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 19 Jan 2020 00:26:28 -0500
  • North Korea Picks Army Man Who Led Korean Talks as Top Envoy

    (Bloomberg) -- North Korea named a former army officer who led military and high-level dialogues between the two Koreas as its top diplomat, Yonhap News reported, in a move that can change the course of the stalled nuclear negotiations between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.Foreign envoys in Pyongyang were notified late last week that Ri Son Gwon, the former chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, replaced Ri Yong Ho as the foreign minister, Yonhap said, citing various sources it didn’t identify.The move, which is yet to be verified by the North’s state media, is likely to be confirmed to resident diplomats at an event scheduled for Jan. 23 in Pyongyang, NK News reported separately.The apparent replacement of the top diplomat comes days after the isolated nation publicly declared that it won’t rely on its leader’s personal relationship with Trump as it doesn’t intend to trade its nuclear weapons for a halt in sanctions.“There will never be such negotiations as that in Vietnam, in which we proposed exchanging a core nuclear facility of the country for the lifting of some United Nations sanctions,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency cited the foreign minister’s adviser Kim Kye Gwan as saying earlier this month. “There is no need for us to be present in such talks, in which there is only unilateral pressure.”Since the failure of the first-in-eight-months working-level denuclearization talks in October in Stockholm, Pyongyang hasn’t responded to Washington’s continued demands for another talk and instead stepped up tensions verbally and with weapons tests.‘Crucial’ TestMost recently, it said late last year that it successfully conducted a “crucial” test at a long-range projectile launch site and had boosted its nuclear-deterrent capabilities, without elaborating on details.Kim declared in a speech at the start of the year that a lack of U.S. response in nuclear talks meant he was no longer bound by his pledge to halt major missile tests and would soon debut a “new strategic weapon.” Declining to go into detail, Kim also left the outside world guessing what “new path” he will take, and how he will deal with the U.S. in 2020.The replacement of Ri also coincides with Seoul’s sudden turn to warm inter-Korean ties as the Kim-Trump talks for denuclearization remain in deadlock and rising cracks in South Korea’s relations with the U.S.South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a New Year news conference that he will help on projects such as individual tourism with North Korea if they require approval from the UN to exempt them from sanctions. His Unification Ministry later said that the government is considering allowing South Korean individuals to travel to North Korea to expand inter-Korean exchanges in the private sector.U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said such a push by Seoul should be discussed with the U.S. His comment was immediately denounced by Moon’s office as “very inappropriate.”Household NameRi Son Gwon is well-known among South Koreans after he led a North Korean delegation for the first high-level inter-Korean talks in more than two years in January 2018.Ri impressed South Koreans with his relaxed attitude and blunt speaking. He took a swipe at South Korean media and became a household name for his so-called “nangmyeon” comment on South Korean tycoons in September 2018.At a luncheon with a group of South Korean conglomerate chiefs, who were visiting Pyongyang as part of Moon’s delegation for a summit with Kim, Ri scolded how they could be gobbling up the cold noodle “nangmyeon” in that situation, a comment which appeared as a rebuke against the tycoons not taking enough action to boost inter-Korean businesses development.Ri served as a senior colonel in 2010 and last appeared in the North’s state media when the KCNA reported in April that he was elected as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee along with Choe Son Hui, first vice-minister of foreign affairs. He previously also led a working-level military dialogue between the two Koreas in 2011.The outgoing minister Ri Yong Ho served as the top diplomat for four years since 2016.To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at kkong50@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Virginia Van Natta, Jiyeun LeeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 19 Jan 2020 00:04:44 -0500
  • Fires set stage for irreversible forest losses in Australia

    Australia’s forests are burning at a rate unmatched in modern times and scientists say the landscape is being permanently altered as a warming climate brings profound changes to the island continent. Heat waves and drought have fueled bigger and more frequent fires in parts of Australia, so far this season torching some 40,000 square miles (104,000 square kilometers), an area about as big as Ohio. Before the recent wildfires, ecologists divided up Australia’s native vegetation into two categories: fire-adapted landscapes that burn periodically, and those that don’t burn.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 22:02:15 -0500
  • World powers in Berlin to seek elusive Libya peace

    Golocal247.com news

    World leaders will gather in Berlin on Sunday to make a fresh push for peace in Libya, in a desperate bid to stop the conflict-wracked nation from disintegrating into a "second Syria". The presidents of Russia, Turkey and France are due for talks from around 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) held under the auspices of the United Nations, which wants to get foreign powers wielding influence in the region to stop interfering in the war, through the provision of weapons, troops or financing. Leaders of both warring factions -- strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli's UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj -- are also expected at the first such gathering since 2018.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 21:03:16 -0500
  • Argentines remember prosecutor killed while probing attack on Jews

    Golocal247.com news

    Argentines paid tribute Saturday to a prosecutor on the fifth anniversary of his unsolved death while probing the bombing of a Jewish community center -- an attack in which he alleged a presidential cover-up to shield Iran in exchange for trade. Prosecutor Alberto Nisman led the probe of the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association headquarters, which left 85 dead and 300 wounded. In 2015, his body was found in his Buenos Aires apartment with a gunshot wound to the head, delivered at close range from a handgun found at his side.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 20:44:14 -0500
  • ICE ups ante in standoff with NYC: 'This is not a request'

    Golocal247.com news

    Federal authorities are turning to a new tactic in the escalating conflict over New York City's so-called sanctuary policies, issuing four “immigration subpoenas” to the city for information about inmates wanted for deportation. “This is not a request — it's a demand,” Henry Lucero, a senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, told The Associated Press. Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration said Saturday the city would review the subpoenas.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 19:23:51 -0500
  • Welcome to ‘Peak Decade,’ From Globalization to Central Banks

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Amid the Alpine peaks of the Swiss resort of Davos in the week ahead, politicians, investors and executives will be busy debating whether we are witnessing peaks in key drivers of the world economy.From oil demand, car production and the proportion of young people as a share of the population, to less-measurable themes like globalization, inequality and central banking power, there’s an argument each will ebb in the 2020’s.Strategists at Bank of America Corp. are already telling clients to brace for a “ground-breaking ‘peak decade’” that will disrupt business and investing. Ian Bremmer, a delegate at the World Economy Forum’s annual meeting and founder of Eurasia Group, describes this year as a “tipping point.”The theme is captured throughout the Davos program, which contains multiple panels on “stakeholder capitalism” and tackling inequality. Participants will also discuss the future of globalization and whether central banks are out of ammunition.Here are the hot talking points:PEAK GLOBALIZATION?The era of people, goods and money flowing increasingly unchecked around the world may have past its high point as governments pursue protectionism and erect more obstacles to migration. Already there are around 77 physical barriers delineating international borders compared with 15 in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, according to Bank of America. The World Trade Organization calculates the pace of growth in international commerce fell below the rate of economic expansion in 2019 for the fifth time since the financial crisis. Foreign direct investment inflows have been on the decline since 2015, says the United Nations.The U.S.-China trade war is at the center of the shift. But even with the signing of an interim deal, the Peterson Institute for International Economics reckons the average U.S. tariff on imports from China is still 19.3% versus 3.1% at the start of 2018.Away from Beijing, Trump is also seeking to remodel the World Trade Organization and potentially clamp down on European auto exports. The U.K. still needs to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.Still, the continued development of the digital economy, rising tourism and mounting reliance of companies on revenues generated outside their home market provide room for confidence globalization is evolving rather than ending.PEAK CAPITALISM?JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon and BlackRock Inc. Founder Laurence Fink, both of whom will be in Davos, are among those who have entered the debate over whether companies should better weigh stakeholders such as customers and employees, a departure from the decades-old shareholder-first mindset.Behind the shift: the rise of populism, concern wages aren’t keeping up with assets such as equities and fears over climate change.The maturing millennial generation are a driving force too. When making investment decisions, 87% of those born between 1981 and 1996 believe environmental, social and governance factors are important, according to Bank of America.PEAK INEQUALITY?The pressure to reduce inequality will become more urgent this decade as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals approach their 2030 deadline. 193 governments have signed up to 17 goals, 169 targets and 304 indicators on how to end poverty, clean up the environment and share prosperity for all.There has already been some progress. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, last year’s winners of the Nobel Prize for economics, estimate the average income of the world’s bottom 50% of earners also almost doubled since 1980.But William Gale of the Brookings Institution notes the 400 richest Americans owned 3.26% of wealth in 2018, up from 0.93% in 1982. The top 1% also paid about a third of their income in tax in both 1979 and 2019, he says. Expect such numbers to be bandied about ahead of the U.S. election in November, with some Democrat candidates promoting higher corporate and wealth taxes.PEAK YOUTH?For the first time, there are now more seniors than children in the world and that trend is set to escalate, according to the UN.The global fertility rate already halved from 5 children per woman in 1955 and the average life expectancy has increased from 31 in 1900 to 72 today and is tipped to reach 83 by the end of this century.While another 1 billion people are expected on the planet by 2030, the demographic mix will be starkly different. For starters, the number of those aged 65 or older will outnumber children under the age of 5.The growth of the working age population is also set to slow, straining pensions and healthcare resources. In a recent paper, Stanford University Professor Charles Jones said there is a “distinct possibility” that global population will decline rather than stabilize in the long run, threatening economic growth.PEAK CLIMATE CHANGE?The world faces a sweeping series of climate-related tipping points -- from melting ice caps to droughts and dying coral reefs. Nature magazine in November collated the risks, which they described as a climate emergency that will compel political and economic actions on emissions. 21 of the hottest years on record came in the last quarter century.“We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best,” the article’s authors wrote.The international effort to rein in fossil fuel pollution took a knock in December after marathon UN talks watered down language on issues they had agreed on in previous years.PEAK OIL DEMAND?Hotter temperatures have put new scrutiny on the world’s energy mix.This means renewable energy like solar and wind, plus electric vehicles are going to soar up the policy agenda at the cost of fossil fuel gurgling vehicles. Big Oil executives believe that peak oil demand is increasingly likely in the late 2030s.For example, Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer and the most profitable company in the planet, said on its initial public offering prospectus that oil demand may peak around 2035, with demand “leveling off.”PEAK CARS?The 1.3 billion vehicles on the roads today are probably the most there will ever be. Megacities will house around two thirds of the global population by mid-century, cutting back on the need for expensive cars.Evolving urban architecture will also increasingly constrain car usage. The shift is already underway in mature markets. Only 26% of U.S. 16-year-olds earned a driver’s license in 2017 compared with almost half just 36 years ago, according to Sivak Applied Research. Even if overall car sales remain robust, cheaper technology such as robotaxis and developments such as ride-sharing stand to take the shine off their attractiveness.PEAK CENTRAL BANKS?Central banks may have rescued the world from depression in the wake of the financial crisis, but their ability to turnaround their economies from here is limited after what Bank of America estimates is more than 700 interest rate cuts and around $12 trillion in quantitative easing since 2009.Negative interest rates are already being blamed for hurting banks, while demographic shifts, record debt levels, technological disruption and bank deleveraging all sap the potency of monetary policy. That leaves politicians under pressure to loosen fiscal policy the next time trouble hits the world economy.\--With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss.To contact the reporter on this story: Enda Curran in Hong Kong at ecurran8@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Kennedy at skennedy4@bloomberg.net, Malcolm ScottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 19:01:00 -0500
  • Libya oil exports blocked, raising stakes for Berlin peace summit

    Golocal247.com news

    Forces loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar blocked oil exports from the war-ravaged country's main ports Saturday, raising the stakes on the eve of an international summit aimed at bringing peace to the North African nation. The move to cripple the country's main income source was a protest against Turkey's decision to send troops to shore up Haftar's rival, the head of Tripoli's UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj. It comes ahead of Sunday's conference in Berlin that will see the United Nations try to extract a pledge from world leaders to stop meddling in the Libyan conflict -- be it through supplying troops, weapons or financing.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:55:56 -0500
  • Trump team, House managers trade sharp views on impeachment

    Golocal247.com news

    President Donald Trump's legal team issued a fiery response ahead of opening arguments in his impeachment trial Saturday while House Democrats laid out their case in forceful fashion, saying the president had betrayed public trust with behavior that was the “worst nightmare" of the founding fathers. The dueling statements previewed arguments both sides intend to make once Trump's impeachment trial begins in earnest on Tuesday. The House’s 111-page brief pulled together the private and public testimony of a dozen witnesses -- ambassadors and national security officials at high levels of government -- who raised concerns about the president's actions with Ukraine.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:54:53 -0500
  • Boy arrested after shooting that killed 4 in small Utah town

    Golocal247.com news

    A boy armed with a gun killed three children and a woman inside a Utah home, then accompanied a fifth victim to a hospital, where he was arrested, police said Saturday. Police were still trying to piece together who's who and what happened leading up to Friday night's shooting in Grantsville. “We're trying to make certain that we verify people's relationships among the deceased and the survivor,” Grantsville Police Cpl.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:29:27 -0500
  • Biden rips Sanders campaign for Social Security attacks

    Golocal247.com news

    Joe Biden has called for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to “disown” what he calls “doctored video” that some Sanders supporters say shows the former vice president endorsing Republican calls to cut Social Security and Medicare. “There’s a little doctored video going around ... put out by one of Bernie’s people,” Biden told supporters Saturday in Indianola, Iowa, referring to a 2018 speech in which Biden discussed then-House Speaker Paul Ryan saying rising deficit demanded action on the popular entitlement programs.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:15:23 -0500
  • Newly released texts tie Nunes aide closer to Ukraine plot

    New documents released by House Democrats suggest that Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, was more deeply involved than was previously known in efforts by allies of President Donald Trump to dig up dirt in Ukraine on former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats on the Intelligence Committee released a trove of text messages, photos and other documents Friday night as part of the impeachment inquiry. The materials were provided to the House by Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who worked with Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to try to persuade the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into Biden.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 17:25:38 -0500
  • Discovery of unused disaster supplies angers Puerto Rico

    Golocal247.com news

    People in a southern Puerto Rico city discovered a warehouse filled with water, cots and other unused emergency supplies, then set off a social media uproar Saturday when they broke in to retrieve goods as the area struggles to recover from a strong earthquake. With anger spreading in the U.S. territory after video of the event in Ponce appeared on Facebook, Gov. Wanda Vázquez quickly fired the director of the island's emergency management agency. The governor said she had ordered an investigation after learning the emergency supplies had been piled in the warehouse since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in September 2017.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 16:56:18 -0500
  • Countdown to death: Trump details Soleimani's end

    Golocal247.com news

    Cameras "miles in the sky", a countdown and then "boom": US President Donald Trump has recounted the final moments of Iran's powerful General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike. Trump delivered the account Friday night to Republican Party donors gathered at his Florida residence Mar-a-Lago for a fundraising dinner, US media said. It killed the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander and members of Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force with close ties to Iran.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 15:13:53 -0500
  • U.S. sanctions Iranian commander over Mahshahr killings

    The U.S. State Department said on Saturday it had imposed sanctions on a general of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who commanded units blamed for a massacre of protesters in November. The U.S. State Department has said previously it had received videos of the Revolutionary Guards opening fire without warning on protesters in Mahshahr county in southwest Iran.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 14:56:22 -0500
  • Yemeni officials: 25 troops killed in Houthi missile strike

    A missile attack launched by Shiite rebels in Yemen hit an army camp Saturday, killing at least 25 troops, Yemeni officials said. The strike in the central province of Marib wounded around 10 others. The Houthi attack on the military training camp followed an ongoing barrage of assaults by Saudi-backed government forces on rebel targets east of Sanaa.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 14:46:08 -0500
  • Thousands gather for Women's March rallies across the US

    Golocal247.com news

    Hundreds showed up in New York City and thousands in Washington, D.C. for the rallies, which aim to harness the political power of women, although crowds were noticeably smaller than in previous years. The first marches in 2017 drew hundreds of thousands of people to rallies in cities across the country on the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 13:36:36 -0500
  • Facing Senate trial crunch, Dems blitzing Iowa, early states

    Golocal247.com news

    As a winter storm barreled down on Iowa, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign team struggled with whether to scrap a town hall scheduled at the old Maytag headquarters. For the Democratic presidential candidate, the event was probably one of her last chances to make a face-to-face appeal to voters in Iowa before the Feb. 3 caucus. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, is soon to be marooned in the Senate as a juror in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:46:23 -0500
  • RPT-Facebook apologises after vulgar translation of Chinese leader's name

    Facebook Inc said on Saturday it was working to find out how Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s name appeared as “Mr Shithole” in posts on its platform when translated into English from Burmese, apologising for any offence caused and saying the problem had been fixed. The error came to light on the second day of a visit by the president to the Southeast Asian country, where Xi and state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi signed dozens of agreements covering massive Beijing-backed infrastructure plans. A statement about the visit published on Suu Kyi’s official Facebook page was littered with references to “Mr Shithole” when translated to English, while a headline in local news journal the Irrawaddy appeared as “Dinner honors president shithole”.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:20:35 -0500
  • Officials: Palestinian wounds Israeli man in stabbing

    A Palestinian attacker stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli man Saturday near the West Bank flashpoint city of Hebron, police said. The 22-year-old Israeli was evacuated to a hospital for treatment, according to the rescue agency Magen David Adom. The Israeli military said it arrested the assailant.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:01:23 -0500
  • The Trump Administration Moved To Roll Back Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Program On Her Birthday

    Golocal247.com news

    In a continuation of their dedication to deregulation, the Trump administration recently moved to ease restrictions placed on school nutrition programs put in place as part of Michelle Obama’s push to reduce childhood obesity. The administration claims it was not intentional, but the move came on the same day as Obama’s birthday, the New York Times reports.Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released a statement explaining the decision. “Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals,” said Perdue. “We listened and now we’re getting to work.”The new proposed rule from the Department of Agriculture would ease restrictions on how much fruit schools were required to offer during breakfast, what types of vegetables needed to be included in meals, and would also broaden what foods could be counted as a snack. Nutritionists are concerned that the deregulation of what constitutes a snack will lead to schools offering cheap but unhealthy options at every meal. In addition, the loosening of restrictions on what vegetables need to be offered could lead to a return of starchy potatoes overtaking healthier options such as leafy greens in school meals. Colin Schwartz, the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s deputy director of legislative affairs, released a statement saying that the proposal would create a loophole that encourages unhealthy eating habits. “[It] would create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to choose pizza, burgers, french fries, and other foods high in calories, saturated fat, or sodium in place of balanced school meals every day,” Schwartz said.The School Nutrition Association, a trade union of school food-service manufacturers and school food professionals, were in support of the easing of restrictions. SNA’s president, Gay Anderson, said that the organization would study the new proposals further, but noted that a few of the requirements of Obama’s nutritional guidelines under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 contributed to reduced lunch participation, high costs, and food waste, The Washington Post reports. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign for improving school nutrition and encouraging a healthier lifestyle for children came as a reaction to childhood obesity statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 13.7 million children and adolescents aged two to 19 are currently considered obese. Many Democrats reacted negatively to the proposals from the USDA. Rep. Ayanna Presley of Massachusetts spoke out about the proposed rule and called it more evidence that Trump’s administration is intentionally being cruel with their policies. “Egregious. The Occupant is trying to play petty with the food our babies eat. Add it to the list affirming that the cruelty is the point with this White House,” tweeted Presley. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Jared Kushner Takes A Tacky Dig At Monica LewinskyWill The Iran Attack Affect Trump's Impeachment?Warren & Sanders Fight May Break Their Peace Pact

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:45:36 -0500
  • Russia's Putin says he opposes unlimited presidential term

    Golocal247.com news

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that he opposes the idea of an unlimited term in office for the country's leader like the system that existed in the Soviet Union. Putin's comment at a meeting with World War II veterans in St. Petersburg came days after he called for constitutional changes that could help him remain in power once his presidential term ends in 2024. There has been uncertainty about Russia's future political course since Putin suggested in his Wednesday state-of-the-nation address amending the constitution to allow lawmakers to name prime ministers and Cabinet members.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:39:32 -0500
  • Riots in Lebanon's capital leave more than 150 injured

    Golocal247.com news

    Police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets in Lebanon's capital Saturday to disperse thousands of protesters amid some of the worst rioting since demonstrations against the country's ruling elite erupted three months ago. Thick white smoke covered the downtown Beirut area near Parliament as police and protesters engaged in confrontations that saw groups of young men hurl stones and firecrackers at police who responded with water cannons and tear gas. Some protesters were seen vomiting on the street from inhaling the gas.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:07:03 -0500
  • Putin Says He Doesn’t Want Return to Soviet-Era Lifetime Leaders

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Russian President Vladimir Putin said he favors keeping term limits in place, arguing against a return to the Soviet-era practice of lifetime leaders.Asked by a World War II veteran if he backed ending a ban on more than two presidential terms -- which would allow Putin to continue ruling after 2024, when he will be 71 -- the president said this would make it impossible to ensure an orderly transition of power.“It would be very worrying to return to the situation in the mid-1980s, when heads of state stayed in power until the end of their days, one after another,” Putin said on a visit to St. Petersburg to mark the 77th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad, according to the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.Putin proposed sweeping changes to the Russian constitution on Wednesday that would limit the powers of his successor as president by giving more authority to Parliament and the State Council, an advisory body, potentially allowing him to keep control of the country in another role. He also put forward a plan to tighten term limits by barring more than two mandates in total rather than two consecutive terms as now. Putin used that loophole to return to the Kremlin in 2012 after serving four years as prime minister.Under the Russian leader’s shake-up, he replaced his long-serving prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, who stood in for him as president from 2008-2012, with the little-known head of the tax service, Mikhail Mishustin.To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Brian Wingfield, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:00:26 -0500
  • LGBT activists say new bills target transgender youth

    Golocal247.com news

    At the urging of conservative advocacy groups, Republican legislators in more than a dozen states are promoting bills that focus on transgender young people. One batch of bills would bar doctors from providing them certain gender-related medical treatment; another batch would bar trans students from participating on school sports teams of the gender they identify with. The proposed laws, if enacted, “would bring devastating harms to the transgender community,” said Chase Strangio, a transgender-rights lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 10:42:56 -0500
  • Iran to send flight recorders from downed jet to Ukraine

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran will send the black box flight recorders from the Ukrainian jetliner that it accidentally shot down last week to Ukraine for further analysis, an Iranian official said Saturday. Hassan Rezaeifer, the head of accident investigations for the civil aviation department, said it was not possible to read the black boxes in Iran, without elaborating.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 10:18:06 -0500
  • Trump Says Soleimani Strike Followed General Saying ‘Bad Things’

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    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump gave a new justification for killing Qassem Soleimani, telling a gathering of Republican donors that the top Iranian general was “saying bad things about our country.”“How much are we going to listen to?” Trump said Friday, according to remarks from a fundraiser obtained by CNN. He also used a vulgar expression to describe the nature of Soleimani’s comments.Trump spoke amid a brewing controversy in Washington, where some lawmakers, especially Democrats, have said the White House has repeatedly shifted its justification for the Jan. 3 strike, which pushed Washington and Tehran to the brink of war.The drone strike in Baghdad that killed Soleimani came days after a violent protest by Iranian-backed protesters at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a rocket attack that killed an American contractor at a facility in Iraq.‘Imminent Attack’Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has said Soleimani was planning an imminent attack on Americans and working “to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead, potentially, to the death of many more Americans.” But he’s also acknowledged that the administration didn’t necessarily know when and where future attacks were being planned.Trump told Fox News on Jan. 10 that he believed Soleimani was planning attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and three other U.S. embassies in the region. Two days later, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS News that he “didn’t see” intelligence suggesting the specific threat Trump described.“What the President said was, he believed it probably could have been,” Esper said in a separate interview with CNN. “He didn’t cite intelligence.”How U.S.-Iran Enmity Grew for Decades, Burst in Days: QuickTakeTrump on Monday said his administration has been “totally consistent” in its explanation of the intelligence that justified the strike.“Here’s what’s been consistent: We killed Soleimani, the number-one terrorist in the world by every account,” Trump said. “Bad person.”At Friday’s fundraiser, held at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump described the attack on Soleimani in vivid detail, according to the recording obtained by CNN. He said military officials counted down the last minutes of the Iranian general’s life as they watched the strike from “cameras that are miles in the sky.”The president also erroneously claimed -- as he has before -- that Soleimani was meeting “the head of Hezbollah” while in Baghdad.Soleimani was met at the airport by Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah. That’s a paramilitary group separate from the more prominent Lebanese militant organization, which also receives backing from Iran.About 100 people attended Friday’s fund-raiser, according to the president’s re-election campaign. The event was expected to raise $10 million.In addition to his fundraising remarks, Trump tweeted publicly about Iran on Friday evening, saying that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “should be very careful with his words!” and that the people of Iran “deserve a government that’s more interested in helping them achieve their dreams than killing them for demanding respect.”Earlier in the day, Khamenei said Iran had delivered a “slap to the U.S.’s image as a superpower” in a rare appearance leading Friday prayer in Tehran, the capital.To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Sink in Palm Beach, Florida at jsink1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at jludden@bloomberg.net, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 10:07:33 -0500
  • Impeachment lands Sen. Collins in familiar spot: crosshairs

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    Facing perhaps her toughest reelection fight, veteran Sen. Susan Collins has parachuted into familiar terrain — the heart of a hot-button issue, this time President Donald Trump's impeachment. With Senate trial proceedings starting Tuesday, the moderate Maine Republican says she'll probably support a motion to call witnesses, aligning herself with Democrats. Collins, 67, has embraced that approach for nearly 24 years in the Senate, even as compromise has grown increasingly scarce and politically perilous in the age of the retaliation-prone Trump.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 09:33:42 -0500
  • 10 things you need to know today: January 17, 2020

    1.Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who worked as his envoy in Ukraine, communicated with a top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) about an effort to find damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden, documents released Friday night by House Democrats revealed. The evidence shows Derek Harvey, a former White House official and top aide to Nunes, communicated extensively with Parnas and sought to speak with Ukrainian prosecutors who were giving Giuliani information about Biden. Parnas has said President Trump and his associates were working to push Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Biden. The allegations are central to Trump's impeachment. Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, did not comment on the documents. [The Washington Post, NBC News] 2.President Trump has reportedly tapped former Special Counsel Ken Starr, his successor Robert Ray, and famous defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to join his impeachment defense team. Starr and Ray worked on former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, while Dershowitz was on the defense team for O.J. Simpson. They will reportedly join White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow, who will lead the defense as House impeachment managers present the case against Trump. Dershowitz will present oral arguments at the Senate trial, but said he is not a "full-fledged" member of the defense. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump's personal counsel Jane Raskin will reportedly also be on the team. [The Wall Street Journal, CNN] 3.Former GOP Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced on Friday to two years in federal prison on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI. Collins, who was a New York representative since 2013 and was the first member of Congress to endorse President Trump's candidacy, pleaded guilty in October to tipping off his son to confidential information regarding an Australian biotechnology company, which allowed them to make illegal stock trades avoiding more than $700,000 in losses. At his sentencing, Collins tearfully apologized. "I stand here today a disgraced former congressman," he said. "I cannot face my constituents. What I have done has marked me for life." The 26-month sentence will begin on March 17, and will likely be served at a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida. [NBC News, The Washington Post] 4.Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers at the Mosella mosque in Tehran on Friday for the first time since 2012, trying to rally support among intertwined crises facing his government. He called President Trump a "clown" who is only pretending to support Iran's people, said the U.S. killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was "cowardly" and demonstrative of America's "terrorist nature," and called Iran's retaliatory missile strikes a "slap on the face" to the U.S. that "shows the hand of God" and Iran's "power." Trump responded via tweet, writing the supreme leader had "not been so Supreme lately," and criticizing his "nasty" comments about the U.S. Trump said Khamenei "should be very careful with his words!" [Reuters, Donald Trump] 5.Eleven Americans were injured in Iran's recent missile strike on the Al Asad Air base in Iraq, which President Trump and the Pentagon previously said resulted in no injuries. The military confirmed Thursday that 11 Americans were treated for concussions after Iran last week struck two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops; the concussion symptoms emerged several days later. "While no U.S. servicemembers were killed ... several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," said a United States Central Command spokesperson. The attack on the bases came in response to a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. CNN's Jim Sciutto said the update indicated "the Iranian missile strike was a nearer miss than advertised." [The New York Times, CNN] 6.Jury selection in the trial of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein ended Friday with seven men and five women set to serve. Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi accused the defense of trying to "systematically exclude" young white women. The defense, in turn, accused the prosecution of trying to exclude men from the jury, but Judge James Burke didn't accept either argument. The defense reportedly said it didn't seek to exclude young women but they "didn't want jurors who were too young to understand the way men and women interacted in the early 1990s." Weinstein is facing rape and sexual assault charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. Opening arguments in the trial are set to begin on Jan. 22. [Variety, The Hollywood Reporter] 7.The Democratic National Committee announced requirements for making February's primary debate Friday, leaving the donor threshold steady at a minimum 225,000 unique donors. Candidates will also, as before, need to hit at least five percent in four qualifying national polls or seven percent in two polls of New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina voters. But there's now a third path that candidates can take to replace the poll requirement: If they win just one delegate in Iowa, they're in. This could open a path for candidates such as entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who hit the donor requirement but didn't have enough qualifying polls to make January's debate. The Iowa caucuses are Feb. 3, and the next debate is Feb. 7 in New Hampshire. [The New York Times] 8.Activists expected thousands of demonstrators to turn out across the country for the fourth annual Women's March is on Saturday. The first Women's March took place the day after President Trump's inauguration, and drew hundreds of thousands of participants. This year, the march was expected to be smaller and without the celebrity appearances of years past, in part due to criticism the march's organizers have faced regarding inclusion and diversity. The demonstration in Washington, D.C., was expected to attract up to 10,000 demonstrators. 9.A winter storm is expected to spread across much of the Midwest, Northeast and Plains regions of the U.S. through Saturday, bringing snow, ice, and frigid rain. Some areas, like parts of Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas, will likely face blizzard conditions, and high winds will contribute to low visibility as snow piles up. Other areas will see freezing rain and sleet — the slick conditions caused one plane at Kansas City International Airport to slide off the taxiway on Friday, leading to a closure of the airport. Most snow and most extreme conditions are expected to taper off by Sunday. [The Weather Channel] 10.Microsoft announced plans to become "carbon negative" by 2030, seeking to erase its entire carbon footprint since the company's founding in 1975 and begin removing more carbon from the environment than it emits. The company first wants to reduce emissions to zero across its entire supply chain by 2030, and then focus on eliminating all of the carbon dioxide it has ever released by 2050. Microsoft has been carbon neutral since 2012, achieving this through purchasing renewable energy and carbon offsets. Going negative will require more technology and investment than going neutral. "Technology does exist that does this, but getting the price and the scalability to where we need it to be is a significant challenge," said Lucas Joppa, the company's chief sustainability officer. [The Verge, CBS News]More stories from theweek.com Trump is getting the band back together French officials warn of violence from subgroups in protest movement The Patriots only have one option

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 09:30:00 -0500
  • Libya's eastern-based forces move to halt oil exports

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    A move by Libya's east-based forces to choke off oil exports from its territory threatens to throttle much of the country’s oil production, the national oil corporation said Saturday, escalating tensions ahead of an international peace summit to end the civil war. Powerful tribal groups loyal to Gen. Khalifa Hifter, whose forces control eastern Libya and much of the south, seized several large export terminals Friday along the eastern coast as well as southern oil fields. It marked a major challenge to the rival U.N.-backed government based in Tripoli, which collects revenues from oil production.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 09:23:34 -0500
  • Venezuelan theater becomes Plan B in lawmakers' turf battle

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    Venezuelan opposition lawmakers are expected in the coming days to make their third attempt to get inside the legislative chamber in downtown Caracas, after twice this month being blocked by forces loyal to President Nicolás Maduro. The losing turf battle recently drove the lawmakers to a covered amphitheater in El Hatillo, a normally quiet community in the hilly outskirts of the capital that's popular for its souvenir shops, restaurants and visitors strolling around the colonial square. It’s unclear whether the National Assembly led by U.S.-backed Juan Guaidó will be forced on Tuesday to retreat again to El Hatillo, or perhaps the office of The Nation newspaper — where they also met in early January — or scramble for yet another safe meeting place.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 09:10:08 -0500
  • Iran to Transfer Black Boxes of Crashed Plane to Ukraine

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Iran will transfer the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder of a crashed Boeing aircraft to Ukraine for further investigation, according to Iranian media.“The black boxes of Flight 752 will not be decoded in Iran and will be transferred to Ukraine instead as per the country’s request,” semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, citing Hassan Rezaeifar, head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization’s accident-investigation office.Iran is under intense international pressure to provide full accountability over the circumstances that caused the crash of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane on Jan. 8. The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps later said it had mistaken the aircraft for a cruise missile.The three-year-old Boeing Co. 737-800 abruptly stopped transmitting its position and plunged to the ground about two minutes after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 aboard. The crash occurred hours after the Islamic Republic started launching rockets against Iraqi bases where U.S. forces are stationed, in retaliation for the killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani.Iranian officials at first fiercely denied that Iran was to blame for the crash, provoking outrage and protests in Iran once they accepted culpability.To contact the reporter on this story: Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 09:00:36 -0500
  • Records reveal concerns of deceased GOP redistricting expert

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    Behind the scenes, GOP consultant Thomas Hofeller was worried that Democrats were far ahead of Republicans in collecting data that could help them draw districts in their favor following the next round of redistricting that will occur after the 2020 census. Hofeller died in August 2018 after a battle with cancer. Stephanie Hofeller did not respond to a request for comment sent through her lawyer.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 08:38:41 -0500
  • Justices taking up bans on state money to religious schools

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    A Supreme Court that seems more favorable to religion-based discrimination claims is set to hear a case that could make it easier to use public money to pay for religious schooling in many states. The justices will hear arguments Wednesday in a dispute over a Montana scholarship program for private K-12 education that also makes donors eligible for up to $150 in state tax credits. Advocates on both sides say the outcome could be momentous because it could lead to efforts in other states to funnel taxpayer money to religious schools.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 08:21:50 -0500
  • Gun-rights activists gear up for show of force in Virginia

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    Police are scouring the internet for clues about plans for mayhem, workers are putting up chain link holding pens around Virginia's picturesque Capitol Square, and one lawmaker even plans to hide in a safe house in advance of what's expected to be an unprecedented show of force by gun-rights activists. What is provoking their anger in this once reliably conservative state is the new Democratic majority leadership and its plans to enact a slew of gun restrictions. This clash of old and new has made Virginia - determined to prevent a replay of the Charlottesville violence in 2017 - ground zero in the nation's raging debate over gun control.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 08:20:43 -0500
  • Putin's moves leave Russian opposition with few options

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin played it differently this time. Instead of openly declaring plans to extend his rule like he did in 2011, Putin proposed constitutional amendments to appear to give more power to Russia's parliament. Putin announced what many see as a strategy for staying in power well past the end of his term in 2024.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 07:31:10 -0500
  • Impeachment: is Trump set to survive and win a second term?

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    As Democrats marched the articles to the Senate, the president basked in policy success. Many think re-election is comingIt was, the White House tweeted on Friday, “an incredible week” for Donald Trump. On that, no one could disagree. But what kind of incredible depended on which end of Pennsylvania Avenue you were standing.At the Capitol, the third impeachment trial of a US president got under way in hushed solemnity as senators contemplated the ultimate sanction, removing Trump from office. It was a day his most ardent critics had long awaited and some thought inevitable.Yet the White House, less than two miles away, might have been in a different cosmos. The president held a boisterous ceremony to sign a trade agreement with China, “the biggest deal anybody has ever seen”, and celebrated as Congress passed another deal with Canada and Mexico. He toasted stock market records, low unemployment and a sustained fall in illegal crossings at the southern border.It had the makings of an election year narrative of “promises made, promises kept” that Trump’s campaign hopes will resonate more than a Senate litigation of his dealings with Ukraine which, in any case, appears certain to lead to his acquittal.“He seems determined to check as many boxes as he can,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. “If you look at the three pillars of the distinct outlook he brought with him to the White House – getting tough on immigrants, leaning hard against unbalanced trade relationships and an ‘America first’ foreign policy – you’d have to say over recent months he’s gone three for three.”To be sure, there was plenty of bad news for Trump. Democrats from the House of Representatives marched funereally through the Capitol to transfer the articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, to their Senate counterparts. The entrance of Chief Justice John Roberts injected sudden grandeur and gravity. Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said: “When the chief justice walked in, you could feel the weight of the moment. I saw members on both sides of the aisle visibly gulp.”Moreover, as senators prepare to weigh evidence that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival, a federal watchdog concluded that he broke the law when he froze military aid to the country last year. And Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, tossed in another hand grenade with a TV interview that directly implicated the president in efforts to pressure Ukraine. “President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.For most viewers of that network, and millions of liberals across America, it was yet another nail in the coffin of a man who has long been beyond redemption and whose re-election is unthinkable.> I think there’s an element of genuine incomprehension. He thinks he’s the greatest president of all time> > Bill GalstonBut not the first time, there was a profound disconnection with Trumpworld, a place where the sun is always shining. Here, in meetings, ceremonies and rallies, the president basks in constant affirmation from fervent supporters and sycophantic staff. Such is the bubble of self-congratulation, it is perhaps not surprising Trump is baffled by the contempt and derision he glimpses outside it. He frequently asks bemusedly how a president with his record could be impeached.Galston said: “I think there’s an element of genuine incomprehension. He thinks he’s the greatest president of all time and his protestations of injured innocence I take seriously as a representation of his inner state.” ‘Clinton was more disciplined’On Wednesday, as dozens of reporters craned their necks beneath the crystal chandeliers of the ornate East Room, Trump stood with with Chinese vice-premier Liu He for the signing of the US-China phase one trade agreement. Before they put pen to paper, the president spent the best part of an hour giving shout-outs to his favourite officials and members of Congress. Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, was a “much better golfer than people would understand”.Amid the applause, adulation and levity, it was hard to believe the existential threat of impeachment was unfolding up the road. That was just one more laugh line. “Kevin McCarthy, as you know, left for the hoax,” Trump said of the Republican minority leader, prompting chuckles. Then he added darkly: “Well, we have to do that, otherwise it becomes a more serious hoax.”On Thursday, the paradox continued. Senators passed Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, or USMCA, with an 89-10 vote, then were sworn in as jurors for an impeachment trial certain to be far more divisive. Galston added: “To have the Senate vote with nearly 90 in favour of the trade deal and be split down the middle on impeachment on the same day is stunning.”But Galston, a former deputy assistant to Bill Clinton for domestic policy, recalled that the last impeachment had its own dichotomies. “As Clinton careened towards a Senate trial in late 1998, Democrats won a big victory in the midterm elections and Newt Gingrich, the speaker of the House, felt compelled to resign. Talk about a split screen. I’ve seen this movie before.“But President Clinton was more disciplined. When he had ceremonies at the White House he never talked about the other side of the screen. President Trump is obliterating the line.” ‘Not paying attention’In what would normally be a week of crisis, Trump was claiming other perceived victories. A caravan of about 2,000 Hondurans, reminiscent of those the president demonised in 2018, was on the move but looked unlikely to reach the US-Mexico border this time, in part because of new asylum agreements with Central American countries. The number of people crossing the border has fallen for seven months in a row.> A big bowl of cold oatmeal> > Van Jones on the Democratic debateTrump even seems to have got away with his biggest, most impulsive gamble in foreign policy, the assassination of Iran’s top general, Qassem Suleimani, as the threat of all war apparently receded. “Trump Wins His Standoff with Iran”, proclaimed a Washington Post headline above a column by Marc Thiessen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former chief speechwriter for George W Bush.The president’s final boost of the week may have come at the Democratic debate in Iowa where, in the eyes of some critics, no one claimed the mantle of Trump-slayer.“I came away feeling worried for the Democratic party,” political analyst Van Jones said on CNN, comparing it to “a big bowl of cold oatmeal” and warning: “There was nothing I saw tonight that would be able to take Donald Trump out, and I want to see a Democrat in the White House as soon as possible.”Trump has, in fact, failed to keep many promises: making Mexico pay for a border wall; growing the economy at 4% a year; repealing and replacing Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act; passing a $1tn infrastructure bill. Even his China trade deal has been condemned as a surrender. None of that has stopped his campaign ads portraying him as a man of action and touting a list of achievements in contrast to “do nothing” Democrats obsessed with the arcane business of impeachment.Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution thinktank at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, said: “The trial does not feature Trump himself and could turn out to be intensely boring. A lot of viewers are not paying attention. It doesn’t affect their lives. That’s what I find when I travel.”And the president, who has already raised millions of donor dollars off impeachment, will try to turn it to his political advantage. Whalen added: “Since he first started running for president, he realised he could get very far by making it an ‘us versus them’ mentality. In a swaggering way, he makes himself a victim. He’s not suffering but he just makes you believe he’s being persecuted.”

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 07:22:44 -0500
  • Turkey's Erdogan: Europe must back Libyan govt in Tripoli

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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the European Union to support the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli ahead of a summit in Berlin. In an article published on the Politico website Saturday, Erdogan said European leaders “ought to talk a little less and focus on taking concrete steps” in the conflict-torn North African nation. A truce sponsored by Turkey and Russia was imposed a week ago, although there have been reports of continued fighting.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 06:54:26 -0500
  • North Korea Replaces Ri Yong Ho as Foreign Minister: NK News

    (Bloomberg) -- North Korea’s Ri Yong Ho has been replaced as foreign minister after about four years as the country’s top diplomat, NK News reported, citing people familiar with the matter in Pyongyang.The name of his replacement has not been made public, although NK News said it may be announced on or before an event for resident diplomats, scheduled for Jan. 23 in the country’s capital.Ri has led North Korea’s diplomacy as minister of foreign affairs since 2016.To contact the reporter on this story: Carla Canivete in London at ccanivete@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sunil Kesur at skesur@bloomberg.net, Brian Wingfield, Rachel GrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 06:46:59 -0500
  • Trump’s on Trial While in Iran, Fallout is Fierce: Weekend Reads

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    (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.For only the third time in America’s history, a president is about to go on trial. Donald Trump’s impeachment case — in which he faces charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — got underway Thursday with a show of pageantry in the Senate.It came a day after the U.S. and China signed a phase-one deal that’s aimed at stemming the damage from their bruising trade war.In Tehran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave his first Friday sermon in eight years, seeking to rally Iranians around an embattled establishment after a furious domestic backlash over the government’s attempts to cover up the unintentional downing of a passenger jet.Dig deeper into these and other topics and click here for Bloomberg’s most compelling political images from the past week.Xi’s Wider Fight With U.S. Only Just Beginning After Trade DealIn a letter read out during Wednesday’s trade deal signing at the White House, Chinese leader Xi Jinping asked Trump to take steps to “enhance mutual trust and cooperation between us.” But as Bloomberg News reports, that won’t be easy.With Iowa Looming, Bernie Sanders Is Poised for an UpsetThe cantankerous senator’s campaign appears to have taken off at just the right time, Joshua Green reports. But it will take more than just his hardcore supporters for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination.The Tokyo Job: Inside Carlos Ghosn’s Escape to BeirutDespite being under intense surveillance, with a camera trained on his front door and undercover agents tailing him when he left his house, Ghosn somehow made it to Lebanon. Matthew Campbell reports on the elite extraction team that spirited the former CEO out of Japan.Fury at Air Crash Cover-Up Puts Iran’s Leaders Back on DefensiveThe admission by authorities in Tehran that they accidentally shot down a passenger jet packed with Iranian students last week shattered a brief moment of unity, Marc Champion, Arsalan Shahla and Golnar Motevalli write.Strength in Weakness: Why Iran Fights the Way It DoesThe pinpoint accuracy of Iran’s response to the killing of commander Qassem Soleimani, striking two U.S. bases in Iraq while avoiding causing casualties, has signaled Tehran’s capacity to harm American assets. As Marc Champion reports, it’s also shown the limitations on Iran’s freedom to openly do so.Trump Bailout Means Farmers Emerge Optimistic From Trade WarDonald Trump is boasting that he’s made farmers “really happy.” He’s not wrong, Mike Dorning reports, but it’s not just the trade deal that’s left farmers optimistic for 2020.The European Union Is Going to Miss the U.K. When It’s GoneWith one foot inside and one foot out, the U.K. was never sure which way to turn — and the European Union never seemed to know how to make it more comfortable. Now, the overriding feeling among the EU’s political elite remains one of regret, Ian Wishart writes.How Putin Was Thrown Off Course by a Furious Libyan GeneralKhalifa Haftar was expecting the Kremlin red carpet. Instead he was cooped up in the Russian Foreign Ministry hoping for an audience with President Vladimir Putin, Samer Al-Atrush, Ilya Arkhipov and Selcan Hacaoglu write. In the end, the Libyan commander stormed out.No Soul Searching for Xi After Taiwan Rebuffs China in ElectionIn a democracy, two resounding election defeats in a matter of months might prompt some soul searching in the losing camp. But as Samson Ellis and Peter Martin report, in China a snub at the polls in places it claims is more a minor setback rather than a sign of a flawed strategy.Bloody Mutiny in Sudan Casts Shadow Over Drive for DemocracyWhen disgruntled Sudanese spies took up arms and gunfire rang out across Khartoum, even members of the most powerful pro-government militia were startled, Mohammed Alamin and Samuel Gebre report.Drones Target Polluters in One of Europe’s Smoggiest PlacesKrakow was one of the most choked-up urban areas on the continent, James M Gomez and Dorota Bartyzel write. Then the Polish city became ruthless in its fight for clean air.And finally ... Whenever somebody on Twitter takes issue with the network’s policies, they almost always resort to the same strategy: They send a tweet to @jack. But while Dorsey is the company’s public face, the taxing job of creating and enforcing Twitter’s rules don’t actually land on the CEO’s shoulders. Instead, that falls to Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, Kurt Wagner writes. \--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter.To contact the author of this story: Ruth Pollard in New Delhi at rpollard2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 06:45:41 -0500
  • How Trump's hatred of international cooperation weakened the China deal

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    The ink on President Trump's new trade deal with China is still drying, but worries are already growing about whether it can survive."Phase 1" of the agreement, which Trump signed Wednesday, only partially addresses the two sides' beefs with one another: It reduces some tariffs, commits China to purchase more American exports over two years, and includes some provisions to deal with intellectual property and other issues. But a large portion of the tariffs thrown up by both the U.S. and China, as well as American grievances with Chinese trade practices, remain unresolved.Moreover, it's not obvious to a lot of observers how the commitments that are spelled out in Phase 1 are even going to be enforced. And this missing piece reveals a much larger point about the Trump administration — namely, its deep hostility towards international cooperation.As Alex Pascal wrote in The Atlantic in 2019, the United States largely built the world of international institutions — the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and more — that Trump is rebelling against. This approach is generally called "multilateralism," meaning deals that involve a whole bunch of countries at the same time. It's been enthusiastically embraced by much of the U.S. establishment in the last few decades, including President Obama and his administration. But Trump and his team prefer "unilateralism" or "bilateralism" — America going it alone, or making piecemeal deals with one other country at a time.Of course, multilateralism inherently requires every country to voluntary restrain itself and give up some sovereignty to that network of international institutions, who make decisions that bind all the member countries. "The United States had to follow the same rules as everyone else, even though it was the most powerful country," as Pascal put it. Champions of multilateralism argue binding enhances trust, and thus cooperation, which led to "an unprecedented era of relative global peace and prosperity."Trump and his White House don't agree with this calculus, needless to say. "Multilateralism regulates hubris," as former-President Obama once observed. And Trump certainly doesn't seem like a leader who appreciates having his hubris regulated. Less flippantly, the people who make up Trump's team are bound together by a vague agreement that multilateralism and its attendant constraints have not served American interests well.This gets us back to enforcement in the new trade deal with China. Enforcement of a deal, pretty much by definition, requires all parties to bind themselves to certain rules, and to submit to judgments imposed upon them. If one party is accused of violating the agreement — if, say, the U.S feels China isn't living up to its obligation to buy enough American exports — it's unlikely that both sides will agree there's a violation occurring. Thus there must be some process for adjudicating the dispute, and some final authority identified by the deal who can render a judgment the parties agree to submit themselves to. The new trade deal with China is unusual in that it lacks this piece.Instead, trade deal outlines a convoluted process by which, if one country has a complaint, they submit it to the other party. And if the other party doesn't agree the complaint is valid, there's a mechanism for sending the complaint higher up the chain of command. But ultimately, it's up to each countries' internal authorities to decide if the complaint has merit. If the country that issues the complaint can't get the other country to agree the complaint is valid, then the deal says the complaining country can start imposing tariffs. Of course, you'd expect the other side to retaliate with tariffs too, since they never thought the complaint was valid anyway. At that point, the deal is officially scrapped and the trade war is back on."The big story is that there is no neutral adjudication mechanism as part of this dispute procedure," Simon Lester wrote at the International Economic Law and Policy Blog. "I've never seen anything quite like this before." In other words, the China trade deal is much more similar to a casual relationship than a marriage: it's as ephemeral as both sides' moment-to-moment enthusiasm for it."As a result, I'm not sure how enforceable this deal is," Lester continued.This refusal to accept binding constraints or neutral adjudication has been a feature of the Trump administration's approach: They've treated major international bodies like the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the World Trade Organization with open contempt, and in a few instances threatened to deny funding or even to demur from agreements to provide allies with defense if they're attacked. The White House also ditched the Paris climate agreement, pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal with Iran.The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (i.e. the revised NAFTA) that Trump is about to sign stands out as an interesting exception. In that case, the primary problem was that labor in Mexico was cheaper — due to lower pay and poor labor protections — which led to companies absconding from the U.S. to our southern neighbor. The goal was to bring Mexico's standards more in line with America's and Canada's. This caused a sticking point, as Mexico balked at the idea of allowing outside inspectors to check on its progress — exactly the same sort of prickliness about sovereignty the Trump administration evinces. But in that case, the enforcement was all aimed one way (at Mexico) with little need for equivalent enforcement against America or Canada. Which likely explains why Trump is happy to sign that deal.The broader question is whether the Trump administration's assessment of multilateralism is correct. Pascal makes a good case that it's not: In particular, a multilateral coalition would probably have had much more luck convincing China to seriously reform its trade practices. And preserving the international cooperation of the Iran deal would almost certainly have worked much better to restrain that country's nuclear program.Arguably, the real problem with multilateralism lies elsewhere: Not in whether its a better process for getting things done, but getting things done for whom? Countries are not monoliths. They contain all sorts of groups with different interests — in particular owners versus workers. As Pascal admits in passing, the binding rules of the multilateral status quo have worked out very well for wealthy owners and investors across the world, but they have not worked out so well for the working classes, particularly in the West.This really called for a different kind of multilateralism, focused on different goals and priorities, rather than the end of multilateralism entirely. But establishment elites were as interested as Trump in treating the choice before us as simply multilateralism-as-it-exists or no multilateralism at all. And that was the mistake that gave Trump his opening to start tearing down the system.More stories from theweek.com Trump is getting the band back together French officials warn of violence from subgroups in protest movement The Patriots only have one option

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 06:45:01 -0500
  • Libyan Oil Exports Interrupted, Output May Be Cut by Half

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Oil shipments were halted from at least three ports in Libya, according to people familiar with the matter, as the National Oil Corp. warned that planned stoppages could cut more than half of the nation’s crude output.Exports have been frozen at Ras Lanuf, Sidra and Brega, the people said, a day before members of the North African’s country’s warring factions are due to attend a summit in Berlin to try to resolve the conflict. Earlier Saturday, a NOC official said all oil shipments from ports in central and eastern Libya, except Zueitina, were due to halt after direct instructions from the Libyan National Army, the force based in the country’s east.The LNA is controlled by Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have been trying to overthrow the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli and have besieged the capital city.A NOC official said that a broader stoppage would result in at least 700,000 barrels per day of Libya’s oil output going offline. On Thursday, it announced daily production of 1.17 million barrels.The LNA‘s spokesman, Ahmed al-Mismari, said in statement overnight that his forces were responding to the will of the people, after eastern tribes staged protests demanding an oil-production freeze.To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Cairo at selwardany@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Davis at adavis@jefferies.comMichael Gunn, Andrew DavisFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 05:42:29 -0500
  • Israel's F-35i 'Adir' Stealth Fighter Is a Beast (And Now A Second Squadron Is Ready)

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran, you might want to read this.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 04:50:00 -0500
  • Putin Hunted for Scapegoats and Found Medvedev

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a radical overhaul of Russia’s governance system this week, he also ended the Medvedev era. Dmitry Medvedev was, at least formally, Putin’s closest sidekick, the politician with whom the strongman was most willing to share formal power.  Whether or not it’s time for Medvedev’s political obit, his stint near the top of Russia’s so-called power vertical will serve as an example of how the Putin system’s inertia can suffocate the best modernizing intentions.Medvedev abruptly resigned as prime minister on Wednesday, without giving advance notice to members of his government, who also had to tender their resignations. “We as the government must give our country’s president the opportunity to make all the necessary decisions,” Medvedev said, though it wasn’t clear how his continued occupancy of the top cabinet post could get in the way of Putin’s reform. Putin expressed rather tepid gratitude for the prime minister’s service. “Not everything has worked out, but then things never work out completely,” he said. Putin has always avoided firing close, trusted associates, but as prime minister since 2012, Medvedev presided over Russia’s longest run of declining real incomes during Putin’s 20-year rule. The government’s $400 billion “national projects” spending plan, designed to rectify things, hasn’t gotten off to a great start. The new job Putin has offered Medvedev didn’t even exist before — deputy chairman of the Security Council, an advisory body that includes Russia's mighty security chiefs. It’s formally headed by Putin but run by its secretary, former secret police chief Nikolai Patrushev. The council has been described, including by Kremlin propaganda outlets, as the closest Russia has to the Soviet Union's ruling Politburo. So the newly created post, with Putin as the direct supervisor, can be enormously influential — but perhaps not when filled by Medvedev, who has never really commanded the respect of the security bosses in the way Putin does, with his KGB record and training.Medvedev’s move means he isn’t likely to be Putin’s successor as president when the latter's term ends in 2024. Nor will he return to the prime ministerial post, now handed to a supremely skillful technocrat, former tax chief Mikhail Mishustin. His career has been launched on a downward trajectory — something he probably expected. For years, he has appeared bored and morose at official functions, time and again photographed with his eyes closed and seemingly asleep. Opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny posted one such photo taken as Putin delivered his Wednesday address, tweeting, “Only one thing in Russia is really stable and unshakable — Dmitry Medvedev, asleep during the president’s state of the nation speech.”During a recent award ceremony, Medvedev’s New Year’s greetings included this quotation from Anton Chekhov: “The newer the year, the closer you are to death, the wider your bald spot, the twistier your wrinkles, the older your wife, the more kids you have and the less money.” Some of the incredulous listeners couldn't help but recall Medvedev's most famous quote, his answer to a woman in Russian-annexed Crimea in 2016 who complained that her pension was too low: “There's just no money now. When we find the money, we'll raise pensions. You hang on in there, stay cheerful and healthy.”Medvedev may have been fatigued and depressed lately as his government failed to deliver on Putin's promises of a tangible improvement in living standards, but money isn't something he's lacked himself. During this snowless winter, the vast land plot around his residence in Central Russia is covered with artificial snow. Medvedev has never given a substantive answer to a long video produced by Navalny's team and watched more than 33 million times on YouTube, in which he was accused of accumulating vast wealth while working for the government.Medvedev's approval rating never recovered from that video's release, languishing below 40% in recent months, while Putin's remains close to 70%. Government spending cuts that began in 2015 and lasted through 2018 didn't help, and the government’s decision in June 2018 to raise the retirement age — made by Putin, but often ascribed to Medvedev because of his perceived insensitivity — dealt his popularity an especially crippling blow.The visibly bored, defeated Medvedev at the end of his prime ministership was a far cry from the hopeful, cheerful modernizer who started a four-year presidency in 2008 and charmed U.S. President Barack Obama and his aides into trying a reset of U.S.-Russia relations. Though many Putin opponents — myself included — never believed Medvedev could pursue an independent policy, so-called system liberals, believers in changing the system from within, vested serious hopes in the younger, more polished leader. They believed he could shake off Putin's conservative influence if he ran for a second term in 2012, and that Russia would then gradually become freer both economically and politically.Medvedev tried some promising things. He set up a large innovation center at Skolkovo near Moscow, trying to lure investors and entrepreneurs into a Russian version of Silicon Valley. He started reforms in the self-serving, thoroughly rotten law-enforcement agencies, and he modernized Russia's obsolete armed forces, starting an ambitious reorganization and rearmament. He removed some of the most entrenched, hidebound regional leaders, breaking up the corrupt monopolies that had sprung up around them.But the system liberals’ hopes were probably dashed in March 2011, when Medvedev ordered the Russian representative in the United Nations Security Council to abstain on a resolution authorizing the U.S. and its allies to use force against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Putin publicly criticized his protege for not ordering a "no" vote, likening the Western intervention in Libya to a “medieval crusade." In his book, “From Cold War to Hot Peace," Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and a believer in Medvedev's liberal intentions, wrote that “U.S. military intervention in Libya, which helped topple Qaddafi, also inadvertently might have helped remove Medvedev from power in Russia."In September 2011, Putin and Medvedev announced they intended to switch jobs the following year, a development that bitterly disappointed the system liberals. Protests against a rigged parliamentary election, which broke out less than three months later, only served to convince Putin that the West was trying to undermine him and empower Medvedev instead. But, perhaps out of a sense of loyalty toward his temporary successor who hadn't tried to cling to power, Putin made no attempt to replace Medvedev as prime minister.The latter never really raised his head again. He avoided making major decisions or advocating big reforms; the cabinet ministers learned they needed Putin's approval for anything remotely controversial. In a way, that helped Russia build a protective economic wall after Putin annexed Crimea and, simultaneously, the oil price crashed in 2014. Amid Western sanctions and a tightening hold of Putin's cronies and enforcers on the economy, Russia's generally competent economic managers could only cut spending to insulate the budget from external shocks — and accumulate international reserves every time the price of oil edged up. Medvedev's tenure ended with these reserves at $554 billion, near the 2008 historic high of $569 billion.Putin's patience was sorely tested. Busy with geopolitical chess and with finding ways to retain power after 2024, he clearly wanted his hands free from domestic economic management. He wanted to set goals and let someone else get to them. Time after time, he told Medvedev that he wanted "results.” They failed to materialize.Meanwhile, Medvedev's work as the formal leader of the Kremlin's loyalist party, United Russia, also proved insufficient. The party's support melted away, and its legislative majorities and governorships have had to be obtained with increasing rigging efforts and administrative pressure. In December, only 29% of Russians were willing to cast a vote for United Russia in a national election, a threat to its parliamentary majority even in an unfair system. Putin needs a stronger party behind him post-2024, and an effort to build one on the basis of his broad support network, the United People's Front — or to reform United Russia — is to be expected.Putin’s legendary personal loyalty stretched far enough not to send Medvedev, who is only 54, into retirement. But then, it was Putin himself who backpedaled in 2011 instead of letting Medvedev pursue his cautiously reformist course. It was Putin who created a system that paralyzed any kind of economic liberalization and who launched Russia on military adventures that limited its ability to develop trade. Putin, who gave Medvedev the exhilarating hope of building a more modern Russia, then quickly took it away, leaving his former successor with little except the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Russian elite.It was Putin's country to give and to take back.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 02:00:41 -0500
  • Mexico blocks hundreds of migrants from crossing border span

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    Mexican authorities closed a border entry point in southern Mexico on Saturday after thousands of Central American migrants tried to push their way across a bridge spanning the Suchiate River between Mexico and Guatemala. Honduran migrants waved their country's flag and sang the national anthem as they approached the bridge. At the height of the confrontation, Guatemalan authorities estimated 2,500 migrants were on the bridge, or attempting to get on it.

    Sat, 18 Jan 2020 00:02:12 -0500
  • Dominica Is the Fastest Growing Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean Region Thanks to Booming Tourism and Citizenship by Investment, UN ECLAC Report Finds

    Golocal247.com news

    A new report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) from the United Nations indicates that the Commonwealth of Dominica was the fastest growing economy in the entire Latin America and the Caribbean region in 2019. The island's GDP is said to have jumped up by 9%, attributed to Citizenship by Investment (CBI), soaring tourism numbers and public sector construction.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 23:00:00 -0500
  • Iran's supreme leader says Europe 'cannot be trusted' in rare Friday prayers address

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    Iran's Supreme Leader, in his first sermon in eight years, said yesterday that Britain and other European states who were party to a nuclear pact were “American lackeys” who "cannot be trusted". Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told thousands of worshippers gathered in Tehran that the UK, France and Germany were “weak”, after the co-signatories to the 2015 accord triggered a formal dispute mechanism in the agreement, which could lead to UN sanctions being reimposed. Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the pact in retaliation to US’s withdrawal in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions that have crippled the country's economy. “I told you after US withdrawal that the E3 are just paying lip service, and telling lies,” he said. "I said I don't trust them. Now you see they're just pawns of the US. They're trying to bring Iran to its knees. US, which was your master, failed to do so, let alone you tiny ones.” Donald Trump responded on Twitter on Friday night, telling Khamenei to be “very careful with his words”. Iranians shout slogans against the government after a vigil held for the victims of the airplane of Ukrainian International Airlines  Credit: Anadolu “The so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe,” Trump said. “Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!” Trump went on to urge Iran leaders to "abandon terror" and "Make Iran Great Again". The US has threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on imports of European cars if EU governments continue to back the nuclear deal, according to German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Khamenei, who has held the country’s top office since 1989 and has the final say on all major decisions, addressed the nation following the US killing of celebrated Revolutionary Guard general Qassim Soleimani. Leading Friday prayers in the capital, which the ayatollah last did in 2012, is a symbolically significant act usually reserved for times when Iran's highest authority wishes to deliver an important message. Striking a defiant tone, he said Mr Trump was a “clown” who pretended to support the Iranian people but would push a poisonous dagger into their backs. He also accused Iran's "enemies", a term that usually refers to Washington and its allies, of trying to use Iran's accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner to overshadow a public show of grief following the death of Soleimani. He called the accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner a "bitter" tragedy on Friday but said it should not overshadow the "sacrifice" of a top commander killed in a US drone strike. "The plane crash was a bitter accident, it burned through our heart," Khamenei said. "But some tried to... portray it in a way to forget the great martyrdom and sacrifice" of Major General Soleimani, the head of the foreign operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. "Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad ... happy that they found something to question the Guards, the armed forces, the system." Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei leading the main weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran. Credit: AFP Iran admitted last week it accidentally downed a Ukrainian airliner when it was high alert after strikes against US targets in Iraq in retaliation for Soleimani's killing. The tragedy killed 176 people, most of them Iranians and Canadians. Many Iranians in exile noted that Khameini did not offer any condolences to the victims of the crash, which they said showed a lack of respect. Praising Soleimani, Khamenei said his actions beyond Iran's borders were in the service of the "security" of the nation and that the people are in favour of "firmness" and "resistance" in the face of enemies. "The few hundred who insulted the picture of General Soleimani, are they the people of Iran? Or this million-strong crowd in the streets?" he said in an apparent reference to the reported tearing down of a portrait of the dead commander by protesters in Tehran a few days after hundreds of thousands turned out for his funeral.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:41:12 -0500
  • Scientists seek rare species survivors amid Australia flames

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    Australia’s unprecedented wildfires season has so far charred 40,000 square miles (104,000 square kilometers) of brushland, rainforests, and national parks — killing by one estimate more than a billion wild animals. Where flames have subsided, biologists are starting to look for survivors, hoping they may find enough left of some rare and endangered species to rebuild populations. “I don’t think we’ve seen a single event in Australia that has destroyed so much habitat and pushed so many creatures to the very brink of extinction,” said Kingsley Dixon, an ecologist at Curtin University in Perth.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:01:35 -0500
  • North Korea’s Economy Expanded 1.8% in 2019, UNCTAD Says

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.North Korea’s economy expanded in 2019 for the first time in three years, and is forecast to accelerate in 2020, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.Gross domestic product increased an estimated 1.8% last year, compared with a 4.2% contraction in 2018, UNCTAD said in a report released Thursday, which didn’t elaborate on the data. It predicted growth of 2.2% this year, and 2.8% in 2021.North Korea’s isolation, secrecy and dearth of official statistics make estimates difficult. Its downturn in 2018 was the worst performance since 1997 when a series of droughts, floods and botched economic policies caused a deadly famine, according to South Korea’s central bank.Still, the nation continues to strive amid crushing economic sanctions. Its state-run media said earlier this month the country doesn’t intend to trade its nuclear weapons for a lift of sanctions.To contact the reporter on this story: Hooyeon Kim in Seoul at hkim592@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Reed StevensonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 21:21:23 -0500
  • Rollback proposed for Michelle Obama school lunch guidelines

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    The Trump administration on Friday took another step toward dismantling Michelle Obama's school nutrition guidelines, proposing a new rule that could lead to more pizza and fries and less fruit and a smaller variety of vegetables on school menus. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who announced the rule changes on Obama’s birthday, said they were needed to give schools more flexibility and reduce waste while still providing nutritious and appetizing meals. “What a shameless, embarrassing capitulation to lobbyists at the expense of American children and their well-being,” said Sam Kass, who served as executive director of Obama's “Let's Move" campaign to combat child obesity.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 20:28:16 -0500
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