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  • US service members injured in Iran missile attack last week; 11 evacuated for treatment

    Golocal247.com news

    The U.S. military confirmed late Thursday that some American troops were evacuated for injuries sustained in Iran's ballistic missile attacks on bases in Iraq last week. Eleven service members injured at Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq were flown out of the country in the last 24 to 36 hours, a U.S. official told ABC News.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:14:00 -0500
  • Iran Supreme Leader Ayatalloh Ali Khamenei says attack against US military base was a “strike at America’s track record as a superpower"

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran's Supreme Leader, who was leading prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years, used the occasion to praise the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force and its former commander General Qassem Soleimani, a close ally who was killed earlier this month in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad airport.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:40:00 -0500
  • Aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln shatters US Navy's record for longest post-Cold War deployment with 10-month around-the-world tour

    Golocal247.com news

    The Lincoln broke a cruise record the ship set nearly two decades earlier, sailed around the world, and sent warnings to both Russia and Iran.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:25:59 -0500
  • 'Big Ben bongs for Brexit' battle turns pricey

    Golocal247.com news

    Britain's bewildering battle to get Big Ben to bong for Brexit is becoming brutal -- and big-budget to boot as public cash donations flooded in Friday for a celebratory peal. Big Ben has been mostly silent since restoration work on parliament's Elizabeth Tower, which houses the clock, began in 2017. Parliamentary authorities say the floor in the tower workers use to look after the bell has been removed and the ringing devices taken out.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 10:04:44 -0500
  • Ayatollah Khamenei's speech during Friday prayers

    Here are the main points of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech in a sermon during Friday prayers in Tehran, translated from Farsi by AFP. Khamenei paid tribute to Major General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:58:02 -0500
  • Iran's Khamenei slams 'cowardly' European governments

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday accused the governments of Britain, France and Germany of being "American lackeys" in the face of US pressure over the nuclear accord. The United States has threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on imports of European cars if European Union governments continue to back the nuclear deal, according to German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The 2015 agreement was struck in Vienna between Iran and France, Britain, Germany, the United States, China and Russia.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:56:38 -0500
  • Hezbollah warns of 'chaos' if Lebanon government delayed

    Golocal247.com news

    A senior Hezbollah official warned Friday that Lebanon could fall into chaos and “complete collapse” unless a new government is formed. Sheikh Ali Daamoush's comments came amid more bickering between politicians on the formation of a new Cabinet amid a crippling financial crisis and ongoing mass protests against the country's ruling elite. Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab had been expected to announce an 18-member Cabinet on Friday, but last minute disputes among political factions scuttled his latest attempt.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:49:45 -0500
  • 11 Americans were injured in Iran strike, suggesting a 'nearer miss than advertised'

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    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 New York Times reports. "While no U.S. servicemembers were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," a United States Central Command spokesperson told the Times.Trump last week said "the American people should be extremely grateful and happy," as "no Americans were harmed" in the attack. The attack on the two bases came in response to a Trump-authorized U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.CNN notes that "concussions are not always apparent immediately after they've been suffered," and a defense official told CNN that the Pentagon previously indicating that there were no injuries "was the commander's assessment at the time" but "symptoms emerged days after the fact, and they were treated out of an abundance of caution."With this in mind, CNN's Jim Sciutto observed that "the crux" of the story "is not the Pentagon mislead," as "these injuries emerged only after the fact," but rather "that the Iranian missile strike was a nearer miss than advertised."More stories from theweek.com Ukraine gives Trump the corruption investigation he asked for Eminem drops a surprise album and music video advocating new 'gun laws in America' Trump again denied knowing Lev Parnas. So Parnas' lawyer posted more robust proof.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:40:00 -0500
  • Bloomberg plan would make all new U.S. cars electric by 2035

    Golocal247.com news

    Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg unveiled a plan on Friday to slash greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by making electric vehicles accessible to even low-income families and improving access to public transit. Bloomberg, a media billionaire and former mayor of New York City, has long fought to curb emissions, serving recently as a special envoy to the United Nations on climate action. Other Democratic candidates have included transportation in their climate plans.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:06:59 -0500
  • China's Xi Jinping visits Burma in boost for Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of genocide ruling

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    Chinese president Xi Jinping is visiting Myanmar to finalise billions of dollars in investment projects, and to shore up Beijing’s influence over the pariah South East Asian nation shunned by the West over its brutal policies toward ethnic Rohingya Muslims.  The two-day trip is Mr Xi’s inaugural state visit this year, and the first by a Chinese president in 20 years. Mr Xi is expected to meet with top leaders including Myanmar president U Win Myint and state councillor Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto government leader.  Deals on the table include a landmark £1 billion deep-sea port in western Rakhine state, the centre of the Rohingya conflict. Related projects are also planned, including a high-speed rail link connecting the port to southern China, along with a vast industrial park. Together, these infrastructure investments are seen as China’s gateway to the Indian Ocean. Both nations have hailed the trip as bringing them closer than ever after seven decades – Myanmar was the first non-Communist country to recognise China after the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949. And China is now Myanmar’s top trading partner. But experts say it’s a fraught bilateral relationship that has, at least for now, reached a convenient time for the two sides to cosy up.  “For China, their interests are clear – keep Myanmar within their zone of influence, maximise their infrastructure investments, and through this develop their own access to the Indian Ocean,” said Champa Patel, director of the Asia-Pacific programme at Chatham House. And Myanmar “needs China to show the international community that ‘everybody else is criticising us, but we still have the top leader of a great power paying a state visit to our country,’” said Yun Sun, co-director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center, a US think tank. In some ways, how Myanmar has dealt with China – with some deference toward Beijing, which then lends support against international pressure – is a template for how Beijing wishes the rest of Southeast Asia would behave. Nations including the Philippines and Malaysia have grown more politically cautious toward China.  The China-Myanmar relationship hasn’t always been smooth – tensions flared after widespread public anger stalled plans for a £2.7 billion mega-dam, a project that remains unresolved. It’s a flashpoint in bilateral ties that is expected to become an election issue as Burmese head to the polls later this year. China's power | Belt and Road Initiative But fortunes are tied, as the two countries share a restive 1,500-mile border - “home to dozens of insurgent armies and hundreds of militia,” said Thant Myint-U, historian and author of The Hidden History of Burma.  “The biggest, the United Wa State Army, fields nearly 30,000 well-armed troops and administers territories nearly the size of Belgium.” Officials from both countries have touted Chinese investment as a way to create new jobs, boost the economy and stabilise conflict along the border.  But some experts say border security is necessary if Beijing-backed projects – which already risk backlash over Chinese intentions – are to succeed in such strife-ridden zones. “The Chinese think the Burmese can’t be trusted, and the Burmese worry about what China wants,” said Richard Horsey, a Yangon-based political analyst. Resource-rich Myanmar worries “it’s an extractive relationship, not a win-win.” Plus, "Myanmar is by far the poorer country and may well be overwhelmed by what comes next without a proper plan on how best to manage the sheer weight of China's economy next door," said Thant Myint-U. Still, agreeing to more Chinese investment is a way for the Burmese government to thank China for its support in other areas. China has emerged as a powerful backer for Myanmar – a proxy nation in the strategic struggle against the West over influence – boosting Ms Suu Kyi’s defiant stand against international condemnation over ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims. Aung San Suu Kyi at The Hague in December 2019 Credit: Koen Van Weel/AFP Next Thursday, the International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest court, is set to rule on a request for emergency measures in a genocide case filed by Gambia against Myanmar, stemming from the brutal military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in 2017 that forced more than 730,000 to flee. If upheld, a request for “provisional measures” aimed at protecting the Rohingya while the case proceeds, would be automatically sent to the UN Security Council.  But China holds a key vote on the Security Council, and could block demands including better access to humanitarian aid or the repeal of discriminatory laws.  Beijing has consistently supported Ms Suu Kyi’s regime, offering a financial lifeline to escape the impact of possible sanctions, and attempting to thwart any UN attempts to hold Ms Suu Kyi and her generals to account. However, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, predicted that defending the Burmese military against genocide “will likely be a bridge too far even for Beijing’s clout on the global stage.” “Myanmar is, in any case, very good at not caving to international pressure and it hasn’t up until now changed its approach on the Rohingya issue,” said Mr Horsey. “I think it knows that it needs China’s protection on the Security Council,” he said. But “how much does it need to capitulate to China’s interests in order to keep China on side? I think Myanmar is testing that.”

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:01:48 -0500
  • Bloomberg plan would make all new U.S. cars electric by 2035

    Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg unveiled a plan on Friday to slash greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by making electric vehicles accessible to even low-income families and improving access to public transit. Bloomberg, a media billionaire and former mayor of New York City, has long fought to curb emissions, serving recently as a special envoy to the United Nations on climate action. Other Democratic candidates have included transportation in their climate plans.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:00:00 -0500
  • Officials: Iraq's top cleric discharged from hospital

    Golocal247.com news

    Iraq's most powerful cleric was discharged Friday from a hospital following a risky surgery for a fractured bone and returned to his home in southern Iraq, medical officials said. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who turns 90 later this year, fractured a thigh bone when he slipped while bathing before evening prayers Wednesday night. The surgery was considered risky for his age and came amid ongoing tensions in Iraq following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general and a popular protest movement against the country’s ruling elite.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 08:33:19 -0500
  • Ukraine’s Ruling Duo Seeks Show of Unity to Defuse Leak Scandal

    (Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s top politicians raced to defuse a scandal over leaked comments by the prime minister, with a move that would demonstrate the bond between the new leading tandem.Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk tendered his resignation Friday after he was heard on a leaked recording criticizing his boss’s grasp of the economy. But the move was seen as a formality -- and a pledge of loyalty -- as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy plans to reject the offer, the Kyiv-based newspaper Zerkalo Nedeli reported, citing people in the president’s office it didn’t name.The scandal has cast the spotlight on Zelenskiy’s biggest challenge: healing an economy that plunged into recession and flirted with default after a 2014 revolution toppled a Moscow-backed administration and Russia annexed Crimea.The focus of the leak makes the comments from Honcharuk, handpicked by the president to lead the economic overhaul, potentially more damaging. On the tapes, ministers and central bankers discussed their struggles in explaining the currency market and economic trends to the president.At the same time, the scandal is relatively benign compared to leaks in Ukraine’s past that included politicians discussing corruption -- and even murder. And Zelenskiy, a former comedian who entered politics just a year ago, ran on his willingness to introduce change rather than his ability to understand the intricacies of monetary policy and financial engineering.“We are one team,” Honcharuk said in parliament Friday after announcing his offer to resign. “We all got into parliament and into government to change the country thanks to this person, thanks to Volodymyr Zelenskiy.”‘Sort It Out’While neither Honcharuk nor Zelenskiy, political newcomers aged 35 and 41, commented further on the prime minister’s offer, the president met with heads of law enforcement agencies and demanded an investigation into who leaked the tapes. He also called for measures “to make such incidents impossible in the future.”“I demand information in two weeks, as soon as possible, about who was recording,” Zelenskiy said in a statement. “We need to find who did it and to sort it out.”Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, fell to a two-month low against the dollar, taking this year’s decline to 2.1%. Last year, the currency was the world’s best performer with a 16% gain.Even if Honcharuk stays, the leak has exposed the challenges that Zelenskiy faces at the head of a former Soviet country where billionaire oligarchs, Vladimir Putin, the European Union and the U.S. are wrangling for influence.On the tape, a man with a voice that sounds like Honcharuk says Zelenskiy’s economic knowledge is limited and suggests illustrating the effects of a stronger hryvnia and slower inflation to the president through the price of a popular salad. The central bank declined to comment on the tapes, while the government press office said they were not able to confirm their authenticity.In his Facebook post, Honcharuk hailed the government’s achievements so far, including renewing a financial aid agreement with the International Monetary Fund and a natural-gas transit deal with Russia.Those have come amid setbacks as well, including Zelenskiy’s involvement in the phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump and a close relationship with Ukraine’s richest man, Igor Kolomoisky.One TeamHoncharuk, a lawyer who led Zelenskiy’s economic team after the president won last year’s election, was appointed prime minister in August. Before that, he led an NGO aimed at improving the investment climate and financed by the EU.The pemier flashed a confident smile when he and his ministers appeared in parliament for a weekly Q&A session Friday. He refused to answer questions, and dozens shouted “Shame on you!” as he left the assembly.“We all respect” Zelenskiy, “and for us it’s very important to have 100% trust inside the team,” Honcharuk told the assembly before leaving. “We are ready to do much more together with you, but for that we must be united.”Analysts at Dragon Capital, a Ukrainian investment bank, pointed out another element of Honcharuk’s resignation: He submitted the offer to the president’s office, and not to parliament as is required under the constitution.“That Honcharuk circumvented the law suggests his desire to underscore his allegiance to the president by letting him decide the matter,” Dragon Capital said in a note. “We doubt Zelenskiy currently has the will and capacity for a major government shake-up, especially a ready replacement for Honcharuk.”(Updates with comments from Zelenskiy and background throughout.)\--With assistance from Marton Eder.To contact the reporters on this story: Volodymyr Verbyany in Kiev at vverbyany1@bloomberg.net;Daryna Krasnolutska in Kyiv at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net;Andrea Dudik in Prague at adudik@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net, Michael WinfreyFor 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 08:28:59 -0500
  • Libya strongman Haftar in Greece ahead of peace meeting

    Golocal247.com news

    Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar was holding talks in Athens on Friday two days ahead of a peace conference in Berlin, which he and the head of Tripoli's UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj are expected to attend. Haftar thanked Vladimir Putin, his "dear friend", for his efforts to bring peace in Libya after Moscow announced that the Russian leader would attend Sunday's conference.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 08:19:29 -0500
  • EU border chief says migrant entries from Turkey on the rise

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    The number of migrants entering Europe from Turkey rose significantly last year as people fleeing strife in Syria and Afghanistan flooded into the country and then set out for Greece, the head of the European Union’s border agency said Friday. More than 82,000 migrants tried to enter Europe without authorization in 2019, an increase of 46% over the previous year, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said in Brussels. “This was mainly due to the situation in Syria, but also instability in Afghanistan, and changing policies towards Afghan nationals by Iranian and Pakistani authorities,” Leggeri told reporters.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 08:17:28 -0500
  • 'Days of God': A look at Iran's mounting crises

    Golocal247.com news

    The Islamic Republic has been reeling from one crisis to another, from the targeted killing by the United States of its top general to the Revolutionary Guard's accidental shootdown of a passenger plane carrying scores of young people, most of them Iranians. U.S. sanctions have crippled its economy as tensions with America have soared. In a rare Friday sermon in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stuck to the playbook Iran has relied on since 1979, blaming the country's woes on the U.S. and other Western powers, and proclaiming that Iranians still support the Islamic Revolution.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:50:14 -0500
  • UK will not automatically deport EU nationals after Brexit - Verhofstadt

    Britain will not automatically deport European Union citizens who have not applied for the right to remain in the country after Brexit, European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said on Friday. Verhofstadt, who met with British ministers including Brexit minister Stephen Barclay on Thursday, said he had been reassured there would be a grace period for those who have not applied for Britain's "settled status" scheme by the June 2021 deadline.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:46:33 -0500
  • Iran's supreme leader slams 'clown' Trump, says Iran's missile strikes showed 'the hand of God'

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    Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers at a mosque in Tehran on Friday for the first time since 2012, trying to rally support among intertwined crises facing his government. On the foreign front, punishing U.S. sanctions have harmed Iran's economy and the Trump administration's killing of Iran's top general brought the U.S. and Tehran to the brink of war. Domestically, Iranians already angry over a hike in fuel prices took to the streets this week to demand justice and accountability for the Revolutionary Guard's downing of a Ukrainian jetliner, killing 176 people, most of them Iranian.In nationally broadcast comments from inside the Mosalla mosque, Khamenei, 80, said the missiles fired on the Ukrainian jet were a "bitter accident" and defended the Revolutionary Guard, which reports directly to him. "Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad," he said. "Happy that they had found something to question the Guard and the armed forces." He called President Trump, who has been encouraging the antigovernment protests, a "clown" who is only pretending to support Iran's people and would just as soon "push a poisonous dagger" into their backs.Khamenei also addressed the missile strikes on two Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces, calling the a "slap on the face" to the U.S. "The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God," he said, but pushing the U.S. military out of the Middle East would be the "real punishment" for America's "cowardly" killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, highlighting Soleimani's efficacy in battling the Islamic State. He added that the killing showed America's "terrorist nature.""Leading Friday prayers in the capital is a symbolically significant act usually reserved for times when Iran's highest authority wishes to deliver an important message," BBC News reports, citing Mehdi Khalaji at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.More stories from theweek.com Ukraine gives Trump the corruption investigation he asked for Eminem drops a surprise album and music video advocating new 'gun laws in America' Trump again denied knowing Lev Parnas. So Parnas' lawyer posted more robust proof.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:26:04 -0500
  • US admits 11 troops were injured in Iran attack after Trump said there were no casualties

    Golocal247.com news

    The US military said 11 troops were treated for concussion after Iran launched a rocket attack at the Al-Asad air base in western Iraq, despite initially saying no service members had been hurt.The attack took place on 8 January in retaliation for the US-launched drone strike in Baghdad that killed Qassem Soleimani, a commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:22:00 -0500
  • Greece Rages Against Turkey’s Heft in Libya Peace Talks

    (Bloomberg) -- Greece warned it may try to block any Libyan peace deal that doesn’t resolve a dispute over regional maritime borders, as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with military commander Khalifa Haftar ahead of a Berlin conference on the country’s future.The Greek government, which won’t take part in the Berlin summit, will not accept any political deal for Libya that doesn’t annul an agreement the country struck with Greece’s rival Turkey on maritime borders, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview on Thursday.“Greece will veto, even at foreign-minister level before it makes it to head-of-state level,” any Libya agreement that doesn’t annul the pact with Turkey, Mitsotakis said.Greece may not get that chance.Mitsotakis was left off the invitation list for the peace talks in Berlin this weekend, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will join Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two leaders who’ve been calling the shots on Libya.The politicians in Berlin are seeking a deal on foreign intervention after Russia and Turkey failed to persuade Haftar on a visit to Moscow to agree to a ceasefire.Migrant TraffickingThe battle to secure control over the government has reduced oil-producing Libya to near-failed state status, with the country becoming a center for migrant trafficking across the Mediterranean.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that Turkey plans to issue new exploration licenses in the eastern Mediterranean following the maritime deal with Libya, a step likely to add to tensions with Greece and the European Union. Erdogan, who backs Fayez al-Serraj’s government in Libya, said Friday that Haftar is not reliable.“We encouraged Commander Haftar to participate in the Berlin process with a positive spirit,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told reporters after a meeting in Athens. “We expect Germany to safeguard the European position for Libya matters.”Greece “will do whatever it takes” to protect its sovereignty if Turkey begins hydrocarbon drilling in waters Greece claims as its own, Mitsotakis said, adding that he doesn’t believe the situation in the Aegean will escalate.Mitsotakis also held a call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday to discuss the issue.Greece should have been invited to the Berlin summit, Mitsotakis said. “We should be in Berlin to discuss the future of a country whose stability is of interest to Europe, and of particular interest to Greece,” the premier said.Greece’s participation in the conference had never been considered, German Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a news conference in Berlin on Friday.Berlin shared Greece’s concerns about the maritime dispute, which was already being dealt with in separate European forums, he added.“This conference doesn’t deal with that issue.”(Updates with foreign minister comment in 10th paragraph, Merkel call in 12th)\--With assistance from Sotiris Nikas and Raymond Colitt.To contact the reporters on this story: Eleni Chrepa in Athens at echrepa@bloomberg.net;Paul Tugwell in Athens at ptugwell1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sotiris Nikas at snikas@bloomberg.net, Jerrold Colten, Caroline AlexanderFor 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 07:10:26 -0500
  • Russia's foreign minister slams 'aggressive' US policies

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    Russia's foreign policy chief on Friday blamed what he described as “aggressive” U.S. policies for growing global tensions, noting Washington's reluctance to extend a key nuclear arms pact. Russia-U.S. relations have been at post-Cold War lows since Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea. Speaking at an annual news conference, Lavrov said that the U.S. has stonewalled Russia's push for extending the New Start nuclear arms treaty that expires in 2021.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 07:03:17 -0500
  • Khamenei Says Iran Strike Delivered a ‘Slap’ to the U.S. Superpower Image

    (Bloomberg) -- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran had delivered a “slap to the U.S.’s image as a superpower” in this month’s military confrontation, seeking to rally Iranians around an embattled establishment as he led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years.His speech came amid unprecedented international scrutiny over the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s unintentional shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane just hours after Iran had fired missiles into Iraqi bases housing American troops without causing fatalities. That attack had been in retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian commander by the U.S.“They’re hit by strikes in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon and in Afghanistan at the hands of the power of resistance, but this strike was greater than all of those, it was a strike on prestige,” Khamenei said of the Iranian action in Iraq. U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, who claimed to be on the side of the Iranian people are “clowns,” he said.Khamenei branded the U.S. “terrorists” for the Jan. 3 killing of General Qassem Soleimani, whom he credited with being the most effective force in defeating Islamic State.Soleimani was a hero to many Iranians for his leadership of an elite unit of the Guard which orchestrated Iran’s military policy overseas, playing a major role in destroying the extremist group’s rule in Syria and Iraq. His killing brought the nation together in mourning but that sense of unity was shattered by the downing of the Ukraine International Airlines plane, which killed all 176 people on board. Most of the victims were Iranian citizens or dual nationals.‘Bitter Incident’Khamenei called the jet disaster an “extremely bitter incident” but said public opinion over the tragedy had been manipulated by U.K. and U.S.-based television channels. The top cleric directly instructed the Revolutionary Guard to carry out a full investigation and guarantee that there could never be a repeat.Once Iranian officials finally accepted responsibility, after days of denials, protests against the government broke out in Tehran and other cities. Just weeks earlier, security forces had crushed some of the biggest and most sustained anti-regime demonstrations in more than a decade. Human rights groups say hundreds of people were killed in that crackdown.While Iran’s leaders admitted culpability for the jet disaster they have also blamed the U.S. for creating the sense of crisis that preceded it. In the part of his sermon conducted in Arabic, Khamenei said the “real punishment” for the U.S. would be its forced ouster from the Middle East.Under pressure from Democrats at home, Trump has offered various justifications for the decision to kill Soleimani, including intelligence that he said pointed to imminent attacks on U.S. embassies, as well as past American military deaths due to Iranian actions supervised by Soleimani in Iraq.A report on Friday said that nearly a dozen U.S. troops were treated for concussion after Iran’s missile attacks in Iraq. The U.S. and Iran have since both signaled they want to back away from further military conflict, but with the two arch foes locked in a deepening confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program and American sanctions, tensions in the Gulf remain high.On Tuesday the U.K., Germany and France angered Tehran by announcing they would activate a dispute resolution mechanism contained in the 2015 nuclear deal which Trump exited before reimposing sanctions. The European move nudged the accord closer to the brink of collapse.Khamenei accused the European countries of working with the U.S. to try and force Iran “to its knees,” and said he had “never trusted them since day one.”(Updates with more comments, statement on EU countries)To contact the reporter on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Dubai at gmotevalli@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Karl MaierFor 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 06:45:45 -0500
  • Putin's, Xi's ruler-for-life moves pose challenges to West

    Golocal247.com news

    Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping have established themselves as the world’s most powerful authoritarian leaders in decades. Putin's sudden announcement this week of constitutional changes that could allow him to extend control way beyond the end of his term in 2024 echoes Xi’s move in 2018 to eliminate constitutional term limits on the head of state. Russia and China are on another level though when it comes to influencing international events — China through its economic might and rising military, Russia through its willingness to insert itself into conflicts such as the Syrian one and to try to influence overseas elections through misinformation or make mischief through cyber attacks.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 06:36:26 -0500
  • Flybe Rescue May Include U.K. Subsidies for Some Routes

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    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.The U.K. government is considering subsidizing some routes operated by regional airline Flybe as part of the rescue deal struck with the owners of the country’s biggest domestic carrier, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.Any decision to grant Flybe routes so-called public service obligation status would come on top of a deferral of air passenger duty payments and a proposed government loan, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing details not disclosed in the initial blueprint.Only one Flybe service, from London Heathrow airport to Newquay in the far southwest of England, currently benefits from U.K. government aid through the PSO mechanism. Another, linking Cardiff with the island of Anglesey, is funded by the Welsh Assembly.Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week took the unusual step of coming to the aid of Flybe as it teetered on the brink of collapse. Johnson said he intervened because a loss of the airline would have left some of the most economically challenged parts of the country with diminished transport links, given the relative lack of suitable alternatives such as high-speed trains.The Department for Transport “will lead the review and consider a number of options for ensuring that we continue to have good regional connectivity, including existing policy levers such as PSOs,“ it said in a statement to Bloomberg. “It is important that all options are properly considered.”A representative for Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., part of the Connect Airways consortium that owns Flybe, declined to comment. A call to Flybe wasn’t immediately returned.‘Communications Fiasco’British Airways owner IAG SA said Flybe’s rescue had become a “communications fiasco,” in response to news on the likely addition of PSO routes. “The sooner the government comes clean, the better,” it said in an email. IAG has filed a complaint about the tax deferral to the European Union.Further details of the rescue emerged Thursday, with Stobart Group, another partner in the consortium, saying it injected 9 million pounds ($12 million). Based on their holdings, Virgin would have supplied a similar sum and private-equity firm Cyrus Capital provided 12 million pounds. That’s on top of 110 million pounds committed after they bought Flybe in 2019.An evaluation of PSO designations will begin immediately, while a state loan to Flybe granted on commercial terms is likely to be finalized in coming weeks, said the person.The APD deferral, which the government says concerns a debt of less than 10 million pounds, will apply for 60 to 90 days, according to the person. A review of the tax regime for domestic routes could see the 13 pound charge levied once rather than on outbound and return flights, the person said. The outcome of deliberations will be revealed in Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s March budget.Johnson has faced criticism for stepping in to save Flybe after Monarch Airlines, Flybmi and Thomas Cook Group Plc all failed in the past 2 1/2 years, with environmental campaigners saying the rescue was inconsistent with the government’s commitment to slash carbon emissions.Ryanair Holdings Plc, which is based in Ireland but counts the U.K. as its biggest market, said that Flybe’s business model is unsustainable and that a company backed by Virgin founder Richard Branson and a private equity firm shouldn’t qualify for government help. It also said the APD tax “holiday” should extend to competitors including Ryanair, BA and EasyJet Plc.Stobart shares rose as much as 2.9% in London. Virgin and Cyrus aren’t listed. Ryanair and Easyjet pared gains.Cities Cut Off and Airports at Risk: What’s at Stake at FlybeFlybe was delisted in March after its purchase by Connect Airways for 2.2 million pounds. The carrier, which employs 2,400 people, has struggled for years with the narrow margins on regional routes, where demand is lower, together with fluctuating fuel prices and uncertainty around Brexit.Under European Union transport law, governments or other authorities can offer subsidized PSO contracts in an auction for those routes deemed vital for the economic and social development of a region, and which would otherwise not be attractive to an airline.There were 176 such routes in the bloc as of Sept. 18 last year. The U.K. government currently funds three PSOs; Flybe’s Newquay flights - which will switch to London Gatwick from Heathrow this summer -- and trips from the U.K. capital to Dundee in Scotland and Derry in Northern Ireland, both flown by smaller regional carrier Loganair.Loganair also operates most of the 18 PSOs in Scotland that provide links between outlying islands and to the mainland.(Updates with IAG, Ryanair comment starting in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Thomas Penny, Siddharth Philip and Jeremy Diamond.To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Jasper in London at cjasper@bloomberg.net;Guy Johnson in London at gjohnson87@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@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.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 05:59:06 -0500
  • Iran's supreme leader says Europe 'cannot be trusted' in rare Friday prayers address

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    Iran's Supreme Leader, leading a sermon in Iran for the first time in eight years, said Britain and other European states who were party to a nuclear pact were “American pawns” who "cannot be trusted". Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told thousands of worshippers that the UK, France and Germany "cannot be trusted", after the co-signatories to the 2015 accord triggered a formal dispute mechanism in the agreement, which could lead to UN sanctions being reimposed. The countries, known as the E3, triggered a dispute resolution earlier this week in response to Iran’s violations of the terms of the agreement. 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. Iranians shout slogans against the government after a vigil held for the victims of the airplane of Ukrainian International Airlines  Credit: Anadolu Khamenei, who has held the country’s top office since 1989 and has the final say on all major decisions, last delivered a Friday sermon in February 2012, addressed the nation following the US killing of celebrated Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Soleimani. “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.” The ayatollah 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 Qasem Soleimani, the head of the foreign operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visiting the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the city of Bushehr, southern Iran, 13 January 2015  Credit: REX "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." 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. The accidental downing triggered scattered protests in Tehran and other cities. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei leading the main weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran. Credit: AFP 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. He notably did not offer condolences to the victims, most of whom were Iranians or dual nationals. "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 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. Khameini accused the US of "lying" in its expressions of support for the Iranian people. He said that even if they were with the people, "it is to stab them with their poison dagger".

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 05:55:22 -0500
  • Davos Elite Take On Climate With Greta’s Help

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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.It’s easy to scorn billionaires when they warn about global warming from their world of private jets and luxury yachts.That’s not deterring some of the most powerful people from focusing on climate change at their annual gathering in the Swiss resort of Davos next week.There’s always a risk the World Economic Forum’s focus could backfire by strengthening the idea that rising temperatures are something only elites can afford to care about. And despite progress on electric cars and clean energy, the planet is getting hotter.But, as Peter Coy writes, don’t underestimate the power of talk.Sipping champagne with their peers in the shadow of melting glaciers may attract public disdain, yet it can galvanize a sense of urgency among the titans of industry, presidents and prime ministers, big-name thinkers and other Davos delegates.As images of the devastating wildfires in Australia capture the world’s attention, this year may finally see a shift in thinking about climate change among those who have the power to do something about it.Whatever else, the Davos crowd can bank on a very public climate shaming from one of their number: A certain Greta Thunberg is on this year’s guest list.Global HeadlinesBiden in focus | President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial will once again put an uncomfortable spotlight on Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. But the proceedings — set to begin in earnest on Tuesday — also offer the former vice president an exceptional opportunity to campaign in a less-crowded field while his biggest rivals are holed up in the Senate chamber.Click here for more on how the trial will transform the Senate into a hushed courtroom. Read more about Rudy Giuliani’s tangled role representing Trump.Still at odds | In a letter read out during Wednesday’s trade deal signing at the White House, Chinese President Xi Jinping asked Trump to take steps to “enhance mutual trust and cooperation between us.” That won’t be easy: Apart from the trade agreement, Washington and Beijing are butting heads on everything from technology to human rights to territorial disputes.The Senate approved Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement yesterday, a major political win for the president.Asymmetric warfare | Iran’s pinpoint attack on American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the Jan. 3 killing of General Qassem Soleimani showed its capabilities and limitations in striking its powerful foe. Marc Champion explains how Tehran must resort to using unconventional weapons, tactics and proxy forces to take on a far greater military might because it can’t afford to provoke a conventional conflict it would lose.Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Trump administration officials “clowns” in a sermon today, saying the U.S. and European powers want to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. He also ordered a probe into the shooting down of a Ukraine International Airlines plane that killed all 176 people on board.Secret operation | Many of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies knew nothing of his plans to overhaul Russia’s constitution and replace the government, Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer report. The political whirlwind Putin unleashed shows the former KGB spy retains the ability to shock even after 20 years in power. With speculation growing over his plans when his term ends in 2024, one analyst mused, “There could be more surprises.”Mountain murder | The prime minister of the tiny southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho, Thomas Thabane, says he’s planning to resign over a controversy sparked by the murder of his second wife. A key suspect is the woman he married two months after the slaying. The scandal has prompted the opposition and even a faction of the ruling party to call for Thabane to quit. His wife has been on the run since the police issued an arrest warrant last week.What to WatchEuropean Union trade commissioner Phil Hogan raised the prospect of a legal challenge to the U.S.-China trade deal for violating WTO rules. In a Bloomberg TV interview later in Washington, he also said next week will be key to resolving transatlantic tensions over a French digital tax that has prompted threats of tariff retaliation from Trump. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy plans to reject the resignation of his prime minister, who offered to step down after he was heard in a leaked recording criticizing the president’s knowledge of the economy. The White House budget office violated federal law when it withheld about $214 million in security aid to Ukraine, an independent congressional watchdog agency has concluded.Pop quiz, readers (no cheating!). Putin shocked the world with his government reshuffle this week, naming Mikhail Mishustin, an obscure technocrat with little political experience, as prime minister. What was Mishustin’s previous job? Send us your answers and  tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally … Greece and Turkey are at loggerheads over maritime boundaries as a result of a controversial deal struck between Ankara and the UN-backed government in Libya. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that Turkey will issue energy exploration licenses for what are contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis shot back that he wouldn’t accept any political solution for Libya that doesn’t annul the maritime deal, complicating this weekend’s Libya peace summit in Berlin. \--With assistance from Anthony Halpin and Karl Maier.To contact the author of this story: Michael Winfrey in Prague at mwinfrey@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net, Kathleen HunterFor 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 05:46:26 -0500
  • Is the media about to have a conniption fit over Bernie Sanders?

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    Bernie Sanders might actually win this thing. A recent poll has him in first place in Iowa, and he is basically tied with Joe Biden in New Hampshire. Sanders is running second in Nevada and South Carolina, where he has vastly improved his margins among southern black voters (which doomed his candidacy in 2016), and outright ahead in California. The Democratic Party might be about to nominate the first self-identified socialist for president in American history.This is already sparking panic and anger among the Democratic Party establishment and their co-ideologues in the mainstream press. If Sanders' polls continue to rise — and especially if he starts to win — we're about to see an epic conniption fit. In fact, it's already started.On the party side, the case against Sanders is supposedly about electability. Sanders would lose to Trump, complain the party hacks, which simply can't be risked. "You need a candidate with a message that can help us win swing voters in battleground states," former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Associated Press. "The degree of difficulty dramatically increases under a Bernie Sanders candidacy. It just gets a lot harder." An anonymous Democratic "strategist" complained to The Hill that Sanders' attacks on Biden were unfair and helping Trump. And this isn't new — for months party grandees and big donors have been fretting that with Biden running such a feckless campaign, there isn't a strong not-Sanders campaign to unify around.Now, Donald Trump is an incumbent president and the economy is strong, and therefore Sanders definitely could lose. But that is also true of any other candidate — there are simply no guarantees here. Electability is a vague and nearly unknowable concept, and trusting that centrists are a safer bet has repeatedly blown up in the party's face. As Ryan Grim writes in his book We've Got People, the party elite pulled this same trick in 1988 against Jesse Jackson when he ran a Sanders-style campaign attempting to assemble a "Rainbow Coalition" of working-class people of all races. When Jackson pulled out a surprise victory in the Michigan primary, elites scrambled to boost up Michael Dukakis, arguing that he was the best chance to best then-Vice President George Bush. Dukakis, of course, went on to lose badly.Similar arguments were deployed on behalf of John Kerry against Howard Dean in the 2004 presidential primary. Better to have a war hero to run in a time of war, the argument went. Instead, Kerry got badly tangled up with his votes to invade Iraq but against additional spending to fund it, and he lost to George W. Bush. And as Grim notes, when Rahm Emanuel ran the Democratic campaign for the House in 2006, he recruited and campaigned for conservative candidates — and cut money off from progressives who won primaries, deeming their seats "unwinnable." But some of those he refused to fund still went on to win in the general, while others lost by only a tiny margin. Party hacks like Emanuel make centrist "electability" a self-fulfilling prophecy.Indeed, Hillary Clinton supporters used this argument against Sanders himself in 2016, despite her favorability numbers being deeply underwater by late 2015. She would end up the second-most unpopular nominee in the history of polling (behind Trump) and also lost.Now, Jackson, Dean, or Sanders still might have lost had they been nominated. But it's not hard to see why electability arguments always go only one way — against the left. The engine of the centrist Democratic establishment is a cozy tacit arrangement between politicians, big donors, big corporations, lobbyists, and consulting firms. Right-leaning Blue Dogs or New Democrats vote against higher taxes or more regulations on corporations, and in return they collect big campaign donations from interested parties and cushy, lucrative post-career jobs. Party-connected consulting firms in turn obtain lucrative contracts for helping centrist campaigns, but are then heavily discouraged from assisting progressive challengers — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has threatened to blacklist any firm that works with such a campaign.Sure enough, Rahm Emanuel himself now works for the investment bank Centerview Partners. Pretending corporate-friendly centrist politics are the only ones that "work" (while mobilizing furiously behind the scenes to foreclose any alternatives) keeps the gravy train flowing.On the media side, the mainstream press's dislike of Sanders has been obvious for years. For most of last year, this came in the form of quietly ignoring his campaign (or a "Bernie blackout," as his supporters dubbed it.) Big outlets would run old polls showing Sanders in worse position when he did well in newer ones, or would avoid mentioning him in coverage at all.But with Sanders within striking distance of victory, that is becoming untenable — and so the gloves are off. As Jeet Heer writes at The Nation, in the debate Tuesday night, CNN's moderators did not even attempt to feign neutrality.For instance, on Monday anonymous "sources" told CNN itself that Sanders said "he did not believe a woman could win" in a meeting between he and Warren more than a year ago. Sanders categorically denied this, but Warren released a statement confirming the accusation. This meeting took place in December 2018, only the two candidates were present, and there was no recording — meaning it is literally a "he said, she said" story that cannot be verified either way. Yet CNN moderator Abby Phillip took Warren's side, first asking Sanders why he said it, and when he denied it again (noting that he had encouraged Warren to run in 2015, that he has been saying publicly for over 30 years that a woman can and should be president, and that Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump) Phillip implied he is a liar. Turning to Warren, she asked, "Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?"As Ryan Grim, Aída Chávez, and Akela Lacy write at The Intercept, other questions had equally slanted presuppositions. Wolf Blitzer started a question about Sanders' plan to halt America's endless wars by implying he is in league with the Iranian head of state: "Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei has again called for all U.S. troops to be pulled out of the Middle East, something you've called for as well."Or referring to the fact that Sanders' agenda would require lots of tax money, Phillip asked "How would you keep your plans from bankrupting the country?" She was surely referencing a CNN article that quoted neoliberal economist Larry Summers, and austerian propagandists Maya MacGuineas and Jim Kessler, from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Third Way respectively, making this case. Aside from the biased sources, the article failed to note that even the direst centrist predictions about Sanders' plans would only require raising the U.S. tax level roughly to that of France — a steep increase to be sure, but hardly some kind of utopian insanity. And as economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman write at The Guardian, any sensible Medicare-for-all program (by far the largest item in the Sanders platform) would result in increased take-home income for most people, because it would remove the stupendous expense of health care premiums and cost-sharing, and because it would save tons of money on leaner administration and lower prices to drug companies and providers. Indeed, it is medical cost bloat under the status quo system that is slowly devouring the American economy. It would be far more unaffordable to not pass Medicare-for-all, or something like it.But perhaps most ludicrous of all is this supposed threat of "bankruptcy." In reality, it is physically impossible for a sovereign country that borrows in a currency it can print at will to go bankrupt. America might suffer inflation if it spends too much, but it can never run out of dollars. Next they'll be asking Sanders if God can make a rock so heavy that He Himself cannot lift it.At any rate, this is surely only the start of an all-out assault on the Sanders campaign and the ideas he represents from centrist Democrats and their allies in the mainstream press. He threatens to gum up the revolving door that keeps Rahm Emanuel in expensive suits, and to render irrelevant deficit scaremongering shops like Third Way. Mainstream reporters pretend to have no ideological perspective, but as Noam Chomsky wrote long ago (and we see today), they actually respond with scandalized outrage to any leftist who proposes to overhaul the status quo. Sanders' proposed tax hikes also threaten wealthy media executives like CNN's Jeff Zucker, who have done very well from Trump' tax cuts for the rich — a fact that doesn't require a direct conspiracy to strongly influence coverage.It will be an uphill battle from the Sanders campaign, but not one without benefits. The campaign recorded its best fundraising hour during any debate on Tuesday, with 15,000 donations — likely due to outrage at CNN's awful questions. And political reporters have not exactly covered themselves in glory of late. It may be that this kind of overt dogpile will only redound to Sanders' benefit. We'll find out soon enough.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com Ukraine gives Trump the corruption investigation he asked for Eminem drops a surprise album and music video advocating new 'gun laws in America' Trump again denied knowing Lev Parnas. So Parnas' lawyer posted more robust proof.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 05:40:01 -0500
  • 'Like going back 40 years': dismay as Bolsonaro backs abstinence-only sex ed

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    Brazilian president’s plan to cut teenage pregnancies inspired by a Christian pressure group and Trump’s approach in the USBrazil’s government plans to push abstinence-based sex education to help cut teenage pregnancy rates, in a controversial move inspired by an evangelical Christian pressure group and Donald Trump’s policy in the US.The government is also censoring sex education sections of a health booklet for teenage girls following criticisms by the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.The moves have raised alarm among paediatricians and education specialists.“This is like going back 40 years,” said Luciene Tognetta, a professor of educational psychology at the Paulista State University in São Paulo state.The Brazilian Paediatric Society said teenagers had a “right to know their own body” and that adequate information was essential to avoiding unplanned pregnancies and preventing sexual diseases.Brazil’s teenage pregnancy rate has dropped in recent years but it remains stubbornly higher than the world average. The country sees 62 pregnancies per 1,000 teenagers aged 15-19 – compared with a global average of 44 per 1,000.The country’s families secretary, Angela Gandra Martins, recently told the Folha de S Paulo newspaper that the government of Bolsonaro was considering “I choose to wait” policies to encourage teenagers to delay having sexual relations.In the United States, Republicans have pushed abstinence-only sex education for more than a decade. But multiple studies have shown that teens do not put off having sex after being taught such curriculums.Social trends have also complicated these proposals, as people are marrying later in both countries. On average, Brazilians get married between the ages of 27 and 29, according to a 2012 United Nations report.Brazil’s minister of women, family and human rights,Damares Alves, is an evangelical pastor who has described herself as “terribly Christian” and has long defended abstinence policies.In December the ministry held a teenage pregnancy seminar at Brazil’s congress. Speakers included Mary Anne Mosack, the president and chief executive of the US “sexual risk avoidance” group Ascend.Its former president Valerie Huber is now the senior representative for global women’s health at the US Department of Health and Human Services. She was reportedly one of the officials behind the abrupt cancellation of a successful US government programme to prevent teenage pregnancies.Another speaker was Nelson Neto Júnior, the founder of the Brazilian pressure group I Chose to Wait (Eu Escolhi Esperar).“Abstinence is a healthy choice,” Neto Júnior said in an email, explaining his organisation will “contribute in creating campaigns, programmes and projects” with private companies for schools.“This being the minister’s wish, we are fully disposed to contribute,” he said.In an email, the ministry said that “scientific studies showed successful results” for the sexual abstinence approach “without implying criticisms to other existing prevention methods”.In evidence, it pointed to an article on a far-right site citing studies from Chilean schools that it says demonstrate the success of the abstinence programme known Teen Star. One of the studies was co-written by Teen Star’s founder, Catholic nun and doctor Hanna Klaus.Other research reached different conclusions.“Research has conclusively demonstrated that programs promoting abstinence-only until heterosexual marriage occurs are ineffective,” said a 2016 clinical report for the American Academy of Pediatrics.Brazil’s health ministry is also rewriting a health education booklet for teenage girls after Bolsonaro railed against pages detailing female sexual organs and how to use a condom. Last March he promised the book would be re-edited and suggested parents rip out those pages.The health ministry said it was “technically adapting” the booklet for different age ranges. Paediatrician Lilian Hagel, coordinator of the adolescent health committee at the Paediatric Society of Rio Grande do Sul, said the booklet was “really important as it is” because it answered questions that many young girls had.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 05:00:01 -0500
  • Khamenei: 'Bitter' plane tragedy should not cloud Soleimani's 'sacrifice'

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    Iran's supreme leader called the accidential downing of a Ukrainian airliner a "bitter" tragedy 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 Qasem Soleimani, the head of the foreign operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 04:46:28 -0500
  • Xi’s Wider Fight With U.S. Is Only Just Beginning After Trade Deal

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. In a letter read out during Wednesday’s trade deal signing at the White House, Chinese leader Xi Jinping asked U.S. President Donald Trump to take steps to “enhance mutual trust and cooperation between us.”That won’t be easy: Apart from the trade agreement, the U.S. and China are butting heads on everything from technology to human rights to territorial disputes. Just this week, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told executives in Silicon Valley the U.S. is “facing a challenge from China that demands every fiber of your innovative skill and your innovative spirit.”A return to acrimony could have major consequences for China, and for Xi. In the short term, renewed tensions with the U.S. risk weakening an already fragile economic situation, while investment restrictions could hamper plans to secure technologies essential to driving growth. For Xi, a perceived failure to manage U.S. ties could also dent support for a third term in office at a key Communist Party meeting in 2022.“This is China’s most important bilateral relationship by a country mile, and Xi Jinping has made it clear that he’s in charge from the beginning,” said Trey McArver, co-founder of Beijing-based research firm Trivium China. “He’s under pressure to do a good job because if he doesn’t it opens him up to criticism that he’s not a good statesman and not a good steward of the nation.”Early on, Xi himself defined the terms of a successful relationship. Even before taking the top job in 2012, he called for a “new type of great power relations” that would see the two powers respect each other’s “core interests” and abandon a “zero-sum” mentality.Just days before Trump took office in 2017 after campaigning on an “America First” platform, Xi sought to claim the mantle as a defender of free trade by preaching “openness” and “economic liberalization” at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Later that year, he declared that China was “approaching the center of the world stage” as he outlined a road map for turning the country into a leading global power by 2050.‘They’re Way Behind’Trump, however, sought to thwart those plans. His move to raise tariffs has disrupted China’s export-led economic model, accelerating a shift in global supply chains as lower-cost manufacturers look for cheaper places to set up shop. It also opened the door for his administration to blacklist Huawei Technologies Co. and other burgeoning Chinese tech companies that still rely on U.S. firms for vital components.“If you go back five, six, seven years, in 2019 they say China was going to catch us as the world’s largest economy,” Trump told supporters at a rally last month. “Guess what? They’re way behind. They’re way behind.”For Xi, the phase-one deal reached Wednesday helps stop the bleeding on the trade war. And while he’s struck an optimistic tone along with other Chinese officials, the text of the deal itself speaks to the wide gap between the world’s biggest economies. Its limited scope, highlighted by whopping agricultural and energy purchases, defers tougher issues like Beijing’s controversial state subsidies, industrial policies and state-owned enterprises.Read the full text of the agreement hereCompromise on state-owned enterprises will prove difficult because they are an “organic component of China’s political and economic governance,” said Wang Peng, associate research fellow at Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies.In other words, they are a crucial lever for keeping Xi and the Communist Party in power. Opening certain parts of the economy to foreign competition could spark instability as the government seeks to maintain economic growth and employment. And more than leaders before him, Xi has sought total control over any potential threats to power, from corrupt officials to ethnic Uighurs to even a free-market think tank.‘Orwellian Surveillance State’In San Francisco this week, Pompeo urged technology companies to “confront tough questions about the national security consequences of doing business in a country controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”“We need to make sure that our companies don’t do deals that strengthen a competitor’s military or tighten the regime’s grip of repression in parts of that country,” Pompeo said. “We need to make sure American technology doesn’t power a truly Orwellian surveillance state.”Even with the trade deal, Trump is moving to further curtail Huawei’s ability to operate as it continues a campaign to dissuade other countries from using its 5G technology. This week, Reuters reported that the Commerce Department has drafted a rule that would allow it to block U.S. exports to Huawei if U.S. components make up more than 10% of product value.Trump’s Blacklisting of Huawei Is Failing to Halt Its GrowthLawmakers from both parties are also taking action. Congress voted overwhelmingly last month to pressure China over Hong Kong, and they are pushing for measures to punish Beijing for its detention of an estimated one million ethnic Uighur Muslims in “re-education” camps.Then there are military tensions. Since the Pentagon officially labeled China a “strategic competitor” in 2018, the Trump administration has challenged China on multiple fronts. It increased patrols in the South China Sea and approved an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, the first such deal in almost 30 years. Just last week, the U.S. Army announced it would deploy a specialized task force to the Pacific capable of conducting information, electronic, cyber and missile operations against Beijing.On Thursday, the U.S. sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. Navy conducted nine transits through the waterway last year, the most since former President Barack Obama’s final year in office in 2016.Long MarchXi’s goal now is to sure up political support at home while also softening China’s image abroad. A Pew Research Center Survey poll last month found that China’s favorability ratings fell dramatically last year in countries from Canada and Australia to Indonesia and the Philippines.China has sought to allay fears that Xi’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative would saddle poorer countries with debt. He’s also prioritizing “neighborhood diplomacy” to assert leadership in Asia, mending ties with Japan and South Korea while also reaching out to places like Vietnam where tensions have risen. He’ll take his first foreign trip this year on Friday to Myanmar.Xi to Make First China State Visit to Myanmar in 19 YearsAt home, Xi is also taking steps to bolster China’s ability to modernize without the U.S. if necessary. After the last round of talks broke down in May last year, Xi renewed long-standing calls for “self-reliance” in key technologies and even called for a “new Long March.”It also appears that concerns in the party over his push for a more assertive foreign policy, which marks a departure from former leader Deng Xiaoping’s call for “hiding brightness and biding time,” haven’t impacted his official ascent. The Communist Party’s elite Politburo last month dubbed Xi the “people’s leader” -- a term once used to describe Mao Zedong -- after previously agreeing to remove presidential term limits and enshrine his name in the constitution.Either way, while businesses are relieved at the temporary easing of tensions, few are under any illusions that deeper tensions will abate.“This trade deal is a good thing if it can reduce tension,” said James McGregor, China chairman of APCO Worldwide, which advises foreign companies. “But only time will tell if it puts us on a path to finding a way for two incompatible development models to coexist and work together. That is something way beyond the parameters of any trade deal.”(Updates with U.S. Navy operation under ‘Orwellian Surveillance State’ subheadline.)\--With assistance from Iain Marlow.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Peter Martin in Beijing at pmartin138@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net, Brendan 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.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 04:28:02 -0500
  • U.S. Warship Sails Taiwan Strait After Trade Deal, Election

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    (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait, after President Donald Trump signed a trade deal with China and Taiwan re-elected a leader seeking greater American military support to counter a threat from Beijing.The U.S. Navy’s trip through the narrow waterway separating the island from the Chinese mainland Thursday was announced in a statement by the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense. The U.S. Seventh Fleet confirmed that a “routine” Taiwan Strait transit was conducted by the USS Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser.“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Lieutenant Joe Keiley, a fleet spokesman. “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”The passage came five days after the island’s China-skeptic president, Tsai Ing-wen, won a landslide re-election victory. During her first term, Tsai has courted increased U.S. military support to counter a pressure campaign led by China, which views the island as part of its territory.Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing Friday in Beijing that China had observed the ship’s transit, according to state broadcaster China Central Television. Geng urged the U.S. to follow the “one China” principle and “cautiously handle” the Taiwan issue. The U.S. Navy conducted nine transits through the Taiwan Strait in 2019, the most since former President Barack Obama’s final year in office, when American warships passed through the waterway 12 times.On Wednesday, Trump and President Xi Jinping sealed a “phase one” trade pact as part of a broader attempt to deescalate trade tensions that have roiled global markets for more than a year. The deal is expected to do little to resolve broader strategic tensions between the U.S. and an increasingly powerful China.(Updates with Chinese foreign ministry comment in fifth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Peter Martin.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Adela Lin in Taipei at alin95@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Jon HerskovitzFor 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 04:21:09 -0500
  • Giuliani’s Tangled Role With Trump Skirts Conflicts, Tests Laws

    (Bloomberg) -- Sometimes Rudy Giuliani says he’s “private counsel” to private citizen Donald Trump. Other times the president says Giuliani is acting on the White House’s behalf. And on occasion, he’s a political surrogate hitting the trail for Trump’s 2020 campaign.Giuliani’s overlapping efforts helped trigger Trump’s impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House and are sure to come up during the impeachment trial in the Republican-held Senate that starts in earnest next week.Complicating it all, Giuliani says he’s working for Trump at no charge, but he continues to represent law clients domestically and internationally, deliver paid speeches and perform consulting work. Whether everything Giuliani did was legal is a separate issue that will fall to the Justice Department.What has Giuliani done on behalf of Trump as president?Most prominently, he spearheaded the president’s efforts in Ukraine to uncover corruption and political dirt on Trump’s opponents. “Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great,“ Trump told Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in the now-famous July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his counterpart to investigate allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Biden’s son, Hunter.That call, and evidence that Trump held up U.S. aid to Ukraine, prompted the House impeachment investigation of Trump.One of Giuliani’s main tasks on Trump’s behalf was getting Marie Yovanovitch recalled as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on the grounds that she had stood in the way of investigating the Bidens. (Yovanovitch has denied that; no evidence has emerged showing wrongdoing by either Biden.) Also, U.S. prosecutors say two associates of Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, promised to raise money for former Republican Representative Pete Sessions, then enlisted his help in ousting Yovanovitch.More details on Giuliani’s role are dripping out as Trump’s impeachment trial begins in the Senate, including documents illuminating Giuliani’s work with Parnas, who helped him dig up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine. “I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president,” Parnas said in an interview on MSNBC.How else does Giuliani help Trump?He’s a frequent guest on television talk shows attacking Biden and defending Trump, although his bombast has sometimes backfired. He wrote a column praising Trump’s “brilliant” strategy to contain Iran.In a three-part documentary he helped prepare for the Trump-friendly One America News Network, he shared unsubstantiated accusations of bribery and corruption against the Bidens and support for the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election. If true, that would have undermined the foundation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement in the campaign that resulted in Trump’s election. OANN, owned by the wealthy Herring family, has a fraction of the cable audience of top-rated Fox News.Calling Giuliani a “very straight shooter” and “one of the great crime-fighters in the history of our country,” Trump told reporters Thursday that having him at his side “has been a great honor for me.”What is Giuliani’s official job?In the almost two decades since he served two terms as mayor of New York City, Giuliani has started multiple companies -- including Giuliani Partners, Giuliani Security & Safety, and Giuliani Capital Advisors -- to advise clients on such matters as bankruptcy, security and policing strategy. Before he became Trump’s personal attorney but after Trump became president, Giuliani signed a one-year consulting contract with the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. “He has a very positive attitude toward Ukraine, so he undertook to lobby for us,” said the man who paid Giuliani, developer Pavel Fuks.Is he allowed to do all this at the same time?Giuliani’s work for Trump appears to exist in a legal gray area, largely because both men insist Giuliani is representing Trump the private citizen, not the president or candidate. Federal ethics laws are mostly silent on officeholders receiving personal legal services. But past presidents have paid market rates for personal attorneys, said Virginia Cantor, chief ethics counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group filed a complaint in November with the Justice Department and the federal Office of Government Ethics arguing that Trump should disclose the value of any legal services he received on his annual financial disclosure.Working for the president for free could create a conflict of interest if Giuliani has other clients with business before the federal government, Cantor said. “If President Trump wasn’t paying for these legal services, someone was paying large fees to allow Giuliani to be in position to provide these services,” she said.And the mixing of Giuliani’s work for the president with his efforts on behalf of other foreign clients has obscured the source of his income and, especially, how he is paying expenses for his Trump-related trips abroad. Election laws limit what volunteers can spend out of their own pockets on travel.Federal prosecutors are looking at Giuliani’s business dealings and whether he violated foreign lobbying laws.Who pays for Giuliani’s trips?In the case of Giuliani’s December trip to Ukraine to produce the pro-Trump documentary, One America News Network said it paid about $100,000 to cover travel and hotel expenses for Giuliani and its reporters.On a trip in August to Madrid, where he and Parnas pressed a top Ukrainian presidential aide for an investigation of the Bidens, Giuliani was hosted by a Venezuelan energy executive, Alejandro Betancourt López, who had hired him to fight off a U.S. investigation into alleged money laundering and bribery. Giuliani said that he happened to be going to Madrid already for “business and vacation.” He told Reuters that he was there to work on behalf of two paying clients, whom he wouldn’t name. He later told the Daily Beast that the Madrid trip was three-fourths business and one-fourth personal, adding, “The Trump part would be considered personal because I don’t get paid for representing the president.”Does Giuliani’s work make him a foreign lobbyist?Some Democrats and ethics watchdogs have questioned whether Giuliani’s overseas work should be defined as lobbying and require him to disclose his activities with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That law requires individuals who try to influence U.S. policies or public opinion on behalf of foreign entities to disclose detailed information on their clients, activities, fees and expenses. Giuliani hasn’t registered as a foreign agent and says he doesn’t need to. In the case of his consulting contract with the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Giuliani says his work focused on emergency management and he never lobbied the U.S. government on the city’s behalf.He has also denied that his 2017 effort to broker a swap of Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab for American pastor Andrew Brunson should be classified as lobbying because Zarrab was one of his legal clients and his efforts did not come at the behest of the Turkish government.What legal trouble could Giuliani face?Giuliani associates Parnas and Fruman, U.S. citizens who were born in the Soviet Union, were arrested in October and charged with laundering campaign donations and funneling foreign money to U.S. political campaigns. They have pleaded not guilty. Federal law requires donors to disclose their identities when making a contribution, and prohibits foreign nationals from giving money.After their arrests, Bloomberg News reported that federal prosecutors had been investigating Giuliani for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of a broad probe into his financial dealings.Also, Parnas and Fruman reportedly used their connections to Trump and Giuliani to replace the head of a major Ukrainian gas company to facilitate a deal that would have benefited GOP donors and Trump friends. The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani would personally profit from a natural gas business and pipeline from Poland to Ukraine advanced by Parnas and Fruman. Giuliani told the Journal that he had no knowledge of the energy company, and no personal interest in any business in Ukraine.What does Giuliani say?He says he has done nothing illegal or wrong. He says he and his associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to obtain damaging information about Yovanovitch and the Bidens in an effort to root out corruption in Ukraine and find exculpatory evidence for Trump during Mueller’s investigation. “I have never represented a client in circumstances where I had to register as a foreign agent,” Giuliani said in an interview in October. He said his work in foreign countries falls into two categories: security consultant and criminal defense lawyer.What do the experts say?Larry Noble, former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission, said there are inherent conflicts in Giuliani’s many roles. “If he’s working for the president personally, under what authority are government people being asked to listen to him?” Noble said. “And under what situations does the president’s private lawyer look into campaign issues and claim they’re not campaign-related?”Under federal election law, Giuliani can volunteer as much of his time as he likes for a campaign but can’t have third parties subsidize that work. “If somebody else is paying for it, it’s a campaign contribution,” Noble said, “and if a foreign national is paying for it, it’s illegal.”But Craig Engle, a political lawyer with Arent Fox, said Giuliani’s representation of Trump is in line with unpaid representation of other high-profile government officials. When Senator Mitch McConnell sued the Federal Election Commission in 2002 to challenge portions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, he was represented by counsel on such a pro bono basis. McConnell didn’t disclose the value of the services he received as a gift or as a campaign contribution.Federal gift rules require federal employees to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest in accepting gifts, and guidance offered to employees warns about accepting items costing less than $20 if the giver is someone who could benefit from access to the recipient. But that doesn’t apply to the president.“The president is a unique individual legally in the United States government,” Engle said.\--With assistance from Stephanie Baker.To contact the reporters on this story: Jordan Fabian in Washington at jfabian6@bloomberg.net;Bill Allison in Washington DC at ballison14@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Laurence Arnold, Larry LiebertFor 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 04:00:02 -0500
  • Libya's rival military commander seeks support in Greece

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    The commander of forces fighting the U.N.-supported government in Libya visited Athens Friday in a bid to counter Turkey’s support for his opponents, ahead of a weekend summit on Libya in Berlin. Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s surprise trip to Greece came two days before the Berlin summit, which aims to halt the conflict in oil-rich Libya that is being fueled by competing international support for the warring sides.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 03:46:03 -0500
  • Putin the Puppet Master Shows He Retains the Power to Shock

    (Bloomberg) -- As Russian lawmakers huddled in the State Duma to discuss Vladimir Putin’s bombshell plan to change the constitution, the president still had one more surprise for them.When news broke the prime minister had resigned, even Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, a former top Kremlin aide, was caught off guard. He sat waiting as the government’s parliamentary envoy rushed from the room Wednesday to confirm the reports.Dmitry Medvedev didn’t know his days as premier were numbered until as little as 72 hours earlier, even though his replacement, Mikhail Mishustin, had already met with the president, two people familiar with the matter said.The lightning series of actions demonstrated that Putin retains the ability to upend Russian politics even after 20 years in power.“There could be more surprises,” said Alexei Mukhin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Political Information. “Putin just fired an opening shot, he only provided the broad picture.”What seems clear, however, is that he intends to leave the presidency when his current term ends in 2024 in line with the constitution, since nothing in his proposed reforms would enable him to skirt term limits to remain in the Kremlin.While Putin insisted Russia must remain a “strong presidential republic,” he’s embarked on a program aimed at restraining the powers of his favored successor while creating options for himself to control political developments if he so chooses.Unclear Outcome“We’re seeing the start of the transition but it’s not clear what the final outcome will look like under Putin’s scheme,” said Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation.The Russian leader’s actions have opened the way to several scenarios including Putin becoming Duma speaker, heading a beefed-up State Council or taking bigger powers with him to the Security Council, a person close to the Kremlin said.Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin appears to be in a hurry. Putin met Thursday with members of a new constitutional working group set up to consider the revisions. A promised public vote on the changes may be held before May 1, the state-run Tass news service reported, citing a senior lawmaker in the upper house of parliament.Putin, 67, wants to elevate the State Council, currently an advisory body, by enshrining it formally in the constitution with clearly defined powers. That’s already prompted speculation he may use the body as a platform to exercise control over the different branches of government after 2024.While he enjoys untrammeled presidential power, Putin proposes to bind his successor by offering lawmakers a potentially decisive say in the appointment of future premiers and cabinet ministers.He also plans to close a loophole that he himself exploited to serve four terms as president. The head of state would be limited to two terms in total instead of the present two consecutive terms, a constitutional wording that allowed Putin to return to the Kremlin in 2012 after a four-year break as prime minister.Further ChangesPutin hasn’t ruled out proposing further amendments, Andrei Klishas, co-chairman of the constitutional working group, said after the meeting with the president, according to Tass.In this fast-moving environment, Putin may even use the opportunity to call early parliamentary and presidential elections, said one person close to the ruling United Russia party. Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, dismissed that as unrealistic.Putin has given no clue on why he’s making the barrage of changes now, but insiders said he may be seeking to get the reforms completed before parliamentary elections next year.The biggest unanswered question remains the identity of the person Putin taps to replace him as president at the 2024 elections.“We don’t know if the new prime minister is a successor or if the question will be put off,” said Vinogradov.Mishustin, the technocratic former tax chief, immediately becomes a contender as premier and would succeed formally to the presidency under the constitution should anything happen to Putin. The Duma’s confirmation vote on his appointment was the first since 1996 without a single lawmaker voting against, according to Volodin.Won PlauditsMishustin has won plaudits for taming legendary Russian tax evasion by installing a nationwide computerized reporting system that works in real time, producing an influx of additional revenues. He told lawmakers that his key tasks will be to speed up Putin’s National Projects infrastructure-spending program and to rebuild “trust” with business.He’ll be judged on whether he succeeds in reviving the sluggish economy and raising living standards that have fallen for five years in Russia. Mishustin is due to meet with Medvedev and members of the current acting cabinet on Friday.For the moment, at least, Mishustin looks like a temporary figure at the top of Russian politics like other predecessors with the exception of Putin, two people close to the Kremlin said. That could change if he performs well, according to one of them.Other contenders could appear who may be younger and closer to the security services where Putin made his career, according to Olga Kryshtanovskaya, who studies the Russian elite at the State University of Management in Moscow. These include a crop of regional governors who’ve risen through the ranks, she said.Still, “it could be very hard, if not impossible” for Putin to control the new head of state, said Kryshtanovskaya.(Updates with Mishustin to meet Medvedev in fourth-last paragraph)\--With assistance from Irina Reznik and Stepan Kravchenko.To contact the reporters on this story: Evgenia Pismennaya in Moscow at epismennaya@bloomberg.net;Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net;Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Tony HalpinFor 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 03:22:10 -0500
  • Ukrainian prime minister submits resignation after tapes

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    Ukraine's prime minister submitted his resignation Friday, days after he was caught on tape saying President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — a former sitcom star with no previous political experience — knows nothing about the economy. The scandal comes at a fraught moment for Zelenskiy, who has found himself in the middle of the impeachment case unfolding against President Donald Trump in Washington. Trump stands accused of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country's leader to investigate Trump political rival Joe Biden.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 03:07:58 -0500
  • China's Xi arrives in Myanmar on billion-dollar charm offensive

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    Chinese President Xi Jinping touched down in Myanmar's capital Friday on a state visit aimed at buttressing the embattled government of Aung San Suu Kyi and driving through multi-billion-dollar infrastructure deals. The wide highways and manicured lawns of Naypyidaw, purpose-built by generals under Myanmar's junta, were dotted with red banners bearing Xi's face and greetings in Burmese and Mandarin. Xi will sign a series of mammoth infrastructure deals as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative -- a global trade plan that promises to change the face of Myanmar.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 02:53:52 -0500
  • Car-bomb attack in northern Syria kills 3 Turkish soldiers

    A car bombing has killed three Turkish soldiers in a Turkish-controlled area in northern Syria, Turkey's Defense Ministry said. The ministry said the attack occurred late on Thursday as the soldiers were carrying out road checks in northern Syria, in an area that is under the control of Turkish forces and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters since a Turkish incursion into the region in October. Turkey invaded the border area in neighboring Syria to drive away the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, a group it considers terrorist because of its links to Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 02:47:37 -0500
  • Iran's Khamenei to address nation facing unrest at home, pressure abroad

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    Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will deliver a Friday prayers sermon when he is expected to throw his support behind the elite Revolutionary Guards after their belated admission that they had downed an airliner in error sparked days of rage on the streets. Making the main weekly sermon in Tehran for the first time since 2012, with Iran and its clerical rulers under pressure at home and abroad, Khamenei is also expected to blame "enemies", usually a jibe directed at Washington, for causing the public fury, a source familiar with decision-making in Iran told Reuters.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 02:11:26 -0500
  • Trump campaign tries robust outreach to expand his appeal

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    President Donald Trump's surrogates fanned out across the country Thursday in a show of force that is part of an aggressive — and uphill — effort to stretch his appeal beyond the base of working-class white voters who propelled him to victory in 2016. With a recognition that Trump will need to turn out new voters in November to be reelected, his campaign has dramatically stepped up outreach efforts to various constituencies, including African Americans, Hispanics and women, building a coalition operation that officials believe is the most robust of any Republican campaign in history. The outreach marks a dramatic departure from 2016, when Trump's volunteer “National Diversity Coalition" struggled to make an impact.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:53:03 -0500
  • Trump's trial begins at the start of an election year

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    The U.S. Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump with quiet ceremony Thursday — senators standing at their desks to swear an oath of “impartial justice” as jurors, House prosecutors formally reciting the charges and Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. Four of the senators sitting in judgment on Trump are running for the Democratic Party's nomination to challenge him in the fall. “Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye!" intoned the Senate's sergeant at arms, calling the proceedings to order just past noon.

    Fri, 17 Jan 2020 00:09:28 -0500
  • Iran's top leader strikes defiant tone amid month of turmoil

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    Iran's supreme leader lashed out at Western countries as he led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years, dismissing “American clowns” who he said pretend to support the Iranian nation but want to stick their "poisoned dagger” into its back. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used his rare appearance at the weekly prayers to deliver a fiery address in which he insisted Iran would not bow to U.S. pressure after months of crushing sanctions and a series of recent crises — from the killing of a top Iranian general to the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane. Khamenei said the mass funerals for Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this month, show that the Iranian people support the Islamic Republic despite its recent trials.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 23:37:35 -0500
  • 11 US soldiers have been evacuated from Iraq with concussion symptoms after Iran's missile strike

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    After Iran fired a barrage of missiles at the Al Asad base in Iraq, the US said it suffered zero casualties. That was not the whole story.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:28:12 -0500
  • Andrew Yang's wife details alleged sexual assault by doctor

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    The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says she was sexually assaulted by an obstetrician while she was pregnant with the couple's first child. Evelyn Yang said in an interview televised Thursday by CNN that the assault happened in 2012 and that she was initially afraid to tell anyone. "Something about being on the trail and meeting people and seeing the difference that we've been making already has moved me to share my own story about it, about sexual assault," she told CNN.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:00:49 -0500
  • Netflix docuseries revives debate over Argentine prosecutor's death

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    Five years after the mysterious death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman after he accused then-president Cristina Kirchner of a cover-up in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, a Netflix documentary has revived debate in the country still bitterly divided over the case. "The Prosecutor, the President and the Spy" -- a six-part docuseries by British filmmaker Justin Webster, examines the prosecutor's still unsolved death only days after he accused Kirchner of colluding with Iran to allow the alleged authors of the bombing to go free. Calls have gone out on social media for a demonstration Saturday in downtown Buenos Aires against the government of President Alberto Fernandez -- whose vice-president is Kirchner -- to mark the anniversary of his death.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 21:13:08 -0500
  • US girds for cyber threats from Iran as military clash fears ebb

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    Iran is widely expected to ramp up cyberattacks against the United States in response to the US killing of a top Iranian leader this month even as fears have receded about a military confrontation between the two countries. The simmering tensions since the US drone attack that killed Qasem Soleimani, who was by some measures the second most influential person in Iran, make it likely that Iran will seek retaliation. While Iran appeared to be "standing down" from a military response, according to US President Donald Trump, the cyber threat remains real, said analysts.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 21:06:52 -0500
  • America Got Off Easy After Iran's Counterattack, But The World Suffered

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    Iran shot down a civilian airliner and the region remains on edge.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 20:30:00 -0500
  • Israel hits Hamas target in Gaza as balloon attacks resume

    The Israeli military said an attack helicopter struck a Hamas target in the northern Gaza Strip late Thursday in response to the launch of incendiary balloons into Israeli territory earlier in the day. Israeli police said the balloons touched down in southern Israel and a bomb squad was dispatched. The Israeli military said its airstrike targeted “infrastructure used for underground activities" by Gaza's ruling Hamas militant group.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 17:06:10 -0500
  • UN official warns Yemen could face brink of famine again

    War-battered Yemen could face the threat of famine again because of the rapid depreciation of its currency and disruptions to salary payments, a senior U.N. humanitarian official warned the Security Council on Thursday. At the same time, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen reported a major reduction in military operations and other initiatives that will hopefully lead to talks between the government and Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels on ending the five-year conflict in the Arab world’s poorest nation. Both Ramesh Rajasingham, head of the U.N. humanitarian office’s Coordination Division, and U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths stressed the volatility and fragility of the current situation in Yemen, especially following recent actions by the United States and Iran that raised tensions and fears of further military action in the Middle East.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 17:03:12 -0500
  • Iran says enriching more uranium than before 2015 nuclear accord as countries demand compensation over downed airliner

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    Iran is now enriching more uranium than it was before agreeing to a nuclear accord with world powers in 2015, Iran’s president declared on Thursday, as countries that lost nationals in the downed passenger jet threatened to sue Tehran for compensation. Hassan Rouhani, in a televised speech, said “pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress" after Britain, France and Germany triggered a dispute resolution in response to Iran’s violations of the terms of the agreement. 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. Tehran has since resumed research and development of centrifuges, which European governments fear will lead to irreversible technological breakthroughs and reduce the "break-out" time Iran would need to build a nuclear bomb. So far, Tehran has only modestly increased its nuclear activity. In recent months it has boosted its enrichment of uranium to 4.5 per cent - higher than the 3.67 per cent limit set by the agreement but far from the 20 per cent enrichment it was engaged in before the deal. Uranium must be enriched to 90 per cent to be used in a nuclear weapon. Britain, France and Germany, known as the E3, had until now resisted US demands that they too quit the deal, insisting it is the only way to keep Iran in check. Iranians in Tehran burn an Israeli and a US flag during an anti-US protest over the killings during a US air strike of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani  Credit: AFP Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, who has praised Donald Trump, the US president, as a great deal-maker, called on Tuesday for the president to replace Iran's pact with major powers with his own one. Mr Rouhani dismissed the proposal for a new deal aimed at resolving the row, saying it was a "strange" offer and criticised Mr Trump for always breaking promises. "The government is working daily to prevent military confrontation or war," Mr Rouhani added, saying that dialogue with the international community was difficult but remained "possible". Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, defended the deal yesterday, saying: "We don’t think it is finished. We think there’s still life left in it. But we also want Iran to play its full part as a civilised nation in the world and to do that it must address some of its other behaviours.  “We take all our threats seriously, from whoever they come from," he said of Mr Rouhani's statement on uranium enrichment. "We take statements like that from the President seriously but recognise that is not the way to deescalate the situation." Logo: The Think Tank It came amid reports that days before the E3 triggered the mechanism, which if not resolved could see a “snap back” of global sanctions on Tehran, the Trump administration has threatened to impose a 25 per cent tariff on European car imports unless they took action against Iran for defying its nuclear agreement. Though Mr Trump has previously made threats to place such a duty on Europe’s export of automobiles, the intent behind them was to receive better terms for Washington within the US-European trade relationship, not to shift European foreign policy, according to the Washington Post. It was not clear if the threat was necessary since the Europeans had signalled an intention to trigger the dispute mechanism for weeks The Telegraph understands that they had first seriously discussed such a move in December. It was taken last week after Iran announced it was suspended all limits on centrifuge installation and uranium enrichment under the JCPOA under its "fifth and final" step back from the agreement. A woman attending a candlelight vigil, in memory of the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737, talks to a policeman following the gathering in front of the Amirkabir University in Tehran Credit: AFP Mohammad Javid Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said that Britain and its partners had succumbed to US threats when they triggered the dispute mechanism and likened Washington to a “high-school bully”. "Appeasement confirmed. E3 sold out remnants of JCPOA to avoid new Trump tariffs. It won't work my friends. You only whet his appetite. Remember your high school bully?" he wrote on Twitter. "If you want to sell your integrity, go ahead. But DO NOT assume high moral/legal ground." Meanwhile, the countries who lost citizens when Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran said they expected the Islamic Republic to pay compensation and allow a criminal investigation leading to prosecution of the perpetrators.  Iran has already arrested a number of people over the downing of the jet. Afghanistan, Britain, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine issued a five-point list of demands that also included unfettered access for consular officials, a transparent identification and repatriation of victims remains, and access for foreign officials to take part in the air accident probe, including decoding of the black boxes.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 16:00:18 -0500
  • Libyan rebel Gen Haftar has agreed to abide by ceasefire and will join conference in Berlin, Germany says

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    Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar has agreed to abide by a ceasefire and said he was ready to participate in an international conference in Berlin on Sunday, Germany's foreign minister said. Libya's UN-recognised government in Tripoli has been under attack since April from Gen Haftar's forces, with clashes killing more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters and displacing tens of thousands. The leaders of the North African state's warring factions were in Moscow early this week at talks aimed at finalising a ceasefire orchestrated by Russia and Turkey. "During my visit to Libya today, General Haftar made clear: He wants to contribute to the success of the Libyan conference in Berlin and is in principle ready to participate in it. He has agreed to abide by the ongoing ceasefire," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted after talks in Benghazi. After the Moscow talks, Gen Haftar had walked away without signing the permanent truce, sparking fears about the shaky ceasefire. A fighter loyal to Libya's UN-backed government on the outskirts of Tripoli Credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic Mr Maas had travelled to meet Gen Haftar in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi - one of the general's strongholds - in a bid to persuade him to join in the peace initiative. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, welcomed the news, and said the conference must try to get a weapons embargo enforced again. "It is a good message that he is willing to keep to the ceasefire," Mrs Merkel said at a news conference with the Croatian prime minister on Thursday. The trip came days after Mr Maas spoke with Gen Haftar's rival Fayez al-Sarraj, who serves as head of the UN-recognised government in Tripoli. Separately in Tripoli, Mr Sarraj announced he would attend the Berlin talks held under the auspices of the United Nations. The battle over Tripoli is the latest unrest to wrack Libya since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, Libya has been caught up in fighting between rival armed factions, including Islamist militants.

    Thu, 16 Jan 2020 15:50:32 -0500
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