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  • No evidence of Sudan paramilitaries fighting in Libya: UN

    Golocal247.com news

    A United Nations panel said Monday it had no "credible evidence" of Sudanese paramilitaries fighting in conflict-wracked Libya for military strongman Khalifa Haftar as alleged by some media outlets. Several Libyan and regional media outlets had claimed in recent months that hundreds of Sudanese paramilitaries from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were deployed in Libya to fight alongside Haftar's Libyan Arab Armed Forces.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:11:04 -0500
  • Iran Says Ukrainian Jet Was Downed by Two Short-Range Missiles

    (Bloomberg) -- A Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed after taking off from the Iranian capital on Jan. 8 was downed by two short-range surface-to-air missiles, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said in a second preliminary investigation report.The Tor-M1 missiles were launched at the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 jetliner from the north, according to the report.It also said:Plane took off from Tehran at 6:12 a.m. local time and lost all contact with air traffic control at 8,100 feetAircraft disappeared from secondary surveillance radar screens at 6:15 a.m. and from primary surveillance radars at 6:18 a.m.The retrieved flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder are “some of the most advanced equipment of their kind in the world” and Iran lacks the facilities to decode themFrench and U.S. accident investigation agencies have refused to send necessary equipment to Iran for decoding the black boxesTo contact the reporter on this story: Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey at bharvey11@bloomberg.net, Michael Gunn, Erin ZlomekFor 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 16:02:17 -0500
  • Putin sends political plan to MPs in quick-fire Russia reform push

    Golocal247.com news

    President Vladimir Putin moved quickly on Monday to push through an overhaul of Russia's political system that has fuelled speculation over his ambitions after his term expires. Less than a week after announcing the reforms that unleashed a political storm in Russia, Putin submitted the package of constitutional amendments to lawmakers. The bill proposes changes that transfer some powers from the president to parliament and the State Council.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 15:49:10 -0500
  • AP FACT CHECK: Distortions in Trump's legal defense

    Golocal247.com news

    President Donald Trump's defense against impeachment charges, as laid out in his legal argument released Monday, has distortions at its core. Trump through his lawyers assails Democrats for trying to upend the results of an election, which is precisely the point of impeachment in the Constitution. The case asserts Trump committed no crime, a benchmark for impeachment that the Constitution's authors avoided adopting in a well-documented debate.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 15:33:28 -0500
  • As Protests in South America Surged, So Did Russian Trolls on Twitter, U.S. Finds

    Golocal247.com news

    WASHINGTON -- Watching political unrest explode across South America this fall, officials at the State Department noticed an eerily similar pattern in anti-government protests that otherwise had little in common.In Chile, nearly 10% of all tweets supporting protests in late October originated with Twitter accounts that had a high certainty of being linked to Russia.In Bolivia, immediately after President Evo Morales resigned Nov. 10, the number of tweets associated with those type of accounts spiked to more than 1,000 a day, up from fewer than five.And in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile over one 30-day period, Russia-linked accounts posted strikingly similar messages within 90 minutes of one another.State Department analysts concluded that an influence campaign was underway, the latest evidence of a global disinformation war that is more insidious and efficient than traditional propaganda of years past.The department routinely monitors Twitter traffic worldwide with an eye toward malign activities, like the proliferation of fake pages and user accounts or content that targets the public with divisive messages. A set of analyses was provided to The New York Times in response to questions about what the department had seen during and after the fall protests in South America."We are noting a thumb on the scales," said Kevin O'Reilly, the deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing issues in the Western Hemisphere. "It has made the normal dispute resolutions of a democratic society more contentious and more difficult."The Russian effort in South America -- the details of which have not been previously reported -- appears aimed at stirring dissent in states that have demanded the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, senior diplomats said.In Colombia, where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit this week, hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrated in November against pension changes, corruption and rising violence. The protests have since ebbed, and in December, Colombia's vice president, Marta Lucia Ramirez, accused Russia and its allies in Venezuela of fomenting protests through social network campaigns.In Ecuador, the interior minister, Maria Paula Romo, said an anti-government campaign that surfaced online during two weeks of protests in October over higher fuel prices appeared to come from Venezuela and Russia.Officials and experts said Russian influence campaigns on social media have disrupted elections in the U.S. and Europe, sowed anti-Western sentiment and false reporting in Africa, and inspired China and Iran to adopt similar tactics against protesters and political adversaries.The unrest in Latin America this fall cannot be attributed to any single factor, and it is unclear how effective the Russia-linked influence campaign on Twitter was. Demonstrators across the countries spanned the political spectrum, protesting government corruption and higher costs and demanding better services. State Department officials said the vast majority of protest-related posts on Twitter and other social media appeared to be legitimate.With the support of more than 50 other countries, the Trump administration has imposed bruising economic sanctions against Maduro's government in Venezuela over the last year. The coalition is backing Juan Guaido, leader of the Venezuelan opposition, whom most of Latin America and the rest of the West views as the country's legitimate president.But Maduro's grip on the country appears as strong as ever, funded by what critics have described as illicit oil revenue from Russia and gold sales to Turkey.Russia is "playing a geopolitical role in this hemisphere against what they consider its main enemy: the United States," said Carlos Vecchio, the Venezuelan envoy in Washington who is representing the opposition movement against Maduro."It's crucial that the international community understands that Russia has become an important ally to support Maduro, and we need to deal with this," Vecchio told reporters this month.Russia's online influence campaigns in Latin America began to surface a decade ago, surging with new technology and the proliferation of social media.In particular, the Spanish-language arms of two news organizations in Russia have been accused of spreading disinformation, conspiracy theories and, in some cases, outright falsehoods to undermine liberal democratic policies, mostly in the West.One, the state-financed RT Español, said it reaches 18 million people every week across 10 countries in Latin America and has more than 1 billion views on YouTube. The other, the government-run Sputnik Mundo, began broadcasting in the last several years and is produced in part in Montevideo, Uruguay.Together, experts said, the companies have been the main source of information for Twitter bots and so-called troll accounts that have targeted Guaido's movement in Venezuela.Bret Schafer, a disinformation and media expert at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said some Twitter accounts spreading disinformation in Venezuela could be traced to the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll factory that is run by loyalists to President Vladimir Putin and is accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.The influence campaigns of Russian-linked Twitter accounts in South America "are proxy elements to conquer the influence of the United States or the liberal democracies," said another expert, Javier Lesaca Esquiroz, a visiting scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University."At some point, we can say this is the continuation of the Cold War that never ended," Esquiroz said.The analyses provided by the State Department did not prove that the Twitter accounts that stoked the South American protests were direct conduits of the Russian government. Instead, they were described as "likely linked to the Russian state" through computer-generated or other data mining analyses that support other government conclusions that tie them to Moscow.A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, Nikolay Lakhonin, declined to comment Thursday, asking only for "real evidence" of a Russian-linked disinformation campaign in South America.In Chile, President Sebastian Piñera has said foreign actors helped incite a wave of protests and acts of vandalism that began in late October, plunging the country into a monthslong crisis. But he did not blame a specific government or region.A "foreign hand" had worked to fuel the unrest online, disseminating false reports on social media during the early days of the upheaval, he said in a December interview with CNN en Español: "It's an attack against the political system."The rate of posts by Russian-linked Twitter accounts during anti-government protests in Chile was 9% higher than during the Democratic primary campaigns last year in the U.S. -- usually a topic of high interest, the State Department analyses found.The analyses showed that the Twitter accounts posted in Spanish and English, targeting the Chilean public and foreign audiences.A Twitter campaign of chile, which was the fifth-most popular hashtag among 3,300 Russian-linked Twitter accounts from Oct. 23 to Oct. 29, the peak of the protests, was not even in the top 100 by late December, according to the State Department data.Piñera's government commissioned its own report, which asserted that 31% of social media posts during an intense period of the crisis were disseminated from outside Chile. Analysts said the Chilean public greeted the report with criticism and mockery, saying that it failed to offer convincing evidence that foreign actors played a leading role in inciting the protests."There hasn't been any proof that there was foreign meddling," said Marta Lagos, director of Latinobarometro, which studies public opinion across Latin America. "Until now, they have yet to find any foreigner involved in criminal activity."In neighboring Bolivia, the State Department analyses found that the most shared tweet among Russian-linked accounts in the 24 hours after Morales' resignation was one by the former president himself -- denouncing a "coup" that he said had taken over. That tweet has since been deleted, but not before it was shared more than 85,000 times.The network of Russian-linked Twitter accounts usually generates fewer than five posts about Bolivia daily, the State Department analyses found. That surged to more than 1,000 tweets in the days immediately before and after Morales ceded to violent protests and accusations of fixed elections to keep himself in power.A Russian state energy company reportedly worked to bolster Morales' campaign -- and attacked his opponents -- on social media months before the election Oct. 20.The influence campaign has outlasted the protests.One of the accounts being monitored by the State Department -- @FriendsofPutin -- criticized the Trump administration's continued pressure campaign against Maduro's government in Venezuela in a Dec. 12 tweet."Unfortunately, Washington is not even thinking about abandoning their course for ousting the legitimate Venezuelan government," it said in English. The State Department analyses said the post was retweeted the same day by accounts like @RussianHeroe and @Putintrump, though those tweets no longer appear on the accounts.The State Department concluded that all three accounts most likely are Russian proxies or bots and trolls trying to amplify their message without being flagged as fake.This month, the State Department's special envoy for Venezuela issues, Elliott Abrams, told reporters in Washington that U.S. officials had perhaps underestimated the level of Russian and Cuban support that had helped Maduro remain in power."We think all the time about how to do better," Abrams said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 15:23:05 -0500
  • Israel to welcome the world for Auschwitz anniversary

    Golocal247.com news

    World leaders are to travel to Israel this week to mark 75 years since the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the extermination camp where the Nazis killed over a million Jews. It is set to be one of the most important events ever organised by the Jewish state, with more than 40 leaders planning to land in Tel Aviv before attending Thursday's sombre commemoration at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre in Jerusalem. Thousands of police officers and other security forces will deploy from Tuesday, ahead of the arrival of dignitaries including Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and US Vice President Mike Pence.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 14:03:56 -0500
  • UK puts visas into pitch for post-Brexit trade with Africa

    Golocal247.com news

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson told African leaders Monday that Britain would be more open to migrants from their continent after Brexit as he hosted a summit intended to boost trading ties. Opening the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, Johnson made a clear pitch for business less than two weeks before Britain leaves the European Union. After highlighting all Britain has to offer, he said Brexit would mean an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:59:03 -0500
  • Trump lawyers argue impeachment case is 'flimsy' as trial looms

    Golocal247.com news

    White House’s brief also claimed process has been a ‘charade’ and Trump did ‘absolutely nothing wrong’ in dealings with UkraineLawyers acting on behalf of Donald Trump on Monday branded the impeachment case against him “flimsy” and a “dangerous perversion of the constitution”, setting the stage for the opening of his long-awaited Senate trial on Tuesday.As the president prepared to jet off to Davos, where he is set to give a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, the White House submitted its formal trial defence brief, a 110-page document in which it also claimed the impeachment process has been a “charade” and insisted Trump did “absolutely nothing wrong” in his dealings with Ukraine.The brief – submitted as a counter to a document filed by the House Democrats on Saturday – presented the most thorough outline to date of the lines of defence that Trump’s lawyers plan to use against the case to remove the president at his congressional trial, scheduled to begin in the US Senate on Tuesday.“The articles of impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the constitution and to our democratic institutions,” his legal team wrote, adding: “The articles themselves – and the rigged process that brought them here – are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected. They debase the grave power of impeachment and disdain the solemn responsibility that power entails.”Trump and his legal team urge a swift resolution to the trial, concluding with Trump’s decisive acquittal on a vote by the Republicans who dominate the Senate.Monday’s brief added: “The process that brought the articles here violated every precedent and every principle of fairness followed in impeachment inquiries for more than 150 years. Even so, all that House Democrats have succeeded in proving is that the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”(April 1, 2019) Through his personal emissary, Rudy Giuliani, Trump applies pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations tied to Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The Ukrainian president-elect, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, meets with subordinates to discuss how to stay out of it.(July 3, 2019) Lt Col Alexander Vindman, top adviser on Ukraine on the National Security Council, is made aware of the suspension of military aid for Ukraine.(July 10, 2019) Trump emissaries at the White House ask top Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden, shocking US national security officials. According to multiple accounts, after EU ambassador Gordon Sondland makes the Biden ask, then national security adviser John Bolton abruptly terminates the meeting, later calling it a “drug deal”. The Office of Management and Budget later informs the Pentagon and state department that Trump has suspended $391m in military aid for Ukraine. (July 25, 2019) Trump speaks on the phone with Zelenskiy, reminding him that “the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine” and then asking for a “favor”. Trump wants Ukraine to announce investigations designed to make Joe Biden look bad and to cast doubt on Russian tampering in the 2016 US election.(August 12, 2019) A whistleblower complaint against Trump is secretly filed to the inspector general of the intelligence community. For six weeks, the Trump administration will block Congress from obtaining the complaint.(September 1, 2019) Bilateral meetings in Warsaw, Poland. In testimony, Sondland says, “I now recall speaking individually with [Zelenskiy aide Andriy] Yermak, where I said that resumption of US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”(September 24, 2019) Nancy Pelosi announces a formal impeachment inquiry, accusing Trump of “a betrayal of his oath of office, a betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections”. The following day, the White House releases a partial “transcript” of the 25 July call, hours before Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with Zelenskiy at the United Nations. (September 26, 2019) The whistleblower complaint is released. Citing “more than half-a-dozen US officials”, it presents an accurate version of the Trump-Zelenskiy call and alleges that the White House tried to cover up the call.(October 8, 2019) The White House releases a letter refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, and accusing Democrats of trying to reverse the result of the 2016 election.(November 3, 2019) The House votes on a resolution laying out a process to move impeachment from closed-door depositions to open hearings.(November 5, 2019) The impeachment committees begin releasing testimony transcripts. The overlapping testimonies tell the same story, of demands by US officials of Ukraine steadily ratcheting up between May and September, from a demand to investigate corruption to a demand that “President Zelenskiy to go to a microphone and say ‘investigations’, ‘Biden’, and ‘Clinton’.”(November 13, 2019) Public impeachment hearings begin with the testimony of ambassador Bill Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state George P Kent. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch follows on 15 November.(December 7, 2019) The House judiciary committee releases a report on the constitutional grounds for impeachment on Saturday. Shortly after that, Donald Trump once again insists the whole thing is a “witch-hunt” and “a total hoax”(December 10, 2019) Democrats unveil articles of impeachment against Trump, concerning abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.(December 13, 2019) A day after the House judiciary committee abruptly postponed a historic vote to advance articles of impeachment following a 14-hour meeting that devolved into a rancorous, deeply partisan debate that stretched late into the night, it reconvenes and votes to move the two articles to the House floor.(December 18, 2019) The House of Representatives prepares to approve articles of impeachment against a president for only the third time.Tom McCarthy and Martin BelamThe Democrats’ case centres around a 25 July phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump asked his counterpart to do him a “favour” and investigate both a conspiracy theory concerning election interference and ties between the former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the eastern European country.Monday’s brief stated that the two articles do not amount to impeachable offenses and that the inquiry was not aimed at looking for the truth.“Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way – any way – to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,” wrote Trump’s legal team. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”They also claimed that the articles of impeachment are “structurally deficient” because they charge multiple acts and accused Democrats of watering down the grounds for impeachment.It comes after the House impeachment managers, who will act as prosecutors in Trump’s trial, released their own legal brief on Saturday in a 111-page document.In a joint statement, the House managers, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Sylvia Garcia, said the case against Trump is “simple, the facts are indisputable and the evidence is overwhelming: President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing our national security, the integrity of our elections and our democracy”.They added: “And when the president got caught, he tried to cover it up by obstructing the House’s investigation into his misconduct.”Trump’s legal team issued an initial response on Saturday that claimed the impeachment articles are “constitutionally invalid” and “a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election – now just months away”.The House of Representatives now has until midday Tuesday to respond to Trump’s defense – an hour before the start of the impeachment trial, scheduled for 1pm.Senators, who will act as the jury, will then sit six days a week, Monday to Saturday, between 1pm and 5 or 6pm ET.With a Republican-controlled Senate and a two-thirds majority needed to convict on either of the two articles – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – it appears highly unlikely that Trump will be removed. However, Democrats only need four Republicans to form a majority to win votes over rules and witnesses.Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said on Sunday that he wants to hold a vote on Tuesday on whether witnesses and additional evidence will be allowed to be brought before the trial if the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, does not include them in his proposal.On Monday morning Trump appeared to tweet in response, saying: “They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!”He added: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for ‘fairness’, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House. So, what else is new?”The White House document advises the Senate to “speedily reject these deficient articles of impeachment and acquit the president”.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:54:58 -0500
  • EU Wants Fines to Enforce Post-Brexit Deal With U.K.

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.The European Union wants any agreement with the U.K. on post-Brexit relations to include possible fines for violations of the pact, a new document shows.The European Commission proposed that future disputes between the EU and Britain be resolved through an arbitration panel with the authority to impose a “lump sum” or “penalty payment” on an infringing party, according to the document discussed on Monday in Brussels and seen by Bloomberg News.The side found to be in breach of the deal would have a “reasonable period” to comply with the panel ruling or face the fine threat, according the paper. Should the infringing party fail to pay the sum within a month or make the payment while remaining in violation after six months, the other side could suspend parts of the agreement.The document, which takes the form of a slide presentation, highlights the importance the U.K.’s 27 EU partners attach to enforcing any post-Brexit accord with Britain on everything from financial services to data protection. The U.K. is due to leave the EU by Jan. 31.The commission, the EU’s executive arm, is preparing to negotiate a post-Brexit accord with Britain that would take effect after a transition period of at least 11 months during which the economic status quo will be maintained. EU governments aim to approve the mandate on Feb. 25.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has irked EU capitals by vowing to reject any extension of the transition period beyond 2020 and to break free of the bloc’s regulatory rulebook.The commission document discussed on Monday covers “governance” issues related to any agreement on the future EU-U.K. relationship. The paper says the “depth and content” of the post-Brexit partnership “will determine the need for and nature of effective monitoring and compliance mechanisms.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Nikos ChrysolorasFor 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 12:46:02 -0500
  • Survivor recounts confused, chaotic cult rite that killed 7

    Golocal247.com news

    A survivor of the cult ceremony that killed her daughter and six other people in a remote village in Panama says she was ordered to close her eyes, was beaten and knocked unconscious during the ritual. The account Monday by Dina Blanco suggests the 14 surviving participants were helpless, bound, unconscious or sightless much of the time. Blanco said from her hospital bed in the nearest city, Santiago, that she had gone to previous prayer meetings at the improvised church in a long wooden shed before.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 12:43:09 -0500
  • Armed Militias, Activists, and Alex Jones Converge on Richmond for Pro-Gun Rally

    Golocal247.com news

    RICHMOND, Va.—Thousands of gun activists, many of them heavily armed and in full military gear, rallied around Virginia’s heavily secured state capitol complex on Monday to protest new gun-control proposals—amid a four-day state of emergency declared by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.Thousands of people entered the security perimeter around the state capitol, where Northam had banned guns in an executive order, fearing violence. But thousands of others rallied on nearby streets that didn’t fall under the emergency order, many of them carrying assault rifles and wearing tactical gear. Members of the Three Percenter and Oath Keepers militias marched in the streets with their weapons, while other rally-goers cheered one man carrying a large sniper rifle with an orange “Guns Save Lives” sticker affixed to its magazine. The rally drew a number of fringe right-wing figures, including members of the all-male Proud Boys, and Joey Gibson, a right-wing personality in the Pacific Northwest who faces a riot charge in Portland. Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones cruised the streets of Richmond with a megaphone and an armored truck. Shouting from his vehicle, deemed his “battle tank,” the radio host reportedly declared: “We are here in Virginia at the capital in defiance of the globalist tyranny and their attempts to trigger a civil war.”The pro-gun rally from the Virginia Citizens Defense League was initially tied to Lobby Day, an annual event where gun-control opponents and supporters lobby state lawmakers. But with the Virginia government now in unified Democratic control for the first time in 27 years and expected to pass mandatory background checks and monthly caps on gun purchases, the annual event took on national import for Second Amendment activists as well as fringe far-right groups. Prominent militia figures began speculating that the event would set off the “boogaloo”—far-right internet slang for a new civil war. The Base, a neo-Nazi group, allegedly made plans for a shooting at the event before members of the group were arrested last week.Hoax stories claiming that Northam planned to turn off the power grid or call in the United Nations to disarm Virginians further fueled tensions ahead of the rally. Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase claimed the event was a “set up” meant to embarrass gun owners and potentially lead to their arrests. “A lot of us constitutionalists feel that the Virginia bills set the stage for similar bills,” said Jennifer Bailey, a militia activist who organized a “State of the Militia” dinner on Sunday night. While the event wasn’t an official Donald Trump rally, paraphernalia supporting the president was bountiful. Shirt vendors sold tees with messages like “God, Guns, and Trump,” or “Border Wall Construction Crew.” An RV parked outside the entrance to the capitol featured a poster imagining Trump as Rambo. Also spotted in the crowds was a flag in support of QAnon, a bonkers pro-Trump conspiracy theory.While gun-control opponents filled the streets, a few advocates for stricter gun laws showed up after calling off their own event. Virginia resident Thomas Freeman was one of the few visible gun-control advocates in the crowd. Holding up a “Gun Laws Save Lives” sign, he said he felt he had to come to the event after other gun-control activists cancelled because of fears about violence.“We had an election, guns were on the ballot, guns lost,” Freeman declared. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 12:24:17 -0500
  • Jihadists attack key aid facility in northeast Nigeria

    Golocal247.com news

    Heavily armed jihadists have carried out an "extremely violent" attack on a vital aid facility housing United Nations workers in northeast Nigeria, the UN said Monday. No aid workers were harmed in the assault, but a military source said that one soldier and four assailants died in the ensuing gunfight. The UN said it "was outraged by the extremely violent attack on this key humanitarian facility where five United Nations staff were staying at the time of the incident".

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:53:47 -0500
  • Orban May Win Reprieve as EU Party Divided Over Expulsion

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s biggest political group is leaning toward delaying an anticipated vote on whether to expel Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party from its ranks as consensus hasn’t been reached.The European People’s Party, the largest in the European Parliament, is unlikely to hold an up-or-down on Orban’s Fidesz party at a Brussels meeting that starts on Feb. 3, according to EPP sources who asked not to be identified because no official decision has been taken. The EPP suspended Fidesz’s membership in March over rule-of-law concerns in Hungary.Playing for time would further drag out the intra-party drama after the EPP endured years of criticism for shielding the Hungarian leader as he eroded democratic checks and balances. The Orban model has since been adopted in Poland and has inspired nationalists in the west, alarming rights advocates about democratic backsliding in the EU.Being a member of the EU assembly’s biggest group has perks, including the opportunity to confer with fellow leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel before EU summits when key decisions are taken. Leaving it could reduce Orban’s influence over future deliberations, including the distribution of billions of euros in funding.A push to eject Fidesz gained momentum when Donald Tusk took over the reins of the EPP in November. The group entrusted three “wise men,” including Tusk’s predecessor as EU president and a former Austrian chancellor, to draw up a report on whether Fidesz was still compatible with it. Its conclusions were expected to steer the EPP’s decision.But the report, originally due by early January, has yet to be filed and concern over Orban’s future moves if he was expelled remain, according to the sources. The “wise men” haven’t been able to reach a consensus, according to one of the sources, highlighting divisions inside the umbrella group.Tusk met with the trio on Monday, according to his Twitter page. He gave no details on whether the “wise men” had agreed on a recommendation about Fidesz’s membership and didn’t specify if he would would deliver his assessment of it at the EPP meeting in Brussels.Orban has repeatedly said that he’d preemptively quit the group before being ousted and that he’d then most likely form a new group in the European Parliament with populists. On Friday, he said he was “within a centimeter” of doing so after a majority of EPP members backed a European Parliament resolution calling for redoubling efforts to rein in Hungary and Poland over rights violations.The Hungarian leader is hedging his bets. He met this month with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the power behind Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party, to discuss cooperation in EU party politics. And just when the EPP was originally due to discuss Fidesz’s status in Brussels next month, Orban is scheduled to speak in Rome at a “national conservatism” forum along the likes of Italian nationalist firebrand Matteo Salvini.(Updates with EPP leader Tusk in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Irina Vilcu and Marton Eder.To contact the reporters on this story: Zoltan Simon in Budapest at zsimon@bloomberg.net;Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net;Ben Sills in Madrid at bsills@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net, Michael Winfrey, Andrea DudikFor 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:29:37 -0500
  • Jihadists attack key aid facility in northeast Nigeria

    Golocal247.com news

    Heavily armed jihadists have carried out an "extremely violent" attack on a vital aid facility housing United Nations workers in northeast Nigeria, the UN said Monday. No aid workers were harmed in the assault, but a military source said that one soldier and four assailants died in the ensuing gunfight. The UN said it "was outraged by the extremely violent attack on this key humanitarian facility where five United Nations staff were staying at the time of the incident".

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:24:57 -0500
  • Pair of storms to unleash rain, snow across Middle East this week

    Golocal247.com news

    More unsettled weather is set to grip the Middle East this week after several storms have battered the region in recent weeks.The first of two storms to impact the area this week has dampened locations from the Mediterranean coast to Iraq on Monday. This slow-moving system will continue to bring wet weather to the region on Tuesday and Wednesday.The steadiest rainfall is expected from northern Israel and Lebanon into southern Syria and central Iraq. Downpours are possible in Beirut, Damascus, Homs and Baghdad. Rain will also spread into the lower elevations of western Iran with snow falling in the mountains. In the higher terrain of Lebanon and Syria, snow accumulation can be expected.On the southern side of this storm, showers may briefly dampen southern Jordan, far northern Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from Tuesday into Wednesday. This storm will then push into eastern Iran with rain and high-elevation snowfall on Thursday.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPA second storm will race southward from Turkey into the Middle East late Thursday into Friday, bringing soaking rain and mountain snow to Syria, Lebanon and Israel on Thursday night through Friday morning.The storm will then lash Jordan, Iraq and northwest Iran on Friday with impacts continuing into Friday night in Iraq and Iran.Local downpours and high-elevation snowfall may result in travel impacts across the region, before drier weather builds across the Middle East this weekend.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:10:00 -0500
  • Global tourism growth slowed in 2019: UN

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    Global tourism slowed in 2019 due to a cooling world economy, especially in Europe and Asia where uncertainties linked to Brexit and protests in Hong Kong also weighed, the United Nation's tourism agency said Monday. The number of international tourist arrivals rose by 4.0 percent last year to 1.5 billion, its slowest rate since 2016, the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said in a statement.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:05:33 -0500
  • Kosovo woman repatriated from Syria accused of terror

    Kosovo prosecutors on Monday filed terrorism charges against an Albanian woman who allegedly joined a terror group in Syria. A statement said the defendant woman identified as V.B. left Kosovo in September 2014 together with her husband and two children. The defendant was there until April 2019 when they were part of a group of 110 Kosovo citizens repatriated from Syria.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 10:59:02 -0500
  • Davos Pushes ‘Greener’ Fuel for Private Jets Leaving World Economic Forum

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.The hundreds of private jets expected to fly people out of Davos this week from the annual World Economic Forum will be able to fill their tanks with fuel designed to lower carbon emissions, as the annual global talk shop aims to beef up its green credentials.So-called sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, will be available at Zurich airport, according to a statement Monday from a coalition of groups representing business jet operators, manufacturers and fuel suppliers. A 30% blend with conventional jet fuel can lower CO2 emissions by about 18% on a comparable 1,000-nautical-mile flight, the group said on its website.Private jets -- a staple of Davos -- have become a lightning rod for the flight-shaming movement, with the global elite criticized for spewing unnecessary emissions by avoiding commercial flights. Promoting alternative fuels could help ease the mounting pressure against business-jet use, as well as for the broader aviation industry, which faces a potential end to European Union tax exemptions for jet fuel.Plastic, ProteinCarbon output from international aviation has more than doubled since 1990 and the United Nations has said the industry is set to overtake power generation as the single biggest CO2 producer within three decades.Read more: European Airlines Hone Their Response to Emissions Onslaught (1)The World Economic Forum this year has taken pains to push a green agenda and to make the conference more sustainable. Single-use plastic is being discouraged, while organizers promote protein alternatives to meat and transport by train and bus. About 1,000 private jet flights flew to and from nearby Zurich and St. Gallen-Altenrhein airports during the 2019 meeting.Read more: A Sense of Climate Urgency Takes Hold in DavosThis year’s jet fuel initiative comes with an offsetting plan. Business-jet operators using conventional fuel at airports in or around New York, Boston and Washington where the SAF variety isn’t available can opt for an equivalent amount to be used on flights leaving from Van Nuys airport near Los Angeles, according to the statement.SAF, a blend of synthetic and convential jet fuel, typically costs more than the petroleum-based alternative.Airlines have criticized attempts to impose new taxes in Europe, arguing that reducing emissions requires a global solution. Carriers are embracing biofuel-kerosene blends, though penetration has been slow due to high costs and limited supply. A switch to hybrid and electric propulsion isn’t expected to be feasible until the mid-2030s, and then only for smaller airliners.(Updates with number of flights last year in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 10:41:40 -0500
  • Putin sends his constitutional proposals to Parliament

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday submitted to parliament a package of constitutional amendments widely seen as an attempt to secure his grip on power well after his current term ends in 2024. Putin first presented the proposed changes in his state-of-the-nation address Wednesday, arguing they are intended to bolster the role of Parliament and strengthen democracy. Kremlin critics have argued that they are intended to allow his rule for life.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 09:59:41 -0500
  • UK puts visas into pitch for post-Brexit trade with Africa

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    Prime Minister Boris Johnson told African leaders Monday that Britain would be more open to migrants from their continent after Brexit as he hosted a summit intended to boost trading ties. Opening the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, Johnson made a clear pitch for business less than two weeks before Britain leaves the European Union. After highlighting all Britain has to offer, he said Brexit would mean an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 09:49:56 -0500
  • Prince Harry and Boris Johnson's informal 20-minute 'catch-up' behind closed doors

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    The Duke of Sussex and Boris Johnson have had an informal "catch-up" chat behind closed doors just hours after Prince Harry said he had "no other option" but to step back from royal life. Prince Harry carried out what is likely to be one of his few remaining official engagements before the Sussexes take a "leap of faith" and leave the monarchy for a new life in Canada. He and the Prime Minister met for 20 minutes one-to-one without any aides present at the UK-Africa Investment Summit.  Looking relaxed and wearing a suit, shirt and tie, the duke arrived at London's Docklands where Mr Johnson was hosting the global event on Monday. The Duke of Sussex delivered a speech on Sunday night where he told the "truth" about leaving royal duties behind in a bid for a "more peaceful life" for his family. Boris Johnson meanwhile set out his post-Brexit trade pitch to African leaders with his vision to put "people before passports" in an immigration system overhaul. The Prime Minister was tempting premiers from across the continent with the UK's financial and education systems as he opened his investment summit in London's Docklands on Monday. He also announced an end to UK support for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas in a bid to use trade to tackle the climate crisis. With the EU departure coming on January 31, Mr Johnson was pledging to be a partner "through thick and thin" with African nations as he eyes fresh trade deals across the globe. And - at the summit also attended by the Duke of Sussex - the PM made a pitch for improved business links from his proposed Australian-style immigration system. "Change is coming and our system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from," he told the UK-Africa Investment Summit. "By putting people before passports, we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be." Mr Johnson gave current partnership examples of Nigerian street lights being stocked with low-emission diodes from Dorset, and Angolan families tucking into chicken from Northern Ireland. "We want to build a new future as a global free-trading nation, that's what we will be embarking on on January 31," he said. "But I want to intensify and expand that trade in ways that go far beyond what we sell you or you sell us. "I've just told President (Yoweri) Museveni of Uganda that his beef cattle will have an honoured place on the tables of post-Brexit Britain." Mr Johnson also spoke of the climate crisis and fight to save biodiversity by ending direct official development assistance, investment and export credit as part of his coal plan. "There's no point in the UK reducing the amount of coal we burn if we then trundle over to Africa and line our pockets by encouraging African states to use more of it," he said. "To put it simply not another penny of UK taxpayers' money will be directly invested in digging up coal or burning it for electricity." Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, speaks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit Credit: Getty Mr Johnson was meeting presidents from Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria at the summit, and was due to have talks with the premiers of Egypt and Kenya at Downing Street on Tuesday. The Duke of Sussex's attendance comes after he said there was "no other option" but for him and wife Meghan to stand down from the royal family. It emerged the couple had wanted to remain as working royals, although not prominent members, and drop their public funding so they could become financially independent - a dual role many commentators said was fraught with problems. But in a statement issued on Saturday after Royal Family talks concluded, the Sussexes announced they will stop carrying out royal duties from the spring, no longer use HRH and will repay the taxpayers' millions spent on their Berkshire home. Critics have accused the couple of turning their backs on the monarchy in order to enjoy the freedom that being able to take on commercial ventures brings. In a speech at a private event for his charity Sentebale on Sunday night in London, Harry told invited guests: "What I want to make clear is we're not walking away, and we certainly aren't walking away from you. "Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible. "I've accepted this, knowing that it doesn't change who I am or how committed I am. "But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life." The duke was not officially attending the summit but was holding audiences - one-to-one meetings - with a number of foreign leaders at the request of the UK Government. Harry sat down to talks with Saad-Eddine El Othmani, prime minister of Morocco, Peter Mutharika, president of Malawi and Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 09:31:59 -0500
  • Pyrenees glaciers 'doomed', experts warn

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    Glaciers nestled in the lofty crags of the Pyrenees mountains separating France and Spain could disappear within 30 years as temperatures rise, upending ecosystems while putting local economies at risk, scientists say. "We can't set a precise date but the Pyrenees glaciers are doomed," Pierre Rene, a glaciologist with the region's Moraine glacier study association, told AFP. The United Nations has said the past decade has been the hottest on record and warned that persistent greenhouse gas emissions were expected to push average global temperatures even higher, leading to retreating ice cover, rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 09:31:23 -0500
  • Death toll from major Yemeni rebel attack climbs to 111

    The death toll from a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a military camp climbed to at least 111 troops, a Yemeni army spokesman said Monday, making it one of the deadliest rebel assaults since the beginning of the country's bloody civil war. Ballistic missiles smashed into a mosque in the training camp in the central province of Marib over the weekend, wounding at least 68 other troops, said Abdu Abdullah Magli, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces. The oil-rich province of Marib is about 115 kilometers (70 miles) east of the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:45:15 -0500
  • Global FDI dips, hit by Hong Kong divestment, Brexit: U.N.

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    Global direct foreign investment (FDI) dipped slightly around the world last year, hit by massive divestment in Hong Kong and a drop in flows into Britain due to Brexit uncertainty, the United Nations said on Monday. FDI could rise marginally in 2020 on the back of modest growth as trade tensions between China and the United States ease, but geopolitical uncertainties and protectionist pressures are tempering expectations, it said. In 2019, global FDI flows were estimated at $1.39 trillion, down 1% from a revised $1.41 trillion in 2018, the U.N. trade and development agency UNCTAD said in a report.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:38:03 -0500
  • International tourism growth slows in 2019: UN

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    The rise in the number of international tourist arrivals slowed to 4.0 percent in 2019, its slowest rate since 2016 due to a cooling global economy, geopolitical tensions and uncertainty regarding Brexit, the World Tourism Organization said Monday. The Madrid-based UN body, UNWTO, predicted global tourism will grow by 3.0-4.0 percent this year, buoyed by major sporting and cultural events such as the Tokyo Olympics in Japan. The number of international tourist arrivals hit 1.5 billion last year, up from 1.4 billion in 2018, the body said in a statement.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:33:04 -0500
  • Global FDI dips, hit by Hong Kong divestment, Brexit - U.N.

    Global direct foreign investment (FDI) dipped slightly around the world last year, hit by massive divestment in Hong Kong and a drop in flows into Britain due to Brexit uncertainty, the United Nations said on Monday. FDI could rise marginally in 2020 on the back of modest growth as trade tensions between China and the United States ease, but geopolitical uncertainties and protectionist pressures are tempering expectations, it said.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 08:00:00 -0500
  • Two police officers killed as Iraq protests break out again

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    Two Iraqi police officers were killed and dozens of protesters were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces, medical and security sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks. In Baghdad's Tayaran Square overnight, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters witnesses said. Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protesters burned tyres and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis. "They (security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who are we? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?" said one woman protester in Baghdad who declined to give her name. In the Iraqi oil city of Basra, two policemen were struck and killed by a civilian car during the protest, security sources said. The driver was trying to avoid the scene of clashes between protesters and security forces when he drove into the two officers, they said.  A policeman is seen at West Qurna-1 oilfield, which is operated by ExxonMobil, in Basra Credit: REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani/File Photo Baghdad police said its forces had reopened all roads that were closed by "violent gatherings". It said 14 officers were wounded near Tahrir square, including with head wounds and broken bones. Traffic was disrupted on a highway linking Baghdad to southern cities, a Reuters witness said. Production in southern oilfields was unaffected by the unrest, oil officials said. Mass protests have gripped Iraq since Oct. 1, with mostly young protesters demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and as keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been killed. Numbers had dwindled but protests resumed last week as demonstrators sought to keep up momentum after attention turned to the threat of a U.S.-Iran conflict following Washington's killing of Tehran's top general in an air strike inside Iraq. The killing of Qassem Soleimani, to which Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, has highlighted the influence of some foreign powers in Iraq, especially Iran and the United States.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:42:25 -0500
  • Sri Lanka to treat war-missing as dead, issue certificates

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    Sri Lanka's president has decided that tens of thousands of people still missing from the country's quarter-century civil war will be formally declared dead and death certificates will be issued, his office said Monday. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made his decision known last week during a meeting with the United Nations' resident coordinator in Colombo, his office said in a statement.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:38:46 -0500
  • Libya Deal Is a Gentleman's Bargain, Between Rogues

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- If you strain your eyes very hard, you might see a silver lining in the gloomy outcome of the Berlin summit over the Libyan civil war: At least Khalifa Haftar didn’t storm off in a huff. The commander of the rebel forces besieging Tripoli did not reprise his performance of the previous week, when he left Moscow without so much as a by-your-leave to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.German Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to extract a modicum of courtesy from Haftar, getting him to stay through the end of the summit, and agreeing to a deal she tried heroically to cast as progress. It was “a comprehensive plan forward,” she said, claiming that “all participants worked really constructively together.” It isn’t, and they didn’t.If Haftar showed his contempt for the peacemaking efforts in Moscow — by refusing to sign a deal after Putin and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had persuaded Libya’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli to agree — he signaled his disdain for the Berlin parleys even before they’d begun. On the eve of the summit, he blocked oil exports from ports under his control, effectively slashing Libya’s output by more than half.It was a demonstration of power ahead of the gathering of belligerents, and added to the list of disputes that the middlemen would have to mediate. The Europeans, led by Merkel, and the U.S., represented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, weren’t even able to extract from Haftar a firm commitment to reopen the ports.  All they got from the rebel commander and the GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj was an agreement to talk some more; each is to name a five-person team for meetings in Geneva.Pompeo, like Merkel, made an effort to portray this pig’s ear as a silk purse, but then gave up. “There was progress made toward a full-fledged ceasefire, a truce, temporary stand-down,” he said as he left Berlin. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”In truth there’s not a great deal that the Europeans and Americans can do — or are prepared to. Such leverage as exists in Libya now is in the hands of other powers: Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on the side of Haftar, and Turkey shoring up al-Sarraj’s besieged GNA.In Berlin, all of these players said they wanted peace, committed to end their military backing of the warring parties, and signed an agreement to uphold a United Nations arms embargo. There were plans, too, for international monitoring of the ceasefire.These promises ring familiar, and hollow. Even if Egypt and the UAE were entirely sincere in their desire for peace, they will not agree on any terms that leave Turkey — in the proxy of the GNA — firmly ensconced in Libya. Nor is Erdogan in any mood to back down: On the eve of the Berlin summit, he reiterated his commitment to send Turkish troops to Tripoli’s aid. To make matters even more complicated, Ankara seems already to have dispatched hundreds of Syrian proxies to Libya, to hold the line against Haftar.The only party facing anything like a quandary is Russia. Putin has been backing Haftar, and has cultivated warm relations with Egypt, but he greatly values his relationship with Erdogan. In a straight fight between the rebel forces and Turkish troops, can the Russians be neutral?Haftar is adept at exploiting rivalries among the other belligerents to his advantage, and Libya’s long, poorly-guarded borders undermine any efforts to impose an arms embargo. He knows that the Berlin agreement is no more than a gentlemen’s bargain among rogues, and doomed to fail.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:35:09 -0500
  • Libya Deal Is a Gentleman's Bargain, Between Rogues

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- If you strain your eyes very hard, you might see a silver lining in the gloomy outcome of the Berlin summit over the Libyan civil war: At least Khalifa Haftar didn’t storm off in a huff. The commander of the rebel forces besieging Tripoli did not reprise his performance of the previous week, when he left Moscow without so much as a by-your-leave to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.German Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to extract a modicum of courtesy from Haftar, getting him to stay through the end of the summit, and agreeing to a deal she tried heroically to cast as progress. It was “a comprehensive plan forward,” she said, claiming that “all participants worked really constructively together.” It isn’t, and they didn’t.If Haftar showed his contempt for the peacemaking efforts in Moscow — by refusing to sign a deal after Putin and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had persuaded Libya’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli to agree — he signaled his disdain for the Berlin parleys even before they’d begun. On the eve of the summit, he blocked oil exports from ports under his control, effectively slashing Libya’s output by more than half.It was a demonstration of power ahead of the gathering of belligerents, and added to the list of disputes that the middlemen would have to mediate. The Europeans, led by Merkel, and the U.S., represented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, weren’t even able to extract from Haftar a firm commitment to reopen the ports.  All they got from the rebel commander and the GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj was an agreement to talk some more; each is to name a five-person team for meetings in Geneva.Pompeo, like Merkel, made an effort to portray this pig’s ear as a silk purse, but then gave up. “There was progress made toward a full-fledged ceasefire, a truce, temporary stand-down,” he said as he left Berlin. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”In truth there’s not a great deal that the Europeans and Americans can do — or are prepared to. Such leverage as exists in Libya now is in the hands of other powers: Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on the side of Haftar, and Turkey shoring up al-Sarraj’s besieged GNA.In Berlin, all of these players said they wanted peace, committed to end their military backing of the warring parties, and signed an agreement to uphold a United Nations arms embargo. There were plans, too, for international monitoring of the ceasefire.These promises ring familiar, and hollow. Even if Egypt and the UAE were entirely sincere in their desire for peace, they will not agree on any terms that leave Turkey — in the proxy of the GNA — firmly ensconced in Libya. Nor is Erdogan in any mood to back down: On the eve of the Berlin summit, he reiterated his commitment to send Turkish troops to Tripoli’s aid. To make matters even more complicated, Ankara seems already to have dispatched hundreds of Syrian proxies to Libya, to hold the line against Haftar.The only party facing anything like a quandary is Russia. Putin has been backing Haftar, and has cultivated warm relations with Egypt, but he greatly values his relationship with Erdogan. In a straight fight between the rebel forces and Turkish troops, can the Russians be neutral?Haftar is adept at exploiting rivalries among the other belligerents to his advantage, and Libya’s long, poorly-guarded borders undermine any efforts to impose an arms embargo. He knows that the Berlin agreement is no more than a gentlemen’s bargain among rogues, and doomed to fail.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:35:09 -0500
  • Germany downplays flap over Tunisia invite to Libya summit

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    The German government on Monday downplayed Tunisia's rejection of a last-minute invitation to a weekend conference on Libya that had ruffled feathers in the North African nation. Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted world powers and other countries that have backed one side or the other in Libya's long-running civil war, in a bid to get those who have influence in Libya on the same page. Libya's two main rival leaders also were invited to Berlin, where they held talks with Merkel and her foreign minister ahead of Sunday's conference.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:29:15 -0500
  • Free Markets Made Davos. Now Governments Are Crashing the Party

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.In a memorable exchange at Davos last year, tech billionaire Michael Dell was explaining how higher taxes on the rich had never done much good anywhere, when he was contradicted. Actually, said Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they’d worked pretty well within living memory in his own country, the U.S.For an executive crowd that’s thrived under 40 years or more of policies based on freeing up business and markets, the observation was a reminder that older versions of Western capitalism didn’t always look like that – and a warning the next incarnation might not, either.Rather than a hands-off approach, governments are gearing up for a more active role in steering economies through the big challenges of the coming decade, from global warming and inequality to the great-power race for a technological edge. Perhaps unsurprisingly, politicians from Europe, Asia and even the U.S. are embracing the idea.“We’re past peak laissez-faire in many ways,” said Adair Turner, former head of the U.K.’s bank regulator and a Davos regular.“We passed it in the financial system 10 years ago, when we nearly blew up the world economy,” he said. “It’s taken longer in other areas. But people are realizing there’s a need for strategic direction in areas like climate change.”On plenty of other issues too.Managed TradeIn the U.S., both Republicans and Democrats increasingly want to manage international trade instead of leaving it to markets. Donald Trump broke that mold, and his would-be opponents aren’t inclined to take a less interventionist line. When Democratic contenders for this fall’s presidential election were asked in a debate if they’d remove China tariffs on day one, none of them said “yes.”Indeed, the initial trade agreement signed last week suggests “the more successful the deal, the greater the drift toward more state-managed economies in both China and the U.S.,” according to a BofA Global Research note.Democrats are meanwhile itching to intervene in health care. If Obamacare was about structuring private markets, the next overhaul may involve direct public spending – paid for with the higher taxes objected to by Dell, founder of the eponymous computer giant.There’s been a similar shift on higher education. Even one of Trump’s senior student-loan officials described the American way of financing college degrees with private debt as “nuts.”Trump, who is due to deliver opening remarks in Davos on Tuesday, has delivered tax cuts for companies and individuals, sticking with a Republican orthodoxy since the administration of Ronald Reagan, who was president in 1987 when the annual gathering that had been taking place in Davos since 1971 changed its name to the World Economic Forum. High stock prices and profits are celebrated as evidence America is thriving.‘Common Good’But on some issues, Republicans don’t sound as reflexively business-friendly as they used to.Sharpening competition with China, which for Trump has been mostly about trade, has spurred some Republicans into a broader rethink. One idea taking hold is that if its chief rival has a government-directed industrial policy, America may need one too.Republican Senator Marco Rubio has made that case in a series of reports and speeches. While the market “will always reach the most efficient economic outcome,” at times that result can be “at odds with the common good and the national interest,” he said last month.In Europe, Germany and France – which coined the term ‘dirigisme’ as well as ‘entrepreneur’ – are pushing for mergers to create continental champions able to compete globally in fields such as car batteries.‘Golden Age’Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government wants freedom from European Union competition and subsidy rules to be able to aid U.K. industry as it sees fit. Johnson has promised a post-Brexit “golden age,” helped by state funding for infrastructure and health.Tech giants are in the political crosshairs everywhere. U.S. lawmakers have been hauling tech bosses into hearings and threatening them with antitrust actions.European regulators have taken the fight further, opening lawsuits, levying billions in fines and threatening tech companies with a new digital tax. The energy industry, too, is under more direct pressure in Europe, where leaders have backed ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions.The revival of activist government isn’t confined to Western economies. The world over, “nation-states are reasserting themselves, presenting new risks to the capital and assets of corporations,” Eurasia Group said in a report on 2020 developments.The success of the state-led Chinese economy may be one underlying reason.‘Half the Story’China’s breakout has been characterized as “a movement in the direction of markets,” said Dani Rodrik, an economics professor at Harvard. “This gets only half the story right. It completely overlooks the other half, which has to do with management of the currency, the role of the state, and promoting new industries.”Even the International Monetary Fund, traditionally an advocate of light-touch government, is working on a new framework that will allow more space for policy makers to manage flows of capital and intervene in currency markets.Economists at the IMF and elsewhere also see a bigger role for governments to manage economies with fiscal policy. For most of the Davos era central banks have taken the lead by tweaking the price of credit. But interest rates have been stuck at rock-bottom levels for more than a decade, and businesses and households are maxed out anyway.Politicians, unlike central bankers, have the power to address inequality directly. Governments can raise tax rates for top earners “without sacrificing economic growth,” IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, a Davos attendee, wrote in a blog post this month.The question may arise again at this year’s WEF, where one of the themes is: “Fairer Economies.” Just don’t expect the discussion to be comfortable.“The classic Davos Man answer is to say, ‘There’s lots to be done -- but don’t tax the rich more’,” said Turner. “The more thoughtful ones realize that can’t be quite true.”(Adds Trump’s address in Davos in 11th paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the reference to first WEF meeting in the same paragraph.)\--With assistance from Simon Kennedy and Alex Tanzi.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Holland in Washington at bholland1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Kennedy at skennedy4@bloomberg.net, Alan CrawfordFor 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:28:58 -0500
  • Haftar chokes off oil Libya's oil production as fighting continues

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    Khalifa Haftar, the warlord besieging Libya's UN-backed government, has choked off the country's oil exports in defiance of a shaky international ceasefire deal endorsed by international powers over the weekend. Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson and other world leaders met in Berlin on Sunday to repeat demands for a ceasefire but the summit was quickly overshadowed by a fresh crisis over oil. Despite the fierce fighting between Mr Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), both sides have generally allowed oil production and export to continue. But in apparent bid to put pressure on the GNA, forces loyal to Mr Haftar have closed ports in the eastern part of the country and shut down a pipeline to two major oil fields in the southwest, effectively choking off oil production. The National Oil Corporation estimates that output will plummet from 1.2 million barrels per day to just 72,000 barrels per day in a few days’ time if Mr Haftar does not release his grip on the ports and pipeline.   World leaders gathered in Berlin over the weekend to try to reach an agreement on Libya Credit: Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images The move caused oil prices to jump to a one-week high although markets appeared to expect that the situation would be resolved soon. Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, said he was very worried about the situation. The GNA is heavily reliant on oil revenues and a prolonged shutdown could severely weaken a government that is already struggling to hold onto the capital Tripoli against a months-long assault by Mr Haftar’s forces. There were reports of ongoing fighting on the frontlines south of Tripoli on Sunday and Western leaders appeared downbeat on the prospects of putting the ceasefire agreement into force. "Ensuring that a ceasefire is immediately respected is simply not easy to guarantee," said Mrs Merkel. "But I hope that through today's conference, we have a chance the truce will hold further.” European leaders have discussed the prospect of sending forces to Libya to oversee the ceasefire but there appeared to be little appetite for deployment unless the ceasefire brought an actual end to the fighting. “If there is a ceasefire, yes of course, there's a case for us doing what we do very well which is sending experts to monitor the ceasefire,” said Mr Johnson. GNA forces inspect damage in Tripoli Credit: Photo by Enes Canli/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images EU leaders met Monday to discuss reviving a naval mission intended to ensure that a UN arms embargo against Libya’s warring factions was respected. Despite the UN prohibition on sending weapons, regional sponsors of both sides of the civil war have flooded the country with weapons. Turkey has provided arms to the GNA and sent Syrian rebel fighters to aid them in battle while the UAE, Russia, and Egypt have all provided support to Mr Haftar’s forces. "It's clear that the arms embargo requires high level control and if you want to keep the ceasefire alive someone has to monitor it," said Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief. Operation Sophia was set up in 2015 to combat people smugglers operating from the Libyan coast and to enforce a UN arms embargo on the warring parties. It was suspended as a naval mission in March last year after Italy objected to recused migrants being landed in its ports, and is now limited to aerial surveillance.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:25:49 -0500
  • Lebanese officials vow to step up security after riots

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    Lebanon's top security officials vowed Monday to crack down on vandalism after a week of rioting in Beirut that left hundreds of people injured and damaged public and private property — violence that comes against the backdrop of a deepening political deadlock. The announcement followed a meeting that included President Michel Aoun, as well as the interior and defense ministers, at the presidential palace. Lebanon has been roiled by three months of largely peaceful anti-government protests that over the past week turned into acts of vandalism in parts of Beirut.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 07:12:56 -0500
  • The strongest case for Joe Biden

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    I'm not thrilled with the prospect of Joe Biden winning the Democratic nomination and becoming president, and I know no one who is. That doesn't mean I hate him. It's just hard to get truly excited by a guy who's a milquetoast moderate, prone to embarrassing gaffes and verbal flubs, and showing undeniable signs of cognitive wear and tear as he approaches old age.But there is a compelling case to be made for Biden — one that hasn't been clearly articulated by the candidate or his campaign. That's likely because the case is at bottom about process rather than policy substance, and process is out of fashion in our moment of tribal partisan feuds.For all the energy spent over the past three years on ringing alarm bells about the threat that Donald Trump poses to American democracy, that threat has usually been put in terms of policies or evidence of corruption. He's closing the southern border! He scuttled the Iran Deal! He's too soft on Vladimir Putin! He's taking foreign bribes through Trump properties! He's abused his power by trying to extort a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political rival! But here's the thing: The policies might be bad, but policies can be reversed. The corruption might be impeachable, but either way the Trump administration will eventually come to an end.Where Trump is having a potentially longer-term detrimental impact is in continuing and expanding on ominous trends in democratic governance that precede him. I'm talking about the tendency of Democratic and Republican administrations alike to respond to the institutional gridlock that follows from intense partisan polarization by bypassing Congress' constitutionally designated role in passing laws, approving budgets, and authorizing war. That Congress has often been complicit in this tendency makes it no less troubling that governance increasingly involves a negotiation between the executive and judicial branches, with the legislature standing by passively on the sidelines.When it comes to foreign policy, the pattern goes back a long way, arguably to Congress' failure to pass formal declarations of war in Korea and Vietnam, but certainly to the passing of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks — an effective blank check that has allowed three presidents (two Republicans and one Democrat) to wage wars in a long list of countries across the Greater Middle East for nearly two decades now with minimal congressional oversight.Beyond the issue of war powers, there's Barack Obama's decision to implement sweeping changes to immigration policy by executive order after Congress failed to pass its own immigration reform bill. President Trump has made many similar moves, most recently in attempting to reallocate various forms of congressionally approved military funding for use in the building of his border wall — a project that the House of Representatives (under first Republican, and now Democratic, control) has repeatedly failed to fund outright.As if this wasn't enough, Democratic candidates for president have now begun to make promises about accomplishing a range of policy goals by way of executive orders. (California Sen. Kamala Harris liked to make such autocratic gestures while her campaign was active, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren does the same thing now.)This is obviously an expression of frustration with divided government, which used to be rare but is now the norm. Each side in our politics desperately wants to do things. But neither has sufficient support in Congress to get them done, given the many veto points in the American political system. Hence the proliferation of efforts and promises to do end-runs around the Constitution.Interestingly, the Democratic candidate with the most ambitious policy agenda of all, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, doesn't typically talk this way. But that's at least in part because his message involves a promise to enact a "political revolution" that will presumably sweep progressive super-majorities into Congress with him, removing the need to work around legislative obstacles. Whether Sanders would refrain from attempting to govern by fiat if he found himself in the Oval Office facing a recalcitrant Congress that firmly blocked his trillions of dollars in spending proposals very much remains an open question.That's where Biden comes in.The former vice president's message is not a programmatic one. He's not ideologically devoted to a centrist agenda. (In several areas, he's running to Obama's left.) Rather's he's keenly aware that the United States is a sharply divided country, he believes he understands where many Republicans are coming from (even if he doesn't personally affirm their views), and he's committed to reaching common ground with them in attempting to govern the country.In this respect, Biden isn't promising a straightforward restoration of the Obama administration. He's actually proposing that the country can return to something more like the consensus politics of the middle decades of the 20th century — a time when Democrat John F. Kennedy proposed a major tax cut, members of both parties came together to pass landmark civil rights legislation, and Republican Richard Nixon oversaw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the expansion of affirmative action policies.The case for attempting this form of governance is emphatically not that the outcome of some extended negotiation between President Biden and leading members of the congressional GOP will automatically produce the best policy. (Committed members of each party will sharply disagree about what the best policy is.) The case for attempting to reach bipartisan consensus is that, given how divided the country is, whatever emerges from such a process will be the best we can achieve under present circumstances.In the best-case scenario, both sides as well as lots of independents would not only find something to like in what gets enacted into law through such a process. Their confidence in the institutions that produced this decent outcome would increase from its currently low level, making future policy accomplishments somewhat more likely. The country and its institutions would begin healing from the partisan traumas of recent years. Biden is the only candidate running for office who's holding out the prospect of such a path forward.Now of course it's also possible, and perhaps likely, that this plan would fail — as countless Biden critics on the center-left and left have predicted it will. For one thing, a truly bipartisan policy may well please no one and so end up discrediting our institutions — along with efforts to bridge our country's deep divides — even further. Then there's the possibility that Republicans could demand that Biden come all the way over to the center-right in order to get a deal, thereby alienating a large portion of the Democratic Party, and then refuse to close the deal with him, leaving the president looking like a dupe. If Republicans place partisan advantage ahead of the attempt to govern in the name of the elusive common good, that's exactly the kind of move they'd make — like an enemy army that agrees to negotiations for a truce and then shoots the emissary sent to begin the talks.That is certainly cause for concern and suspicion. Still, there is something admirable about Biden's willingness to propose an effort at improved self-government. Our system works badly under conditions of intense partisanship. The resulting breakdown in effectiveness then fuels further anger and polarization, prompting the downward spiral in which we find ourselves today, with presidents of both parties increasingly tempted by extra-constitutional power grabs.What Joe Biden's proposing is a presidency devoted to nothing less than stopping our slow-motion drift toward authoritarianism.More stories from theweek.com Boeing goes from bad to worse Trump's legal team calls on Senate to dismiss impeachment charges The most important lesson I learned as a pastry chef

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:55:00 -0500
  • Iran says it may pull out of nuclear treaty over Europe dispute

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    Iran said Monday it will consider withdrawing from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if a dispute over its atomic programme goes before the UN Security Council. Britain, France and Germany launched a process last week charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, a move that could eventually see the Security Council reimpose international sanctions on the country. Iran has accused the three EU member states of inaction over sanctions the United States reimposed on it after unilaterally withdrawing from the landmark accord in 2018.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:51:28 -0500
  • Neither the U.S. or Iran Want a Full-Scale War. Here's Why.

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    The most important takeaway from the crisis surrounding General Soleimani’s assassination is that neither Iran nor the United States is interested in escalating their confrontation to the level of a full-scale war.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:49:00 -0500
  • Iran Threatens Non-Proliferation Treaty Exit Over European Move

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    (Bloomberg) -- Iran will withdraw from a major non-proliferation treaty if European nations attempt to refer the Islamic Republic to the UN Security Council over its infringements of the 2015 nuclear deal, the country’s foreign minister said.The U.K., France and Germany said last week they would trigger the accord’s dispute resolution mechanism, which could eventually mean the matter being referred to the Security Council. The move inflamed tensions with Tehran, which is locked in an economic confrontation with the U.S. that this month sparked a military exchange.“If Europeans continue their untenable conduct or send Iran’s nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council, we will withdraw from the N.P.T.,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told lawmakers, referring to the international treaty to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, the official parliamentary news service ICANA reported.Iran was an early signatory of the 1970 treaty, which was designed to eventually lead to disarmament. Non-nuclear weapons states that are signatories, including Iran, agree not to pursue weapons and to only develop peaceful atomic technology.Earlier on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Iran is planning “one last step” in its gradual draw-down from complying with the nuclear deal, raising the possibility that it’s close to announcing a complete withdrawal from the embattled international accord. The final measure will have “more effective consequences,” Mousavi said.Iran has been gradually reducing its compliance with the 2015 accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, since U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned it and began reimposing sanctions on the country’s economy.Earlier this month, Iran announced it’s no longer observing limits on uranium enrichment or research and development activities, but insisted it was still working within the parameters of the deal and would continue cooperating with United Nations nuclear inspectors.President Hassan Rouhani last week said all the steps could still be reversed as soon as Europe was able to commit to the agreement and take concrete steps allowing Iran to sell oil.Days before European nations turned up pressure on the Islamic Republic, the U.S. and Iran came to the brink of war after Trump ordered the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. As Iranian forces launched retaliatory attacks on U.S. facilities in the Middle East, they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran, triggering protests against the regime.Britain has also infuriated Iran’s government by proposing that the current accord be replaced with a “Trump deal.” Mousavi said that while Iran remains open to talks with the EU on the future of the agreement, the Islamic Republic won’t agree to any proposals from either the bloc or the U.S. for an alternative to the existing deal.(Updates with Zarif comments)To contact the reporter on this story: Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Paul AbelskyFor 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:30:51 -0500
  • Xi says China will resolutely curb outbreak of new coronavirus -state media

    Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday the country would curb the spread of an outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus, state television reported. China had confirmed a total 217 cases of the coronavirus, first discovered in the central city of Wuhan, by 1800 local time on Monday, state TV said.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:26:31 -0500
  • #MeToo prosecutors deploy experts early to thwart defense

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    When his trial opens in the coming days, Harvey Weinstein’s defense team is expected to go on the offensive against the women who have accused him of rape and sexual assault, in part by questioning if they acted like victims afterward. New York City prosecutors intend to counter with a strategy that’s taken hold since the 2018 retrial of comedian Bill Cosby: calling a sex crimes expert as a witness to dispel assumptions about how rape and sexual assault victims behave after an attack. In fact, Weinstein’s prosecutors are using the very same expert, Dr. Barbara Ziv.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:17:35 -0500
  • Johnson Stays Away From Davos to Push Populist U.K. Agenda

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    (Bloomberg) -- As the global rich gather in Davos, Boris Johnson is reminding voters in Britain why he called his new administration the “people’s government.”The prime minister, who is staying away from the annual jamboree of the World Economic Forum, is considering the idea of moving the House of Lords out of London, possibly to York 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of the British capital.The shock revelation emerged a day after Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid warned business leaders to expect divergence from European Union rules after Brexit, whether or not a free-trade deal is concluded by the end of 2020.Johnson reinforced his vision of a “global Britain” trading freely outside the EU on Monday at an inaugural investment summit with African leaders. He called for the U.K. to be the “investment partner of choice” on the continent.Johnson won a commanding majority in the general election by persuading pro-Brexit districts in northern England and the Midlands to back his Conservative Party for the first time. He did so by promising to take Britain out of the EU on Jan. 31, but he must now deliver economically if he’s to retain their support.The premier has spoken repeatedly about “leveling up” across the U.K. and the budget due in March is expected to include billions of pounds of new infrastructure projects to boost the economy of northern England, which has been hit by a decade of austerity and the decline of heavy industry.In an indication of his new focus, ministers on Sunday confirmed that the House of Lords -- the upper, unelected chamber of Parliament -- could be moved permanently to York, an historic city of little more than 200,000 people, or Birmingham in central England. The news was first reported by the Sunday Times.“It’s one of range of things we are looking into. It’s about demonstrating to people we are going to do things differently,” Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly told Sky TV’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday” show. “The Labour Party lost millions of voters because they failed to listen.”Suspicions QuashedSuspicions that Johnson might use his House of Commons majority to sever ties with Brexit hard-liners in his party and deliver a soft divorce appeared to be quashed by Javid in an interview with the Financial Times published Saturday.The chancellor said Britain would no longer abide by EU regulations and businesses needed to adjust, raising the stakes as the government prepares to embark on trade talks with the EU. Johnson has given himself just 11 months to tie up a deal. If he fails, Britain will be headed for another cliff-edge Brexit at the end of the year.Javid’s comments prompted dismay among businesses, which fear divergence could cost billions of pounds with sectors such as car making, aerospace and food manufacturing bearing the brunt. Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry lobby group, said alignment had supported jobs and competitiveness in some of the most deprived regions of the U.K.Johnson also appears to be on a collision course with businesses over immigration, with reports that the government is proposing to bring in restrictions on low-skilled migrants at the end the year, two years earlier than planned.Africa FocusAs Britain leaves the EU, Johnson is seeking to build economic ties with fast-growing regions, such as Africa. He addressed the U.K.-Africa Investment Summit in London, with the government promising 620 million pounds ($804 million) of financing to spur U.K. exports to Ghana, Zambia, Gabon and Uganda.“Africa is the future and the U.K. has a huge and active role to play in that future,” Johnson said.The gathering underscores fears that Britain risks losing out in the region. China, already a huge investor on the continent, hosted dozens of African leaders in 2018 and Russia, an expanding presence, followed suit last year. France and Turkey are also aggressively pushing trade on the continent.Johnson also said the U.K. will halt all support for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas as part of efforts to tackle climate change.(Updates with Johnson comment three paragraphs from bottom)\--With assistance from Stuart Biggs, Olivia Konotey-Ahulu and Steve Geimann.To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Mark WilliamsFor 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:01:30 -0500
  • Boeing goes from bad to worse

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    The smartest insight and analysis, from all perspectives, rounded up from around the web:Amazingly, Boeing's reputation has managed to hit a new low, said Natalie Kitroeff at The New York Times. The company released a catastrophically damning trove of documents to congressional investigators last week that included "conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators" for the 737 Max, the plane involved in two fatal crashes. Employees distrusted the plane and the training pilots would get to fly it. "Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft?" asked one in an email exchange. "I wouldn't." Another said the Max was "designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys." The messages "further complicate Boeing's tense relationship" with the Federal Aviation Administration, which can't be pleased to read the disdain with which Boeing treated regulators. "I still haven't been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year," one employee said in 2018. The memorably incriminating quotes aren't even the worst part here, said Dominic Gates and Steve Miletich at the Seattle Times. Boeing might say these were just employees blowing off steam, but there's no way to explain away more "sober" internal emails that show "a culture that prioritized cost cutting over everything else."The fact that we're finding out about this now underlines "deep-rooted cultural problems at Boeing," said Brooke Sutherland at Bloomberg. The company claims it brought these documents to the FAA in December as a "reflection of our commitment to transparency." Please. That was nine months after the agency grounded the Max. "It defies reason that no one at Boeing knew that the company was sitting on another mountain of troubling messages." After this episode, it's going to be even harder to win back public confidence in the Max, said David Gelles in The New York Times. "According to Boeing's own research, 40 percent of travelers are unwilling to fly" on the Max — if it ever returns to service. Boeing once "represented the pinnacle of engineering," but its relentless focus on safety gave way to "obsessing over the bottom line." Said Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who landed a plane on the Hudson River, "We've seen this movie before, in places like Enron."That's right, said Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times, and just like at those places you need to lay the blame at the feet of the board of directors. The root of this crisis can be traced back to 2011. "Under explicit pressure from the board" to find a cheap way to build a new plane, then-CEO James McNerney decided to modify the aging 737 design instead of "designing a new aircraft from the ground up." At least seven of Boeing's 13 current board members were there in 2011 — including David Calhoun, the new CEO. This is a board full of celebrities, such as former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Yet it has nobody with any aerospace engineering experience, since the departure of Dennis Muilenburg. Boeing says it will require "safety-related experience as one of the criteria" for choosing future directors. That invites the question: "Why only now?"This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, try the magazine for a month here.More stories from theweek.com The strongest case for Joe Biden Trump's legal team calls on Senate to dismiss impeachment charges The most important lesson I learned as a pastry chef

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:00:02 -0500
  • TIMELINE-Key events in Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's extradition case

    TORONTO/LONDON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, will appear in a Vancouver, Canada, courtroom on Monday for the first day of her extradition trial, a process expected to take months - possibly years - to decide whether she can be extradited from Canada to the United States. Dec. 30, 2012 – Reuters publishes an exclusive story https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-huawei-hp/exclusive-huawei-partner-offered-embargoed-hp-gear-to-iran-idUSBRE8BT0BF20121230 citing documents that showed a major partner of Huawei had offered to sell at least 1.3 million euros worth of embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator in late 2010. Jan. 31, 2013 - Reuters publishes another exclusive story https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-huawei-skycom/exclusive-huawei-cfo-linked-to-firm-that-offered-hp-gear-to-iran-idUKBRE90U0CA20130131 revealing that Meng had served on the board of the company that had attempted to sell the embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to the Iranian mobile-phone operator.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:00:00 -0500
  • U.S. and Latin American partners to discuss Hezbollah presence in Venezuela

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    The United States is concerned about the presence of Hezbollah, the terrorist group supported by Iran, in Venezuela, an issue that will be raised by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting on counterterrorism efforts that will gather several ministers from the region in Bogotá on Monday.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 06:00:00 -0500
  • Russian opposition wants big protest over Putin's plan to 'rule for ever'

    Russia's anti-Kremlin opposition said on Monday it planned to stage a big protest next month against President Vladimir Putin's proposed constitutional changes, which it cast as a ploy for Putin to rule for life. Putin, in a surprise move, last week unveiled a sweeping shake-up of the political system which led to the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with his government. Putin's changes, which would amend the constitution to create new centres of power outside the presidency, were seen by many as giving the 67-year-old scope to extend his grip on power once his term expires in 2024.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 05:48:56 -0500
  • Another Country May Return to Haunt Trump

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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.Donald Trump has had a lot going on. Impeachment at home, a re-election campaign picking up speed, trade tensions with China, military tensions with Iran, plus bubbling issues in Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.So it’s not surprising that, after an end-year bout of mutual mud-slinging, North Korea seems to have slipped down the White House’s priority list. Years of talks, including two summits, haven’t shown much progress curtailing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.That doesn’t mean North Korea can’t make trouble for the U.S. president as he moves into high gear for the election. Kim Jong Un’s regime might be secretive and isolated, but it doesn’t like being ignored. Above all, Kim wants international recognition of North Korea as a nuclear state and a seat at the table with the bigger players.North Korea has a long history of doing dramatic things to force countries to interact with it or to give it economic concessions.There are signs it has quietly restarted some mothballed nuclear operations. It has refrained from testing very long-range missiles (that, in theory, could hit the U.S.), but that doesn’t mean it won’t if it really wants Trump’s attention.There are other clues Pyongyang is ready to shake things up. It has reportedly replaced its foreign minister — who’d been in the role since 2016 — with Ri Son Gwon, a former army officer. That could suggest a harder line ahead.Global HeadlinesTrump’s week | Anticipation is building in Washington ahead of the Senate’s first impeachment trial in 20 years, even as Democrats and Republicans continue to squabble about aspects of the proceedings. Trump, meanwhile, is heading back to Davos, poised to hail his economic record as vindication of an “America First” agenda to the world’s elite while lawmakers back home weigh his fate.Hands off | Here’s a dynamic to watch for as global elites gather in the Swiss alps at the World Economic Forum this week: Governments are gearing up for a more active role in steering economies through the big challenges of the coming decade, from global warming and inequality to the great-power race for a technological edge. “We’re past peak laissez-faire in many ways,” said Adair Turner, former head of the U.K.’s bank regulator and a Davos regular.Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a daily newsletter that will run through Jan. 24. Click here for more on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to skip Davos.Libya impasse | Libya’s eastern military commander, Khalifa Haftar, is a difficult man to deal with, as world leaders found yesterday when they failed to persuade him to sign a peace deal to end a five-year civil war. He’s shut half of the North African nation’s oil production less than a week after he walked out of talks in Moscow aimed at reaching a durable cease-fire. While the warring parties agreed to set up a committee to negotiate a halt to fighting, progress appears to be fleeting.Gray Lady | The New York Times endorsed both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying, “May the best woman win.” Editorial board members said they were impressed by Warren’s emphasis on policy and said Klobuchar, who has struggled to gain traction in polls, “could unite the party and perhaps the nation.”Trump, meanwhile, championed a pair of trade victories at a farm convention yesterday in Austin, Texas.Tehran’s de-linking | Iran’s six-year drive to integrate with the global economy appears to be coming to an end in the face of biting U.S. sanctions. As Marc Champion reports, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accused Europe of joining Washington in trying to “bring Iran to its knees.” Iran threatened today to withdraw from its last remaining commitments to the 2015 deal that limited its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.What to Watch This WeekIf the past three years of Brexit have been difficult, the next 11 months threaten to be even more so. Click here for more on the battle lines between the U.K. and the European Union. Hong Kong’s government pushed back on a key demand of protesters as a downtown rally turned violent, showing there’s no end in sight for the unrest that began last June. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido started an international tour that includes a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and a trip to Davos. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened a new session of parliament today with a fresh call to revise the U.S.-imposed postwar constitution, a career-long bid that still faces huge obstacles. South Africa’s government said it’s working on solutions for the national airline after failing to pay $138 million in funding by yesterday’s deadline.Thanks to all who responded to our pop quiz Friday and congratulations to reader Hitesh Thakkar, who was the first to correctly answer that newly minted Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s previous job was head of the Federal Tax Service. Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally ... A pneumonia outbreak in central China has widened, with more than 200 people now diagnosed with the new SARS-like virus. Health experts say there’s evidence the illness is spreading from person to person. With the Lunar New Year just days away — a holiday season when Chinese citizens rack up 3 billion trips across the country to reunite with family — the mystery virus’s spread is likely to intensify. To contact the author of this story: Rosalind Mathieson in London at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Kathleen Hunter at khunter9@bloomberg.net, 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.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 05:48:44 -0500
  • Norway left with minority government after populists quit

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    The populist Progress Party pulled out of Norway's center-right governing coalition Monday over the decision to repatriate an Islamic State group-linked woman and her two children from a detention camp in Syria. Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she would continue with a minority government comprised of three coalition partners — her own Conservatives, the centrist Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 05:28:21 -0500
  • Iraqi officials: 3 dead, dozens wounded in Baghdad protests

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    Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live rounds during clashes with anti-government protesters overnight and on Monday morning in Baghdad, killing three and wounding dozens of demonstrators, officials said. The clashes prompted authorities to close key streets and thoroughfares leading to the Iraqi capital's center. The violence is the latest since protests in Iraq reignited last week after a brief lull amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran following a U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad earlier this month.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 04:43:37 -0500
  • Iran says Zarif skips Davos over programme change

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    Iran said Monday its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will skip this week's World Economic Forum after organisers changed the event he had been planning to take part in. The annual summit, which kicks off in the Swiss resort of Davos on Tuesday, has been overshadowed by escalating tensions between Iran and its arch foe the United States. Zarif had been scheduled to attend the gathering after receiving a personal invitation, his ministry said.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 04:29:34 -0500
  • US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwise

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    The U.S. ambassador to South Korea has some unusual explanations for the harsh criticism he's faced in his host country. Or a Japanese ancestry that raises unpleasant reminders of Japan's former colonial domination of Korea? Many South Koreans, however, have a more straight-forward explanation for Harry Harris' struggle to win hearts and minds in Seoul, and it's got more to do with an outspoken manner that they see as undiplomatic and rude.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 04:24:21 -0500
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