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  • China appeals to Washington: 'Get along with us'

    China is appealing to Washington to "get along with us" after President Donald Trump said "somebody had to take China on" over trade complaints. A foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said Wednesday that trade has been "mutually beneficial" and expressed hope Washington can "meet China halfway" in settling disagreements. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in June to resume negotiations aimed at ending a tariff war over trade and technology but neither has indicated willingness to compromise.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 05:58:04 -0400
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    Merkel to host Johnson in Berlin amid growing Brexit drama

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    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 05:57:28 -0400
  • Arms Race Redux! A U.S. Intermediate Range Nuclear Missile Test Shows Russia Was Right to Worry

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    Scott HoweThe U.S. military has test-fired a new kind of nuclear-capable cruise missile. A weapon that, just 16 days earlier, was banned from the American and Russian arsenals under a 1987 treaty.The successful test on Sunday of an intermediate-range, ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missile reintroduces a previously defunct type of atomic weapon, effectively reversing 32 years of successful arms-control. It also appears to confirm Russia’s fears about American intentions as Washington and Moscow backslide into Cold War-style mutual mistrust. A Missile Explosion, a Radiation Spike, and Kremlin Secrecy Bring Back Memories of ChernobylThe Pentagon tried to portray the Sunday launch in California as just a boring trial. “Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform [the Defense Department’s] development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” the military stated. But to Russia, the trial launch was a huge insult. It was what Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, called the “arms-control equivalent of a ‘Murica gif,’” a jingoistic internet meme featuring, say, a bald eagle firing a machine gun. And it’s likely to raise further the already elevated risk of nuclear war.The test-firing involved a ground-launched version of the Tomahawk cruise missile, for decades a staple of the Pentagon’s high-tech arsenal. Most Tomahawks are non-nuclear, however. The military dismantled the ground-launched, nuclear models back in 1991 in order to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty that U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev negotiated in the mid-1980s and President Donald Trump finally ditched this month.The INF treaty banned from Europe all nuclear-tipped missile with ranges between 310 and 3,400 miles. The U.S. and Soviet governments considered these small, quick-striking missiles —1,500 on the Soviet side and 400 on the American side in 1987— particularly destabilizing and more likely than larger, farther-flying and slower-reacting rockets to trigger atomic Armageddon.But a few years ago the INF began to fray. In 2011, the Obama administration warned that new, intermediate-range nuclear-armed cruise missiles—under development in Russia since 2008—could violate the terms of the treaty. In mid-2013 the U.S. State Department first raised the issue with the Kremlin. Later the same year, the White House formally announced that Russia was in violation of the accord.U.S. moves helped to accelerate Russian developments. In 2015 the Pentagon began installing so-called “Aegis Ashore” missile defenses in Romania and Poland. The non-nuclear SM-3 missile-interceptors are designed to hit ballistic missiles launched by Iran at the United States.But many Russians believed the United States planned to secretly add nuclear weapons to the European missile-defense sites, all in violation of the INF treaty and as preparation for an atomic sneak-attack on the motherland. Robert Gates, defense secretary under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, had warned about that dangerous perception as far back as 2009.The Russians’ belief wasn’t unfounded. The SM-3 sites in Romania and Poland feature land-based versions of the U.S. Navy’s Mk. 41 vertical-launch system, a kind of generic metal box that can launch almost kind of missile that physically can fit inside it. Navy ships fire non-nuclear Tomahawks from Mk. 41 launchers. It always has been entirely possible for the Pentagon to equip the European sites with nuclear-tipped Tomahawks. And the Russians always have known it. “Although it was never U.S. intent to slip intermediate-range nukes through the back door of Aegis Ashore, the Russians were justifiably concerned,” Bruce Blair, a Princeton University nuclear expert, told The Daily Beast.Russia responded to this apparent threat by developing a new, treaty-busting nuclear system of its own -- the SS-C-8 cruise missile. Moscow deployed the first battery of operational SS-C-8s to its western frontier in 2017, U.S. officials claimed. A little over a year later, the Trump administration announced its intention to withdraw from the INF. “The United States will not remain party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia,” the State Department stated at the time. The Trump administration completed the withdrawal process on Aug. 2. The State Department told The Daily Beast it was not yet prepared to comment further.But from the Russian point of view, it was the United States that first violated INF when, in the final years of President George W. Bush’s administration, it began the process of installing Mk. 41 launchers in Eastern Europe. “The recent Tomahawk test only bolsters their argument,” Blair said of the Russians.It’s unfair solely to blame hawkish Republican presidents for bending INF, backing the Russians into a nuclear-arms corner and then canceling a treaty that both countries seemed determined to undermine. Obama’s administration also embraced Aegis Ashore and its provocative launchers. “Obama had to know, or should have known, that the decision was a violation of the terms of the INF treaty,” Ted Postol, a nuclear expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Daily Beast. “Either the president wasn’t informed, or his advisors were either brain-dead or complicit in making a very bad decision.” “It would be interesting to hear what Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have to say about this matter,” Postol added.In fairness to successive U.S. administrations, Postol said Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland would make poor nuclear-launch sites, as their fixed locations and proximity to Russia make them vulnerable to Russian attack. Spies, Lies, and Radioactivity: Russia’s Nuke Missile Mishap, DecodedBut the potential foolishness of arming the sites with nukes doesn’t necessarily diminish how dangerous they seem from the Russian perspective. Sunday’s missile test adds insult to injury, seemingly making a mockery of years of American claims that it was Russia alone that wanted to roll back decades of successful arms-control.The whole world could pay the price for America’s nuclear negligence and Russia’s acute sensitivity to even the theoretical possibility of U.S. nukes on its European border. Thanks to a decade of missteps and mutual mistrust, quick-striking nukes are back, in a big way. “No matter how one looks at this situation,” Postol said, “it makes no sense and must be considered a strategic blunder that has substantively increased the chances of an accidental nuclear war.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 05:46:14 -0400
  • By Pushing Out Filthy Rich Vladimir Plahotniuc, Moldova Takes the Lead in ‘De-Oligarchization’

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    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo Vadim Denisov/GettyCHISINAU, Moldova—Vladimir Plahotniuc was the richest man in Europe's poorest country. Before he fled, allegedly to the United States, his tentacles seemed to be everywhere. He ran a political party, a bank, a scrap metal business and was inclined, his critics say, to post sex tapes of his opponents on the internet. American diplomats had cultivated Plahotniuc as a force to stand up against Russia, but law enforcement also accused him of laundering money for Russians. Whatever the facts of the matter, to millions of Moldovans he embodied the power of the wealthy and corrupt capitalist class—the oligarchs—and seemed like he would keep his grip on their country forever, until suddenly it slipped.As Elections Approach, Moldova’s President Tries to Prove He’s Putin’s Mini-Me No MoreA big smile illuminates the face of Moldova’s new prime minister, Maia Sandu, when she speaks about her government’s plans to cleanse the country of oligarchs, investigate their shadowy schemes and find billions of dollars of stolen or laundered here."People want Plahotniuc to pay for all the abuses and crimes he has committed," she said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast. "Our people want him in prison and of course the court will decide for how many years.Nearly three decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, extraordinarily wealthy insider businessmen hold sway in many former Soviet republics. But popular outrage against them has swelled, in a trend of so-called "de-oligarchization."Thousands of protesters in Tbilisi, Georgia,  marched recently to the residence of the shadowy oligarch Bedzina Ivanishvili demanding anti-corruption actions from the man known as Georgia’s unofficial leader.Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky and his Servant of the People party declared new rules for Ukraine’s most powerful billionaires: “If there is a crime, we will imprison,” Zelensky said in a press conference for TV channels last month. “We won’t allow them to be monopolists.”In Russia, President Vladimir Putin replaced an earlier generation of oligarchs with his cronies, and they have been in power now for decades. But a vibrant anti-government protest movement is growing bigger, in spite of brutal police beatings and thousands of detentions. But Moldova, so little noticed and yet so strategically placed at the core of Eastern Europe, offers one of the most dramatic and perhaps instructive examples of change.And what’s especially interesting is the confused, or at least confusing, role of the United States, where the Trump administration and other powerful Republican politicians, notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have a conspicuous weakness for certain oligarch.In the case of Plahotniuc, he escaped Moldova by a private jet on June 14, a few hours after U.S. Ambassador Dereck J. Hogan visited the office of his Democratic Party. According to reports in the local press, the 57-year-old oligarch has at least three citizenships—Moldovan, Russian and Romanian—and might be traveling anywhere in the world. Sandu, the prime minister, said she believes he is in Miami. The Daily Beast could not confirm his whereabouts independently.A shift in political alliances forced him out. Sandu told The Daily Beast that her “intuition” pushed her to make a coalition with Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon. Surprisingly, American, European and Russian diplomats wound up supporting the coalition and the new government. This appears to have been diplomacy practiced far below Trump’s radar, and it had a certain inescapable logic. Professionals in Washington, Moscow and Brussels, regardless their competition for sway in the region, realized that if Plahotniuc and his Democratic Party stayed in power, Moldova risked becoming a failed state.Sandu said that the United States, though it had aligned with Plahotniuc before, might be willing to give him up now. “The United States have expressed their willingness to issue the extradition, as soon as there is an official request from our prosecution," she said.Plahotniuc’s ally Ilan Shor and at least three more members of his Democratic Party also hopped on their jets and escaped Moldova, Sandu said.  Moldovan police reported on Sunday that Plahotniuc’s close friends businessman Yuriy Lunkashu had shot himself without leaving any suicide note.Before Plahotniuc's escape, he and his allies controlled Moldova’s media, law enforcement agencies, business and government institutions for more than a decade. “Earlier this year we managed to get ahold of an official order for surveillance on me and my colleagues,” Vladimir Solovyev, the founder of Moldova’s online publication Newsmaker, told The Daily Beast.Journalists complained of Plahotniuc’s secret agents spying on their private lives, shooting videos with hidden cameras to try to discredit them and locking opponents in jail. “State companies financed his business empire, he tried to create a gray zone out of Moldova, while our banks channeled laundered billions coming from Russia to many countries around the world,” Sandu said. “Plahotniuc took businesses from people, persecuted critics, put several men in prison.”Sandu, a 47 year old Harvard educated economist, looked casual and youthful in her pants and sneakers as she quickly walked into the government building in downtown of Chisinau last Sunday. She’s a petite woman often underestimated, to their regret, by many rich and powerful men. Sandu has the spirit of a revolutionary reformer. She says she is convinced that one day Moldova can be a healthy and wealthy European state. “But before that we need to track down the stolen billions, recover at least some of the disappeared money and put in prison the guilty ones,” she said.“Every day we are astonished to discover new cases of corruption involving Plahotniuc in banking, scrap metal, media and communication sectors, criminal schemes for billions of dollars, involving several countries,” Sandu said.The money laundering schemes amounting to more than $15 billion dollars involved Russia and several European countries. Moldova’s entire GDP is only about $8.1 billion.Russia has opened three criminal cases against Plahotniuc including one for drug trafficking. In 2017 Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism began to investigate the oligarch, too. “Currently this multi-billion theft is too huge for us to investigate on our own,“ PM Sandu told The Daily Beast. “We need help from the international community and it is encouraging that at least one Western country indicates readiness to investigate the assets of our corrupt politicians.”Could a Billion-Dollar Heist Bring Down a European Government?Yet Sandu said she had to keep the name of that country secret for the benefit of the investigation. “We know exactly where the corrupt assets are,” she added.The revolt against Plahotniuc started four years ago, when nearly $1 billion disappeared from three Moldovan banks, causing an economic and banking crisis. Shadowy schemes flourished. Just last year Moldova started selling dozens of Moldovan passports, which could allow any crook to travel to Europe without a visa.The U.S. supported Plahotniuc, at least until recently. Back in 2016 Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State responsible for Eastern Europe, received Plahotniuc in Washington. “Continue at the current pace, and we will support you,” Nuland told Plahotniuc, who at the time did not hold any political post but still controlled Moldova from the shadows. Plahotniuc and his allies deny all the allegations. “Vladimir Plahotniuc will come back, when people call for him and not just the Democratic Party. I don’t doubt that people will call for him,” parliament member Vladimir Chebotar told journalists on Thursday.So far no Plahotniuc supporters are seen on the streets of Moldova’s capital. There are plenty of witnesses willing to speak in court against him, however. One of them, former member of parliament Kirill Luchinsky, said that he was a victim of Plohotniuc’s after turning down a huge bribe. “People coming from Plahotniuc offered me $2.5 million dollars in cash, an immense sum of money for Moldova, as a bribe for quitting the Liberal Democrat party—in other words for loyalty,” Luchinsky told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “Plahotniuc should be on trial for usurpation of power; the entire people of Moldova will act as witnesses.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 05:42:16 -0400
  • German cabinet agrees to end reunification tax for most taxpayers

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government agreed on Wednesday to exempt most taxpayers from the solidarity tax that was introduced after the county's reunification. Under a draft law drawn up by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, some 90% of taxpayers will from 2021 no longer be subject to the 5.5% levy, which has been added to income tax. The amount payable will be reduced for a further 6.5% of taxpayers.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 05:33:21 -0400
  • Germany Moves to Cut Reunification Tax for All But the Wealthy

    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday agreed to abolish a tax that was used to help finance reunification for all but the very wealthy.From 2021, the so-called “Solidarity Surcharge” will be eliminated for 90% of those currently paying it and another 6.5% will receive partial relief, the finance ministry said in a statement. As a result, expected revenue will decline by 10 billion euros ($11 billion) in 2021, rising to an annual 12 billion euros by 2024, the ministry added."Today is an important day in the process of completing German reunification.” - German Finance Minister Olaf ScholzThe move, which needs parliamentary approval, is a victory for Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who stood firm against demands from some in Merkel’s Christian Democratic party to abolish the tax completely. It also comes just a few months before November’s 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.Scholz said it’s fair for high-income groups to continue paying and that the decision would withstand any potential legal challenges. Germany still has to finance some unfinished work linked to reunification, he added.Scholz is due to formally announce his candidacy to become co-head of his Social Democratic party, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, later on Wednesday. The cabinet accord also coincides with preparations in the government for a fiscal stimulus package in case the economy heads into a deep recession.The tax phaseout is a small boost for the economy but already priced into growth forecasts, Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said when Scholz detailed the plan last week.To contact the reporter on this story: Raymond Colitt in Berlin at rcolitt@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Iain Rogers, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 05:23:47 -0400
  • As warm welcome chills, Turkey clamps down on Syrians

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    Mustafa, a 21-year-old Syrian in Turkey, was at the shoe factory in Istanbul where he worked making army boots when three policemen stormed in, asking if everyone had their papers. Within a day, Mustafa and a busload of other refugees would be driven to Turkey's southern border and forced to go back to their war-torn country. "They told us things like, 'Don't come back to Turkey' and 'Go liberate your country'.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 04:57:12 -0400
  • Iran Oil Tanker Helm Makes Distress Call Near Saudi Red Sea Port

    (Bloomberg) -- The Iranian oil carrier Helm experienced technical issues in the Red Sea off the Saudi port of Yanbu and the crew is working to resolve the issues, according to the National Iranian Tanker Co.The vessel, one of the world’s largest crude tankers, signaled distress at 6:30 a.m. Iran time on Tuesday, about 75 miles (about 121 kilometers) off of Yanbu, owner NITC said in a statement. Both the ship and crew are safe and stable, NITC said without saying whether the Helm can continue the voyage.Iran’s tanker fleet is under global scrutiny amid U.S. sanctions seeking to choke off the country’s crude sales. The U.S. failed in efforts to seize a loaded supertanker allegedly bound for Syria that had been blocked in Gibraltar for more than a month.That vessel, the Adrian Darya 1, is now sailing east in the Mediterranean and signaling Greece, potentially to transfer crude to other ships. Another tanker loaded crude this month in Iran with the aim of delivering oil to Syria, Fox News reported, citing unidentified intelligence officials.Iranian tankers have turned off their satellite transponders intermittently in an apparent attempt to mask their voyages to supply crude. The Helm appears to have used that strategy since loading some crude in Iran in May.It’s unclear when the Helm entered the Red Sea or what was the ship’s last port of call, based on tanker-tracking data available on Bloomberg. Until this week when the vessel made the distress call, the tanker’s last known position was in the Persian Gulf in May when satellite signals showed the tanker was half full and heading for the Suez canal.The Helm, a Very Large Crude Carrier, capable of carrying about 2 million barrels of crude, is not full, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The tanker last reported its status as “not under command.”Another NITC tanker that encountered trouble off the Saudi coast was kept in the port of Jeddah for more than two months before leaving in July and returning to Iran this month.To contact the reporters on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Dubai at adipaola@bloomberg.net;Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nayla Razzouk at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net, Rachel GrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 04:34:28 -0400
  • US 'prepared to engage' with N. Korea in nuclear talks: envoy

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    The United States is ready to sit down with North Korea to resume long-awaited working-level nuclear talks, a US envoy said Wednesday. Nuclear discussions between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since a second summit in Hanoi in February ended without an agreement over differences on the extent of denuclearisation and sanctions relief in return. "We are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea," said Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, after his meeting with South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon in Seoul.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 04:05:09 -0400
  • Yemen Vows to Confront U.A.E.-Backed 'Coup' as Infighting Rages

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    (Bloomberg) -- Yemen’s government vowed to confront a “coup” attempt by separatist forces it said were backed by the United Arab Emirates, in a sign that a conflict casting a shadow over a crucial alliance between the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia is set to escalate.The internationally-backed government, meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh, said it will use “all means” to restore order and blamed the U.A.E. for “the armed rebellion by the so-called Southern Transitional Council,” which backs the division of Yemen. The U.A.E. denied the charge.Clashes between STC forces and government troops spread to other parts of southern Yemen on Tuesday despite Saudi efforts to halt the conflict and refocus efforts on battling Iranian-backed rebels in northern Yemen. The infighting is threatening to tear apart a country already reeling from one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.Martin Griffiths, the UN Yemen special envoy, told the Security Council on Tuesday that the fragmentation of Yemen “is becoming a stronger and more pressing threat” and that the peace process was more urgent than ever.“There is no time to lose,” Griffiths said. “The stakes are becoming too high for the future of Yemen, the Yemeni people and indeed the wider region.”The conflict is also raising questions over whether an alliance between Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. will remain intact. The two countries are a linchpin in U.S. efforts to contain Iran’s influence in the Middle East.The Yemeni government called on Saudi Arabia to back its efforts to end the rebellion. A delegation from the Yemeni separatists traveled to Jeddah on Tuesday for talks with the internationally-recognized administration of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Nizar Haitham, the STC spokesman, said in a phone interview.Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. entered the Yemen war in 2015 to restore an allied government ousted by the Iranian-backed Houthis, who come from Yemen’s north. The push by the southern separatists threatens the Hadi government.In a statement to the United Nations Security Council, the Yemeni government said the attacks wouldn’t have occurred “without the full backing” of the U.A.E. In response, the deputy UN permanent representative of the Gulf state denied his government’s involvement and said it would do its best to help de-escalate the conflict, Sky News Arabia reported. Fighting erupted between forces controlled by the STC and the administration of Hadi in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province in Yemen’s south, and nearby, local media and residents said, with the separatists seizing a military camp. It followed intense clashes this month in the port city of Aden, where the Hadi government is based.“I hope that all Yemeni stakeholders, from all parts of the country, take events in Aden as a clear sign that the current conflict must be brought to an end – swiftly and peacefully, and in a manner, which addresses the needs of Yemenis across the country,” Griffiths said during a video address from Amman, Jordan.Earlier, he said on Twitter that he condemned “the unacceptable efforts by the Southern Transitional Council to take control of state institutions.”(Updates with U.A.E. reponse in third and 11th paragraphs.)To contact the reporters on this story: Mohammed Hatem in Dubai at mhatem1@bloomberg.net;Glen Carey in Washington at gcarey8@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Alaa ShahineFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 03:59:16 -0400
  • Turkey extends deadline for unregistered Syrians in Istanbul

    A top Turkish official says Turkey has extended by two months a deadline for unregistered Syrian refugees in Istanbul to leave the city. Istanbul insists it cannot accept any more Syrian refugees and demands they return to other areas of Turkey where they were initially registered — or face deportation. The city, Turkey's most populous, already hosts the largest number of registered Syrians, nearly 548,000, out of 3.6 million Syrian refugees who have found a home in Turkey.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 03:58:48 -0400
  • British PM Johnson urges Merkel to budge on Brexit

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday that unless she agrees to change the Brexit deal, Britain will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 without a deal. More than three years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, it is still unclear on what terms - or indeed whether - the bloc's second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973. Johnson, a Brexiteer who won the premiership a month ago, is betting that the threat of 'no-deal' Brexit turmoil will convince Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron that the EU should do a last-minute divorce deal to suit his demands.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 03:36:45 -0400
  • Johnson, Merkel to face off in first Brexit talks

    Golocal247.com news

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Berlin on Wednesday to kick off a marathon of tense talks with key European and international leaders as the threat of a chaotic no-deal Brexit looms. On his first foreign visit since taking office, he will seek to convince German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and on Thursday French President Emmanuel Macron, to renegotiate elements of the UK's impending divorce from the European Union -- something the EU leaders have already ruled out. Then, at the weekend, all three will meet US President Donald Trump, a vocal supporter of Brexit and its champion Johnson, and the leaders of Canada, Italy and Japan at a G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 03:17:28 -0400
  • US says it's ready to resume nuclear talks with North Korea

    Golocal247.com news

    The United States is ready to restart nuclear negotiations with North Korea, a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday, a day after U.S. and South Korean militaries ended their regular drills that North Korea calls an invasion rehearsal. During the 10-day U.S.-South Korean training, largely computer-simulated war games, North Korea raised tensions with its own missile and other weapons tests.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 03:00:46 -0400
  • Trump says Russia should be allowed back in G7

    Golocal247.com news

    Donald Trump has said Russia should be allowed to re-join the G7 group of advanced industrialised countries.Vladimir Putin‘s Russia was pushed out of the then-G8 in 2014 after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 02:41:53 -0400
  • CORRECTED (OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 1-Iranian news agency says tanker leased to shipping firms

    Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency said on Wednesday the Adrian Darya 1 tanker, which was released after being detained in Gibraltar, is currently leased to an Iranian shipping company. The United States has issued a warrant to seize the tanker on the grounds that it had links to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, which it designates as a terrorist organisation.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 02:24:27 -0400
  • Iranian news agency says Adrian Darya tanker leased to Revolutionary Guards

    Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency said on Wednesday the tanker Adrian Darya tanker, which was released after being detained in Gibraltar, is currently leased to the country's elite Revolutionary Guards. The United States has issued a warrant to seize the tanker on the grounds that it had links to the Revolutionary Guards C (IRGC), which it designates as a terrorist organisation. "It is worth noting that the Grace 1 vessel, renamed Adrian Darya after the seizure, is a Korean-made oil tanker owned by Russia which is currently leased to the Revolutionary Guards," ILNA said, without citing a source.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 01:19:41 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Needs Something From Everyone at the G-7

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson wants something from everyone at the Group of Seven meeting in Biarritz, France this weekend. He’s hoping the half of the room that’s in the European Union will give him a better exit deal, and the half that isn’t will offer him free-trade deals.The U.K. leader’s international debut will follow visits to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday. With Brexit looming large, the tone of those meetings will affect his interactions at G-7, notably with U.S. President Donald Trump, who cut an isolated figure at last year’s gathering and sees an ally in Johnson.As the gap between the EU and the U.S. yawns wider than it has for decades, the big question is where a post-Brexit Britain will land. Johnson seeks closeness with both and could potentially tip the balance on key issues from Iran to China’s Huawei Technologies Co.It’s a unique position that Trump could seek to exploit. As Jonathan Eyal, international director at the Royal United Services Institute in London, put it: “Trump will be the president who will not try to heal European divisions but rather try to explore and see how much wider they can be prised.”With that in mind, here is a rundown of the key relationships.The U.S.The U.K. loves to boast about the “special relationship” it enjoys with the U.S. After Brexit, it’ll take on a new importance because a trade deal with the world’s biggest economy was touted as one of the great prizes of leaving the EU.Johnson needs to forge a close relationship with Trump. But not too close. “If he wants to fight and win a general election quite soon, if he’s seen as Trump’s poodle, that won’t help him,” said Centre for European Reform Director Charles Grant.The early signs are good. Johnson has spoken at least four times by phone with Trump since becoming premier, most recently on Monday. “He’s going to do a fantastic job,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday. “We have a great relationship.” And in a further overture, Trump made clear how much he dislikes the EU: “I hate to say this to you, dealing with the European Union is very difficult. They drive a hard bargain.”The U.S. leader has pledged to move “rapidly” to a trade deal with Britain yet earlier this month National Security Adviser John Bolton said that with the U.K. so focused on Brexit for now, the administration isn’t “pushing for anything on these broad and complex questions” such as Iran and Huawei.But opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has identified the rapprochement with Trump as a weakness. He described Johnson’s strategy as a “Trump-deal Brexit” that would open up the country’s beloved National Health Service “to takeover by U.S. private corporations.”The president’s description of the prime minister last month as “Britain Trump” wasn’t viewed as helpful by Johnson’s office.The EU ThreeJohnson will meet Merkel and Macron just before the G-7. He needs them onside if he’s to persuade the EU to reopen the deal that his predecessor Theresa May negotiated. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much goodwill there: During the Brexit campaign, he compared the bloc’s goals with those of Adolf Hitler.The risk for Merkel and Macron is that if they push back too much, they’ll drive Johnson toward Trump on issues such as Iran and the reach of China’s telecoms giant, where they want to retain European unity. Britain already  broke with its EU allies to join a U.S.-led initiative to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf which European nations had spurned. That followed  concern in Merkel’s administration that EU unity over Iran was under strain.Italy, for its part, has its own grievances with Germany and France, from EU-inflicted austerity to open borders. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has just  resigned and waiting in the wings to seize power is anti-immigration hardliner Matteo Salvini: he’s the country’s most popular politician, a euro-skeptic and keen to be Trump’s closest ally in Europe.Japan and CanadaIf Brexit is to appear a success, Johnson needs to strike trade deals not just with the U.S., but also with large economies such as Japan and Canada. Both have agreements with the EU, and have refused to roll them over for Britain after Brexit, while they await the outcome of the divorce.“How can you do a trade deal with Britain when you don’t know what its relationship with the EU is going to be?” said Grant at the CER. “That is so important for any trade relationship they would want from us.”Johnson has to tread carefully in particular with Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe, whose administration has spoken out about its anxieties around Brexit and the sort of no-deal departure that Johnson insists is on the table.In June, Foreign Minister Taro Kono warned that “some companies are already starting to move their operations to other places in Europe.” Japanese companies including the Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. established factories in Britain precisely because of the access to EU markets. Despite his stance on Brexit and his mowing down a schoolboy at a rugby event in Tokyo a few years back, there’s goodwill toward Johnson in Japan. If you search online for Johnson’s name in Japanese, the first video is of him drinking peach juice from Fukushima and proclaiming it delicious—the sort of gesture that goes down well in Japan.That just leaves Canada, just the sort of former member of the British Empire that Brexiteers held up as future partners after Brexit. Its trade deal with the bloc has also frequently been cited as a model for Britain’s future relationship with the EU, with Johnson himself repeatedly calling for a “Super‑Canada deal.”This is ironic, as the British government has so far struggled to get any kind of Canadian trade agreement at all. \--With assistance from Isabel Reynolds and Jordan Fabian.To contact the author of this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert HuttonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 00:00:08 -0400
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    Pompeo urges fresh thinking on Mideast, warns Iran

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    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 23:18:48 -0400
  • Hong Kong Protests Enter Crucial Period Before China’s Big Anniversary

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    (Bloomberg) -- For all the tumult Hong Kong has seen since pro-democracy protests erupted in early June, the countdown to a crucial anniversary for China on Oct. 1 makes the next six weeks particularly sensitive.The 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, the name used by Communist Party leaders after they forced Chiang Kai-shek’s regime to retreat to Taiwan, will feature a military parade through Beijing personally inspected by President Xi Jinping. That has raised some fears that Xi will seek to get Hong Kong under control by then to avoid any violence that steals headlines.Much may depend on what happens in the first week of September, when students who have been driving the demonstrations are set to return to universities and high schools. While some analysts see the start of the school year sapping support for the protests, student groups are planning strikes to keep up momentum in the push against Beijing’s increased control of Hong Kong.“We have a lot of class strikes planned in September by both secondary school and university students,” said Sunny Cheung, a 23-year-old student and a member of the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation, which represents 12 major schools including the University of Hong Kong. “We will have vast support.”‘Golden Window’The heightened stakes have added pressure on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to orchestrate a resolution without more violence or potential fatalities that could inflame tensions -- and possibly prompt Xi to mobilize the People’s Liberation Army to maintain control. The peaceful protest on Sunday followed weeks of clashes marked by volleys of tear gas and has provided an opening for both sides to seek common ground.“The next 10 days is a golden window,” Michael Tien, a pro-establishment lawmaker and businessman, told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. If Hong Kong “wants to avoid any central government intervention during the month of September, this is a perfect time for Carrie Lam to think about addressing some of the five demands.”While China has turned up the pressure on businesses and government officials to try and subdue the protests, sending in forces to quell an uprising is still seen as a last resort. Part of Beijing’s strategy is focusing on the economic damage to Hong Kong in a bid to undermine support for the students, according to Willy Lam, adjunct professor at the Center for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.“At least before the National Day, China will not resort to armed force to defuse the Hong Kong protests,” Lam said. “Any movement of that kind will only cast a shadow on the anniversary itself.”On Tuesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who authored the 1992 law that granted special trading privileges to Hong Kong, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the Senate “will reconsider that special relationship, among other steps, if Hong Kong’s autonomy is eroded.”Olive BranchThe protesters have said they won’t leave the streets until Lam completely withdraws a bill allowing extraditions to China, opens an independent inquiry into police violence, releases those arrested, stops calling protesters “rioters” and allows citizens to pick their leaders. Beijing has so far refused to yield and has backed the police to punish protesters who break the law.Lam on Tuesday offered a bit of an olive branch to protesters, offering to establish a platform for dialogue, investigate complaints against police and institute a wide-ranging fact-finding study into the root causes of the conflict. While the move falls short of protester demands, and was quickly rejected by the main group leading the demonstrations, it showed a willingness to at least consider steps that go halfway.Protesters are planning several more actions over the next few weeks that will show whether they can build upon Sunday’s peaceful rally. Demonstrators are divided between moderates and more extreme groups that have brandished iron poles and thrown Molotov cocktails at police officers who have in turn used tear gas, batons and bean-bag rounds.‘Rare Moment’Opposition lawmaker Fernando Cheung, who has often been at the scene of flash-points trying to defuse tensions, said the government would be wrong to think the protests would subside in September when students go back to school. Still, he saw the relative pause in hostilities as a key chance to come up with a solution before things get worse.“This is a rare moment that the more militant side of the protesters have agreed to exercise restraint,” Cheung said. “But if there is no response -- or if this is the response -- it basically means there is no end to this. And the chaotic situation will continue. There could be more escalation, and it won’t be pretty.”(Updates with op-ed in eighth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the name of the organization in the fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Sheryl Tian Tong Lee in Hong Kong at slee1905@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten Kate, Chris KayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 23:13:48 -0400
  • CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Australia says it will join U.S.-led defence effort in Strait of Hormuz

    Australia will join the United States in a coalition of countries protecting oil tankers and cargo ships from threats posed by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday. Global commodity trading has been rocked in recent months after a series of attacks on international merchant vessels, which the United States has blamed on Iran, and the seizure of a British tanker.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 21:36:06 -0400
  • PRESS DIGEST- British Business - Aug 21

    The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday that parliament cannot stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal on Oct. 31. - The Hong Kong investor buying Greene King is under pressure to provide further assurances that it will not cut jobs.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 20:55:14 -0400
  • Australia to join U.S.-led defence effort in Strait of Hormuz

    Australia has agreed to a request from the United States to join a coalition of countries protecting oil tankers and cargo ships from threats posed by Iran in the Straits of Hormuz, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday. "This destabilising behaviour is a threat to Australia's interests in the region," Morrison told a news conference. "The government has decided that it is in Australia's national interest to work with our international partners to contribute.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 20:54:53 -0400
  • These are the Strangest SR-71 Spy Plane Missions Ever

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    Russian and Chinese trawlers patrolled the seas near the base at Okinawa and carefully monitored all U.S. flights. Because of the nature of this particular mission, it was decided that the flight occur with a higher than normal load of 65,000 pounds of fuel, and under radio silence.The following stories appear in John Altson book The Black Line.Four Concurrent Emergencies on LandingBecause SR-71 air refueling was both difficult and dangerous, Blackbird pilot Lieutenant Colonel Bredette (BC) Thomas welcomed an assignment that did not require refueling. It should have been easy – A 45-minute flight over North Korea then back to Okinawa. It was his first tour in Okinawa and he had been an SR-71 pilot for about one year.Russian and Chinese trawlers patrolled the seas near the base at Okinawa and carefully monitored all U.S. flights. Because of the nature of this particular mission, it was decided that the flight occur with a higher than normal load of 65,000 pounds of fuel, and under radio silence.This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2018.BC encountered an engine inlet problem resulting in a series of uncontrollable “unstarts” and had to abort the mission, returning to Okinawa after just twenty minutes and still with 15,000 pounds of fuel. This was just the beginning of BC’s problems. Because he returned to Okinawa much earlier than expected, the crew responsible for maintaining the hangar did not have time to clean up the fuel slick on the hangar’s floor.An SR-71 always lands with an eleven-degree nose-high attitude, deploys a drag parachute, and then eases the nose down for a smooth landing. On this particular landing, however, the nose went down, and the plane started to vacillate left and right and knock out the right generator. Further compounding these difficulties, and because BC’s arrival was way ahead of schedule, the crews did not have time to clear away the “arresting cable” on the runway. BC tried to slow down but could not; he crossed over the arresting cable and blew out two of the right tires.The normal recovery procedure was to go into the hangar with the engines running and then cut them off. He got into the hangar at three MPH and, because of the oil slick, could not stop the plane. He tried the brakes, to no avail. BC had two seconds to maneuver the airplane and decide whether or not to cut off the engines. He forced a strong right turn and the aircraft came to a halt, unharmed.Colonel Frank Stampf’s most interesting storySR-71 RSO (Reconnaissance Systems Officer) Colonel Frank Stampf’s most interesting story took place flying out of Okinawa. Frank and his pilot Gil Bertelson had just completed their compulsory ten to twelve months of crew training and were slated to fly their first night operational mission over the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ); it was a “bow-tie” (double loop) mission over the Korean peninsula, scheduled to make several passes over the DMZ.They were on the east side of the peninsula, cruising at Mach 3 on a completely moonless and black night. Gil guided the airplane into a 33-degree bank to the right when they spotted what appeared to be thousands of lights below. This was most unusual because the Korean peninsula was normally pitch black. The navigation systems appeared to be working well, but the lights were a complete mystery and a bit unnerving to a new crew flying very close to some not-so-friendly territory.They successfully completed the mission, landed the aircraft, got debriefed by the Intel Officers, and found out that what they seen were huge numbers of small Korean fishing vessels – thousands of sampans with their lanterns lit that gave the appearance of a spread-out city …. something they were NOT supposed to be seeing at that particular moment in time!Frank was known among his SR-71 squadron mates for the saying “You haven’t been lost till you’ve been lost at Mach 3!” Additionally, he came up with this corollary to the quote: “….because for every minute that you don’t know where you are, you’re 35 miles further away from where you think you’re supposed to be!”The Black Line is available to order here.This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2018.Image: Lockheed-Martin.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 20:00:00 -0400
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    US says anyone who 'touches' Iran tanker risks US sanctions

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    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 19:11:30 -0400
  • U.K. Steps Up Brexit Preparedness for Firms as Deadline Looms

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. British exporters are to be enrolled in a key customs system so they can trade with the European Union after Britain’s scheduled departure on Oct. 31.The U.K. tax authority will automatically issue more than 88,000 companies with an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number over the next two weeks, the Treasury said in a statement on Wednesday. Without it, the firms would no longer be able to trade with the EU after exit day.“This will help ease the flow of goods at border points and support businesses to trade and grow,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said.EORI numbers are required to move goods into or out of the EU. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs estimated earlier this year that 240,000 companies would need one after Brexit, and to date just 72,000 have sought one. That left tens of thousands of firms at risk of being cut off from their only export market.Until now, the onus had been on companies to register. The automatic registration program only applies to companies that are Value Added Tax-registered. Those that aren’t will have to complete the registration themselves, according to the Treasury.The British Chambers of Commerce, which had campaigned for automatic issuance of EORI numbers, welcomed the measure but said it’s only a “first step” that will “trigger more questions.”“Businesses still need clarity on many other cross-border trade issues, such as customs procedures at borders following a no deal exit and when the government will launch an official database to provide ease of access to information on tariffs and quotas,” Director General Adam Marshall said. “The government must urgently provide answers to these questions, and ramp up both guidance and support for businesses.”Separately, the government said it was making an additional 9 million pounds ($10.9 million) available to ensure major ports and surrounding areas are ready for Brexit.To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Andrew Atkinson, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 19:01:00 -0400
  • Carrie Symonds 'barred from entering the US over Somalia trip'

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    Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson's girlfriend, has reportedly been barred from visiting the United States.  According to the Daily Mail, Miss Symonds, 31, applied for a visa to go to America in the next few days as part of her job with a US-based environmental group, but the American authorities have blocked the request. It is believed the decision stems from a five-day visit made last year by Miss Symonds to Somalia.  If Miss Symonds applied for a US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) you will have an application refused for visiting Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 2011. Miss Symonds has a series of meetings in America as part of her job as an adviser for Oceana, a non-profit organisation that seeks to protect the world's oceans. Miss Symonds declined to comment when approached through Number 10 by the Telegraph.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 18:59:52 -0400
  • Guatemala anti-corruption commission submits final report

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    A final report by the U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission in Guatemala says the body helped bring 120 cases resulting in charges against 1,540 people. The commission is known by its Spanish initials CICIG. It has operated for 12 years, but outgoing President Jimmy Morales refused to renew its mandate.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 17:53:20 -0400
  • US urges UN to extend Iran arms embargo, travel ban

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    The US urged the United Nations Tuesday to extend an arms embargo on Tehran that is due to expire next year as part of the embattled Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the UN Security Council that the clock was ticking on a resolution restricting weapons sales to Iran that is due to end in October 2020.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 17:05:26 -0400
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    Sudan protesters, army announce new ruling body after deal

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    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 17:04:20 -0400
  • Assad troops force Syrian rebels to retreat from key town

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    Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture all of Syria as his forces made significant battlefield gains and drove rebel fighters out of a strategic town he once attacked with chemical weapons. Syrian regime troops pushed rebel forces from Khan Sheikhoun, a town where Assad’s jets once dropped chemical weapons and killed nearly 100 people, prompting Donald Trump to launch retaliatory airstrikes in 2017.  The town has been under rebel control since 2014 and its fall marks a victory for Assad as his troops attempt to conquer Idlib, the last opposition-held province in the northwest of Syria.     Rebel forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, said they were retreating to an area south of the town but would continue fighting against the regime’s advancing troops. Regime troops advanced into the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun but had yet to fully occupy it. Speaking at a meeting with MPs from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, Assad hailed his forces’ progress. “The victories that were achieved prove the determination of the people and the army to defeat terrorists until the liberation of the last inch of Syrian territory,” he said.   He also accused Turkey and Western states of supporting jihadist groups in Syria. Tensions between Turkey and the Syrian regime have been rising sharply as Assad’s forces drive into Idlib, where the Turkish military has 12 military outposts. Regime jets bombed near a Turkish military convoy on Monday, killing three civilians, according to Turkey’s defence ministry. After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition  Credit: AFP The fall of Khan Sheikhoun means that one of the Turkish military outposts is now effectively surrounded by regime forces. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said that his country would not withdraw from the outpost at Morek and warned the Syrian regime not to interfere with it.  “We don’t have an intention such as moving this elsewhere,” Mr Cavusoglu said. “We will do whatever is necessary for the security of our own soldiers and observation posts.” Turkey says it established the outposts to counter jihadist groups and help enforce a ceasefire it brokered alongside Russia. The Syrian regime says the outposts are a violation of Syrian sovereignty but has so far refrained from directly attacking them.  However, as the regime advances further into Idlib the chances of a direct confrontation with Turkish forces seem to be rising.  Assad’s forces launched their offensive against Idlib in April but made relatively little progress until the last few weeks, when they have advanced rapidly with the support of withering airstrikes by Russian warplanes.   Around 500 civilians have been killed since the offensive began, including more than 100 children, according to aid groups. A young girl named Jana was killed by Russian bombing on Tuesday, opposition activists said.   The fighting has displaced over 500,000 people in southern Idlib and the northern of the neighbouring province of Hama. Khain Sheikhoun was seen as important symbol of opposition to Assad by rebel supporters “One of the revolution’s castles is occupied by its destroyers,” said one Syrian man in Idlib.  Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said the Islamic State (Isil) remains a threat in Syria and Iraq but has lost much of its ability to carry out centrally-planned attacks on the West.  "There are places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago," Mr Pompeo told CBS. "But the caliphate is gone in their capacity to conduct external attacks, it's been made much more difficult," he said. The jihadist group was driven from its last territorial stronghold this year but continues to mount insurgency attacks in both Iraq and Syria.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:54:26 -0400
  • EU rejects Johnson's Brexit deal before G7

    The European Union and Britain met for Brexit divorce deal talks in a week of high-wire diplomacy just two months before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s scheduled British walkout of the bloc on Oct. 31.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:28:32 -0400
  • EU, Britain clash over Johnson's Brexit backstop demand

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    Britain and the EU clashed Tuesday over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's demand to scrap the Irish border backstop plan, as fears mount of a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit. London insisted there was "no prospect" of a Brexit deal unless the backstop was abandoned, after Brussels said Britain had still not come up with a workable alternative. Johnson wrote to EU Council President Donald Tusk on Monday to insist that Britain could not accept what he called the "anti-democratic" backstop, a mechanism to avoid border checks between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland, part of the UK.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:22:08 -0400
  • UN envoy warns threat of Yemen's fragmentation gets stronger

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    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 14:52:42 -0400
  • White House Counterterror Event Delayed With Pompeo in New York

    (Bloomberg) -- The White House delayed the planned unveiling of a package of sanctions related to counterterrorism on Tuesday, in part because Secretary of State Michael Pompeo scheduled travel to New York for meetings at the United Nations and a political lunch, according to two people familiar with the plan.Pompeo’s participation in the counterterrorism event was seen as essential since the White House wanted top national security officials to take part, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal issues. One of the people said the event will take place after the Labor Day holiday in early September.It’s not clear if Pompeo’s absence is the only reason the event was delayed, and the State and Treasury Departments declined to comment. In addition to his UN meetings, Pompeo attended a private briefing over lunch on Tuesday with Republican stalwarts including Arthur Laffer, Steve Forbes and billionaires John and Margo Catsimatidis. The trip comes amid rising speculation that the top U.S. diplomat may run for the Senate next year.The attendees at the lunch hosted by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity were confirmed by two people familiar with the event. The luncheon, though not the names of the guests, is also on Pompeo’s public schedule for his trip to New York, where he is expected to speak at a session of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday as well as hold meetings with the UN’s secretary-general and Serbia’s president.The move comes amid rising speculation that Pompeo, a former House member from Kansas, may step down from President Donald Trump’s administration to run for a Senate seat opening up following the retirement next year of Pat Roberts. Bloomberg reported this month that Republican political donors have been told to hold off contributing to that race in expectation that Pompeo will run.Pompeo, one of Trump’s most trusted Cabinet members, has given mixed signals about his political future. In an interview Monday on Fox News he said “Lots of people talking about me potentially running for the Senate in Kansas, everyone maybe except me. I’m very focused on what I’m doing. It’s an incredible privilege to be President Trump’s Secretary of State. I intend to continue to do this.”But when asked in July about running for the Senate, Pompeo told KCMO Radio -- which broadcasts in Kansas -- that “I always need to be open to the possibility that something will change and my path in life will change too.”John Catsimatidis is the billionaire founder of the Gristedes grocery store chain and president of Red Apple Group Inc. He’s been a vocal supporter of the president and has a history of being a prolific donor to both Republican and Democratic campaigns. He served as a member of Hillary Clinton’s finance team during her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign but more recently declined former Vice President Joe Biden’s request for fundraising assistance, saying he would continue to support the president.The billionaire’s son, John Catsimatidis Jr., said the lunch discussion focused on foreign policy.““Everyone in the room agreed on the importance of conducting foreign policy that puts the interests and national security of the American people before those of foreign parties,” Catsimatidis, who is chairman and CEO of United Refining Co., said in an interview. “The room was supportive of President Trump and his administration’s approach to foreign policy, and I have confidence Secretary Pompeo has a firm handle on the issues affecting us on the global stage.”Laffer, an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, was recently awarded the Medal of Freedom by the president. The economist is best known for his eponymous “curve,” which supposes that taxation rates beyond a certain level can prove counterproductive by discouraging work. Most economists don’t believe the theory has proven accurate in real-world scenarios.The Committee to Unleash Prosperity was founded by Laffer, Forbes and Stephen Moore, who withdrew from consideration for a spot on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors earlier this year following criticism from Republican lawmakers.(Updates to add comments from Catsimatidis’s son on the lunch discussions from ninth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Peter Eichenbaum and Nick Wadhams.To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Saleha Mohsin in Washington at smohsin2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, ;Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Joshua GalluFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 14:32:29 -0400
  • Democracy at Risk: How Distrust Is Eroding the American Way of Life

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    The Gallup public opinion research organization reported recently that a mere 9 percent of Ukrainians have confidence in their national government. That’s the lowest confidence level in the world (for the second straight year). But if you think that makes Ukraine an outlier, then you are missing the bigger and more important picture: trust in public institutions is weak in many countries across the globe—including the United States, where trust in media, government and democratic norms have waned substantially in recent years. It’s a pervasive global problem that we can’t afford to ignore. There are many reasons for this perfect storm of distrust.First, over the last decade or more, the grip of elites on economic, political and social institutions has grown. Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson detailed in "Why Nations Fail" how long-simmering anger at elites that organized society for their benefit powered the Arab Spring uprisings.Likewise, in many other developing and emerging market countries, getting an education, hospital care, police protection or other basic human services is often only possible when citizens offer bribes—again, something beyond the reach of most rank and file.That leads to a form of anger over state capture, or grand corruption, which Robert Klitgaard has summarized in a neat formula as: corruption = monopoly + discretion - accountability.Rising populist movements in countries such as Hungary, Poland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France—all members (for now) of the European Union—are feeding off of a similar resentment of elites. These elites appear to be gaining as more modest, working class citizens, are losing economic, political and social ground. And the discontent that plunged the UK into the chaotic and still unresolved process of Brexit was fueled by a sense that the EU has undermined Britain’s capacity to control its own borders and sovereignty.In the United States, wealthier Americans can opt out of the comparatively plebian institutions of public schools (at nearly every level of education), Social Security, basic healthcare and, with elaborate legal avoidance schemes, taxes. Meanwhile, average Americans have increasingly taken prominent note of how the fortunes of the richest have risen much faster and higher than their own. Then there are the gated residential communities, their privileges on air travel and other supposedly public accommodations, and, in some high-profile cases, even relative impunity from criminal prosecution. There’s a very real sense that the game is rigged for the super-fortunate, who profit disproportionately from the hard work and public infrastructures that the less fortunate produce.We also got to this place because of a tenacious mantra, which gained momentum when Ronald Reagan became president: that public institutions—especially government—are the problem. It became an article of faith for many to devalue the work of government officials, to “starve the beast,” or, as anti-tax activist Grover Norquist famously put it, to “get [government] down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”Entwined with all this is globalism and widely held perceptions that elites care more about people in supply chains in other countries than in their own.Many Americans support policies that emasculate free trade agreements, military alliances (such as NATO) and adoption of global environmental standards and that stem the flow of immigrants who appear to threaten native-born citizens economically and otherwise.So instead of offering refuge to those whose lives have been devastated by conflict and chaos in places such as Syria, the Sahel region of Africa, Central America and Venezuela, some citizens of would-be host countries (often those with the resources to do so) view them as threats, invaders, burdens. As German Chancellor Angele Merkel and other world leaders have discovered, compassion has its political price these days.What do we do about this?We’ve heard this for years, but it’s true: we need stronger “civic education.” We need to help people understand what it means to be a citizen and make them better and more discerning consumers of the services public institutions provide. Civic awareness and public engagement are at historic lows. A recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, showed only 23 percent of eighth graders in the United States attained “proficient” status in civics.At a very basic level, democracy is nurtured by constantly “co-opting” the youngest members of society. There is evidence that effective civic education, through schools and with broader community support and parental involvement, serves as the foundation upon which trust and early formative political and civic participation are built. We also have evidence from the Untied States and the UK that, more broadly, education has a causal relationship to multiple forms of engagement, including voter turnout, group memberships, tolerance, and the acquisition of political knowledge (such as being a regular consumer of news media).While this may sound simplistic, finding and correctly processing information and general transparency builds trust in institutions. A 2017 social scientific study showed that, as people learn more about public institution, they form more nuanced perceptions of it that can lead them to distinguish it from other institutions for which they have little trust. Better provision of those services can make a difference. This means better infrastructure, more professionalism, more funding for greater capacity to deliver.That’s where the role of taxes and the government come in.There is a growing embrace these days in the idea that the private sector—business and nonprofit organizations—can and should play a bigger role in delivering the services everyone needs to survive and thrive. That accounts for the rise of corporate social responsibility activities, some of which do more to burnish the “do-good” reputation of the corporations than to do well by others, as Anand Giridharadas wrote in Winners Take All.Private sector engagement in the delivery of public and social services is admirable and valuable. But, as Giridharadas argues, it doesn’t go far enough to bring about the sort of transformation the world needs.Rather than farm public goods and services out to private providers, we must, instead, use governance mechanisms to achieve better outcomes for as many people as possible. When it has the resources, legitimacy and a sense of fairness, government is in the best position to make the kind of catalytic change that can lift all boats, not just those that are best positioned to rise higher than the others.Restoring trust in institutions is also about resources. Aging populations in Western societies put enormous pressures on national budgets already strained by social protection systems. Without right-sizing expectations about these protection systems or significantly reforming them, it is almost impossible to direct resources to the needs of other deserving public institutions of central government.The institutions of local government are increasingly seen as more responsive to their citizens. While we can debate the accuracy of this perception, it exposes them to increasing demands by citizens. These demands require resources, so they increasingly need to negotiate a reallocation of resources with cash-strapped central governments.Small “d” democratic good governance may have fallen down the popularity ladder, but so much depends upon it. Pandemics, unemployment, violent extremism are complex phenomena. But all are enabled and left unresolved by weak governance systems. That’s one reason why, when the Ebola virus appeared in West Africa, for example, the countries with at least some basic government capacity to fight it were spared the death and devastation we saw in the lesser-prepared countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The private sector can support the strengthening of these systems, but it is unable to do so directly. Good governance, in part, is about good government, a very old concept. But the part that is directly correlated with trust in public institutions is its responsiveness to citizens, its fairness, its transparency and its inclusiveness.If you look across history at the polities that have had been more stable, prosperous, productive and enduring, you will see that they all had elements of good governance. In Renaissance Italy, many flourishing city states experimented with transparency tools; they hired professional city managers to minimize corruption. And there is mounting evidence that democracies, with citizen responsive institutions, consistently outperform autocracies in the developing world.There are no quick fixes to the crisis of trust that is sweeping the world today. It was years in the making and fed by a variety of factors that went unnoticed or unattended for too long. But there’s also no excuse for continuously turning a blind eye to the global trust crisis. We must examine it before really have no options to undo its damage and strengthen the institutions that are essential to healthy, well-functioning societies.Aleksander Dardeli is executive vice president for strategy and development at IREX, a global nonprofit organization that works to strengthen good governance and access to quality information and education.Image: Reuters

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:53:00 -0400
  • Golocal247.com news

    Panel takes troubled Dubai developer's disputes in downturn

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    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:31:06 -0400
  • Israeli, US militaries simulate ship hijacking amid tensions

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    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:22:13 -0400
  • Dutch plan big Brexit beach party

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    Thousands of people have signed up on Facebook to a Dutch beach party for Brexit, featuring food from across the European Union to mark Britain's departure. Created by media worker Ron Toekook, the event calls for partygoers to meet at the seaside village of Wijk aan Zee near Amsterdam on October 31, the date Britain is meant to leave. Suggestions for other songs to be played included Dutch novelty boyband "Breunion Boys" and their single "Britain Come Back".

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:09:55 -0400
  • In 2017, North Korean Missile Tests Caused American and South Korean Fighters to Prepare for the Worst

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    The flying scenarios involved the ground-attack aircraft seeking, identifying and destroying simulated enemy targets.Buddy Wing 17-3 kicked off on Feb. 13, 2017 sparking a week of training and the exchange of knowledge between U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) pilots.Members of the 25th Fighter Squadron (FS), flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II, worked alongside their counterparts from the 237th Tactical Control Squadron and their KA-1 light attack aircraft during the training sorties of the drill.Noteworthy these kind of exercises are focused on testing the ability of USAF and ROKAF aircrews to work together in a time war in the Korean Peninsula where, as the latest North Korea Missile test shows, tensions never seem to de-escalate.“It’s a unique opportunity that we don’t usually get to experience, especially for us as A-10 pilots,” said Capt. Daniel Hann, 25th FS pilot. “A lot of times if we fly together in the same airspace, it is simply a quick, thrown-together scenario, while this lets us mission plan together, train together and better learn each other’s tactics.”The flying scenarios involved the ground-attack aircraft seeking, identifying and destroying simulated enemy targets in a variety of different locations, with a special emphasis placed on communication and clarity between the two nations’ pilots.“The reason we maintain the strong alliance is that we will be able to [maintain] efficient operations in the war by exercising combined operations in advance between ROK and U.S. air forces,” said ROKAF 1st Lt. Song, Hyeong Oh, 237th TCS pilot.Buddy Wing exercise are held multiple times throughout the year between different U.S. and ROK units at various air bases across the peninsula.“We both, as a striker, are working that close air support . . . to help us overcome the language barrier and learn about one another to attack ground targets and protect friendly [forces],” said Hann.This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2017.Image: DVIDShub.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:00:00 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-EU being a bit negative but we will get there on Brexit deal -UK PM Johnson

    The European Union is being "a big negative" about the prospects of reaching a Brexit deal but it can be done, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday. "At the moment it is absolutely true that our friends and partners are a bit negative ... but I think we'll get there.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 12:59:41 -0400
  • EU being a bit negative but we will get there on Brexit deal -UK PM Johnson

    The European Union is being "a big negative" about the prospects of reaching a Brexit deal but it can be done, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday. The bloc earlier rebuffed Johnson's demand that it reopen the Brexit divorce deal, saying Britain had failed to propose any realistic alternative to the backstop, an agreed insurance policy for the Irish border. "At the moment it is absolutely true that our friends and partners are a bit negative ... but I think we'll get there.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 12:39:39 -0400
  • U.K. May Delay Naming Next BOE Governor Until After Brexit

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is considering delaying two key announcements in the latest sign that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is on an election footing.Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid may wait to name a successor to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney until after Britain’s planned Oct. 31 departure from the European Union, according to a person familiar with the process, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak on the matter.Javid may also have to postpone his next budget to 2020 if the government is forced into a general election next month.Carney steps down at the end of January, after he twice extended his tenure to provide continuity during the split from the EU. Previous chancellor Philip Hammond had said a new appointment would come in the autumn, and a Treasury spokesman said on Tuesday that is still the expectation.Still, as Britain heads toward a potential no-deal Brexit, the signs are mounting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing the groundwork for a general election with promises of extra billions for the National Health Service and crime-fighting.U.K.’s Johnson Accused of Spending for Votes, Not Fixing EconomyJohnson has said he’s committed to delivering Brexit “do or die” on Oct. 31, without an agreement if necessary. The government privately accepts an election is inevitable, according to one official.Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn plans to hold a vote of confidence in Johnson’s administration soon after returning from summer recess, and has asked rival parties to support him as a caretaker prime minister who would then call a general election. If an election is triggered, the government cannot hold a budget.Officials would also be unable to start the process of economic forecasting that is integral to each budget. The Treasury is usually required to give the Office for Budget Responsibility 10 weeks’ notice to prepare its forecasts. Doing so during an election period could break purdah rules because it would make an assumption about who would win.To provide some certainty, Javid is currently conducting a short spending round that will set budgets for all government departments for next year. That will also allow the Treasury to allocate funding without the approval of Parliament. Johnson’s government is trying to avoid bringing any legislation through parliament over fears that opponents will amend it to take control of the order paper and derail its plans to deliver Brexit.Treasury officials have been conducting interviews for the BOE job, and a shortlist was drawn up by Hammond before he stepped down last month. Javid has yet to narrow the list down to the final candidates and is flexible on the timeline for the appointment, the person said.See our survey of the most-likely nominees to be Bank of England governorPotential candidates include BOE insiders such as Andrew Bailey, the head of the Financial Conduct Authority, and Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent. Some high-profile figures -- such as former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan -- have indicated that the political complexity surrounding Brexit made the job unappealing.(Adds context in paragraphs six and nine.)To contact the reporters on this story: Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@bloomberg.net;Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at pgordon6@bloomberg.net, Brian SwintFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 12:28:29 -0400
  • Five held in France for urging attacks on G7 police

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    French authorities arrested five people for encouraging attacks on a hotel slated to accommodate police during this weekend's G7 summit, sources said Tuesday, as more than 13,000 members of the security forces prepared to deploy for the event. The arrests occurred early Monday, just days ahead of the summit chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron who will from Saturday host the likes of US President Donald Trump, German leader Angela Merkel and Britain's Boris Johnson in the glitzy southwestern resort town of Biarritz. Speaking to reporters in Biarritz where he inspected security preparations, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 13,200 police and gendarmes would secure the event.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 12:00:23 -0400
  • Egypt says its forces kill 11 militants in Sinai Peninsula

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    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 11:46:16 -0400
  • Russia accuses US of stoking military tension with cruise-missile test

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    The Kremlin on Tuesday claimed the US test of a ground-launched cruise missile was evidence that Washington, not Moscow, intentionally sabotaged a Cold War arms control treaty banning such weapons. The Pentagon announced the test Monday, publishing video of the launch of a cruise missile from an Mk41 vertical launch system bolted from a trailer. Such a test would have been banned by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Washington withdrew from the treaty on Aug 2, after formally accusing Russia of violating the treaty almost one year earlier. Russia has long argued that the US was the party in violation of the treaty.  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a test launch just three weeks after withdrawing from the treaty proves the US has been working on INF-banned weapons long before the pact’s demise. Anti-nuclear protesters wear masks of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin  Credit: OMER MESSINGER/EPA-EFE/REX Russia has for many years accused the US of violating the INF with the deployment of anti-ballistic missile defenses in Romania, arguing the Mk41 launchers used by those systems can also be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles.  The US test on Monday saw a Tomahawk was launched from an Mk41. However, the Pentagon said that this specific Mk41 was different from those deployed in Eastern Europe. However, the Mk41 is largely used on ships to launch missiles like the Tomahawk. Mr Peskov’s accusations were echoed by other officials in Moscow on Tuesday, including Sergei Ryabkov, the Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia’s senior arms control official. Mr Ryabkov said the test heightens the risk of military tensions. “The US has obviously taken a course towards escalation of military tensions,” Mr Ryabkov said. “We will not allow ourselves to get drawn into a costly arms race.” Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, speaking in France on Monday before the US announced the test, said that Russia would deploy its own INF-banned weapons if the US made such a move.  The US has long alleged Russia already has developed and tested INF-banned missiles, using the claims to justify its withdrawal from the INF treaty.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 11:35:22 -0400
  • Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says He Plans to Label Hezbollah Terrorists

    (Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he intends to designate Hezbollah a terrorist group, a move that would follow on the footsteps of other South American nations.In comments to reporters in Brasilia, Bolsonaro compared Hezbollah to Brazil’s landless workers movement that he has repeatedly called a terrorist group. Despite his rhetoric, the move would require changes to Brazil’s narrow anti-terror legislation, and possibly congressional support. Brazil’s new classification of Hezbollah would be part of Bolsonaro’s efforts to align his government with that of U.S. President Donald Trump. The risk is that doing so could strain relations with Iran, a Hezbollah ally which imports $2.5 billion of Brazilian products per year. A weak domestic economy increases pressure to refrain from any decision that undermines exports.Brazilian officials are already reviewing options to move forward with the designation, which is being discussed at the highest levels of government but doesn’t have across-the-board support, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter.To read more: Brazil Mulls Labeling Hezbollah Terrorists in Pivot to U.S.Hezbollah, or the party of God in Arabic, is at the same time an armed group, a political party and a social organization. It sits in the Lebanese cabinet and has considerable geopolitical power. It is considered a terrorist group by many countries, including the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.Last month, Argentina became the first Latin American nation to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. On Monday, Paraguay announced its decision to follow suit.\--With assistance from David Biller.To contact the reporters on this story: Flavia Said in Brasilia at fsaid7@bloomberg.net;Samy Adghirni in Brasilia Newsroom at sadghirni@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Matthew Malinowski, Walter BrandimarteFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 11:34:21 -0400
  • Nordics Seek Common Stance on Climate Change After Talks in Iceland

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    (Bloomberg) -- Nordic leaders said they would seek a common stance on climate talks after a summit in Iceland that was attended by German Prime Minister Angela Merkel.Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the region had the responsibility of making sure that it becomes the more environmentally sustainable in the world, while her Swedish colleague Stefan Lofven said it was important for Nordic countries to have a united position when they go into next month’s UN Climate Action Summit in New York."We all aim to be carbon neutral, but we want to work closer together and share our experiences and knowledge so that each of us will be more successful,” Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir told Bloomberg after a joint press conference on the Icelandic island of Videy. “Both nature itself and the youth of our countries are sending us a clear message that radical measures are due."The leaders also stressed the need to intensify cooperation with Germany at a time when the Arctic is growing in importance, both militarily and as a business opportunity, while Finland’s Antti Rinne reiterated that Russia needs to honor the Minsk accord on the Ukraine ahead of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Helsinki on Wednesday.(Adds exclusive comments from Icelandic prime minister in the third para.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir in Reykjavik at rsigurdardot@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jonas Bergman at jbergman@bloomberg.net, Nick RigilloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 10:59:08 -0400
  • Pompeo wishes North Korea would not test missiles

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    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed displeasure Tuesday about North Korea's series of missile tests, but said he wants to resume negotiations on denuclearization with Pyongyang. In an interview with CBS, the chief US diplomat noted the six tests of short-range ballistic missiles that North Korea has conducted in recent weeks, and appeared to diverge slightly with President Donald Trump, who have dismissed the tests as unthreatening and insignificant. "I wish they would not do that," Pompeo said of the tests.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 10:36:08 -0400
  • UK says to skip most EU meetings from Sept 1: government

    Golocal247.com news

    British officials will stop attending most EU meetings from September 1 except for those on "matters of ongoing national interest" such as security, the government said on Tuesday. The Brexit ministry said in a statement that the time spent preparing for the meetings in Brussels would be better used in readying the country for leaving the European Union on October 31. "This decision reflects the fact that the UK's exit from the EU on 31 October is now very close and many of the discussions in EU meetings will be about the future of the union after the UK has left," the statement said.

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 10:34:09 -0400
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