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  • UN to meet at Russia's request on recent US missile test

    The U.N. Security Council will hold an open meeting Thursday at Russia's request on a U.S. missile test that would have been banned under a treaty that both Washington and Moscow abandoned earlier this month. The Trump administration accused Russia of being unwilling to stop violating the 1987 intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 17:55:30 -0400
  • Rebels claim downing US drone over Yemen

    Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed they shot down a U.S. drone over the country's north, as a leading rights group said Wednesday the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis killed at least 47 Yemeni fishermen in bombing attacks on fishing boats last year. Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Iran-backed Houthis, said in a statement their air defenses downed a U.S. MQ-9 drone Tuesday over the northern city of Dhamar. The U.S. military's Central Command said in a statement that it was investigating the Houthi claims that they attacked an unmanned U.S. drone "operating in authorized airspace" over Yemen.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 17:48:15 -0400
  • U.K. to Sign Post-Brexit Continuity Trade Deal With South Korea

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. and South Korea on Thursday are due to sign a continuity deal to ensure the two nations continue to trade on preferential terms after Britain leaves the European Union.The new free trade agreement replicates "as far as possible" the terms of the existing EU-South Korea deal that was signed in 2011, the U.K. Department for International Trade said in an emailed statement. Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Korean Minister of Trade Yoo Myung-hee are due to sign the deal in London, it said.Britain has been working to protect trade relationships it enjoys through EU trade deals by rolling those terms over to apply after Brexit. In total, deals accounting for 89 billion pounds ($108 billion) of trade have now been struck. The South Korean agreement is one of the biggest to date, protecting trade between the two nations worth 14.6 billion pounds -- more than 1% of Britain’s commerce.Yoo said in the U.K. statement that the signing "will remove much Brexit uncertainty out of our long, valuable economic partnership."Some 6,900 British businesses export goods to Korea, according to the trade department. Thursday’s agreement is now subject to domestic legislative procedures in both countries before it can come into force. It’s designed to take effect on Brexit day, which is currently scheduled for Oct. 31. Until then, trade between the two nations is covered by the EU deal.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, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 17:30:00 -0400
  • Israel appoints ambassador to Paraguay after embassy dispute

    Golocal247.com news

    Yoed Magen has been accredited as the new Israeli ambassador to Paraguay amid tensions between the two nations, the Paraguayan state news agency said Wednesday. The announcement comes after Paraguay announced last September that it was moving its embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem and back to Tel Aviv, just months after a previous Paraguayan administration had opened the new mission. Israel responded by shutting its embassy in Paraguay and warning that ties between the countries would be "strained" by the decision.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 17:18:01 -0400
  • Sudan swears in ruling council and prime minister

    Golocal247.com news

    Sudan took further steps in its transition towards civilian rule Wednesday, with the swearing in of a new Sovereign Council and prime minister. Abdalla Hamdok took the oath as transitional prime minister moments after flying in from Ethiopia, where he spent years working as a senior economist for the United Nations. Hours earlier, the 11 members of a civilian-majority Sovereign Council were also sworn in, marking the first time that Sudan was not under full military rule since Omar al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 17:00:51 -0400
  • Trump: Germany, France must take back Islamic State fighters

    Golocal247.com news

    President Donald Trump challenged France, Germany and other countries on Wednesday to take back citizens captured fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Trump said the U.S. and its allies are holding "thousands" of Islamic State fighters after forcing the extremist group to abandon the last territory it held in Syria. Trump signed an executive order shortly after taking office to keep open the detention center at Guantanamo, reversing an eight-year effort by President Barack Obama to shut it down.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 16:44:02 -0400
  • 'I am the Chosen One': with boasts and insults, Trump sets new benchmark for incoherence

    Golocal247.com news

    President outdoes himself in new press conference as he attacks the Danish prime minister, Jewish Democrats and the pressTrump takes questions from reporters as he prepares to depart the South Lawn of the White House. Photograph: Ron Sachs/Rex/ShutterstockDonald Trump started off precisely on-message.Strolling to the end of a White House driveway on Wednesday ahead of his departure for a veterans event in Kentucky, the president began speaking while still walking toward a crowd of waiting reporters. “So the economy is doing very, very well,” he said.With fears of a recession stirring and public confidence in the health of the economy dropping for the first time in Trump’s presidency, it was a sound message to project to a skittish nation. But that was as good as it got.What followed might have swept away all previous Trumpian benchmarks for incoherence, self-aggrandizement, prevarication and rancor in a presidency that has seemed before to veer loosely along the rails of reason but may never have come quite so close to spectacularly jumping the tracks.Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the “chosen one” – all within hours of referring to himself as the “King of Israel” and tweeting in all caps: “WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?”Leaving aside those who were left merely gape-jawed, the performance inspired reactions from new expressions of doubt about Trump’s fitness for office to evocations of “the last president I know of who compared himself to the Messiah”.(That turns out, according to Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes, to be Andrew Johnson (1865-9), whose articles of impeachment cited his “intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues”.)After the news conference, the hashtag 25thAmendmentNow was the top trending item on US Twitter, referring to a constitutional proviso by which cabinet members and the vice-president can band together to remove a president deemed unfit.Soon after the ill-fated driveway news conference got under way, Trump faced a question about his decision to cancel a meeting with Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, who had rejected a proposal floated by the Trump administration to purchase Greenland as “absurd”.Calling Frederiksen “nasty” – his preferred insult for women in politics – Trump described his wounded pride at the way his offer had been rejected.“I thought it was a very not nice way of saying something,” Trump said. “Don’t say ‘What an absurd idea that is’… You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off.”As Trump continued his attack on Denmark on Twitter from aboard his airplane, the world below struggled with the rest of the wild, wild things he had just said, including an attack on another group: Jews who vote for Democrats.In response to a news conference Monday by Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib criticizing their exclusion from Israel, Trump had questioned the “loyalty” of Jews who support Democratic politicians. Accusations of “dual loyalty” have been used in the past in an attempt to undermine and marginalize Jews living outside Israel.Asked about the “loyalty” charge Wednesday, Trump said: “I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” mentioning the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and his opposition to Iran.“I will tell you this, in my opinion, the Democrats have gone very far away from Israel,” Trump continued. “In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.”Trump ignored a shouted question about whether Jews in the United States have a right to be simply American – but Trump denied he was employing an antisemitic trope.“I haven’t heard anybody say that, just the opposite.” Trump said. Trump then embarked on an increasingly breakneck tour through the hills and valleys of a personal political landscape whose map, if it existed, was private to him, although his route was provisionally signposted by questions shouted by the media.“We wiped out the Caliphate, 100%, I did it in record time,” he said of the fight against Isis.“I am the least racist person ever to serve in office, OK? I am the least racist person,” he opined.And, of course, his journey included a visit to his old favorite stomping ground: reality TV.“I made a lot of money for NBC with the Apprentice, and I used to like them, but they are so biased,” he said. “You are so obviously biased and that’s why the public doesn’t believe you.”His dislike for the media was on familiar display.“The fake news, of which many of you are members, are trying to convince the public to have a recession,” he said. “‘Let’s have a recession!’”But then – as he discussed his trade war with China – came a new twist as Trump bestowed himself with a new title certain to launch a million Twitter memes.“This is a trade war that should have taken place years ago… somebody had to do it. I am the Chosen One.”That last line echoed a tweet the president had sent earlier in the day, in which Trump quoted the conspiracist Wayne Allyn Root, who in the past has said that violence including the murder of a peace activist at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was “probably paid actors & infiltrators hired by Soros”.“The Jewish people in Israel love him,” Trump quoted Root as saying on Wednesday, “like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”His putative status as the reincarnated Christian savior was not among the many topics Trump touched on Wednesday. At the end of the news conference, Trump walked toward his helicopter and headed for Kentucky.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 16:26:15 -0400
  • Brandeis University investigates posts on anti-Semitic site

    Brandeis University says it does not believe there's a threat to campus safety after photos of several students and professors were posted to an anti-Semitic website. School safety officials are investigating after images from the university's website appeared on the Vanguard News Network Forum, which promotes white nationalist views. The university issued a campus letter this week saying that the situation is "obviously disturbing" but that safety officials found "no direct threat" to Brandeis or those depicted in the photos.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:59:02 -0400
  • Sudan's top general sworn in as leader of new ruling body

    Golocal247.com news

    Sudan's top general was sworn in Wednesday as the leader of a joint military-civilian body created to rule Sudan during a three-year transition period toward democratic elections. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan was sworn in before the country's top judge and will lead the 11-member Sovereign Council for 21 months, followed by a civilian leader appointed by the pro-democracy movement for the next 18. The long-waited move came after more than four months of tortuous negotiations between the ruling military council and the pro-democracy movement following the army's removal of longtime autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in April.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:52:21 -0400
  • Brexit: Boris Johnson warned US trade deal 'highly unlikely' if Ireland has hard border

    Golocal247.com news

    A post-Brexit trade deal with the US would be "highly unlikely" if there is a hard border on the island of Ireland, Boris Johnson has been warned.The Congressional Friends of Ireland, a group in the US Congress which supports and promotes peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, has written to the prime minister warning that it will oppose any US-UK trade deal if it risks undermining the Good Friday Agreement.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:44:00 -0400
  • Putin says US missile test raises new threats to Russia

    Golocal247.com news

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the test of a new U.S. missile banned under a now-defunct arms treaty has raised new threats to Russia and will warrant a response. The U.S. tested a modified ground-launched version of a Navy Tomahawk cruise missile that accurately struck its target more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) away. Sunday's test came after the U.S. and Russia withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that banned such weapons.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:27:07 -0400
  • Prominent Palestinian family says son arrested in Egypt

    The family of a prominent Palestinian politician says Egyptian security forces arrested their son last month. The family of Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, says in a statement Wednesday their son, Rami Shaath, a dual Palestinian-Egyptian national, was arrested July 5 at his Cairo home. The family says their son was added to a case that includes a former lawmaker and key secular activists who were arrested in June and accused of collaborating with wanted Brotherhood members in Turkey on plotting violence and riots.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:23:43 -0400
  • Tough Brexit Talk But Neither Side Has Given Up on Breakthrough

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Angela Merkel’s challenge to Boris Johnson to find a Brexit solution in the next 30 days sounds impossible. But while both sides are talking tough, officials in private say there’s still time to salvage a deal.The latest person to sound skeptical about the British prime minister’s chances of taking the U.K. out of the European Union with an agreement was a senior French official close to President Emmanuel Macron. A no-deal Brexit is now the likeliest scenario, the official said on Wednesday.His remarks reflect the mood across the bloc since the Brexit deal, agreed between former Prime Minister Theresa May and Brussels in November, was rejected three times by the U.K. Parliament and Johnson was installed in Downing Street. The premier has struck a more belligerent tone than his predecessor, demanding the removal of the contentious part of the agreement dealing with the Irish border. He’s also promised to take the U.K. out of the EU on Oct. 31 “do or die” -- without a deal if necessary.The deadlock is genuine. The EU remains broadly united on the issue and isn’t ready to throw Ireland to the wolves by conceding to Johnson’s demands to cut the so-called backstop, the mechanism designed to ensure a check-free border on the island of Ireland that will be the U.K.’s new land frontier with the bloc.Progress?But there are small signs of movement -- on both sides.Despite his apparent preconditions, Johnson met German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin, and will hold talks with Macron in Paris on Thursday. And though his letter this week laying out his objections to the backstop was immediately dismissed by the bloc, there are now signs of engagement on the issue, which European diplomats said was at least a start.“We in the U.K. want a deal,” Johnson said alongside Merkel in Berlin. “We seek a deal. And I believe that we can get one.”Johnson expects to talk further about Brexit at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, at the weekend, and while neither side predicts any kind of breakthrough, diplomats said there’s time for more twists with just 71 days left until the U.K. is due to leave.Merkel Challenge“You will simply have to wait a little bit longer to see whether we will come up with a solution,” Merkel told reporters at the joint press conference. She said the EU had always thought the U.K. could do it in two years -- a reference to the transition period that forms part of the Brexit deal.“But maybe you can also find it within the next 30 days,” she said to Johnson. “Why not?”Merkel said it’s up to the U.K. to put forward workable alternatives to the backstop, and that the EU needs to know how Britain sees future ties to the bloc. Johnson agreed the “onus is on us” to solve the border issue, though he pointed to measures that have already been dismissed in three years of Brexit talks, including trusted trader programs and electronic pre-clearing of goods.The backstop is despised by Brexiteers in Johnson’s Conservative Party because it keeps the U.K. tied to many of the EU’s customs rules.Officials in Brussels and European capitals are increasingly eyeing an EU summit on Oct. 17-18, just two weeks before the U.K.’s leaving date. There’s every chance the two sides won’t have come to an agreement by then, or even at that meeting, officials said. Work will continue to try to get one right up until the U.K. leaves, they said.Rebel MPsEuropean officials are also closely watching events in the U.K. Parliament, knowing that if politicians there can block a no-deal split, Brexit will probably be delayed again. Johnson has said this threat from British lawmakers is what’s discouraging the EU from shifting -- a claim European diplomats deny.Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is among a group of ex-ministers in Parliament talking about blocking a no-deal Brexit. Main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn invited other senior lawmakers to meet him on Tuesday to discuss “all tactics” to stop a no-deal departure.But it’s not clear whether that’s possible. Only once Parliament has returned on Sept. 3 are the tactics, and level of support, likely to be clear.In Berlin, Johnson invoked the EU’s history of a last-minute compromises. The question is whether the bloc will oblige.“I’ve in my life watched a lot of European negotiations and, believe me, it looks at first as though it’s irresistible force and immovable object and what in my experience happens is that people find a way through,” he said. “It’s in the final furlong generally when the horses change places and the winning deal appears.”\--With assistance from Jessica Shankleman, Helene Fouquet, Robert Hutton, Alex Morales and Arne Delfs.To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, ;Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Alex MoralesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:22:01 -0400
  • Russia, China ask U.N. Security Council to meet Thursday over U.S. missile developments

    Russia and China have asked the United Nations Security Council to meet on Thursday over "statements by U.S. officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles," according to the request seen by Reuters. Moscow and Beijing want to convene the 15-member council under the agenda item "threats to international peace and security" and have requested that U.N. disarmament affairs chief Izumi Nakamitsu brief the body. The Pentagon said on Monday it had tested a conventionally-configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500 km (310 miles) of flight, the first such test since the United States pulled out Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:20:09 -0400
  • As Trump questions loyalty of US Jews, Israeli PM is quiet

    Golocal247.com news

    Israel's prime minister on Wednesday steered clear of Donald Trump's comments questioning the loyalty of American Jews who support the Democratic Party, in sharp contrast to the tide of condemnation from Jewish critics who accused him of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes. Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to keep quiet on the controversy reflected the importance of his close alliance with Trump — a relationship that has dented the bipartisan support Israel has traditionally enjoyed in Washington as well as Israel's equally important ties with the American Jewish community.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:12:47 -0400
  • During Johnson visit, Merkel voices hope on avoiding Brexit chaos

    Golocal247.com news

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday offered a glimmer of hope to visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the EU and UK could reach an agreement to avoid a chaotic no-deal Brexit. Merkel said perhaps an agreement would be possible within "30 days" for Britain to leave the EU, if a solution could be found to the thorny issue of the Irish border. The British prime minister has been adamant that he will not accept the "backstop" border plan agreed under his predecessor Theresa May and warned that the UK will exit the EU on October 31, even at the cost of economic turmoil.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:05:05 -0400
  • Huawei has a secret office in Iran, because there hasn’t been enough bad news about the company

    Golocal247.com news

    As if Huawei didn't already have enough negative press coverage and headlines to grapple with, it seems that the company's detained chief financial officer has provided fodder for still more.After she was detained by Canadian officials back in December at the behest of US officials, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou reportedly told a Canadian border agent that the Chinese company operates an office in Iran. Her answer came after the agent questioned her about whether Huawei sold products to companies it shouldn't be doing business with -- and after she answered "I don't know" at first.This revelation comes via a new report from Bloomberg, which notes that the agent met Wanzhou's initial answer with skepticism. Surely the CFO of a multibillion-dollar company would know such details, the agent pressed.The US has since levied formal charges at Huawei, making a variety of claims related to trade theft -- as well as asserting that Huawei operates "a secret subsidiary," per Bloomberg, in Iran. It's a subsidiary that allegedly obtained American goods, technologies, and services there in violation of US-imposed sanctions, the news service adds.Wanzhou's arrest was noteworthy because it kicked the US ban against Huawei into high gear and represented a major black eye for the company, which is the second-largest smartphone maker in the world. Wanzhou also happens to be the daughter of Huawei's billionaire founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, who distributed a memo internally to Huawei employees this week laced with militaristic language befitting Zhengfei's time spent in the Chinese army.Workers need to form high-performing "commando squads" to survive the current "live or die moment" facing Huawei, he wrote. If they fail to make themselves useful, the memo continues, workers' "salaries will be cut every three months."This week began with the Huawei ban actually getting kicked up a notch. The US added several new Huawei entities to its blacklist but also extended a reprieve that gives Huawei time to make alternate business arrangements. The news about Huawei's CFO, meanwhile, came as the Canadian government this week also released footage of her arrest, showing her with several bags of luggage.According to arrest-related documents reviewed by Bloomberg, Meng was allowed to call a lawyer four hours after she was first detained. At that point, a police officer, "Yeah, if you find a lawyer sooner, you can go to the United States faster."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhVVUAM4bPY

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 14:58:25 -0400
  • UN chief to attend G-7, Japan conference, and visit Congo

    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres leaves Friday on a trip to the G-7 summit of the world's major industrialized nations in France, a conference on African development in Japan and then to Congo to mobilize support against the Ebola outbreak. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that at the G-7 in Biarritz, Guterres will participate in sessions on biodiversity and oceans, fighting against inequalities and partnership with Africa and the Sahel.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 14:56:59 -0400
  • Trump wanting to buy Greenland is yet another sign of Putin’s puppetry

    Golocal247.com news

    Greenland didn’t just bubble into Trump’s mind randomly – it’s very much on Russia’s radar for its unknown supply of oil, gas and rare metalsIcebergs float behind the town of Kulusuk in Greenland on 16 August 2019. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty ImagesThe last time Americans felt hostility to anything remotely Danish was when the pompous old Duke of Weselton launched a trade-war-turned-palace-coup against the warm-hearted ice queen known as Elsa. Even the pre-pubescent fans of Frozen know that trade wars are doomed and that strong female leaders are unstoppable.It’s tempting to look at Donald Trump’s ludicrous desire to buy Greenland – and the Danish spat that followed – as just another sick joke of the Trump presidency: an aberration that the world will forget with tomorrow’s distracting tweets on some other outrage.But after two and half years of this corrosive nonsense, it’s time to admit some unpleasant truths. The madness of Donald Trump is getting worse, not better. The presidency has not normalized him, it has only normalized our numbed reaction to his excesses. We cannot see through the fog of disinformation and distraction how much of the world’s instability is directly linked to his abject failure as a president.Let’s just pause to look at Greenland, shall we? On the face of it, the notion of buying the arctic autonomous territory seems like just another brain fart from the cavities inside Trump’s cranium: “an absurd discussion,” as the new Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen put it on her trip to Greenland on Monday. “Thankfully the time where you buy and sell countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there. Jokes aside, we will of course love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the United States.”Sadly, the days of buying and selling other countries are far from over because Trump himself seems to be easily bought by his Russian and Saudi friends. He’s so cheap you only have to dangle the idea of a Trump Tower in Moscow to win his undying support for lifting sanctions imposed after Russia invaded and annexed part of Ukraine.Greenland doesn’t just bubble into Trump’s mind randomly, unless Fox News is airing obscure weekend segments on arctic politics. But it is very much on Russia’s radar. Earlier this year, Russia revamped its arctic circle military base on the tiny Kotelny Island, which sits close to the shipping routes that are opening up as the polar region warms catastrophically.There are unknown quantities of oil, gas and rare earth metals in the arctic, and the region’s powers – Denmark among them – can either green light a global free-for-all or restrain the usual human plunder of one of the last pristine frontiers on the planet. You can guess where Russia sits on this spectrum of environmental concerns in the middle of our climate crisis.It is one of the sickest Trump jokes that his half-baked idea of buying Greenland should be seen as American machismo when it is yet another sign of Putin’s puppet American presidency at work.Denmark is a loyal ally within the organization that Russia loathes: Nato. So the downside to trashing a state visit, complete with a royal dinner, is not what it normally would be for an American president who supposedly leads the greatest global alliance in military history. He did, after all, suggest withdrawing US troops from Nato just last year.One of the many gob-smacking cons of our current crop of so-called nationalist leaders is how happy they are to surrender their national interest in subordination to any foreign strongman who offers to grease their personal interest. It’s almost like they’re not serious about America First or Global Britain at all.It is too much to expect rational public thought from the 45th president of the United States. But you have to wonder if he ever admits to himself that the only reason the arctic is opening up is because of the climate crisis he used to call a Chinese hoax.More recently he told CBS News that “something’s happening” to the climate that probably isn’t a hoax but definitely has nothing to do with human actions.“I wish you could go to Greenland, watch these huge chunks of ice just falling into the ocean, raising the sea levels,” Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes told him. Maybe Trump just wanted to buy Greenland to make sure nobody could there to see the ice melting.“You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley,” Trump said, fabricating yet more lies to cover up his own political agenda. In other words, another day in the Oval Office.As the world knows full well with each passing day of this presidency, Trump cannot project national strength because he is so chronically, personally weak. He told reporters on Wednesday that he dropped out of his Denmark state visit because its prime minister was “nasty” and “not nice” in rejecting his advances on Greenland.On a playground full of pre-schoolers, this language might make sense. On the world stage, as the Danish would say, it’s absurd.Like so many weak souls who never grew out of the playground chapter of their lives, Trump tries to pick on other weak souls to demonstrate the strength he so clearly lacks.The weakest of those victims are the children fleeing for their lives from central America.Trump is not content with ripping them from their parents, orphaning some of them by losing track of their parents forever, and exposing others to unspeakable abuse in so-called shelters. He now wants to ignore the courts and detain them indefinitely in private for-profit prisons with or without their families.His administration claims the old court-ordered Flores agreement is “outdated and fails to account for the massive shift in illegal immigration to families and minors from Central America,” according to a written White House statement.That conveniently ignores the fact that the “outdated” court agreement is named after Jenny Lisette Flores, who was a 15-year-old fleeing El Salvador in the 1980s when she was arrested by US officials, handcuffed and strip-searched and placed in a for-profit prison for two months. The US refused to release her to family members claiming they were protecting her, but the ACLU said the Reagan administration was just trying to arrest parents and punish children.So obviously there are no similarities to Trump’s policies at all.From the self-inflicted crisis at the border to the self-inflicted spat with Denmark, so much of the global chaos that numbs us all is the product of this mindless and malignant American leader.The world is staring at a global recession triggered in large part by Trump’s pointless trade wars. It’s watching mini-Trumps grasp for power in Britain and Italy, inspired by his own undemocratic example, including all his trademark incompetence and ignorance.Without Trump, how much of the stupefying sense of chaos would evaporate?Perhaps not all of it, but enough for Scandinavia to return to sleeping soundly. Villy Søvndal, a former Danish foreign minister, said that Trump was “a narcissistic fool” because of his decision to cancel his trip. But he explained that this clown wasn’t funny. “The problem is that he is the president of the most powerful nation in the world,” he said.That’s a problem for the whole world to suffer. But it’s a problem that only American voters can solve.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 14:42:06 -0400
  • Merkel Sets Johnson Challenge: Solve Brexit Backstop in 30 Days

    (Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit, sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, and tell us your Brexit story. Angela Merkel has set Boris Johnson a challenge: Solve the Irish border backstop conundrum within 30 days.At their first meeting since Johnson became British prime minister, both said they wanted to see the U.K. leave the European Union with a divorce agreement on Oct. 31. “We in the U.K. want a deal,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “We seek a deal. And I believe that we can get one.”The problem is the Irish backstop. That’s the fallback position in the deal -- negotiated with Brussels by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May -- designed to keep Britain’s border open with Ireland by staying closely tied to EU rules after Brexit. Johnson has said the EU must drop it from the deal, or it won’t be accepted by the House of Commons.Speaking alongside Johnson in Berlin, the German Chancellor said it could take years to resolve the issue -- then added “perhaps we can find this solution in the next 30 days. Why not?”Johnson embraced the challenge.“You’ve set a very blistering timetable there -- of 30 days if I understood you correctly -- I’m more than happy with that,” he said. The backstop, he said, “has grave, grave defects for a sovereign democratic country like the U.K. That plainly has to go, but once we can get rid of that, if we can change it, then I think there is the real prospect of making progress very rapidly indeed.”Looming DeadlineIt will have to be. Even without Merkel’s deadline, the U.K. is on course to crash out without a deal in just over two months unless Johnson can find a compromise. His meeting with Merkel is the first step in his outreach to EU leaders. On Thursday, he’ll meet in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, whose government now sees a no-deal Brexit as its central scenario.Merkel said it’s up to the U.K. to put forward concrete alternatives to the backstop; Johnson agreed that the “onus is on us,” and pointed to measures that have already been proposed and dismissed in the three years of Brexit talks, including trusted trader programs and electronic pre-clearing of goods.The backstop wasn’t Merkel’s only question for Johnson. Before he can solve that, she said, both sides will have to know what the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU is going to look like.Essentially, Johnson has said he won’t accept a deal that doesn’t include an alternative to the backstop. The EU has always said it wants that too -- but thinks it could take years to work out. What Merkel was suggesting is that the U.K. should find that solution before Oct. 31.The two leaders had a lot to talk about, Merkel observed.To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert Hutton, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:48:54 -0400
  • Syrian army besieges insurgents and Turkish troops in Hama

    Golocal247.com news

    Syrian government forces marching from different directions in southern parts of the opposition-controlled province of Idlib met around sunset Wednesday, laying siege to several rebel-held towns and villages as well as a Turkish army post, a Syrian opposition war monitor and pro-government activists said. The rapid advance by the Syrian army in the northwestern province marks a major blow for insurgents in their last remaining stronghold in Idlib, which has been subjected to a government offensive for the past three months. The new gains by the government came amid intense aerial and ground bombardments during which troops advanced in southern parts of Idlib, which is home to some 3 million people, many of them displaced by fighting in other parts of the country.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:47:49 -0400
  • More Rohingya families say they will not return to Myanmar

    Golocal247.com news

    COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Members of about 200 Rohingya Muslim families interviewed Wednesday by officials from the U.N. refugee agency and the Bangladesh government said they do not want to return to Myanmar unless their citizenship and safety are ensured, an official said. Khaled Hossain, a senior official with the Refugee, Relief and Rehabilitation commissioner's office, said the families' concerns were discussed ahead of a planned repatriation scheduled to start Thursday. The repatriation is unlikely to proceed if no one comes forward voluntarily, a condition Bangladesh says it will follow.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:43:32 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Merkel: With imagination, Irish 'backstop' issue can be solved in 30 days

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested on Wednesday that Britain and the EU could find a solution to the sticking point of the Irish backstop in the next 30 days, a possible signal she is willing to compromise with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The so-called backstop, which Johnson wants removed from the Brexit deal agreed between the EU and his predecessor, would require Britain to obey some EU rules if no other way could be found to keep the land border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland invisible. "The backstop has always been a fall-back option until this issue is solved and one knows how one wants to do that," Merkel said before talks with Johnson.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:38:00 -0400
  • Iran-backed militias blame US for attacks on bases in Iraq

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    Iraqi paramilitary forces backed by Iran accused Israeli drones of carrying out a series of attacks on bases run by the militias, saying Wednesday that they hold the United States ultimately responsible. The militias vowed to defend themselves against any future attack. The rare and combative statement by the state-sanctioned militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, came in the wake of at least three mysterious explosions at PMF bases around Iraq over the past month.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:35:20 -0400
  • Jerusalem demolishes Palestinian home built without permit

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    Jerusalem's municipality has carried out the court-ordered demolition of what it said was an illegally built Palestinian home in the city's eastern sector. Owner Ibrahim Ragbe says the home was constructed 15 years ago without a permit and that he was trying to get it licensed. Dozens of police officers secured the single-story home on Wednesday as an excavator tore it down.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:24:52 -0400
  • Too Early to Include Russia in G-7, Say U.K. and German Leaders

    (Bloomberg) -- Russia ought not to be invited back into the Group of Seven major economies yet, Germany’s Angela Merkel and the U.K.’s Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.Their comments during a joint press conference in Berlin come after U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he would give it serious consideration if somebody made the motion to return Russia to the group.Merkel said there had been “certain developments” in the Minsk process and that more progress would create a new situation, referring to Russia’s expulsion from the G-8 in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.“Today, we haven’t made so much progress that I could say the reasons of 2014 have expired,” said Merkel. Johnson said he sided with Merkel on the issue, citing Russia’s provocations in the U.K. and elsewhere.To contact the reporters on this story: Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond Colitt, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:18:46 -0400
  • Putin says opposition protesters must abide by law

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned opposition protesters that they must abide by the law or face the consequences. Speaking after Wednesday's talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Putin said "it's important that both protesters and law enforcement agencies observe Russian law." He added that the violators will face criminal punishment. Russian officials' exclusion of some opposition and independent candidates from the Sept. 8 election to the Moscow city legislature has triggered a wave of protests.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 12:58:24 -0400
  • Trump Says He’s the ‘Chosen One’ to Take on China Over Trade

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he’s the “chosen one” to wage a trade war with China and asserted that he’s winning.“This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago,” Trump told reporters at the White House. He added: “Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one.”Trump routinely criticizes previous presidents for failing to take on what he says are China’s unfair trade practices.China has called looming U.S. tariffs a violation of accords reached by Trump and Xi Jinping, vowing retaliation.Trump has said he plans for 10% tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports. Trump earlier imposed tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports.To contact the reporter on this story: Jordan Fabian in Washington at jfabian6@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Justin Blum, Joshua GalluFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 12:54:30 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Putin says deadly military accident occurred during weapons systems test

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that a deadly blast at a military site in northern Russia earlier this month had taken place during the testing of what he called promising new weapons systems. Putin said that Moscow could not reveal everything about the blast because of its military nature, but that information exchanges about such accidents should be improved. "When it comes to activities of a military nature, there are certain restrictions on access to information," Putin told a news conference in Helsinki, standing alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 12:38:43 -0400
  • Qatar retracts support for China's detention of Uighur Muslims

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    Qatar has reportedly withdrawn its support of China for detaining millions of Uighur Muslims, in a fresh split among Islamic states over how to approach the mass persecution by the world’s rising superpower.  The small Gulf state was initially among 37 countries - including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt - which wrote to the UN to defend China’s round up of Muslims as legitimate “counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures”. Qatar is now changing course and wrote to the United Nations Human Rights Council to ask that its name be withdrawn from the supportive letter, according to Bloomberg.  Ali al-Mansouri, Qatar’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva said: “We wish to maintain a neutral stance and we offer our mediation and facilitation services.”     Muslim states have been deeply divided over how to respond to China’s round up of an estimated 2 million Uighur Muslims. Turkey has condemned China and accused Beijing of “torture and political brainwashing in internment camps”.  Citizens of ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan who fear relatives are being held in notorious "re-education camps" in China's Xinjiang region Credit: Vyacheslav OSELEDKO / AFP But other leading Muslim countries, notably Saudi Arabia, have insisted that China is justified in its approach and praised the Chinese government for instilling “a stronger sense of happiness, fulfillment and security” among Uighur Muslims.  Qatar’s move takes it to a middle position, where it is no longer openly praising China but nor is outright critical.   The Qatari government has often acted as a broker for talks between warring sides. US negotiators are currently meeting with Taliban representatives in Doha for peace talks, while Israel and Hamas sometimes use Qatar as a channel for indirect negotations.   However, Qatar’s role as a neutral broker has become more complicated after its Gulf Arab neighbours cut off diplomatic relations and imposed a blockade on the small but wealthy state in June 2017.  Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and drawing overly close to Iran and Turkey, both rivals of the Gulf Arabs. Qatar denies the allegations. The diplomatic crisis remains unresolved to this day.  The initial letter in support of China was written after the UK and 21 other Western states wrote a letter in July condemning China’s approach to the Uighurs. The US did not sign the letter and the Trump administration has taken a mixed approach to the issue.  Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, condemned the Uighurs detention as the human rights “stain of the century”. But Donald Trump himself has said little and continues to lavish praise on Xi Jinping, China’s president.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 12:36:18 -0400
  • France warns 'no deal' Brexit becoming 'most likely'

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    A no-deal Brexit is becoming the most likely scenario for Britain's departure from the European Union, a French presidential aide said Wednesday, a day before Boris Johnson visits Paris for talks with President Emmanuel Macron. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, rejected Johnson's demand that the so-called "backstop" mechanism to avoid border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland be scrapped.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 12:29:02 -0400
  • In Snubbing Denmark, Trump Shows Disregard for Model U.S. Ally

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    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is coming to Europe. And not for the first time, he has embarrassed a U.S. ally and reached out to Russia’s Vladimir Putin before even boarding a plane.Trump’s abrupt decision to cancel a state visit to Denmark planned for Sept. 2 has sparked outrage in the Scandinavian nation which, although small, has been among America’s most steadfast military allies, from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.The rationale from the U.S. president for dropping such a grenade into the relationship was startling. Trump said on Twitter Wednesday he called off the trip because Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen refused to consider selling Greenland, a Danish autonomous territory in the Arctic. She said it wasn’t Denmark’s to sell.Trump followed up on Wednesday on what he called a "nasty" comment by the prime minister, saying her description of his interest in Greenland as absurd “was a very not nice way of saying something.” “You don’t talk to the U.S. that way,” he told reporters at the White House.The U.S. has kept an important military base on Greenland’s icy expanse since the Cold War. The Danish government blocked local plans for China to finance and build a series of airports as recently as November, a project that would have given Beijing a potentially strategic foothold in the Arctic.Read more: Can Trump Buy Greenland? What to Know Besides ‘No’Frederiksen expressed “regret and surprise” over Trump’s decision, in remarks to reporters on Wednesday. Still, she said the U.S. would stay a close ally and the invitation for the president to visit Denmark remained open.Trump’s snub to a close U.S. friend is hardly unprecedented. His transactional approach to allies is now well understood in Europe and elsewhere. Yet the president’s treatment of Denmark suggests this weekend’s annual meeting of the Group of Seven advanced economies in France may prove no more harmonious than the last. The summit in Quebec last year ended in acrimony over trade policies as Trump walked away from a final communique he’d agreed to only hours earlier.In a by-now familiar pattern, Trump also told reporters on Tuesday he would like to see Russia rejoin the G-7 to recreate the G-8. Moscow was kicked out of the club in 2014 after annexing Crimea from Ukraine, and has since only tightened its grip on the peninsula.“The question on everyone’s lips when I travel overseas,’’ former State Department official Jon Alterman said in a Center for Security and International Studies phone briefing, “is whether this is a blip or whether it’s an enduring change in the U.S. role in the world.’’‘Big Insult’For now, neither America’s G-7 allies nor Denmark are likely to break voluntarily with Washington, despite glaring differences over trade, climate change and other policy areas like attitudes to NATO.“I do not imagine this changes anything in the way Denmark handles our relationship with the U.S.,’’ said Soren Espersen, a senior member of parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Yet even Espersen, a member of the populist, right wing Danish People’s Party, was offended by Trump’s move. He told local media earlier it was “a big insult to the queen.’’ Queen Margrethe II, who invited Trump, made public her “surprise’’ at the cancellation.Denmark offers a test case for the benefits the U.S. gains in exchange for the security guarantees that it offers to much smaller NATO allies.On Iraq, then-Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen -- a later NATO Secretary General -- was among the first European leaders to commit support ahead of the 2003 U.S. invasion. In Afghanistan, Danish troops chose a combat role, fighting alongside the U.K. in Helmand province. With more than 40 dead, they suffered one of the highest per capita casualty rates of any coalition nation.Nord Stream 2More recently, the government has been instrumental in delaying completion of the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, a project that Trump has vocally opposed. Nord Stream 2 presents a price-competitive threat to U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to Europe, and would allow Russia to circumvent Ukraine’s transit pipelines, losing Kiev billions of dollars in revenue.In June, the Russian pipeline project’s chairman, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, blamed Danish delays on U.S. pressure, although as a gas exporter Denmark also has a business case for delay. Nord Stream 2 is seeking clearance for a less direct route that would skirt Denmark’s territorial waters.Denmark is also currently considering whether to join the U.S.-led coalition to protect commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran has seized oil tankers and has been accused of firing on others.The U.S. president is still expected to travel to Warsaw in September, the other destination on the schedule of his Europe trip. There he will join Polish leaders for a commemoration of the start of World War II. The ruling Law and Justice Party, which shares many of Trump’s nationalist ideas and has enjoyed a close relationship with his administration, faces parliamentary elections in October.Elected in June, Frederiksen is a left-of-center leader less politically aligned with Trump than her predecessor -- or the Polish government. In his overnight tweet, Trump thanked her for being direct with him and said he looked forward to rescheduling another time.(Updates with Trump’s latest remarks.)To contact the reporters on this story: Marc Champion in London at mchampion7@bloomberg.net;Nick Rigillo in Copenhagen at nrigillo@bloomberg.net;Morten Buttler in Copenhagen at mbuttler@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, ;Tasneem Hanfi Brögger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net, Alan CrawfordFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 12:12:50 -0400
  • Putin says deadly military blast occurred during weapons system test

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that a deadly blast at a military site in northern Russia earlier this month had taken place during a weapons system test. Speaking alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki, Putin said that Moscow could not reveal everything about the blast because of its military nature. Russia's state nuclear agency said this month that five of its staff members were killed and three others injured in a blast involving "isotope power sources" that took place during a rocket test on a sea platform on Aug. 8.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 11:57:31 -0400
  • China warns UK to stay out of its affairs after arrest of British Consul worker

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    China warned the UK not to meddle in its affairs over Hong Kong on Wednesday after the arrest of a British Consulate official worsened already strained ties between Beijing and London. Simon Cheng, 28, a trade and investment officer at the Hong Kong consulate’s Scottish Development International section, went missing on August 8 on the way back from a business event in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. Britain has said it is “extremely” concerned. News of his disappearance became public on Tuesday, prompting China on Wednesday to confirm that it was holding him on allegations of violating local law, without revealing any further details. Geng Shuang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said the case was linked to China’s Public Security Administration Punishment Law, a statute pertaining to minor violations. Individuals can be held under administrative detention for as long as 15 days, which would be roughly until Friday. Mr Geng warned the UK to back away from the affairs of its former colony. “The British side has made a lot of erroneous remarks on Hong Kong,” Mr Geng said, urging London “to stop pointing fingers and making accusations.” "He is not a British citizen. He is a Chinese person, so this is entirely a matter of China’s internal affairs," Mr Geng said of Mr Cheng. "As for Britain's comments, we've made stern representations to Britain for the series of comments and actions they've made on Hong Kong," he said.   He also called on Britain to stop interfering in China's internal business. "Britain has made a series of wrong statements on Hong Kong. We again urge them to stop gesticulating and to stop fanning the flames," Mr Geng said. Activists gather outside the British Consulate-General building in Hong Kong  Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images In a statement issued on Facebook, Mr Cheng’s family said: “We feel very helpless, and are worried sick about Simon. We hope that Simon can return to Hong Kong as soon as possible.” Friends of Mr Cheng, staged a rally outside the British Consulate in central Hong Kong on Wednesday urging Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister “save” the young man from a Chinese jail. “Save Simon Now! Delay No More!” they chanted. Max Chung, the rally organiser, who knew Mr Cheng from his student days at the London School of Economics, accused the UK of “failing to show due diligence” towards him. “Mr Boris Johnson, the prime minister, it’s now or never!” he said. “We appeal to Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon, we urge you to save Simon. Make this your number one priority now.” Michael Mo, a fellow protester, added: “England expects every man to do his duty and we expect every British politician to honour their word.” The group was briefly admitted indoors to present a petition calling for the UK to express “specific measures” to protect British Nationals in Hong Kong and to issue a travel warning that British and foreign nationals in Hong Kong could be subjected to “enforced disappearance.” Simon Cheng, a staff member of the British Consulate in Hong Kong, was initially reported missing Emerging from the building, Mr Chung said senior officials had assured him that they were working “full throttle” to secure Mr Cheng’s freedom. However, protesters said that Mr Cheng’s predicament confirmed their worst fears about arbitrary detention by China. The Hong Kong protest movement, now in its eleventh week, began over opposition to a planned extradition law that would allow suspects to be sent to trial for the first time in China’s opaque justice system. “Simon’s case is “white terror” to everyone in Hong Kong. Because even if you haven’t voiced out your political views, you may still be considered a target, and can be arrested for no reason,” said Duff Li, a protester in his twenties. Mr Cheng’s disappearance has also revived fears about the safety of diplomatic personnel in China. The diplomatic and expat community has already been put on edge by the December detention of Michael Kovrig, a Hong Kong-based security analyst on leave from Canada’s foreign service, and by the arrest of Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, who worked between China and North Korea.   China | Read more from The Telegraph Meanwhile, Hong Kong maintained its week long uneasy calm spell on Wednesday night when thousands of protesters gathered at the Yuen Long metro station in the New Territories district on the outskirts of the city to mark one month since a vicious assault on dozens of commuters by triad gangs. Public anger remains high over the incident, in which at least 45 people were attacked by hundreds of alleged gang members wearing white shirts and wielding sticks. The police were accused of responding too late and of being slow to arrest the perpetrators. Protesters crowding the station initially stood in silence, holding one hand over their right eye to symbolise a young female medic who was hit in the face by a police bean bag shot during a demonstration and badly injured But there were tense scenes outside the station as locals hurled angry insults at riot police. “Triad cops! Why didn’t you save us last month? Why are you coming now when nothing is happening?” shouted bystanders. Violence was close to flaring up when protesters pushed police back from the station entrance with fire extinguishers and closed the gates, briefly locking themselves inside. But while the elite Raptors squad lurked on standby, armed with bean bag guns and tear gas, not a shot was fired, and both sides retreated to brace for another weekend of protests as the pro-democracy movement heads into its 12th week.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 11:31:56 -0400
  • Yemen’s Infighting Tests Alliance Key to Trump’s Mideast Policy

    (Bloomberg) -- A raging conflict threatening to further splinter Yemen is also casting a shadow over a crucial Arab alliance that has backed Donald Trump’s policy against Iran.Clashes between forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally-recognized authorities and a southern separatist group escalated this month. The government has accused the United Arab Emirates of backing the armed rebellion, a charge denied by the Gulf state.The escalation followed a U.A.E. decision to scale back its military presence in Yemen more than four years after joining Saudi Arabia in a war to crush Houthi rebels backed by Iran. The conflict has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.In addition to complicating an already-struggling UN attempt to end the war, the infighting has raised questions about the strength of a Saudi-U.A.E. alliance that has been a linchpin in the Trump administration’s efforts to contain Iran.“The Saudi-U.A.E. alliance in Yemen is at a crossroads,” said Paul Sullivan, a Middle East Expert at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. “The forces to split Yemen apart seem much greater than the forces to keep it together. There will be vituperative blame games coming around the bend. Frankly, getting involved with Yemen was a losing play to begin with.”In a statement following an emergency meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday, the Yemeni government called on Saudi Arabia to support its efforts to restore order. Addressing the United Nations Security Council on the same day, it said the attacks wouldn’t have occurred “without the full backing” of the U.A.E.In response, the U.A.E.’s deputy UN permanent representative denied his government’s involvement and said it would do its best to help de-escalate the conflict.Anwar Gargash, the U.A.E. State minister for foreign affairs, said on Aug. 12 that the alliance with Saudi Arabia is a “geo-strategic fact for decades to come and the key element to achieving stability in the region.”Yemen was divided between north and south before the two united in 1990. Southerners often complain of economic marginalization, and separatist movements fought a civil war in 1994 in an unsuccessful attempt to secede.Stronger ties between Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have helped shape Middle East politics in recent years. Aside from Yemen, they’ve spearheaded an unprecedented boycott of neighboring Qatar and extended billions of dollars in support to governments cracking down on Islamist groups.But the escalating showdown between Trump and Iran has prompted the U.A.E. to rethink its priorities to avoid a conflict that could have a devastating impact on its economy.“There have always been differences between the Emiratis and the Saudis,” said James Dorsey, senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and its Middle East Institute. “Those differences have become more evident with the U.A.E.’s partial withdrawal from Yemen.”A delegation from the Yemeni separatists traveled to Jeddah to take part in Saudi-brokered peace talks. The government said Wednesday it would not take part in the dialogue unless the separatists pulled out of the positions they recently captured in the south.Martin Griffiths, the UN Yemen special envoy, told the Security Council 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.”\--With assistance from Alaa Shahine and Mohammed Hatem.To contact the reporter on this story: 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 10:50:47 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-France now sees 'no deal' as baseline Brexit scenario - Elysee source

    France believes 'no-deal' is now the most likely Brexit scenario after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded the European Union reopen the divorce deal and drop the Irish backstop, an official in President Macron's office said on Wednesday. Johnson said on Tuesday that the backstop - an insurance policy to keep the Irish border open after Britain leaves the European Union - was "anti-democratic", and demanded its removal from the stalled divorce deal. Johnson, a Brexiteer who entered No. 10 Downing Street a month ago, hopes the threat of 'no-deal' Brexit turmoil will persuade European leaders that the EU should do a last-minute divorce deal to suit his demands.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:46:56 -0400
  • The Latest: Iran-backed militias blame US for attacks

    Iran-backed militias in Iraq have said they hold the United States responsible for a series of attacks targeting militia bases across the country. In a statement issued Wednesday, the deputy head of the militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, says the group has accurate information that shows the U.S. brought in four Israeli drones this year to work as part of the U.S. fleet in Iraq and target militia positions in Iraq.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:46:30 -0400
  • Trump considers abandoning proposed $4B in foreign aid cuts: Report

    If the cut were imposed, it would affect the United Nations the most.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:46:25 -0400
  • State TV: Iran to unveil air defense missile system

    Iran's state TV is reporting that the country will unveil an Iran-made air-defense missile system. Since 1992, Iran has developed a homegrown defense industry that has produced light and heavy weapons ranging from mortars and torpedoes to tanks and submarines. The U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran after it pulled out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers over concerns about Iran's missile program and regional influence.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:39:49 -0400
  • That History Book You Are Reading Is Wrong: Russia's Attack on Japan in World War II Matters

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    With both Russia and Japan increasingly wary of Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific, four sparsely populated outposts at the edge of the Sea of Okhotsk remain in many ways the biggest impediment to a rapprochement between Moscow and Tokyo that could reshape Asian geopolitics.The Second World War was an unparalleled calamity for the Soviet Union. As many as 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians died as a result of the conflict that started with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and ended with the Japanese surrender in August 1945.Consumed by this existential struggle along its western border, the Soviet Union was a comparatively minor factor in the Pacific War until the very end. Yet Moscow’s timely intervention in the war against Japan allowed it to expand its influence along the Pacific Rim.With the breakdown of Allied unity soon heralding the onset of the Cold War, Soviet gains in Asia also left a legacy of division and confrontation, some of which endure into the present.By the 1930s, Stalin’s Soviet Union and Imperial Japan both viewed themselves as rising powers with ambitions to extend their territorial holdings. In addition to a strategic rivalry dating back to the 19th century, they now nursed an ideological enmity born of the Bolshevik Revolution and the ultraconservative military’s growing hold on Japanese politics. In 1935, Japan signed the Anticomintern Pact with Hitler’s Germany, laying the foundation for the creation of the Axis (Fascist Italy would join the following year).The two militaries engaged in a series of skirmishes along the frontier between Soviet Siberia and Japanese-occupied Manchuria (Manchukuo) during the late 1930s. The largest, at Khalkin Gol in the summer of 1939, left more than 17,000 dead. Yet worried by growing tensions in Europe and Southeast Asia, both Moscow and Tokyo recognized that their respective ambitions in Manchuria were not worth the mounting costs and soon turned their attention to other theaters.Just two days after the German Wehrmacht launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Moscow and Tokyo signed a non-aggression pact. Freed from the danger of a two-front war, the Soviet Union was able to focus all its resources on resisting the German onslaught. The Red Army consequently played virtually no role in the Pacific war that was soon raging, at least until the very end.While recognizing that Moscow had no resources to spare as long as its troops were tied down in Europe, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt nonetheless sought to enlist Soviet assistance in the war against Japan once Germany had been defeated. Soviet leader Josef Stalin agreed, aiming to expand Soviet borders in Asia. Stalin began building up Soviet forces in the Far East once the tide of the war in Europe had turned following the Battle of Stalingrad.At the February 1945 Yalta Conference, Stalin agreed that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan three months after Germany’s surrender. The Yalta declaration gave Moscow back southern Sakhalin, which Japan had seized during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05, as well as the Kurile Island chain to which Russia had renounced its claim in 1875. Mongolia was also to be recognized as an independent state (it was already a Soviet client), and Soviet interests in the naval base at the Chinese port of Port Arthur (Dalian) and the Manchurian railway that it had controlled before 1905 were to be respected.Moscow subsequently declared war on Tokyo on August 8, 1945, two days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and one day before the second bomb fell on Nagasaki (though Western historiography has long emphasized the role of the nuclear attacks in compelling Japan’s surrender, newly available Japanese documents emphasize the importance of the Soviet declaration of war in forcing Tokyo’s hand).A massive invasion of Manchuria began the day after the Soviet declaration of war. Soviet forces also conducted amphibious landings along Japan’s colonial periphery: Japan’s Northern Territories, on Sakhalin Island, and in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria created a haven for Chinese communist forces, who had been fighting both the Japanese and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists, aiding the communists’ eventual triumph in 1948.Washington and Moscow had agreed in advance to set up a joint trusteeship in Korea with an eye towards establishing Korea, under Japanese colonial rule since 1910, as an independent state. As in Europe, the U.S. and Soviet Union each received an occupation zone, on either side of the 38th parallel. Unable to reach an agreement on a government for both zones, the U.S. and Soviet trustees presided over the establishment of competing Korean governments for the north (Pyongyang) and south (Seoul). The stage was set for the Korean War, which broke out in January 1950 when North Korean forces poured across the 38th parallel, by then an international border.The Soviet landings in Sakhalin faced significant Japanese resistance, but gradually succeeded in consolidating control over the entire island. Until 1945, Sakhalin was usually divided between a Russian zone in the north and a Japanese zone in the south. Russia and Japan had struggled over this large, sparsely populated island for more than a century, with the 1855 Treaty of Shimoda specifying that Russians could live in the north of the island and Japanese in the south. Japan relinquished its claims in 1875, but then seized the island during the Russo-Japanese War before returning the northern half to Moscow’s control in 1925. With the Treaty of San Francisco, which formally ended the war in the Pacific, Japan ceded all claims to Sakhalin, leaving the island under Soviet control even though Moscow had declined to sign the treaty.The Soviet refusal to sign was more problematic with regard to a group of small islands northeast of Hokkaido and southwest of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai. These islands had also been subject of a Russo-Japanese quarrel dating back to the 19th century. Moscow regarded these islands as the southernmost part of the Kurile chain, which Japan had renounced at San Francisco. The treaty neither specified, however, which islands belonged to the Kurile chain, nor recognized Soviet control over them. Japan, backed up by the U.S. argued that the four islands do not belong to the Kuriles, and that the USSR was illegally occupying them.The dispute over these islands has prevented an agreement formally ending hostilities between Japan and Russia (as the USSR’s legal successor) up to the present. The issue is highly sensitive to nationalist factions in both Moscow and Tokyo, despite periodic efforts by diplomats on both sides to reach an agreement.With both Russia and Japan increasingly wary of Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific, four sparsely populated outposts at the edge of the Sea of Okhotsk remain in many ways the biggest impediment to a rapprochement between Moscow and Tokyo that could reshape Asian geopolitics.Meanwhile, the division of Korea has already sparked one major war, along with and untold suffering inside totalitarian North Korea. With 30,000 American troops still stationed in South Korea across the DMZ from an increasingly paranoid, nuclear armed North Korea, the Korean Peninsula remains one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.Stalin’s intervention in the war against Japan came late in the day, but in many ways it continues shaping the Asian security environment six decades later.This piece first appeared in AMTI’s website here.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:37:00 -0400
  • Boris Johnson's Brexit Dinner Date from Hell

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Wednesday’s dinner between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was always going to be awkward. With 71 days left until the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, no amount of Riesling can smooth the fact that Britain and Europe are miles away from agreeing on a plan that would allow for an orderly exit.Their main difference, as ever, is on how to guarantee an open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Johnson hasn’t just toughened the U.K.’s position on this issue to bolster his own domestic electoral ambitions; he has announced a hard pivot that will have profound implications for Britain’s future EU trade negotiations, its relationship with Ireland – and potentially the U.S., too.The new prime minister has turned the EU’s entire argument for the backstop on its head. Dublin and Brussels have maintained that the insurance policy is necessary to honor the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence. The issue has dominated the negotiations - much to the fury of ardent Brexiters. Once Theresa May accepted that the GFA entailed a frictionless border, the backstop became inevitable. When she couldn’t get the EU to put a time limit on it and then failed to sell the idea to parliament, her government fell.Johnson now rejects that entire logic. He argues the backstop is a threat to the GFA because, he claims, it undermines the “carefully negotiated balance” between communities in Northern Ireland. The agreement “neither depends upon nor requires a particular customs or regulatory regime,” he wrote in a letter on Monday to European Council President Donald Tusk.This point of view is largely founded on arguments put forward by Paul Bew, an adviser to former unionist leader David Trimble. Bew has argued that the EU weaponized the Good Friday Agreement, inserting itself into matters reserved for the signatories to the document. That, he says, not only diminishes British authority but also subverts the agreement by creating a “top-down” process where the GFA had given the parties control through “bottom-up” consent. Ireland, Bew warns, has been allowed to peddle a “false narrative” that must be challenged. Johnson seems intent on doing just that.Nowhere in the Good Friday Agreement does it say you can’t have customs infrastructure between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The only mention of the border is in respect to “as early a return as possible to normal security arrangements” and “the removal of security installations.” Bew argues that the peace process enabled the frictionless border, but the real game-changer was the introduction of the EU’s single market in 1992, which removed the customs posts.Of course, that hardly inspires comfort. Britain intends to leave the single market and the customs union. Claiming the GFA doesn’t directly specify a frictionless border ignores the fact that the agreement was underpinned by EU membership and the single market.While it’s not in the letter of the agreement, anything that interrupts the flow of trade and people across the border has been widely viewed as contrary to its spirit. Katy Hayward, a researcher at Queen’s University Belfast who has written authoritatively on the border issue, disputes Bew’s interpretation. She argues it underplays the role of the U.K. government in implementing the backstop and exaggerates the role of the EU. It’s also hard to dismiss the many warnings that effectively repartitioning Ireland will lead to violence and threaten the achievements of the past two decades.  Bew says any backstop (for the sake of economic relief) should be temporary, but his broader argument suggests the matter should remain up to Ireland and the U.K. to adjudicate. Johnson’s letter fudges this point. He offers to make a “legally binding commitment” not to put in place “infrastructure, checks or controls at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.” In other words, he is rejecting the logic of the backstop while essentially offering something that looks a lot like one.The real question is if not the backstop, then what? A study from the Alternative Arrangements Commission, supported by Brexiters, suggests there are ways to eliminate border controls for goods – but these would take time to implement, involve checks away from the border, and impose costs on businesses. And no reliable mechanism has been found for implementing the plant and animal checks required by EU law.One of the “creative solutions” Johnson may float – according to a report by the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn – is that Brussels should allow Ireland to depart from EU rules so it can align itself with Northern Ireland (and the U.K.) to keep the border open. The reaction in Dublin must have been unprintable – but it’s the kind of idea that would delight a great many Brexit voters furious at little Ireland’s outsized role in the negotiations.Whether or not Johnson is able to reach a deal with the EU, both sides will have to return to the negotiating table later. Trade between the two is too important, and as a raft of leaked documents on Sunday made abundantly clear, even the government’s own estimates show that a hard Brexit will be costly and disruptive.When those talks happen, the EU will set out the same preconditions it made during the exit negotiations. By rejecting the idea that peace in Northern Ireland requires a backstop, Johnson is hoping to remove a major moral argument from the EU’s arsenal.It may well backfire. Johnson’s reinterpretation of the GFA will be closely watched not just in Dublin but in Washington, where Democratic leaders in Congress have repeatedly warned that any threat to the peace process would put a U.S.-U.K. trade deal in jeopardy. Donald Trump will no doubt reassure Johnson at the G-7 summit on Thursday that he will have his trade deal; but it’s not the president’s to give.Still, with a potential early election looming, optics are everything now. There can be no doubting Johnson’s determination to see Britain leave the EU at the end of October; his political future, and that of his party, are nailed to that mast. He may try to convince Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron that Europe will suffer economically from a no-deal Brexit more now than it might have when growth was stronger. But it’s difficult to see how the EU can meet Johnson’s demands without accepting his reinterpretation of the GFA, or his implicit request that the bloc simply trust Britain to work out the details later. Neither seems likely.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:26:05 -0400
  • Trump Talk About ‘Disloyal’ Jews Isn’t Just Anti-Semitic—It’s Anti-American

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    Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/GettyPresident Donald Trump’s latest remark about American Jews – that the 79% of us who support Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” – isn’t just anti-Semitic. It’s anti-American. On the one hand, obviously, accusing Jews of disloyalty is an age-old anti-Semitic canard, dating back not only hundreds of years in Europe but literally to the dawn of the Jewish people itself. In Exodus 1:9, the Egyptian Pharaoh tells his followers: “let us deal wisely with them… lest they join themselves unto our enemies and fight us against us.”On the other hand, the way that accusation is normally phrased is the way Pharaoh put it: that Jews are more loyal to their own interests than to the nations in which they find themselves. That’s why left-wing accusations against AIPAC, Sheldon Adelson, and the so-called “Israel Lobby” must carefully avoid that ancient canard, and are called out when they fail to do so. As in the case, most recently, of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comment that American support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins.”Trump, however, has inverted this accusation.His claim – besides being absurd, offensive, manipulative, and reprehensible – is that American Jews are being disloyal by not supporting Israel enough. The problem isn’t that we’re betraying America. The problem is that we’re betraying Israel.American Jews, long suspected of “dual loyalty,” are now being accused of not being dual-loyal-enough.Yes, as everyone has noticed by now, Trump’s remarks are the latest salvo in a half-canny, half-mad attempt to peel Jews away from the Democratic Party by associating the party with its most critical-of-Israel members, who just so happen to be Muslim and young women of color. But the comments reveal something much more profound. It’s not that Trump doesn’t understand American Jews. It’s that he doesn’t understand America. In the nationalist mind, nation equals ethnicity equals race equals language equals (more or less) religion. Jews should put Israel first, and fight for our group’s interests (as defined by the nationalist Right, of course), because that’s what groups do. Judaism isn’t a system of ethical values that, among other things, condemns the oppression of foreigners and marginalized people (see Exodus 22:21-22). It’s a volk, a national-religious-ethnic people, in competition with others for dominance and power. The same is true for Britons, (Hindu) Indians, (Jewish) Israelis, Russians, (non-indigenous) Brazilians, and other national groups now governed by nationalists. The Steve Bannon-Vladimir Putin world is one in which selfish national groups compete against one another externally and purify themselves internally. That’s how they make their countries great again.This is a reflexive, gut-level identification. Trump can deny being a white supremacist because, on a conscious level, he probably isn’t one. Ethno-nationalism is more of an unconscious, almost primal understanding of what it means to be an American that erupts in various “tells”: chanting “send her back” about a Muslim member of Congress; describing non-white communities as “infested”; looking out at a nearly all-white stadium of supporters and saying that they are the real America.This is why the debate about whether Trump is a racist or not is so misguided. To many people, especially conservatives, “racist” means having conscious, negative beliefs about racial minorities: believing people of color are less intelligent than white people, for example.But nationalist racism is different. It’s about the gut-level sense that non-whites (and non-English-speakers) are not really American in the first place. Real America is the imagined white, suburban ideal of the 1950s. The people oppressed by Jim Crow at the time are simply invisible. They’re not part of America.Jews, of course, used to be “othered” in the same way. Sometimes Jews were explicitly racialized as non-white, while other times they – like Catholics – were depicted as disloyal “others” who placed foreign interests above American ones. So, ironically enough, were Trump’s German ancestors.Why Trump’s Vile Plan to Rope Israel Into His War With the Squad Will BackfireThis still happens today: the far-right marchers in Charlottesville two years ago, some of whom Trump described as “very good people,” chanted “Jews will not replace us” in reference to the slander that Jews were scheming to replace whites with non-white migration. But it tends to happen only on the fringe. The conservative mainstream now includes Jews, including, of course, Trump’s own family, as well as Catholics, Germans, Irish, Italians, Cubans, and even a handful of African Americans, as long as they don’t talk too much about four centuries of slavery and Jim Crow.Yet the logic of Trump’s nationalist worldview has no place for American Jews. As we’ve seen before, Trump is an anomaly: an American nationalist with Jews in his family. In principle, if nations are defined as ethno-religious-linguistic units, then Jews have no place in a Christian nation. Indeed, some antisemites have said as much: that Jews should go live in Israel, where we belong.What’s anti-Semitic in Trump’s latest remark isn’t its invocation of Jewish disloyalty. What’s really anti-Semitic is the worldview it reveals, in which nations are defined monolithically by their majority groups.That worldview is profoundly anti-American, even as it wraps itself in the American flag and preaches America First. Because just like Trump misunderstands the essence of Judaism, he misunderstands the essence of America. America isn’t a volk. It is something different, and better. It’s a radical, often-failed experiment in civic democracy whose ideals—as yet un-realized—are the exact opposite of Trumpist nationalism: a multicultural nation defined not by race but by values like democracy, the rule of law, and the basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.To say it plainly, Representatives Omar and Tlaib are better Americans than Donald Trump. They understand America. He does not. They are our future. He is a dark, last gasp of our racist past.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 10:08:14 -0400
  • Turkey: 30 detained in protest over elected mayors' ouster

    Turkish media reports say police have used water cannons to disperse crowds protesting a government decision to oust three elected mayors in Turkey's mainly Kurdish-populated southeast and replace them with government appointees. The private DHA news agency said at least 30 people were detained in the city of Diyarbakir Wednesday, on the third day of protests over the mayors' dismissal. The government removed the mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van from office over alleged links to militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, citing ongoing investigations or trials against them.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:01:17 -0400
  • Jew-baiting is part of the Trump playbook. It's a feature, not a bug

    Golocal247.com news

    Donald Trump used an antisemitic trope about disloyal Jews in a tweet about Democrats. Old habits die hard‘Religion and ethnicity were fair game for Trump from start to finish, and Jews were not off-limits.’ Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty ImagesOn Tuesday, Donald Trump announced that American Jews who voted Democratic were either stupid, disloyal or both. As Trump framed things: “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” Disloyal to Trump, the US or Israel, the president did not specify. But he didn’t have to, the message was clear enough: American Jews are now a cross between political props and piñatas.Almost on cue, Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, eagerly whitewashed Trump’s comments. According to Brooks, Trump’s goal was really about communal therapy, and what Trump actually meant was: “You’re being disloyal to yourself to say, ‘Hey, I support somebody who is known to espouse antisemitic comments.’”Realizing that he may have bitten off more than he wanted to chew, Brooks later enthusiastically retweeted: “I don’t think for a min he’s questioning our loyalty to America or country.” Sure, he isn’t.So once again, Jew-baiting will be part of the Trump playbook, just as it was in 2016 and 2018, even if Trump’s allies now proclaim that Jexodus is just around the corner. Old campaign habits die hard, and sometimes not at all.Three years ago, thinly veiled antisemitic messages from Team Trump were features, not bugs. Pepe the Frog was a constant campaign meme. In July 2016, Trump tweeted out an image of the star of David, Hillary Clinton and piles of money. After the initial stir, the six-pointed star was replaced by Trump with a circle. Still, folks “got it”, on both sides, just like in Charlottesville.Then just days before the election, George Soros, Janet Yellen and Lloyd Blankfein took center stage in Trump’s closing ad. Back then Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were not on the stage – someone else would have to make do.Said differently, religion and ethnicity were fair game for Trump from start to finish, and Jews were not off-limits. As one of Trump’s lawyers told me, it was about expedience, that’s all; nothing personal, just look at Jared Kushner. Or as Steve Bannon confided to Michael Wolff, he couldn’t vouch that Trump wasn’t a racist, but Bannon could say that Trump “probably wasn’t an antisemite”.History not only rhymes, it can repeat itself. When last year’s midterms rolled around it was pretty much the same story, that is until the Shabbat morning massacre in Pittsburgh. No less than Kevin McCarthy, then the House majority leader, had tweeted and then deleted: “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. MAGA”. The song had remained the same.The fact that Soros and Steyer had already been targeted by the now convicted pipe bomber, Cesar Sayoc, made no difference to McCarthy. The specter of Nancy Pelosi as House speaker meant that mores could be disregarded, and if that line of attack was good enough for Trump, it was definitely fine for McCarthy. Unlike Paul Ryan, McCarthy was never thought by Trump to be a boy scout. In the congressional midterms, Jews cast between 72 and almost 80% of their votes for Democrats.Yet Trump has definitely gained traction with segments of America’s Jews. The latest Siena poll of New York’s voters show Trump’s approval among Jews in the Empire state at 57%, a figure higher than Trump’s standing among whites overall, Catholics or Protestants. Likewise, a majority of New York’s Jews say they plan to vote for Trump. With the exception of Republicans and conservatives, Trump’s numbers are underwater with everyone else.By that measure, the breach within the American Jewish community is not disappearing anytime soon. Instead, expect it to grow. Trump delivered on his promises to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and in shredding the Iran deal struck by Barack Obama. With New York’s large Orthodox Jewish population, these issues possess particular resonance.The reality also is that Trump has a difficult time putting distance between himself and white nationalists, and takes unvarnished pride in turning up the rhetorical heat. The Proud Boys are his latest love object, and Trump struggled to disavow David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.Even with low unemployment Trump feels compelled to scorch the social fabric. On the other hand, ethnic arson is a longtime Trump specialty. Can you say “Obama’s birth certificate”?Like a Rorschach test, American Jews along with all Americans will see what they want to see, with 2020 looming as another flashpoint. In the midst of our not-so-cold civil war, division is the operative coin of the realm. Expect the president to stomp on these deepening fissures daily without any hesitation or remorse. * Lloyd Green was opposition research counsel to George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign and served in the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 09:47:31 -0400
  • How Britain Lost the War It Never Wanted with Iran

    Golocal247.com news

    Authorities in Gibraltar have released an Iranian oil tanker they had been holding since July 4, breaking the ice around a long diplomatic standoff between Iran and the United Kingdom. But the story isn’t over yet, as U.S. authorities are still hounding the tanker in a crusade to cut off all Iranian oil exports.A court in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar allowed the Grace 1 to leave on Thursday, and rejected a last-minute legal filing on Sunday that would have allowed U.S. police to take custody of the Iranian ship. British marines had originally stormed the tanker as it passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, based on an accusation that the ship was headed to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.Gibraltarian authorities said that they released the Grace 1, now called the Adrian Darya 1, based on a promise that it would not go to Syria. But a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry denied that Iran had promised Britain anything in exchange for the Adrian Darya 1.“What we have announced publicly was simply a statement of the truth of the destination of the Grace 1, which from the beginning was not headed to Syria,” Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said in a statement to Iranian journalists.“We support Syria in all matters, including oil and energy,” he added. “The Islamic Republic sells its own oil to whatever customers it wants, old or new.”But just before the Adrian Darya 1 was set to leave Gibraltar, the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled a warrant for the ship’s seizure “based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute.”The department’s August 16 press release accused the Adrian Darya 1’s operators of plotting “to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization.” The Trump administration declared the IRGC a terrorist group on April 8. Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said that this was the first time the United States had put sanctions on the military of a sovereign country.It is unclear who owns the Adrian Darya 1. Gibraltar confirmed in an August 18 press release that “the U.S. disclosed to the Gibraltar [Central Authority] various elements that indicated that the IRGC controlled the Grace 1 and its cargo.”However, the authorities refused to accept the U.S. warrant, citing “differences in the sanctions regimes applicable to Iran in the EU and the U.S.” and EU laws “protecting against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country” in an August 18 press release.“It is to be noted that the IRGC is not a designated foreign terrorist organisation in Gibraltar, the U.K. or in the EU generally, unlike in the U.S.,” the Gibraltarian press release explained.Under a legal principle called “dual criminality,” the crimes listed in the U.S. complaint would also have to be crimes under British law in order for Gibraltar to hand over the Adrian Darya 1. “Some of the charges relate to money laundering and fraud,” said Erich Ferrari, a Washington-based attorney who specializes in sanctions law. “Maybe they thought, well, those are crimes in this jurisdiction, so that’s our hook for dual criminality.”“Other countries have in the past just extradited or followed the [United States’] lead, even where the proposed extradition or arrest was on shaky legal grounds,” he told the National Interest. “They wanted this to get done. They might not have had the most solid of legal grounds, but they took a shot for it anyways.”“It’s completely in line with what the U.S. has increasingly done for the last twenty-five years, in which it’s essentially trying to argue that U.S. law applies everywhere,” said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute. “These countries are essentially afraid of saying no. In this case, Gibraltar stood up to Trump, which is interesting.”“What happened now was essentially was the Brits realizing, there’s no win for them in this. They’re going to end up taking the brunt of the Iranian anger,” he told the National Interest. “The biggest surprise to me is, why did the UK go along with this in the first place? It was difficult to see how this in any way, shape, or form would have ended well for them.”Britain claims that local authorities made the decision to seize the Grace 1 on their own, but Spanish officials say that the United States was reaching out to Spain about the tanker at the time. About two weeks later, Iranian forces captured the Stena Impero, a British tanker, in the Persian Gulf. Iran claimed that the Stena Impero was violating maritime law, but Iranian officials had been threatening “reciprocal action” over the Grace 1.By “making Grace 1 the poster child for sanctions enforcement,” the U.S. and UK governments “probably anticipated that the Iranians would respond in kind and capture a UK tanker,” said Henry Rome, an analyst on Iranian and Israeli politics at the Eurasia Group. “Washington and London probably calculated that seizing Grace 1 was worth it—especially because it provided a constant reminder to the international business community of the risks of doing business with Iran.”Parsi believes that the lack of a U.S. response to the Stena Impero incident convinced the British to change their calculus. “The U.S. is enlisting these allies to do its dirty work for it, but when they end up getting pushback from the Iranians, the U.S. is not there to back them up,” he said.It is unclear whether Iran will release the Stena Impero in exchange for the Adrian Darya 1. But for now, British authorities do not seem to be pressing the matter.“Diplomatically and politically, the sentiment in Europe is still pro-deal, and is still anti max pressure,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Under the 2015 agreement, Iran surrendered its nuclear research program to international inspections in exchange for protection from economic sanctions.President Donald Trump, who had denounced the accord as a “bad deal,” imposed sanctions on Iran in May 2019 as part of a new “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at cutting all Iranian oil exports. Since then, Iran and the United States have come to the brink of war, with Trump ordering and then cancelling an attack on Iran after a June 26 skirmish between Iranian air defenses and a U.S. surveillance drone.The Adrian Darya 1 has left British custody, but the United States could still attempt to seize the ship before it reaches its final destination. But physically attacking the tanker is “too risky and would risk a significant response from Iran,” Rome told the National Interest.An escalating fight over the Adrian Darya 1 could be a boon to hawks in the Trump administration. “The [Iranian] response, [National Security Advisor John] Bolton calculates, I assume, will push Trump into a corner in which he has to take military action,” Parsi speculated.But the United States could instead use “creative political, legal and economic measures” and “a combination of threats and inducements” to keep the Adrian Darya 1 homeless on the high seas, said Taleblu.“How can the U.S. use ‘lawfare’ to make sure that this vessel, which left Gibraltar, does not have a home in any country in the Mediterranean basin, and cannot dock anywhere, and cannot offload that oil, and cannot allow Iran to get paid for that oil?” he asked. “Ultimately, that move could send a stronger signal against Iran.”“There’s sanctions for dealing with respect to certain sectors of Iran’s economy. So there could be a lot of different ways and authorities that could be implicated to impose sanctions,” Ferrari explained. “Some of the language [used by the Department of Justice] gives off the impression that, because of the IRGC’s role in the Iranian economy, almost anything you do with Iran is criminalized.” On August 15, the U.S. Department of State announced that “the U.S. government intends to revoke visas” for “[c]rewmembers of vessels assisting the IRGC by transporting oil from Iran.” And on August 19, U.S. officials reported warned authorities in Greece, where the Adrian Darya 1 is scheduled to arrive by Sunday, that assisting the tanker is considered support for terrorism under U.S. law.Rome, however, is skeptical at the success of this campaign. “[T]he plan backfired in the Gibraltar courts,” he said. “Now the ship and its oil are back on the high seas, and the U.S. is left with issuing bland diplomatic statements urging countries not to let it dock at their ports.”Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest and a former Foreign Language Area Studies fellow at Columbia University. His work has been published in Reason and America Magazine.Image: Reuters

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 09:30:00 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Merkel aims to work out friction-free Brexit with British PM

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would discuss how to make sure Britain's divorce from the European Union is as smooth as possible when she holds talks later on Wednesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "Today I will talk with the British prime minister, who is visiting me, about how we can get the most friction-free British exit from the European Union possible as we must fight for our economic growth," said Merkel in a speech at conference on air transport. Merkel also made clear that Britain would lose its rights in the EU's air transport market, saying a new agreement on air traffic would have to be negotiated after Brexit.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 08:52:36 -0400
  • Trump: Any Jew voting Democratic is uninformed or disloyal

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    Trump's claim triggered a quick uproar from critics who said the Republican president was trading in anti-Semitic stereotypes. It came amid Trump's ongoing feud with Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who are Muslim. Trump has closely aligned himself with Israel, including conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while the congresswomen are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 08:42:38 -0400
  • Democrats Should Care More About Russia

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- When the poll-analysis website FiveThirtyEight surveyed the Democratic presidential candidates to get their views on key foreign policy issues, it decided not to ask about Russia, because it couldn’t formulate a provocative question on the subject. That’s a problem — not for FiveThirtyEight, but for the Democratic field.“It’s a safe bet that any of the Democratic candidates, if elected president, would be more critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin than President Trump has been,” FiveThirtyEight’s Perry Bacon Jr. wrote, “but it’s hard to design a question that would illustrate the differences between the candidates on that subject. So there are some major foreign policy issues (like how the U.S. should deal with Russia) that are not represented.” Some of the questions the survey did ask, however, found no differences among the candidates, either. For example, all 15 who answered the questionnaire have said they favor ending U.S. military involvement in Yemen and repealing the 2001 congressional authorization for troop deployments wherever a president perceives a terrorist threat. So why is it more difficult to ask a meaningful question about Russia?The problem, I think, is that a kind of Pavlovian reflex has formed in American political circles since 2016, when Russian trolling and hacking operations against the Democrats were first widely reported. Years of “Russiagate” and unrealistic expectations from the Mueller investigation have strengthened it. Now, whenever Russia is mentioned, the associative chain immediately drags up “Russian election interference” and “Trump is a Putin stooge.” OnTheIssues, an organization that tracks politicians’ publicly expressed positions, includes Russia among its topics. Most of the Democratic candidates have said something about Russian attacks on U.S. democracy. Some of their claims — including those from Joe Biden about Putin “undoing elections” in the U.S., Hungary and Poland — are too outlandish to even start unpicking.As Samuel Greene, director of the Russia Institute at King’s College London, wrote in a Twitter thread on the subject, Russiagate turned Russia from a foreign policy issue into a U.S. domestic one. “As a result,” Greene wrote, “all of the oxygen has gone out of conversations about Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine, about the occupation of Crimea, about the challenges posed to the future of the European project (in which we also have a stake), about the Balkans, about gas pipelines....”One could add more issues to Greene’s list. How about Russia’s increasingly tight relationship with Saudi Arabia, based on their ability to set the oil price together? Russia’s bid for dominance in the Arctic? Russia’s asymmetrical responses to U.S. sanctions, like its de-dollarization, which is setting an uncomfortable example for other developing countries? Russia’s development of new weapons meant to breach U.S. anti-missile defenses? And, while we’re on the subject, how about arms control, an area in which a major U.S.-Russian treaty has just collapsed?The FiveThirtyEight survey shows that 12 out of 15 Democratic candidates want to cut U.S. defense spending. But Russia-related issues should serve as a litmus test of that anti-war stance. How would these candidates respond if Russia moved to swallow up Belarus? Would they sit on their hands if Russia closed what it calls the Northern Sea Route for U.S. shipping? How would they react to a Russia-instigated coup in one of the African countries where Russian mercenaries, supplied by a Putin crony, have recently established a presence?Thanks in large part to Donald Trump, prevented by Russiagate from pursuing any coherent Russia policy, and to the previous three American presidents, who tended to write off Russia as a waning regional power, the U.S.-Russia relationship has become not just adversarial but also deeply dysfunctional. Any post-Trump U.S. leader will face a dilemma: Should he or she take an implacable stance while waiting for Putin to die and his system to collapse — or pursue an active Russia policy aimed at least at laying down basic rules of interaction, perhaps even locating common interests? (For example, both Russia and U.S. allies recently welcomed a government change in Moldova.)It’s difficult to ponder this dilemma amid the Russiagate scenery, which stagehands appear to have forgotten to put away. A responsible leader can’t really avoid it, though, especially not after the election. But then, the winning candidate — should Trump be displaced in 2020 — may have to rethink most of his or her current foreign policy positions, because Russia has a hand in every one of the global crises in which the U.S. is involved, including in North Korea, Venezuela, Afghanistan and China.Sooner or later, candidates and voters alike will have to wake up to the real Russia issues; hacking and propaganda are nowhere near the top of the list.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mary Duenwald at mduenwald@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 08:30:05 -0400
  • Democrats Should Care More About Russia

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- When the poll-analysis website FiveThirtyEight surveyed the Democratic presidential candidates to get their views on key foreign policy issues, it decided not to ask about Russia, because it couldn’t formulate a provocative question on the subject. That’s a problem — not for FiveThirtyEight, but for the Democratic field.“It’s a safe bet that any of the Democratic candidates, if elected president, would be more critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin than President Trump has been,” FiveThirtyEight’s Perry Bacon Jr. wrote, “but it’s hard to design a question that would illustrate the differences between the candidates on that subject. So there are some major foreign policy issues (like how the U.S. should deal with Russia) that are not represented.” Some of the questions the survey did ask, however, found no differences among the candidates, either. For example, all 15 who answered the questionnaire have said they favor ending U.S. military involvement in Yemen and repealing the 2001 congressional authorization for troop deployments wherever a president perceives a terrorist threat. So why is it more difficult to ask a meaningful question about Russia?The problem, I think, is that a kind of Pavlovian reflex has formed in American political circles since 2016, when Russian trolling and hacking operations against the Democrats were first widely reported. Years of “Russiagate” and unrealistic expectations from the Mueller investigation have strengthened it. Now, whenever Russia is mentioned, the associative chain immediately drags up “Russian election interference” and “Trump is a Putin stooge.” OnTheIssues, an organization that tracks politicians’ publicly expressed positions, includes Russia among its topics. Most of the Democratic candidates have said something about Russian attacks on U.S. democracy. Some of their claims — including those from Joe Biden about Putin “undoing elections” in the U.S., Hungary and Poland — are too outlandish to even start unpicking.As Samuel Greene, director of the Russia Institute at King’s College London, wrote in a Twitter thread on the subject, Russiagate turned Russia from a foreign policy issue into a U.S. domestic one. “As a result,” Greene wrote, “all of the oxygen has gone out of conversations about Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine, about the occupation of Crimea, about the challenges posed to the future of the European project (in which we also have a stake), about the Balkans, about gas pipelines....”One could add more issues to Greene’s list. How about Russia’s increasingly tight relationship with Saudi Arabia, based on their ability to set the oil price together? Russia’s bid for dominance in the Arctic? Russia’s asymmetrical responses to U.S. sanctions, like its de-dollarization, which is setting an uncomfortable example for other developing countries? Russia’s development of new weapons meant to breach U.S. anti-missile defenses? And, while we’re on the subject, how about arms control, an area in which a major U.S.-Russian treaty has just collapsed?The FiveThirtyEight survey shows that 12 out of 15 Democratic candidates want to cut U.S. defense spending. But Russia-related issues should serve as a litmus test of that anti-war stance. How would these candidates respond if Russia moved to swallow up Belarus? Would they sit on their hands if Russia closed what it calls the Northern Sea Route for U.S. shipping? How would they react to a Russia-instigated coup in one of the African countries where Russian mercenaries, supplied by a Putin crony, have recently established a presence?Thanks in large part to Donald Trump, prevented by Russiagate from pursuing any coherent Russia policy, and to the previous three American presidents, who tended to write off Russia as a waning regional power, the U.S.-Russia relationship has become not just adversarial but also deeply dysfunctional. Any post-Trump U.S. leader will face a dilemma: Should he or she take an implacable stance while waiting for Putin to die and his system to collapse — or pursue an active Russia policy aimed at least at laying down basic rules of interaction, perhaps even locating common interests? (For example, both Russia and U.S. allies recently welcomed a government change in Moldova.)It’s difficult to ponder this dilemma amid the Russiagate scenery, which stagehands appear to have forgotten to put away. A responsible leader can’t really avoid it, though, especially not after the election. But then, the winning candidate — should Trump be displaced in 2020 — may have to rethink most of his or her current foreign policy positions, because Russia has a hand in every one of the global crises in which the U.S. is involved, including in North Korea, Venezuela, Afghanistan and China.Sooner or later, candidates and voters alike will have to wake up to the real Russia issues; hacking and propaganda are nowhere near the top of the list.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mary Duenwald at mduenwald@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 08:30:05 -0400
  • Greece says it won't assist Iranian tanker sought by US

    Golocal247.com news

    Greece said on Wednesday it won't endanger its relations with the United States by aiding an Iranian supertanker sought by the U.S. but released by Gibraltar that's currently in the Mediterranean Sea, believed heading for a Greek port. Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said Athens is under pressure from U.S. authorities, which claim the Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1 is tied to a sanctioned organization. The vessel can still enter Greek waters or anchor offshore, in which case Athens will "see" what it will do, Varvitsiotis added.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 08:24:08 -0400
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