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  • Trump Acclaims His Own Economic Achievements: Davos Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.The world’s rich and powerful are in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting, and the gathering will be closely watched to see how the global elite aims to tackle issues they helped create, above all climate change.President Donald Trump’s appearance, which comes on the same day his impeachment trial starts in Washington, began with him calling the trial a “hoax” and “disgraceful.” In his speech, he lauded his economic achievements and said the U.S. is “thriving” and “winning again like never before.”Meanwhile, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who is in the audience for Trump’s speech, stepped up her criticism of governments and companies for not doing enough to tackle climate change.For in-depth coverage and analysis of Trump’s speech, check out our TOPLive blog on the Bloomberg Terminal. To get all the daily highlights delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Davos Diary newsletter.Here’s the latest (time-stamps are local time in Davos):Trump Hails ‘Blue-Collar Boom’ (12 p.m.)Trump said the economic strength of the U.S. is benefiting ordinary people and “the workers come first” under his administration.“The U.S. celebrating the dignity of work is a fundamental pillar of our agenda,” he said. “This is a blue-collar boom. The American dream is back, bigger better and stronger than ever before.”Trump Attacks Fed for Interest-Rates Policy (11:55 a.m.)Trump renewed his feud with the Federal Reserve, saying the central bank raised interest rates too quickly.These great numbers are “despite the fact the the Fed has raised rates too fast and lowered them too slowly,” Trump said. “I see such tremendous potential for the future. We have not even started, because the numbers we’re talking about are massive. The time for skepticism is over.”Trump Trumpets His Economic Achievements (11:50 a.m.)In his speech, Trump said that the U.S. “is in the midst of economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.”“We’ve regained our stride; we discovered our spirit and reawakened the powerful machinery of American enterprise,” Trump said. “America’s thriving; America is flourishing and, yes, America is winning again like never before.”Trump Says Impeachment is ‘Just a Hoax’ (11:40 a.m.)Trump told reporters on the way into his speech that the impeachment trial is “just a hoax” and a “witchhunt that’s been going on for years.”“Frankly it’s disgraceful,” he added. “We look forward to being here. We’re meeting with the biggest companies in the world, the biggest businesses in the world and world leaders, all for the benefit of the United States.”Naspers CEO Sees Growth in Second-Hand Clothes (11:30 a.m.)Naspers Ltd., Africa’s biggest company by market value, expects second-hand clothing sales online to pick up as companies around the world look to cut production of new goods to help address climate change.“We are big investors in trading in second-hand clothes -- we think the world will need more recycling over time,” Chief Executive Officer Bob van Dijk told Bloomberg TV. “In classifieds, we are helping to reduce the production of new goods.”Bremmer Says Delegates Like Trump’s Policies (11 a.m.)Ian Bremmer, president of consulting firm Eurasia Group, said Davos delegates may not like Trump but “they like his policies.”“They like the regulatory rollback, they like his cabinet, they like his tax policy,” Bremmer told Bloomberg TV, adding that an informal poll of about 40 to 50 delegates he conducted showed there is “zero panic” about Trump winning a second term.“You can have Greta here, you can have a bunch of people talking about climate and sustainability, but the reality is that Trump doesn’t drive people crazy at Davos the way he does in the United States,” Bremmer said.Trump is likely to show his “triumphalist, unilateralist” side in his speech. “This is going to be Trump saying victory lap, I’m the greatest ever, my economy is doing well, my markets are taking off, look how much money I’m making you guys.”Huawei CEO Dismisses Threat of U.S. Escalation (10:50 a.m.)Huawei Technologies Co. founder Ren Zhengfei played down the threat that the U.S. will impose even stricter sanctions against his company, saying he is confident China’s largest tech company can survive further attacks.“This year, the U.S. might further escalate its campaign against Huawei but I feel the impact on Huawei’s business would not be very significant,” he said during a panel discussion.Chile’s Palacios Keen to Hear Trump on Trade (10:50 a.m.)Lucas Palacios, Chile’s economy minister, said he is eagerly awaiting Trump’s speech for any clues on trade relationships. “We’re a big copper exporter to China so the truce between the U.S. and China is very important for us,” Palacios told Bloomberg.Lajcak Expects ‘Global Message’ From Trump (10:35 a.m.)Miroslav Lajcak, foreign affairs minister of Slovakia, told Bloomberg: “I expect to hear a global message from the president,” especially on his strategy for the Middle East. “We will see whether he will use this opportunity.”On impeachment, Lajcak said: “It’s not an easy thing. Whatever one thinks of him, he must be under tremendous pressure.”IBM Proposes Rules to Counter AI Bias (10 a.m.)IBM called for rules aimed at eliminating bias in artificial intelligence to ease concerns that the technology relies on data that bakes in discriminatory practices and could harm women, minorities, the disabled and others.“It seems pretty clear to us that government regulation of artificial intelligence is the next frontier in tech policy regulation,” Chris Padilla, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at International Business Machines Corp., said ahead of a Wednesday panel on AI to be led by Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty.Bjorgolfsson Expects Trump to Address China, Iran (10 a.m.)Icelandic investor Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson has spoken about his expectations for Trump’s speech.“He’s going to come and talk about the deal with China, and how Iran is on the back foot, the stock market at an all time high and present himself as a statesman,” Bjorgolfsson told Bloomberg on the sidelines of the forum. “All this while the impeachment stuff is going on. This is a PR special.”Mnuchin Says EU Car Tariffs Not Curently Planned (9:10 a.m.)Car tariffs on producers in the European Union are not currently planned to enforce Iran sanctions, but they remain in President Trump’s toolbox, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.The U.S. will likely have $1 trillion deficits for a couple more years and the next phase of the China trade deal may not be a “big bang,” Mnuchin told the newspaper.HKEX CEO Li Shrugs Off Virus Concerns (8:50 a.m.)Charles Li, chief executive officer of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., shrugged off concerns about the outbreak of a deadly virus originating in central China.“There are a lot of things that impact investor sentiment but you have to think that structurally the market is very resilient,” Li said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.Thunberg Says ‘Nothing Been Done’ on Climate (8:45 a.m.)Speaking on a panel about sustainability, Thunberg said people are more aware about environmental issues now but that “pretty much nothing has been done” to tackle climate change as emissions of carbon dioxide have not declined.“Without treating this as a real crisis we cannot solve it,” Thunberg said. “It will require much more than this, this is just the very beginning.”The panel didn’t attract leaders of the fossil fuels companies attending the forum, with most senior oil and gas executives absent.Trump Wants ‘Hundreds of Billions’ for U.S. (8:30 a.m.)Trump arrived in Switzerland with ongoing impeachment proceedings on his mind. He tweeted throughout much of the flight, largely about a Senate trial due to get underway there Tuesday. But he said his Davos appearance is all about the economy.His aim is to “bring Good Policy and additional Hundreds of Billions of Dollars back to the United States of America,” he wrote on Twitter.“We are now NUMBER ONE in the Universe, by FAR!!,” Trump tweeted ahead of his arrival in Davos just after 9:30 a.m. local time. He also took a swipe at what he called “Fake News Media,” accusing it of hating to talk about the economy and “how incredible it is.”IEA’s Birol Worried About Situation in Iraq (8:15 a.m.)Fatih Birol, executive director at the International Energy Agency, told Bloomberg TV’s Francine Lacqua that the situation in Iraq is currently his main concern in the oil markets.“Recent developments in Iraq are not very comforting,” Birol said. “I see Iraq as a major issue, which is very important for the oil markets but also for the world economy, which is already very fragile. I really hope we all see an Iraq that has some stability and production can go ahead.”Guggenheim Predicts Collapse to Central Bank-Driven ‘Ponzi Scheme’ (7:49 a.m.)Scott Minerd has a message for his fellows at Davos who are applauding rallying markets: Things aren’t as good as they seem. The Guggenheim Partners investment chief likened the inflation of asset prices caused by the loose money policies of central banks to a “ponzi scheme” that eventually must collapse.“We will reach a tipping point when investors will awake to the rising tide of defaults and downgrades,” he wrote in a letter from the World Economic Forum meeting.German Greens Leader Sides With Trump on Spending Critique (7:40 a.m.)Robert Habeck, co-leader of Germany’s opposition Greens party, told Bloomberg TV’s Francine Lacqua that the government needs to rethink its balanced-budget policy and spend more in areas like climate-friendly infrastructure.Habeck attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “fetishism” about balancing the budget and said that although he’s not a fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, the criticism in the U.S. about Germany not spending enough is valid.The Greens, who are currently Germany’s second-most popular party behind Merkel’s bloc, have been out of government for too long and are ready to take on the responsibility of running Europe’s biggest economy, Habeck added.Natixis Sees Funds Returning to H2O (7:39 a.m.)Natixis SA is seeing money returning to its H2O Asset Management affiliate after concern over some of the boutique’s thinly traded bonds sent investors fleeing. “There have been flows that have been coming back to H20 and performance has been good,” Jean Raby, chief executive officer of Natixis Investment Managers International SA, said in an interview in Davos.What’s Happening on Tuesday (7:30 a.m.)Aside from Trump’s set piece, here’s some other highlights on Tuesday:1 p.m. - Swedish teen Thunberg, who told Davos attendees last year that “our house is on fire,” is scheduled to speak on a panel.2:15 p.m. - With the next phase of trade talks with the U.S. pending, China’s Zheng takes center stage with a special address4 p.m. - Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, Saudi Aramco board member Andrew Liveris and others discuss how economies can grow without compromising the environment6 p.m. - Bank of America Corp. CEO Brian Moynihan, IBM Corp. CEO Ginni Rometty, Siemens AG Chairman Jim Snabe and others discuss stakeholder capitalismTuesday KickoffGreta Thunberg’s call in Davos last year that it’s time to panic about climate change might be finally starting to hit home as attendees show more alarm at the Swedish activist’s message. With the usual parade of government chiefs, billionaires and corporate executives attending, global warming is dominating the agenda more than ever. In the WEF’s annual risk survey, environmental dangers elbowed out items such as cyber attacks or terrorism.And it’s not just teenagers, this 100-year old Briton is urging the global elite to stop burning carbon.Monday CatchupIMF Trims Global Growth Outlook But Tones Down Risk WarningsMore Than Half of CEOs See Global Growth Slowing This YearEU Agonizes Over Troop Deployment With Libyan Oil Flows BlockedMacron, Trump May Have Tariff Truce in 2020 Digital Tax FightBlackRock’s Hildebrand Says Lawmakers Key to Climate FightPhilip Morris Steps Up Vaping Plan, Keeps Close Ties With AltriaMachin at Davos Warns Pension Funds on Rush to Illiquid Assets\--With assistance from Eyk Henning, Sridhar Natarajan, Andrea Dudik and Simon Kennedy.To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Rogers in Berlin at irogers11@bloomberg.net;Chris Reiter in Berlin at creiter2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, ;Simon Kennedy at skennedy4@bloomberg.net, Iain Rogers, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 06:13:11 -0500
  • Huawei CFO's legal team to contest U.S. extradition in day 2 of Canada hearing

    Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is set to return to a Vancouver court on Tuesday, where her lawyers will build on their arguments against the U.S. extradition request that they say is based a sanctions violation and not bank fraud. Meng, 47, arrived in a Vancouver courtroom on Monday for the first phase of a hearing that will last at least four days, during which her legal team argued that "double criminality" was at the heart of the case, as China repeated its call for Canada to release her. The United States has charged Meng with bank fraud, and accused her of misleading HSBC Holdings Plc about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's business in Iran.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 06:00:00 -0500
  • It's time to talk about what matters in 2020: My Twitter mentions

    Golocal247.com news

    The United States is teetering on the edge of a shooting war with Iran, climate change is laying waste to entire continents, the president is a two-bit crook, and the recent Trump tax cuts stuffed some $32 billion directly into the pockets of Wall Street. Clearly the America of 2020 is a land of contrasts.Sadly, all that pales in comparison with one issue that lords over all others: the toxic state of my Twitter mentions. Nary a day goes by without the deranged partisans of one candidate or another heaping undeserved abuse on my head. It's a disgraceful indicator of the decline of civility and decorum in modern politics.As an important political reporter, I rely on Twitter to keep my thumb on the pulse of voters around the country. (I assure you, I could quit anytime.) I need to know the thoughts of the soccer moms in the suburbs of Atlanta, the lacrosse stepmoms of Westchester County, and the marching band dads of Indianapolis — not to mention which candidate is dominating the wine track, the beer track, the raw milk track, the colloidal silver track, and the half-a-gallon-of-Carlo-Rossi-at-2-p.m. track. How am I supposed to understand the fears and frustrations of regular Americans without the wise comments of @MAGAmom1488? Talk to a taxi driver?Yet these valuable nuggets of Americana gold are now buried under a veritable landslide of incomprehensible ad hominem attacks. The Biden Brigade is on my case like Marshal Soult on the Austrians in 1805. The Warren Wing is dive-bombing my account like Douglas SBD Dauntless planes on the Akagi in 1942. The YangGang is launching bayonet charges on my mentions tab like the 20th Maine at Gettysburg in 1863. And I can't even take a bath without six or seven Bernie Bros jumping in with me.Now, some argue that the internet is full to bursting with vile abuse, that all candidates with any significant number of supporters will necessarily have some stratum of genuinely horrible jerks (plus an unknown quantity of Nazi trolls deliberately trying to stir up conflict), and that verified journalists like myself are conflating the very real problem of online harassment with ordinary intemperate political debate. But this is nonsense. These strategic mentions-bombing campaigns are clearly coordinated by each candidate personally from their bunker headquarters under a mountain in Wyoming. They send out their kamikaze accounts in waves, losing dozens to the Twitter moderators, to silence my incisive questions and penetrating insight.Yet I will not be daunted. I will continue to press these candidates to answer the questions the American people are begging to hear, like "What about your gaffes?" and "What's an app on your phone that you have that might surprise people?"Nevertheless, I must admit all the maize-based attacks have left shreds of flesh drooping pitifully from my online body. So in keeping with my brave stand for accountability, I demand that all the candidates take personal responsibility for each and every person online who claims to be a supporter of theirs. (Unfortunately, my private letters to DNC Chairman Tom Perez asking the candidates to dinner have gone unanswered.) Only when each candidate has apologized personally to me, preferably in writing, will civility be restored, and we can bring back some of the hero journalists whose accounts were casualties of the posting wars.Luckily, Twitter recently announced it was adding a new feature that would restore some of the pre-internet status quo — a mechanism whereby I don't have to see people disagreeing with me. That would go some distance towards removing the hanging nooses of the digital lynch mob from Twitter's public square.I envision a brighter future, where political discussion can happen in the respectful, old-fashioned way — by falsely implying one's opponent has an illegitimate black child, or publishing racist opposition research implying one's opponent is a Muslim, or secretly sabotaging peace negotiations with Vietnam, or perhaps even the good old broadsword duel. But that can only happen when everyone realizes the most important thing about politics is one and only one thing — me and my social media accounts.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com Dershowitz tells CNN he wasn't wrong about Clinton's impeachment but is 'far more correct' defending Trump The strongest case for Joe Biden Under McConnell's rules, Trump's impeachment trial could last well past midnight or end immediately

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 05:55:01 -0500
  • U.K. to Ensure No Brexit Cliff-Edge for Carmakers, Minister Says

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. U.K. carmakers including Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover won’t face a regulatory cliff-edge that damages their competitiveness in European markets at the end of 2020, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.Nadhim Zahawi, a business minister, said he’s “confident” British negotiators will be able to broker a deal with the European Union which ensures no tariffs or quotas on car parts and keeps just-in-time supply chains running when the 11-month Brexit transition period is due to expire at the end of the year.Opposition politicians have warned Britain faces a no-deal divorce on Dec. 31, disrupting trade and damaging the economy, if Johnson fails to negotiate a free trade deal by then. EU leaders have said there isn’t time to broker a full agreement under the prime minister’s schedule for ending the transition, during which trading rules will largely be unchanged.“Those who are fighting the old battles of Leave/Remain still have this binary view of the world of ‘oh my goodness, if we can’t get a deal there is going to be a cliff-edge’ -- I don’t believe that is true,” Zahawi said in an interview. “The heads of terms agreed by the U.K. and the EU say there are no tariffs, no quotas, and that is what we are going to strive for. And that, I believe, we will be able to deliver.”The U.K. auto industry suffered a series of setbacks in 2019 as production slumped and manufacturers idled plants to cope with three Brexit deadlines that came and went. Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc announced thousands of job cuts, Honda Motor Co. said it will close its only British factory in 2021 and Nissan Motor Co. scrapped plans to build the X-Trail sports utility vehicle in Sunderland, northeast England. Meanwhile PSA Group has suggested its Vauxhall factory in England’s Ellesmere Port is in jeopardy if Brexit affects profitability.TariffsRuling out tariffs and quotas will eliminate the bulk of paperwork, according to Zahawi. “The rest then becomes about the actual quality of the product and that already works for manufacturers around the world that are selling into the EU,” he said. “Components have to be made so that they satisfy British standards in the future as well as satisfying European standards. It is not incompatible.”Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid warned business leaders they’ll need to adjust to new rules after Brexit because the U.K. won’t align with European regulations, according to a Financial Times interview published over the weekend. But Zahawi suggested the U.K. is unlikely to diverge too much.“We will make sure our rules are as good as the industry needs to be in order to take the opportunity of selling into America, selling into Europe, selling all over the world,” Zahawi said. “The chancellor was stating a fact which was that we will not be a rule-taker. But at the same time, whether it’s the chemicals industry or the auto industry, we already manufacture to the same quality standards across the board.”Javid reiterated on Tuesday that the U.K. will be out of the EU’s single market and customs union when it leaves the bloc. “We will not be rule-takers,” he said in Brussels before a meeting of EU finance ministers. “At the same time we want a deep, comprehensive free-trade agreement and that’s what we’re working on.”The chancellor’s comments come after an International Monetary Fund report said the U.K. economy will outperform the Eurozone this year and next -- as long as there’s a gradual transition to a new relationship with the EU.“It will be a very important time for British business,” Javid said. “I can see a British economy that continues to go from strength to strength.”(Updates with Javid comment in ninth paragraph)\--With assistance from Jessica Shankleman.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, Thomas Penny, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 05:10:25 -0500
  • Iranian MP says Iran would be protected if it had nuclear arms - ISNA

    Iran would be protected from threats if it had nuclear weapons, Iranian lawmaker told parliament on Tuesday, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency, adding that Iran should build missiles with "unconventional" warheads. The West has long accused Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear arms, although Iran's clerical rulers consistently deny this, saying the nation's nuclear programme has only peaceful aims.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 05:05:24 -0500
  • China Seeks to Stop Virus Scare From Becoming Political Crisis

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.A deadly new virus reminiscent of one of China’s biggest public health debacles has the country’s leaders rushing to keep another outbreak from becoming a political crisis.After three weeks of revelations about a mysterious strain of coronavirus first detected in central China, President Xi Jinping stepped in personally Monday to order “all-out prevention and control efforts.” The government convened a series of task force meetings while a social media account affiliated with the Communist Party’s top law enforcement body warned that officials who withheld information would be “nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity.”The high-level response came as China’s internet flooded with worried comparisons between the disease and an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that killed 800 people across Asia 17 years ago. China’s delay in reporting that earlier outbreak was blamed for allowing the disease to spread unchecked, and fueled suspicions about public health protections in the world’s most populous country.Now, the first confirmed infections of health workers with the new coronavirus -- suggesting that the pathogen is highly infectious -- have prompted the World Health Organization to raise it to a risk level on par with SARS. Six have died and hundreds more have been infected, including cases in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. And the stakes are getting higher: Hundreds of millions of Chinese are preparing to fly around the world for the Lunar New Year holidays, the world’s largest human migration.China Virus Spreads to Health Workers as Fourth Person Dies (1)“China’s leaders had to upgrade the security level of the crisis to ensure the stability of Chinese society and also because of China’s international reputation,” said Wang Peng, associate research fellow at Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies. “The virus has the potential to negatively impact China’s image.”Governments around the world were taking precautions to prevent the disease’s spread, with U.S. officials instituting screenings in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is a favorite destinations of Chinese tourists, on Tuesday pledged increased quarantines and testing at ports of entry.The Communist Party faces deep skepticism over its commitment to oversight following a number of high-profile incidents over the past few decades. Besides SARS, Chinese leaders have come under fire for their response to a contaminated milk scandal in 2008, a high-speed train crash in 2011 and revelations about bad vaccines in 2018.Unlike his predecessors two decades ago, Xi must also contend with widespread social media use and a bigger, more demanding middle class. For now, the country’s powerful censors appeared willing to let some debate continue.Deadly Virus Finds a Breeding Ground in China’s Food MarketsOn Tuesday, many Chinese internet users shared posts demanding more transparency about the outbreak than SARS, with some questioning the time it took to alert the public and the government’s initial focus on stopping “rumors.” A Beijing News editorial urging a better update system got more than 100,000 views on WeChat, the country’s ubiquitous messaging platform.In response, the party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper carried a front-page editorial on Tuesday supporting Xi’s call for action. The president stressed the need to inform the public of official policies to “safeguard social stability.” Premier Li Keqiang instructed departments to “spare no effort” to counter the outbreak, while a social media account under the party’s Central Politics and Law Commission pledged to punish officials who withheld information.International health experts have been largely positive about China’s early response, which has demonstrated efforts to build a stronger nationwide health infrastructure in the wake of SARS.‘Great Progress’“The initial response has been quite rapid and hopefully effective,“ said David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was formerly with the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They have made great progress.”Still, the spread of the virus has citizens taking measures into their own hands. More pedestrians were seen wearing masks around the capital Tuesday.Fu King-wa, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong‘s Journalism and Media Studies Centre who tracks Chinese censorship, said mainland internet users appeared starved for information about what precautions they should take. Censored posts included links to foreign or Hong Kong news articles, including those containing estimates and outbreak sites beyond what has been released by China, Fu said.“In general, the government is using the traditional Chinese Communist Party approach,” Fu said. The goal was “to control the information, to control the media, to control the narrative and to give the people the idea that the government is handling the issue,” he said.The risk of a public health emergency damaging the top leadership has only increased under Xi, who has taken more direct oversight over economic and national security issues than his predecessors. That means there’s no one else to blame if people decide the current outbreak has been mismanaged, said Willy Lam, adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for China Studies and author of numerous books on Chinese politics.“He’s supposed to be the chairman of everything ranging from finance to health and so forth,” Lam said. “But so far things have not been working out very well -- in both economic figures and other measurements of public administration.”\--With assistance from Dong Lyu, Amanda Wang, Sharon Chen and Isabel Reynolds.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Peter Martin in Beijing at pmartin138@bloomberg.net;Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:58:09 -0500
  • Iranian MP announces $3 million award for "whoever kills Trump" - ISNA

    An Iranian lawmaker announced a 3 million dollar award to "whoever kills Trump", Iranian semi-official News agency reported. "On behalf of people of Kerman province, we will pay 3 million dollar award in cash to whoever kills Trump," Ahmad Hamzeh told parliamentarians, according to ISNA. Kerman is the hometown of Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top commander of the Quds Force who was killed by a U.S. drone on Jan. 3 in Iraq.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:50:57 -0500
  • Meng Wanzhou extradition hearings finally begin, with defence blasting fraud case against Huawei CFO as 'fiction'

    Golocal247.com news

    The formal extradition hearings that will help decide the fate of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou got under way in Vancouver on Monday, more than a year after her arrest, in a case that has infuriated Beijing and symbolises challenges to the geopolitical order posed by China's rise.Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, appeared behind two layers of bulletproof glass in the high-capacity, high-security courtroom 20 of the British Columbia Supreme Court complex.Meng Wanzhou is greeted by a member of her security as she leaves her home to attend the start of her extradition hearing in Vancouver on Monday. Photo: Reuters alt=Meng Wanzhou is greeted by a member of her security as she leaves her home to attend the start of her extradition hearing in Vancouver on Monday. Photo: ReutersMeng's lawyer Richard Peck commenced his arguments by asserting that Meng should be released if the case against her could not support the allegations of fraud, under the extradition test of "double criminality"."It is a fiction," that the US has any interest in policing interactions "between a private bank and a private citizen halfway around the world", Peck said, referring to a 2013 meeting between Meng and a HSBC executive in Hong Kong to discuss Huawei's business dealings in Iran, an interaction that lies at the heart of the case. "It's all about sanctions."Meng was arrested at Vancouver's international airport on December 1, 2018, during a stopover from Hong Kong, on an arrest warrant requested by the United States. US authorities want Meng to face trial in New York, accusing her of bank fraud related to alleged breaches of US sanctions on Iran by Huawei.The case against Meng is being seen as a key moment in China's relations with the West, coming amid the US-China trade war and a worldwide debate about whether to allow Huawei to participate in the construction of high-speed 5G networks that will shape the internet.The ankle monitor of Meng Wanzhou is visible as she leaves her home on Monday. Photo: Reuters alt=The ankle monitor of Meng Wanzhou is visible as she leaves her home on Monday. Photo: ReutersIt has also sent relations between Beijing and Ottawa into a deep freeze, with China arresting Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor for alleged espionage. But their arrests 13 months ago were widely seen in the west as retaliation for Meng's detention.Meng's appearance on Monday was a far cry from the last time she was in courtroom 20, when she was dressed in a green prison tracksuit for the December 2018 bail proceedings that resulted in her being released on a C$10 million (US$7.7 million) surety.In the first order of business, Justice Heather Holmes allowed Meng and her translator to move out of the defendant's box to sit at her lawyers' table.Subsequent hearings, preliminary to the main case, were shifted to smaller courtrooms, but on Monday, she returned to courtroom 20 dressed in a smartly tailored polka dot dress and Manolo Blahnik pumps with a crystal buckle, her hair pulled back in a silver pin. During the morning break in proceedings, Meng mingled in the gallery and chatted with China's deputy consul-general in Vancouver, Wang Chengjun.The 156-seat courtroom 20, built 17 years ago for a terrorism trial surrounding the 1985 bombing of an Air India flight, overflowed with journalists and spectators standing in the aisles.The Canadian hearings are not a trial to decide Meng's guilt or innocence. Instead, Justice Holmes must decide whether the case merits Meng being sent to the United States to face trial.This week's hearings are to address claims by Meng's lawyers that the case against her fails the test of "double criminality", the requirement that charges in an extradition case must be capable of representing an offence in Canada, as well as the requesting state.Her lawyers say the underlying case against her is breaching US sanctions on Iran, which is not a crime in Canada. But the Canadian government lawyers representing the US in the hearings have said the underlying case is fraud.Meng is accused of lying to HSBC in her 2013 meeting about Huawei's relationship with Skycom, an affiliate that was doing business in Iran. Meng's PowerPoint presentation to the HSBC executive in a Hong Kong teahouse are said to have resulted in transactions that put the bank at risk of breaching US sanctions.Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, arrives at for an extradition hearing in Vancouver on Monday. Photo: Bloomberg alt=Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, arrives at for an extradition hearing in Vancouver on Monday. Photo: BloombergUS sanctions were the essence of Meng's alleged conduct at the core of the case, said another of her lawyers, Eric Gottardi."It's why the US cares about what was said in the back of a restaurant in August 2013," he said, referring to the teahouse meeting. "It all comes back to sanctions."Gottardi said the teahouse meeting was "the only act" attributed to Meng in the US case against her, and that if US sanctions law was removed from consideration "there's nothing left ... that evinces a risk to HSBC."He said that HSBC was depicted as having been "duped" by Meng " yet at the same time, the bank would have needed to act deliberately to face any risk of liability for breaching US sanctions on Iran. If Meng was deceiving HSBC, no such risk of "wilful violations" existed, he said, thus negating Meng's alleged fraud.Media photograph a vehicle driving Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou from her home to attend the start of her extradition hearing in Vancouver on Monday. Photo: Reuters alt=Media photograph a vehicle driving Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou from her home to attend the start of her extradition hearing in Vancouver on Monday. Photo: ReutersJustice Holmes asked Gottardi whether it was reasonable for the US sanctions to be considered "in isolation" as inapplicable under Canadian law, instead of in the broader context of the case."The source of deprivation [to HSBC] evaporates in the Canadian context," Gottardi responded.The double criminality phase of the hearing will continue until at least Thursday and possibly Friday, with further court dates pencilled in until November. But the case could stretch beyond that, with some extradition proceedings lasting years.Other phases of the hearing this year are scheduled to consider whether Meng was subjected to an abuse of due process when she was arrested and questioned at Vancouver's airport, as well as accusations that the case is politically motivated.Her lawyers have pointed to comments by US President Donald Trump that he might intervene in her case if it was to the economic advantage of the US.Meanwhile, Meng is living in Vancouver in a C$13.6 million (US$10.4 million) mansion that she owns. She is under the guard of a private security team, and must wear a GPS tracker on her ankle, abide by a curfew and stay away from the airport.On Monday, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry repeated calls for Meng to be immediately released, calling her arrest arbitrary and a "serious political incident".In a message posted on social media after the start of Monday's hearing, Huawei said: "We trust in Canada's judicial system which will prove Ms Meng's innocence. Huawei stands with Ms Meng in her pursuit for justice and freedom."Sign up now for our 50% early bird offer from SCMP Research: China AI Report. The all new SCMP China AI Report gives you exclusive first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments, and actionable and objective intelligence about China AI that you should be equipped with.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 04:30:00 -0500
  • Iran acknowledges Russian-made missiles targeted Ukraine jet

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    Iran acknowledged on Tuesday that its armed forces fired two Russian anti-aircraft missiles at a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed after taking off from Tehran's main airport earlier this month, killing all 176 people on board. For days after the Jan. 8 shootdown, Iran denied that it fired missiles at the plane, initially blaming a technical malfunction and engine fire for the crash.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 03:29:05 -0500
  • German Green Sides With Trump in Bashing Merkel’s Austerity

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.The co-leader of Germany’s Greens sided with the U.S. in demanding more spending from Berlin, saying that Chancellor Angela Merkel should drop her balanced-budget “fetishism.”Robert Habeck, the co-chairman of the party that’s become Germany’s No. 2 political force behind Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, laid into the German leader’s spending priorities -- and said that, at least when it comes to fiscal policy, he’s not far from U.S. President Donald Trump.“I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, but the U.S. discussion is right -- Germany is not doing enough and not spending enough,” Habeck said in an interview with Bloomberg Television from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Trump, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund have all targeted Germany’s ballooning trade surplus and fiscal restraint as a drag on European and global growth. Habeck, citing the U.S. debate on a Green New Deal, said a German government with his party would spend more on green infrastructure, education and innovation.The Greens have surged in the polls, propelled in part by continent-wide climate protests over the past year. In most quarters they are seen as a sure bet to form part of the country’s next administration. After Merkel, the charismatic Habeck is Germany’s most popular politician, according to a Bild newspaper opinion poll that included other potential candidates to replace her.The party was part of a Social Democratic-led government under then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder until 2005. Now, it wants to come back.“We haven’t been part of the German government for 15 years now, far too long if you ask me,” Habeck said. “We are prepared to take responsibility -- and then, of course, not for the sake of it, but for the sake of changing politics.”Read More:Austria Grabs Climate Lead as Kurz Takes Power With GreensIn Merkel’s Twilight, German Greens Ride to Brink of PowerMerkel’s Survival Hinges on Election Threat of Greens, Far-RightIn neighboring Austria, the Greens earlier this month entered into a coalition with the center-right People’s Party, reviving a debate on both sides of the political spectrum over the possibility of a similar coalition in Germany as well. Forty years after their foundation, the Greens have transformed from a party primarily focused on the environment into one with a broader base.Describing how the Greens have gone mainstream over the years, Former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble recently told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that they had become “a bog-standard party.” Still, some proposals, such as a tax on meat or a car-free city center, remain controversial and make some consumers and producers uneasy.Habeck, who has a background as a writer, has been instrumental in pushing the party to prepare itself for government. But whether he or co-leader Annalena Baerbock would be its first-ever chancellor candidate in the next election is still unclear. With an engaging television presence, the 50-year-old entered state politics only in 2009 but quickly rose up the ranks to become deputy premier in Schleswig-Holstein, his home state, wedged between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.Merkel has said she won’t run for office again when her fourth term ends, at the latest in 2021. Her junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, say they wouldn’t want to renew the coalition with her CDU.Indicative of the party’s strength, the Greens in February stand a chance of winning the mayoral race in Hamburg, where the SPD has governed for most of the period since 1945.“We have this cliche, that the Greens, because they are the Greens, they are for the trees and the weather, but that’s not true anymore,” Habeck said.To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net;Francine Lacqua in Davos, Switzerland at flacqua@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond Colitt, Andrew BlackmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 03:28:02 -0500
  • Chinese sentences ex-boss of Interpol to 13 years for bribes

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    China has sentenced the former president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, to 13 years and six months in prison on charges of accepting more than $2 million in bribes. Meng was elected president of the international police organization in 2016, but his four-year term was cut short when he vanished after traveling to China from France in late 2018. Interpol was not informed and was forced to make a formal request to China for information about Meng's whereabouts amid suspicion he had fallen out of political favor with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 03:12:35 -0500
  • Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner

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    Iran has confirmed two missiles were fired at a Ukrainian airliner brought down this month, in a catastrophic error that killed all 176 people on board and sparked angry protests. The country's civil aviation authority said it has yet to receive a positive response after requesting technical assistance from France and the United States to decode black boxes from the downed airliner. The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines plane was accidentally shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 03:05:19 -0500
  • “No-Deal” Brexit Is Back as a Real Possibility

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The U.K.-European Union trade talks haven’t started officially, but both sides are testing out negotiating lines. Britain is already coloring some of them red, setting up a fight later this year that will encompass the three Fs: fish, financial services and the freedom to diverge from EU rules.To use another f-word, all three issues are fraught. But it’s the last of them that might blow up hopes for a quick trade deal.Given the U.K.’s intentions to leave the EU’s customs union and single market and strike trade deals with other countries, the best it can hope for is a bare-bones agreement with zero tariffs and duties across most goods sectors. That’s pretty much all there’s time for before Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s self-imposed deadline for a deal by the end of this year. Yet even that might be hard to achieve if early soundings are correct.Whatever else comes out of the trade talks, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said last week, Britain will reserve the right to diverge from EU rules and regulations. “There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year,” Javid told the Financial Times. The statement raises two questions: Is he serious, and what exactly does he mean?When Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May talked tough about Britain’s Brexit negotiating stance, she was bluffing mostly. She had too many warring elements in Parliament and her own party to please. Getting a withdrawal deal was the priority, to settle the status of EU citizens, divorce payments and the crucial question of the Irish border.Nor did she truly believe that regulatory divergence from the EU could be anything but a source of friction and cost to British business; she saw Brexit as a damage-limitation exercise. She tried — and failed — to push through a Brexit deal that kept the U.K. closely aligned with the EU on goods trade.Javid, however, must be taken at his word. His boss, Johnson, has a comfortable parliamentary majority of 80; the remainers, doubters and soft-Brexiters have been cleared out. And Javid’s position is an article of faith as much as it’s political expedience. Johnson and his allies see divergence as a chance to remake Britain’s economy and trading relationships. Regulatory autonomy is the sine qua non of a real Brexit.The U.K. wants a free-trade agreement similar to the EU’s Canada deal, only with added agreements on services, data and other areas. Brussels wants something that ties the Brits in more closely, including an agreement by the U.K. to abide by so-called level playing field provisions, meaning Britain would need equally tough rules on social and environmental protections, taxation and state aid. Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Brexit negotiator, long ago made these provisions central to the EU’s demands.Nor will Brussels shy away from linking different parts of the negotiations to get what it wants. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, whose country holds the EU presidency, says the EU will be nakedly “political” in the negotiations. Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan has indicated that access to the EU’s single market for financial services may depend on the EU keeping its current fishing rights for British waters.If Britain’s desire for divergence precludes meeting the level-playing field provisions, the scope for a free-trade agreement will narrow considerably. While the minimal expectation — known as the “skinny” deal — is for quota- and tariff-free access for U.K. goods, that’s not a given. Even Switzerland, with its myriad EU deals, doesn’t have tariff-free access to the bloc. Agriculture and food products may be areas of disagreement.And if a goods deal is struck, there will be non-tariff barriers to trade. U.K. companies might voluntarily comply with EU regulations, but this will need supervision and “rules of origin” checks, and an EU representative to guarantee the legality of British products. All of that will carry costs.If the deal’s scope becomes so diminished as to provide questionable political and economic benefits, is it worth doing at all? That’s a key question. “The skinnier the FTA becomes, the more attractive a no-deal outcome becomes,” James McBride, a partner at public affairs firm Hanbury Strategy said during a webinar last week organized by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. The EU’s zeal for enforcement provisions on any new deal, including fines and sanctions, will be another dampener.Conventional wisdom is that the U.K.’s desire to maintain access for Britain’s huge financial services sector will keep it at the table; and that this might be traded for concessions on fisheries. That may be a miscalculation.It assumes Johnson has room on the fishing industry. While it’s a tiny share of the British economy, taking back control of “our waters” was a totemic issue for Brexiters. Fishing is also important for Scotland; any perceived sellout might fuel the Scottish independence movement. The U.K. exports most of its own catch so access to EU markets certainly provides an incentive, but Johnson will want to show some gain here from Brexit too.The EU also may be overestimating how far Britain’s desire to win “equivalence” for the City of London will motivate other compromises. London saw how the EU swiftly withdrew equivalence from the Swiss to punish them for foot-dragging on the bloc’s internal market rules. Down the road, it could be a weapon wielded against Britain too. “There are many people in Number 10 [Downing Street] pushing the idea that the U.K. doesn’t want equivalence,” McBride says. He puts the chance of a deal at 50-50 by the end of 2020.Now Britain’s departure is assured, the big question has been resolved. If the two sides can’t agree on the degree of trade friction they’re prepared to tolerate, no deal could easily follow.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.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/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:55:09 -0500
  • China's former Interpol chief sentenced to 13 years in prison

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    Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, who was detained on a visit to China in 2018, was sentenced Tuesday to more than 13 years in prison for bribery in a case that shook the international police organisation. Meng -- a former vice minister of public security -- is among a growing group of Communist Party cadres caught in President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign, which critics say has also served as a way to remove the leader's political enemies.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:38:46 -0500
  • DAVOS-Hong Kong leader in Davos charm offensive as protests persist

    For Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam this week's World Economic Forum in Davos is a chance to convince global business and political leaders that the Asian financial hub is back on track. After more than seven months of turmoil Hong Kong's status as a financial centre has come under scrutiny as sometimes violent demonstrations paralysed parts of the city and forced businesses to close, posing the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012. Lam and "Team HK", including its trade secretary, top officials from the stock exchange, airport authority, MTR Corp and the head of Swire Group, are in the Swiss mountain resort two days after another violent clash and more are planned for the weekend of her return.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:38:41 -0500
  • Iran confirms two missiles fired at Ukraine airliner

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    Iran's civil aviation authority confirmed two missiles were fired at a Ukrainian airliner that was brought down earlier this month, in a preliminary report posted on its website late Monday. The Tor-M1 is a short-range surface-to-air missile developed by the former Soviet Union that are designed to target aircraft or cruise missiles. The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down in a catastrophic error shortly after takeoff from Tehran on January 8, killing all 176 people on board.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:24:18 -0500
  • The Davos Bubble Swallows Anyone Who Tries to Pop It

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- “Davos is not one thing. There are many Davoses at Davos.” This haiku-like meditation on the annual Swiss junket — which is known for preaching the gospel of touchy-feely stakeholder capitalism against a backdrop of $43 hot dogs, $10,000 hotel rooms, and several hundred trips by private plane — could have come from any number of its rich, powerful and blissfully un-self-aware attendees.That it comes from a co-founder of the anti-capitalist movement Occupy Wall Street, Micah White, as part of a long explanation of why he is attending Davos this year, says a lot about why global capitalism’s biggest tent is still standing even in an age of populist anger. The Davos bubble is turning out to be quite good at swallowing those who would like to pop it — however justified their cynicism.Davos was, let’s face it, supposed to have been “canceled” by now. Last year’s event resembled one long guilt trip: Billionaires awkwardly batting away ideas like higher taxes for the rich; Sir David Attenborough telling an audience packed with private-jet users that “the Garden of Eden is no more;” and historian Rutger Bregman going viral with his description of Davos as a hypocritical talking shop. “Stop talking about philanthropy, and start talking about taxes,” he berated attendees.Well, this year, Davos is back — minus Bregman — and it’s more Davos-y than ever. The private jets are still flying in, only now they’re being asked to fill their tanks with “ Sustainable Aviation Fuel.” Davos organizer Klaus Schwab is still welcoming powerful CEOs, but has made sure to ask them to commit to a net-zero economy by 2050. The rooms will be painted with renewable sources like seaweed. The carpets will be made from end-of-life fishing nets and fluff. And lest anyone think the debates on offer have gotten more humble, there are 25 panels under the banner, “How To Save The Planet.”Davos isn’t just good at greenwashing the globalists. It’s also good at co-opting the populists. The junket has shrewdly realized that offering a stage to an anti-Davos crowd can work in its favor. Micah White, for one, is excited to dip his toe into “the most powerful gathering in the world.” He will be lecturing a money-and-politics crowd that he once wanted to smash apart on how to turn “protest into progress.” There will be other incongruities: Greta Thunberg will tread the same boards as Donald Trump; France’s Bruno Le Maire will promote a tax on tech firms in front of Google’s Sundar Pichai.It’s this veneer of exclusive neutrality that Davos clearly wants to promote as its value proposition, rather than just being a hyper-efficient version of LinkedIn. “We bring together people of influence, and we hope that they use their influence in a positive way,” Schwab told the New York Times. Or, in other words: Everyone who matters is here — even if they disagree, Davos wins in the end. Like an Alpine version of Soho House, Davos is a (not-for-profit) club that lives and dies by its guest list. White’s description of “many Davoses” includes secretive back-room meetings that don’t get filmed — a Davos within Davos, in other words.This seems intuitively strange in an era of political activism and social media, when boycotts seem to spring up out of nowhere and cause serious brand damage. Couldn’t Davos be simply replaced? Author Anand Giridharadas suggested that genuine do-gooders had no reason to be wandering into a billionaires’ tent. Instead, they could work through the United Nations to create a new global conference. “We could create a new body. We could have it rotate among certain countries,” he told Project Syndicate last year.It’s an interesting point — we could. But national versions of Davos, such as those promoted by France or Saudi Arabia, have failed at being either as neutral or as exclusive as the original. Maybe coming up with a new Davos isn’t as easy as it seems. Or maybe Davos is simply really good at protecting its brand. In 2018, the conference warned imitators that it would “use all means to protect the Davos brand against illicit appropriation.” It has preserved its image as a truly global stage, even as incidents such as a ban on Russian businessmen targeted by sanctions (later lifted) show how it’s not politics-free.White’s final warning to Davos critics is a well-aimed one: “Rejecting Davos is easy when one has not been invited to attend.” (This applies to yours truly.) Maybe the world’s most exclusive tent will only fall when it extends its membership to all-comers. Until then, expect the private jets to keep flying in — on sustainable fuel.(A division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, runs its own event, the New Economy Forum, which has been held in Singapore and Beijing.)To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 02:00:41 -0500
  • S. Korea naval unit to expand operations to Strait of Hormuz

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    A South Korean anti-piracy unit has temporarily expanded its mission to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital global oil route at the center of soaring tensions between Iran and the United States. South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced the expansion Tuesday, saying it was meant to help ensure the safe passage of South Korean vessels and nationals through the waterway. South Korea has conducted anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2009 and is expanding to the strait that connects the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 01:52:59 -0500
  • Survivor stories spotlight Auschwitz liberation anniversary

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    Shortly before they were rounded up by Nazi troops in Belgium and deported to Auschwitz in 1942, the parents of three-year-old Maurice Gluck placed their only child in the care of a local Christian family. Gluck forgot his Yiddish mother tongue and that he even had parents of his own. Only years later, did Gluck discover that his birth mother had actually perished along with more than a million other Jews in the Auschwitz death camp.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 01:11:30 -0500
  • Buckle up: What to watch as impeachment trial takes off

    Golocal247.com news

    Senators like to float above messy politics in what's known by some as the dignified “upper chamber," home of Congress' cooler heads and lofty rhetoric. Rock star legal teams will cram the airy well of the chamber just a few feet from each other and Chief Justice John Roberts. “I'm going to be stuck in Washington for God knows how long," Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters in Des Moines Monday night.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:40:21 -0500
  • Feds allow use of opioid funds to stem meth, cocaine surge

    Golocal247.com news

    Alarmed by a deadly new twist in the nation's drug addiction crisis, the government will allow states to use federal money earmarked for the opioid epidemic to help growing numbers of people struggling with meth and cocaine. The little-noticed change is buried in a massive spending bill passed by Congress late last year. Pressed by constituents and state officials, lawmakers of both parties and the Trump administration agreed to broaden the scope of a $1.5 billion grant program previously restricted to the opioid crisis.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:35:02 -0500
  • Trump impeachment trial to begin with rules fight, long days

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    President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is set to unfold at the Capitol, a contentious proceeding to render judgment on his Ukraine actions as Americans form their own verdict at the start of an election year. As the Senate reconvenes with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding over the rare impeachment court, senators sworn to “impartial justice,” the legacy of Trump's presidency and the system of checks and balances are at stake before a politically divided nation. A first test will come midday Tuesday when the session gavels open to vote on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed rules for debate.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:21:18 -0500
  • 100s in river 'no-man's land' after Mexico troops block way

    Golocal247.com news

    Hundreds of Central American migrants were stranded in a sort of no-man’s land on the river border between Guatemala and Mexico after running up against lines of Mexican National Guard troops deployed to keep them from moving en masse into the country and on north toward the U.S. Naked children played amid the sand and trash Monday evening as clothing and shoes hung from the trees to dry along the Suchiate River, normally a porous waterway plied all day by rafts ferrying people and goods across. Men grilled a fish over a small fire below the border bridge, and migrants bedded down under blankets on the banks or dry sections of the riverbed without knowing what might come next.

    Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:01:08 -0500
  • Climate change and economic inequality loom large as the powerful descend on Davos

    Golocal247.com news

    Approximately 3,000 people will be attending this year -- from President Donald Trump to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to climate change activist Greta Thunberg -- and the theme is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World. The convention of the most powerful comes at time, however, when global income inequality is soaring and a majority of people believe capitalism in its current form is not working.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 23:19:00 -0500
  • As coronavirus spreads, anxiety rises in China and overseas

    Golocal247.com news

    Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached three other countries and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. Anxiety grew both at home and abroad after Chinese government expert Zhong Nanshan confirmed fears on state television late Monday that the virus can spread from human to human. Six people have died and 291 have been infected in China, the National Health Commission said Tuesday.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 21:57:23 -0500
  • How Trump Twisted Iran Intel to Manufacture the ‘Four Embassies’ Threat

    Golocal247.com news

    When President Donald Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Iran’s now-deceased top military leader Qassem Soleimani was plotting attacks on “four [American] embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads. They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence. “There were definitely questions [at the time, internally] about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.It turns out Trump—technically—didn’t get his eyebrow-raising claim out of nowhere, The Daily Beast has learned. According to three sources familiar with the matter, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public during his post-Soleimani victory lap. In doing so, President Trump generated yet more confusion and discord among the national security brass that had already struggled to sell the American people on its case for the strike that just brought Iran and the United States to the precipice of all-out warfare. For weeks the Trump administration had struggled to get on message in talking about why the U.S. decided to strike Soleimani and what it would do in the future to manage any diplomacy with Tehran. Trump’s embassy claim didn’t help, officials said.The White House did not comment on the record for this story.Shortly before he began announcing to the media and rally-goers that the Iranian general was planning assaults on multiple U.S. embassies, the president received briefings at the White House from both national security officials and communications staffers. The purpose of some of these meetings were to prepare Trump on how best to talk to the press regarding his administration’s justifications for killing Soleimani. The president received a briefing shortly before he entered the Roosevelt Room Jan. 9 and said Iran was “looking to blow up our embassy.” According to two people familiar with this briefing, Trump was told that following the killing of Soleimani, Iran could retaliate against American assets in the region. The president was again told this in a subsequent briefing that day, one of these sources added. However, embassies were a part of a long list of American outposts and bases potentially under threat from Iran but sources familiar with those internal briefings do not remember the number four ever being specified, and they certainly do not recall any imminent danger to those embassies.When administration officials briefed Trump, they mentioned possible targets for Iranian retribution; they were not discussing intel on what anyone in the regime was actively plotting against U.S. interests, the sources noted.However, the moment he heard the word “embassies,” Trump immediately chimed in, interrupting the meeting to grill his briefers on that issue, according to one U.S. official. From there, he began to treat this possible threat as a near-certain danger. Trump received another intelligence briefing shortly before his interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Jan. 10 where he repeated the claim that Iran probably would have attacked four embassies. When the president started publicly trotting out his claims of “four embassies,” national security aides were dumbfounded. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump’s “four embassies” talking point clashed with intelligence assessments from Trump’s own officials. CNN also reported that security officials at the State Department weren’t even notified of an imminent danger to any specific set of four American embassies.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper himself admitted during an interview on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation that while “the president said that he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies,” Esper personally “didn’t see [a specific piece of evidence] with regard to four embassies.”Esper added, “What I’m saying is I shared the president’s view that probably, my expectation is they were going to go after our embassies.”At that point, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad had of course already been stormed by an Iranian-supported militia, but that was prior to Soleimani’s death.Senior Trump administration officials have canceled several of their past scheduled briefings with Congress on specific threats to U.S. embassies pre-Soleimani strike. Briefers were also supposed to delve into more detail about what exactly U.S. intelligence said prior to the strike. The administration has held two briefings so far with both the House and the Senate, but sessions left lawmakers frustrated and overwhelmingly uninformed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rescheduled his briefing on the embassy threats with the House Foreign Affairs committee for next week.‘OK, Now What?’: Inside Team Trump’s Scramble to Sell the Soleimani Hit to AmericaBut people close to Trump say his embassy fixation lies in his obsession with avoiding the kind of catastrophes that befell his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. President Trump, who has long bashed Obama for the 2012 Benghazi attack and Bush for the Hurricane Katrina response, is particularly concerned with opening himself up to accusations of having suffered “Trump’s Benghazi” or “Trump’s Katrina,” according to two sources who’ve spoken to the president about this. “Multiple times I’ve heard him talk about how you don’t want a Katrina moment,” said a former senior White House official. “You can’t do anything about what weather is going to do, but you can certainly manage the response and the optics of what you’re doing in addition to the substance of what you’re doing.”With Trump’s shambolic, even scandalous, handling of the response and relief efforts to the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, this president seems to have already had his “Katrina.” He is, however, determined not to experience a direct parallel to Benghazi. Indeed, on New Year’s Eve, the president took to Twitter to enthusiastically brand the embassy attack that occurred on his watch “The Anti-Benghazi!” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 21:04:13 -0500
  • UN: Most Sudan rebels and neighbors back Darfur peace hope

    U.N. experts say most rebel groups and all of Sudan’s neighbors except Libya support the peace process in Darfur but local security incidents in that troubled western region have increased, ranging from rapes to clashes between farmers and herders. The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing Sudan's Arab-dominated government of discrimination.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 20:35:53 -0500
  • Iran Says Ukrainian Jet Was Downed by Two Short-Range Missiles

    (Bloomberg) -- A Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed after taking off from the Iranian capital on Jan. 8 was downed by two short-range surface-to-air missiles, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said in a second preliminary investigation report.The Tor-M1 missiles were launched at the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 jetliner from the north, according to the report.It also said:Plane took off from Tehran at 6:12 a.m. local time and lost all contact with air traffic control at 8,100 feetAircraft disappeared from secondary surveillance radar screens at 6:15 a.m. and from primary surveillance radars at 6:18 a.m.Aircraft moved past a residential area and its first physical contact with the ground was at a public park. Plane was torn apart as it moved through a football pitch, nearby farmland and gardensThe retrieved flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder are “some of the most advanced equipment of their kind in the world” and Iran lacks the facilities to decode themFrench and U.S. accident investigation agencies have refused to send necessary equipment to Iran for decoding the black boxes(Adds details on impact with the ground.)To contact the reporter on this story: Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Harvey at bharvey11@bloomberg.net, Michael Gunn, Erin ZlomekFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:41:28 -0500
  • No evidence of Sudan paramilitaries fighting in Libya: UN

    Golocal247.com news

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

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:11:04 -0500
  • Putin sends political plan to MPs in quick-fire Russia reform push

    Golocal247.com news

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

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

    Golocal247.com news

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

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

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

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

    Golocal247.com news

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

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

    Golocal247.com news

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

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

    Golocal247.com news

    White House’s brief also claimed process has been a ‘charade’ and Trump did ‘absolutely nothing wrong’ in dealings with UkraineLawyers acting on behalf of Donald Trump on Monday branded the impeachment case against him “flimsy” and a “dangerous perversion of the constitution”, setting the stage for the opening of his long-awaited Senate trial on Tuesday.As the president prepared to jet off to Davos, where he is set to give a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, the White House submitted its formal trial defence brief, a 110-page document in which it also claimed the impeachment process has been a “charade” and insisted Trump did “absolutely nothing wrong” in his dealings with Ukraine.The brief – submitted as a counter to a document filed by the House Democrats on Saturday – presented the most thorough outline to date of the lines of defence that Trump’s lawyers plan to use against the case to remove the president at his congressional trial, scheduled to begin in the US Senate on Tuesday.“The articles of impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the constitution and to our democratic institutions,” his legal team wrote, adding: “The articles themselves – and the rigged process that brought them here – are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected. They debase the grave power of impeachment and disdain the solemn responsibility that power entails.”Trump and his legal team urge a swift resolution to the trial, concluding with Trump’s decisive acquittal on a vote by the Republicans who dominate the Senate.Monday’s brief added: “The process that brought the articles here violated every precedent and every principle of fairness followed in impeachment inquiries for more than 150 years. Even so, all that House Democrats have succeeded in proving is that the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”(April 1, 2019) Through his personal emissary, Rudy Giuliani, Trump applies pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations tied to Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The Ukrainian president-elect, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, meets with subordinates to discuss how to stay out of it.(July 3, 2019) Lt Col Alexander Vindman, top adviser on Ukraine on the National Security Council, is made aware of the suspension of military aid for Ukraine.(July 10, 2019) Trump emissaries at the White House ask top Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden, shocking US national security officials. According to multiple accounts, after EU ambassador Gordon Sondland makes the Biden ask, then national security adviser John Bolton abruptly terminates the meeting, later calling it a “drug deal”. The Office of Management and Budget later informs the Pentagon and state department that Trump has suspended $391m in military aid for Ukraine. (July 25, 2019) Trump speaks on the phone with Zelenskiy, reminding him that “the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine” and then asking for a “favor”. Trump wants Ukraine to announce investigations designed to make Joe Biden look bad and to cast doubt on Russian tampering in the 2016 US election.(August 12, 2019) A whistleblower complaint against Trump is secretly filed to the inspector general of the intelligence community. For six weeks, the Trump administration will block Congress from obtaining the complaint.(September 1, 2019) Bilateral meetings in Warsaw, Poland. In testimony, Sondland says, “I now recall speaking individually with [Zelenskiy aide Andriy] Yermak, where I said that resumption of US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”(September 24, 2019) Nancy Pelosi announces a formal impeachment inquiry, accusing Trump of “a betrayal of his oath of office, a betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections”. The following day, the White House releases a partial “transcript” of the 25 July call, hours before Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with Zelenskiy at the United Nations. (September 26, 2019) The whistleblower complaint is released. Citing “more than half-a-dozen US officials”, it presents an accurate version of the Trump-Zelenskiy call and alleges that the White House tried to cover up the call.(October 8, 2019) The White House releases a letter refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, and accusing Democrats of trying to reverse the result of the 2016 election.(November 3, 2019) The House votes on a resolution laying out a process to move impeachment from closed-door depositions to open hearings.(November 5, 2019) The impeachment committees begin releasing testimony transcripts. The overlapping testimonies tell the same story, of demands by US officials of Ukraine steadily ratcheting up between May and September, from a demand to investigate corruption to a demand that “President Zelenskiy to go to a microphone and say ‘investigations’, ‘Biden’, and ‘Clinton’.”(November 13, 2019) Public impeachment hearings begin with the testimony of ambassador Bill Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state George P Kent. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch follows on 15 November.(December 7, 2019) The House judiciary committee releases a report on the constitutional grounds for impeachment on Saturday. Shortly after that, Donald Trump once again insists the whole thing is a “witch-hunt” and “a total hoax”(December 10, 2019) Democrats unveil articles of impeachment against Trump, concerning abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.(December 13, 2019) A day after the House judiciary committee abruptly postponed a historic vote to advance articles of impeachment following a 14-hour meeting that devolved into a rancorous, deeply partisan debate that stretched late into the night, it reconvenes and votes to move the two articles to the House floor.(December 18, 2019) The House of Representatives prepares to approve articles of impeachment against a president for only the third time. (January 16, 2020) Trump's impeachment trial formally starts, as the US Government Accountability Office finds suspension of military aid at the president’s direction violated the law.Tom McCarthy and Martin BelamThe Democrats’ case centres around a 25 July phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump asked his counterpart to do him a “favour” and investigate both a conspiracy theory concerning election interference and ties between the former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the eastern European country.Monday’s brief stated that the two articles do not amount to impeachable offenses and that the inquiry was not aimed at looking for the truth.“Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way – any way – to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,” wrote Trump’s legal team. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”They also claimed that the articles of impeachment are “structurally deficient” because they charge multiple acts and accused Democrats of watering down the grounds for impeachment.It comes after the House impeachment managers, who will act as prosecutors in Trump’s trial, released their own legal brief on Saturday in a 111-page document.In a joint statement, the House managers, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Sylvia Garcia, said the case against Trump is “simple, the facts are indisputable and the evidence is overwhelming: President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing our national security, the integrity of our elections and our democracy”.They added: “And when the president got caught, he tried to cover it up by obstructing the House’s investigation into his misconduct.”Trump’s legal team issued an initial response on Saturday that claimed the impeachment articles are “constitutionally invalid” and “a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election – now just months away”.The House of Representatives now has until midday Tuesday to respond to Trump’s defense – an hour before the start of the impeachment trial, scheduled for 1pm.Senators, who will act as the jury, will then sit six days a week, Monday to Saturday, between 1pm and 5 or 6pm ET.With a Republican-controlled Senate and a two-thirds majority needed to convict on either of the two articles – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – it appears highly unlikely that Trump will be removed. However, Democrats only need four Republicans to form a majority to win votes over rules and witnesses.Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said on Sunday that he wants to hold a vote on Tuesday on whether witnesses and additional evidence will be allowed to be brought before the trial if the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, does not include them in his proposal.On Monday morning Trump appeared to tweet in response, saying: “They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!”He added: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is now asking for ‘fairness’, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House. So, what else is new?”The White House document advises the Senate to “speedily reject these deficient articles of impeachment and acquit the president”.

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

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

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

    Golocal247.com news

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

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

    Golocal247.com news

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

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

    Golocal247.com news

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

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:53:47 -0500
  • California police: Driver rammed into car, killing 3 teens

    Golocal247.com news

    A Southern California driver intentionally rammed a Toyota Prius with six teenage boys inside, killing three and injuring three others before fleeing, authorities said Monday. The Prius went off the road and slammed into a tree at around 10:30 p.m. Sunday in Temescal Valley in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles. Anurag Chandra, 42, of Corona was arrested a short time later in a neighborhood near the crash site, according to the California Highway Patrol.

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:51:57 -0500
  • Orban May Win Reprieve as EU Party Divided Over Expulsion

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    (Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s biggest political group is leaning toward delaying an anticipated vote on whether to expel Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party from its ranks as consensus hasn’t been reached.The European People’s Party, the largest in the European Parliament, is unlikely to hold an up-or-down on Orban’s Fidesz party at a Brussels meeting that starts on Feb. 3, according to EPP sources who asked not to be identified because no official decision has been taken. The EPP suspended Fidesz’s membership in March over rule-of-law concerns in Hungary.Playing for time would further drag out the intra-party drama after the EPP endured years of criticism for shielding the Hungarian leader as he eroded democratic checks and balances. The Orban model has since been adopted in Poland and has inspired nationalists in the west, alarming rights advocates about democratic backsliding in the EU.Being a member of the EU assembly’s biggest group has perks, including the opportunity to confer with fellow leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel before EU summits when key decisions are taken. Leaving it could reduce Orban’s influence over future deliberations, including the distribution of billions of euros in funding.A push to eject Fidesz gained momentum when Donald Tusk took over the reins of the EPP in November. The group entrusted three “wise men,” including Tusk’s predecessor as EU president and a former Austrian chancellor, to draw up a report on whether Fidesz was still compatible with it. Its conclusions were expected to steer the EPP’s decision.But the report, originally due by early January, has yet to be filed and concern over Orban’s future moves if he was expelled remain, according to the sources. The “wise men” haven’t been able to reach a consensus, according to one of the sources, highlighting divisions inside the umbrella group.Tusk met with the trio on Monday, according to his Twitter page. He gave no details on whether the “wise men” had agreed on a recommendation about Fidesz’s membership and didn’t specify if he would would deliver his assessment of it at the EPP meeting in Brussels.Orban has repeatedly said that he’d preemptively quit the group before being ousted and that he’d then most likely form a new group in the European Parliament with populists. On Friday, he said he was “within a centimeter” of doing so after a majority of EPP members backed a European Parliament resolution calling for redoubling efforts to rein in Hungary and Poland over rights violations.The Hungarian leader is hedging his bets. He met this month with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the power behind Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party, to discuss cooperation in EU party politics. And just when the EPP was originally due to discuss Fidesz’s status in Brussels next month, Orban is scheduled to speak in Rome at a “national conservatism” forum along the likes of Italian nationalist firebrand Matteo Salvini.(Updates with EPP leader Tusk in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Irina Vilcu and Marton Eder.To contact the reporters on this story: Zoltan Simon in Budapest at zsimon@bloomberg.net;Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net;Ben Sills in Madrid at bsills@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net, Michael Winfrey, Andrea DudikFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.The hundreds of private jets expected to fly people out of Davos this week from the World Economic Forum will be able to fill their tanks with fuel designed to lower carbon emissions, as the annual global talk shop aims to beef up its green credentials.So-called sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, will be available at Zurich airport, according to a statement Monday from a coalition of groups representing business jet operators, manufacturers and fuel suppliers. A 30% blend with conventional jet fuel can lower CO2 emissions by about 18% on a comparable 1,000-nautical-mile flight, the group said on its website.Private jets -- a staple of Davos -- have become a lightning rod for the flight-shaming movement, with the global elite criticized for spewing unnecessary emissions by avoiding commercial flights. Promoting alternative fuels could help ease the mounting pressure against business-jet use, as well as for the broader aviation industry, which faces a potential end to European Union tax exemptions for jet fuel.Plastic, ProteinCarbon output from international aviation has more than doubled since 1990 and the United Nations has said the industry is set to overtake power generation as the single biggest CO2 producer within three decades.Read more: European Airlines Hone Their Response to Emissions Onslaught (1)The World Economic Forum this year has taken pains to push a green agenda and to make the conference more sustainable. Single-use plastic is being discouraged, while organizers promote protein alternatives to meat and transport by train and bus. About 1,000 private jet flights flew to and from nearby Zurich and St. Gallen-Altenrhein airports during the 2019 meeting.Read more: A Sense of Climate Urgency Takes Hold in DavosThis year’s jet fuel initiative comes with an offsetting plan. Business-jet operators using conventional fuel at airports in or around New York, Boston and Washington where the SAF variety isn’t available can opt for an equivalent amount to be used on flights leaving from Van Nuys airport near Los Angeles, according to the statement.SAF, a blend of synthetic and convential jet fuel, typically costs more than the petroleum-based alternative.Airlines have criticized attempts to impose new taxes in Europe, arguing that reducing emissions requires a global solution. Carriers are embracing biofuel-kerosene blends, though penetration has been slow due to high costs and limited supply. A switch to hybrid and electric propulsion isn’t expected to be feasible until the mid-2030s, and then only for smaller airliners.(Updates with number of flights last year in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mon, 20 Jan 2020 09:31:23 -0500
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