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  • Avoid Buying Palm From Malaysia, Indian Group Tells Members

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    (Bloomberg) -- The trade spat between India, the world’s biggest palm buyer, and Malaysia seems to be escalating, with an influential processors’ group in Mumbai asking its members to refrain from buying the tropical oil from the second-largest producer. Futures in Kuala Lumpur fell on Tuesday.Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month told the United Nations that India “invaded and occupied” Kashmir. Since then, Indian buyers of palm oil have been turning to Indonesia for supplies because of concerns that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will curb purchases of the vegetable oil from Malaysia.“The recent developments pertaining to strained relations between our nation and Malaysia have put a lot of responsibility on our industry in view of huge imports of palm oil” from the Southeast Asian country, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India said in a statement on Monday. “In your own interest as well as a mark of solidarity with our nation, we should avoid purchases from Malaysia for the time being.”Any action by India to stop palm oil purchases will hit at the heart of Malaysia’s industry. Palm oil is the country’s biggest agricultural export, with India purchasing about 3.9 million tons between January and September, worth about $2 billion. That’s more than double last year’s shipments after New Delhi cut import duties on the commodity in January 2019.Mahathir said on Tuesday that he won’t retract his comments about Kashmir and won’t bring the palm oil issue with India to the World Trade Organization “at the moment.” Palm oil in Kuala Lumpur fell 1% to 2,263 ringgit a ton, in a further retreat after closing at the highest in eight months on Friday.‘Huge Step’“It’s huge step and will have a negative impact on Malaysian palm producers,” said Gnanasekar Thiagarajan, head of trading and hedging strategies at Kaleesuwari Intercontinental. “Though there is enough oil in the pipeline, some tightness in the palm oil market is expected due to the developments, which could benefit other vegetable oils.”The spat is the latest regional diplomatic dispute to impact trade flows. South Korea and Japan’s disagreement earlier this year over the latter’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula has resulted in stricter export checks and hits to tourism, while the China-U.S. conflict over issues including intellectual property has roiled global trade flows and financial markets.Indian processors should boost purchases of vegetable oils from other countries such as Indonesia, Ukraine and Argentina to make up for the shortfall in purchases from Malaysia, said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the processors’ group.(Updates with Mahathir comments in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Pratik Parija in New Delhi at pparija@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net, Atul Prakash, Abhay SinghFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 23:37:29 -0400
  • Brexit options: Extension or just more tension

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    Boris Johnson’s Brexit extension letters are in, but Brussels is in no hurry to respond. With Westminster still very much in a political fog, the 27 other nations of the European Union are biding their time before replying to the U.K. government’s (reluctant) request to extend the deadline for Britain’s departure beyond October 31. If Johnson can get the deal through parliament, along with the necessary domestic legislation, in time for a Halloween exit, then the EU may not need to make a decision at all.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 22:59:22 -0400
  • Putin and Orban reportedly heavily influenced Trump's beliefs on Ukraine

    President Trump's perception of Ukraine being a corrupt country was reinforced by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who made disparaging comments about the country during conversations with Trump, U.S. officials told The Washington Post.This information was shared by George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state, during his closed-door testimony last week as part of the House impeachment inquiry against Trump, the Post reports. The officials said that Putin and Orban did not directly encourage Trump to request Ukraine launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, or push the debunked conspiracy theory that Kyiv was behind the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Instead, Trump was driven by his own belief in the conspiracy theory, peddled by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.National security officials were ready for Putin to try to damage the United States' relationship with Ukraine, the Post reports, and a former official said during a conversation in early May, Putin "did what he always did," which was say that Ukraine "is just a den of corruption." Such conversations made it harder for White House officials to get Trump to support Ukraine's new president, who was elected in April, and it didn't help that many people who backed aid to Ukraine, including former Defense Secretary James Mattis, had left the administration. Read more about how Trump is shaped by his relationships with authoritarian leaders at The Washington Post.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 21:23:30 -0400
  • Trump viewed Ukraine as adversary, not ally, witnesses say

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    The president, according to people familiar with testimony in the House impeachment investigation, sees the Eastern European ally, not Russia, as responsible for the interference in the 2016 election that was investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. It's a view denied by the intelligence community, at odds with U.S. foreign policy and dismissed by many of Trump's fellow Republicans, but part of a broader skepticism of Ukraine being shared with Trump by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his key regional ally Viktor Orban of Hungary. Trump's embrace of an alternative view of Ukraine suggests the extent to which his approach to Kyiv — including his request, now central to the impeachment inquiry, that the Ukraine president do him a "favor" and investigate Democrats — was colored by a long-running, unproven conspiracy theory that has circulated online and in some corners of conservative media.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 21:13:32 -0400
  • Huawei Lobbying Spend Hits Record With Hire of Trump Fundraiser

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    (Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co.’s lobbying spending spiked in the third quarter as the Chinese telecom giant hired a fundraiser for President Donald Trump with deep ties to Republican leadership to help it fight back against the administration’s blacklisting of the company from the U.S. market.Huawei spent a company record of $1.8 million on federal lobbying in the three months ending in September, up from $30,000 in the same period last year, when it had largely shut down its lobbying presence in Washington and whittled its office down to a skeleton staff.Of the total, Huawei spent an eye-popping $1.7 million to pay lobbyist Michael Esposito, according to federal disclosures. Esposito, whose hiring was disclosed in August, describes himself a member of Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee that includes the president’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to a biography on the website of his firm, Federal Advocates Inc.Even by K Street standards, the sum is extraordinary, and it exceeded the third-quarter spending of many trade groups considered among Washington’s most powerful players, such as the Consumer Technology Association, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Federation of Independent Business, each of which spent more than $1 million.Huawei hired Esposito to help with its fight over a five-month-old ban by the Commerce Department, which blocks U.S. companies from selling components to China’s largest technology company in the name of national security. Huawei denies that it’s a threat.Crab Cakes and ShrimpEsposito lobbied at the White House, the Commerce Department and its Bureau of Industry and Security, which oversees the so-called entity list that bans Huawei, according to a federal disclosure that he filed.Huawei and Esposito didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.Huawei is also pursuing a legal and public-relations campaign against the ban, which requires American firms to obtain a government license in order to sell to it. The company has been increasing its outreach to the press. Last week, Huawei hosted a reception for journalists during the International Monetary Fund meetings at the rooftop bar of a swank Washington hotel blocks from the White House.Journalists nibbled on shrimp tempura, crab cakes and pork belly with views of the Washington Monument and Commerce Department in the background as they mingled with company executives, including Andy Purdy, a former security official for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. Guests received tote bags containing a collection of interviews with the company’s founder and chief executive officer, Ren Zhengfei.In March, Huawei registered lobbyists for the first time since 2012, including Samir Jain, a Jones Day partner who was a cybersecurity official under President Barack Obama. The company also hired Boston-based Racepoint Global Inc., a communications firm specialized in technology matters, and BCW LLC, a communications firm owned by global advertising and marketing group WPP Plc.Huawei also has engaged law firms Sidley Austin LLP, Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Squire Patton Boggs. The company is fighting a U.S. criminal case for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Sidley Austin is defending Huawei and a U.S. affiliate against charges that they defrauded at least four banks by concealing business dealings in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of Zhengfei, was also charged in the case. She remains on bail with conditions in Vancouver while she fights extradition to the U.S.The ban hasn’t crimped Huawei’s revenues, which grew 24% in the first ninth months of 2019, boosted by a 26% jump in global smartphone shipments.\--With assistance from Shawn Donnan.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Mark NiquetteFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 20:17:50 -0400
  • The Latest: Syrian Kurdish leader likens US move to genocide

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    Among those she saw were senators who have sponsored a bipartisan measure sanctioning Turkey until it halts its invasion of northern Syria. Two of those sponsors are South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen. Graham said the U.S. should guard Syrian oilfields, and he called for an international force to guard a demilitarized zone between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 19:29:57 -0400
  • Last U.S. Base in Syria ‘Is Everything Wrong With Trump’s War’

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    Delil Souleiman/GettyIn the southeastern Syrian desert, near the Jordan and Iraq borders, far from the ruins of the Caliphate or the carnage of the Turkish invasion, lies the terminal phase of a U.S. war. A dusty garrison outpost called al-Tanf, or sometimes at-Tanf, is now the last redoubt for the American forces in Syria that have occupied it since 2016. It has little to do with the war against the so-called Islamic State, the ostensible purpose of the U.S. in Syria, and far more to do with a confrontation against an entirely different adversary: Iran. The Oct. 6 phone call between presidents Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a prelude to the betrayal of the U.S.’ Syrian Kurdish partners, prompted a highly confusing U.S. withdrawal from the Syrian northeast, one that’s been misunderstood as a full withdrawal from Syria. Instead, according to a knowledgeable U.S. official not cleared to speak with reporters, hundreds of U.S. special operators and general-purpose troops have pulled back to al-Tanf. For however long they remain in Syria—now that the Turks have invaded and the Kurds have turned to the Syrian government and its Russian patrons for protection, the U.S. presence may be untenable—al-Tanf and the 55-kilometer “exclusion zone” surrounding it will be where they operate. In a coda for the war, the missions U.S. forces can execute from al-Tanf are unclear. Along with a proxy force the U.S. has trained for years at al-Tanf, the Syrian Arab Magahwir al-Thawra, the U.S. occasionally intercepts ISIS fighters. But officials familiar with the area note that the base is far from where the bulk of ISIS is. Whatever military utility al-Tanf has in 2019 has more to do with a conflict with Iran. The base is positioned along a crucial highway stretching east into Iraq, and onward to Iran, and west toward Damascus. Thwarting Iran and its proxies from accessing the Mediterranean coast, bringing weapons and money along the way, has been an undeclared priority of hawkish U.S. officials in both the Obama and Trump administrations, as well as regional allies like Israel. “Al-Tanf grew as a sop to Jordan, grew because Donald Trump delegated authorities to ground commanders, and was repurposed as an anti-Iran thing, despite the very real fact that Iranian aircraft fly over it on a routine basis,” said Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “Al-Tanf has no obvious military purpose,” added Sam Heller of the International Crisis Group. “The real justification is, to my knowledge, denying the Syrian government and its Iranian ally access to the neighboring al-Tanf/al-Walid border crossing with Iraq. That blocks a key trade route that would better integrate Syria with its regional surroundings and help government-held Syria get on a more stable economic footing, which some in DC believe would diminish U.S. leverage to force a political resolution to the war.” Several former Trump administration officials, including ex-national security adviser John Bolton and cashiered Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have wanted to use the U.S. presence in Syria to confront Iran. That has discomfited Pentagon officials who wanted to focus on combatting ISIS, but some of them have conceded the utility al-Tanf has for frustrating Iran. “Our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here,” the former Central Command commander, now-retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel, said in Oct. 2018, the first time al-Tanf was opened to reporters. Similarly, Trump does not share his former aides’ expansive goals in Syria. But he’s ordered a 14,000-troop escalation in the Mideast over the past six months, aimed at threatening the Iranians. Accordingly, it’s conspicuous that al-Tanf is what remains of the U.S. in Syria. “It is everything wrong with Trump’s war in Syria,” said Stein. “The fact that it will be the last American enclave in Syria is more evidence of how Iran myopia has poisoned U.S. objectives in the region. It’s also been a scene of conflict. As Syrian government forces advanced on southeastern Syria, the U.S. and Russia negotiated the “exclusion zone” near al-Tanf to keep everyone’s armies separate. That didn’t stop U.S. warplanes from firing on an Iranian convoy near the base last September, killing six Syrians and an Iranian. These days, however, sources familiar with the area say the Iranian-controlled forces typically just route around the exclusion zone, rendering the base dubiously effective at its ancillary, undeclared mission.Al-Tanf is just a few miles away from the squalor of a refugee camp called Rukban, where at least 10,000 people live without access to running water and children die from exposure. The U.S. is not interested in their fate. At the Aspen Security Forum in the summer, Amb. Jim Jeffrey, one of the Trump administration’s most senior Syria policymakers, denied responsibility for Rukban. Administering humanitarian aid from al-Tanf, he argued, would risk making the U.S. presence look like it would last “forever.” But neither mission creep, strategic incoherence, inhumanity, nor disutility has ever been sufficient to stop a drifting U.S. war. Al-Tanf is a survivor. It’s endured earlier rumors of closure and Russian threats to assault it. “Despite the dubious rationale for remaining in al-Tanf, and the resource drain of securing the base,” said Heller, “it's possible the U.S. presence could persist indefinitely.”U.S. officials insist there will still be surveillance flights over Syria, so as to monitor whatever remains of the ISIS prisons the Kurds maintained before Turkey’s incursion. For the time being, those flights are focused on protecting U.S. troops from surprise attack. Whatever overflight the U.S. stages from al-Tanf has to operate in the collapsing window of Syrian airspace not controlled by Syrian, Russian, and Turkish forces. It’s unclear how much there will be. Administration officials and senior military officers are piecing together a post-drawdown Syria policy that can keep pace with—and be undone by—presidential tweets. On a trip to the Middle East that began this weekend, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was unsure whether the U.S. will stage anti-ISIS raids or strikes in Syria from Iraq, where most of the drawdown forces are headed, pending discussion with regional allies. On Monday, after Trump tweeted that U.S. forces have “secured the oil” in northeastern Syria, Esper revealed that now the Pentagon is considering additional plans to do just that, though securing oil and not human beings may not go over well with incensed Kurds who are pelting U.S. convoys with stones and fruit, to say nothing of the U.S. adversaries filling the void left behind by the U.S. departure.For now, what remains for the U.S. is al-Tanf, however much it calls into question the logic of this residual American presence. “Far from being a feather in the cap of American power, it is a dumb waste of resources,” Stein said, “in need of constant protection from hostile action, and it exists only because the Trump administration has convinced itself that [its policy] is something other than a set of talking points designed to mask the aim of collapsing the Islamic Republic.” 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, 21 Oct 2019 19:17:13 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Finally Gets to Put His Brexit Deal to the Vote

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    (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson will find out Tuesday evening whether he has any chance of getting his Brexit deal through Parliament -- and whether he can do it ahead of his Oct. 31 deadline.Having twice been denied a vote on whether members of Parliament support his deal, Johnson has introduced the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which would implement the deal in law, and plans to push it through Parliament at a breakneck pace. His moment of truth will come at around 7 p.m. in London, with what’s known as the Second Reading vote -- on whether Parliament agrees with the general principles of the bill.An analysis of MPs’ previous votes and statements suggests Johnson probably has just about enough support to win that vote. But it will be immediately followed by a second, on whether MPs agree to his rapid timetable for pushing the bill through. If he doesn’t pass that hurdle, he could still deliver Brexit, but he has little chance of doing it on time.“The public doesn’t want any more delays, neither do other European leaders and neither do I,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “Let’s get Brexit done on Oct. 31 and move on.”‘Ram Through’Still trying to meet that deadline, Johnson has proposed an express timetable for passing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. It sparked an immediate backlash in the Commons, with MPs attacking the the government for attempting to “ram through” the bill.The government’s schedule looks like this:The bill will then go to the House of Lords, Parliament’s upper chamber.Losing the Second Reading vote would kill the bill. Losing the subsequent Program Motion, which sets the timetable for the rest of debate, would simply make it very hard to hit his deadline.Defeat on either vote would be a blow for the prime minister, but would feed his public narrative that Parliament is trying to frustrate Brexit. Some of his actions in recent weeks have looked like efforts to pick fights. On Monday, he attempted to repeat the same vote he’d held Saturday, something that Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow predictably ruled to be out of order. “We’re disappointed that the Speaker has yet again denied us the chance to deliver on the will of the British people,” Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters in London.If Britain’s departure from the European Union is delayed, and Johnson gets to call the election he has been pushing for, his slogan will be: “Get Brexit done.”Johnson was forced Oct. 19 to request a three-month delay to Brexit from the EU. If that’s granted, it will be a significant defeat for a man who promised to get Britain out by Oct. 31 “do or die.” But he was clear on Saturday that he would blame this on MPs for standing in his way, rather than accepting that his plans had been unrealistic.Around 8 p.m. on Monday, the government published the 110-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill, along with 125 pages of explanatory notes. Many MPs immediately complained that three days was far too little time to scrutinize it.“This government proposal is frankly outrageous given the length and complexity of this bill,” Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said. Former Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke also attacked the timetable, saying there was no way the government could expect Parliament to scrutinize the exit agreement in three days.Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, who were supporting Johnson’s plans until he went back on his promise not to allow a customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland, could be tempted to back a move that would delay Brexit. Their opposition helped to defeat him Saturday.They will be further outraged by an admission from ministers that under their plan, goods leaving Northern Ireland for Britain will require “exit summary declarations,” even though they’ll be staying inside the U.K.. Michael Gove, minister in charge of Brexit planning, pledged the paperwork would be “seamless.”Another measure that seemed likely to provoke opposition was a clause forbidding the government from negotiating closer relations with the EU than the loose free-trade agreement that Johnson proposed on Oct. 17. If he does want to pass the bill, Johnson needs the support of MPs from the opposition Labour Party, and moves like that make it harder for them to back him.Wednesday is likely to see opposition parties try to re-write the bill to force the U.K. to stay in the EU’s customs union, or to make the Brexit deal conditional on approval from the public in another referendum.\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, ;Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Tony HalpinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 19:01:00 -0400
  • Facebook Pledges Tighter Scrutiny for Next U.K. Election

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    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. said it will set up a dedicated U.K. operations center during the next election, to counter misinformation networks, fake news stories and outside interference from other countries.Britain has consistently criticized Russia for attempting to manipulate elections around the world, while insisting there’s no evidence of interference in U.K. votes such as the 2016 Brexit referendum. But Facebook has been accused of hosting misinformation and advertisements seen only by narrowly targeted audiences.Writing in the Telegraph newspaper, after the company announced it had discovered four separate misinformation networks tied to Iran and Russia, Facebook executive Richard Allan said the company knows that “social media can bring significant new risks to the political process.”“People who want to interfere unlawfully with the outcome of an election will use every available means to try and do so, including platforms like ours,” wrote Allan, vice president for public policy in Europe. “We’ve built stronger defenses to prevent people using our platforms to interfere with elections and we’re continuing to make improvements in several key areas.”Facebook has pledged to label content as “false” or “partly false,” using an independent fact-checker, and to expand scrutiny of ads that have political content.To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 18:56:57 -0400
  • Nobel laurate Jody Williams campaigns against killer robots

    Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams is helping lead a campaign for a new international treaty to ban killer weapons that can select targets and fire without decision-making by a human being. Williams, who shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her key role in the successful campaign for a treaty banning land mines, came to New York with members of the killer robot campaign to meet with diplomats from the U.N. General Assembly's disarmament committee. "A machine is not a moral anything," Williams said.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 18:49:07 -0400
  • 'America is running away': Syrian withdrawal turns chaotic

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    The crowd hurled potatoes that thudded on the sides of the hulking U.S. armored vehicles. "What happened to Americans?" one man shouted in English up at the sole U.S. soldier visible on the back of a vehicle. It was yet another indignity in a U.S. withdrawal that has been carried out over the past two weeks with more haste and violence than expected — and which may now be partially reversed.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 18:31:14 -0400
  • US may now keep some troops in Syria to guard oilfields

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    The Pentagon chief said the plan was still in the discussion phase and had not yet been presented to Trump, who has repeatedly said the Islamic State has been defeated. Esper emphasized that the proposal to leave a small number of troops in eastern Syria was intended to give the president "maneuver room" and wasn't final. "There has been a discussion about possibly doing it," Esper told a press conference in Afghanistan before heading to Saudi Arabia.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 18:17:05 -0400
  • U.S. Wins Court Seizure of North Korean Cargo Vessel

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. won a court battle to take control of a North Korean cargo ship that had been used to sell coal and import heavy machinery, skirting economic sanctions on the country.Federal prosecutors in New York said Monday that they secured a judgment from U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel awarding the ship, a Handysize bulk carrier known as the “Wise Honest,” to the U.S., after the government filed a forfeiture action to seize it this year.The ship was interdicted by Indonesia in international waters last year. North Korea did not contest the legal action in court but protested the seizure to the United Nations, calling the U.S. a “gangster country.”U.S. authorities have indicated they may auction the ship. Among those seeking compensation from the proceeds may be the family of Otto Warmbier, who secured an uncontested $500 million judgment against North Korea over the torture and death of their son stemming from his time in custody. The Warmbiers filed a claim against the ship when it was seized but then withdrew it to allow the case to move forward.To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Berthelsen in New York at cberthelsen1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:44:38 -0400
  • Your Evening Briefing

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    (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every afternoon? Sign up hereSenator Elizabeth Warren on Monday unveiled an $800 billion plan to reshape U.S. public education. The Democratic presidential candidate’s signature wealth tax will pay for school and child-care initiatives—in effect transferring the cost of raising America’s children from all taxpayers to just the richest families. Here are today’s top storiesTeva said it offered to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits by providing what the company said are billions of dollars in drugs for use in fighting the U.S. addiction epidemic. Ken Fisher has seen more than $1 billion in assets drain away since making some sexist remarks earlier this month. The new Ford Explorer was supposed to help turn the underperforming automaker around. Instead, sales plunged as a plant plagued by personnel problems struggled to get the SUV out the door.Children are dying at a record pace on the U.S. border. Coyotes, meanwhile, are getting rich. Almost a year after California’s deadliest wildfire, the town of Paradise is largely abandoned. Residents have scattered to live with relatives, in nearby cheap motels, tents and cars. Meanwhile, the legal battle for control of PG&E, the utility that went bankrupt after its equipment sparked the deadly blaze, is incurring $1 million in professional fees daily.After losing a bid to hold a vote on his Brexit deal Saturday, Boris Johnson was thwarted yet again Monday. It’s another in a long series of defeats for his effort to take the U.K. out of the European Union.What’s Joe Weisenthal thinking about? The Bloomberg news director has been closely watching Austria’s so-called Century Bond because it represents one of the most extreme plays out there in the bid for safe-haven assets. Lately, as investors seem less inclined to seek safe havens, Joe says the chart for the long-term bond “looks like garbage.”What you’ll need to know tomorrowAnalysts are taking a knife to their 2020 profit estimates. Mitt Romney goes by “Pierre Delecto” on a secret Twitter account. One reporter outsourced her life to subscription services. Another survived the world’s first 20-hour flight. SoftBank has an $8 billion rescue plan to take control of WeWork. U.S. stocks advanced amid positive signs on trade talks. P&G made an inkjet printer for your face.What you’ll want to read tonightOlder adults were the targets of $1.7 billion in attempted thefts and losses in 2017, quadruple the amount reported four years earlier, according the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Already targeted by phone scammers and greedy relatives, America’s elderly are facing a bigger threat: the professionals they trust. Lawyers, insurers and financial advisers are increasingly the wolves in sheep’s clothing. (Corrects nation associated with century bonds in 10th paragraph.)To contact the author of this story: Josh Petri in Portland at jpetri4@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:37:43 -0400
  • Britain's Johnson plots another Brexit showdown

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    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson brushed aside yet another Brexit setback Monday and sought again to ram through his EU divorce deal in time for next week's deadline. House of Commons speaker John Bercow shot down Johnson's second attempt Monday to get MPs to sign off on his revised EU withdrawal terms. Lawmakers decided at their first Saturday session since the 1982 Falklands War to force Johnson to ask Brussels to postpone the October 31 cutoff date by three months.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:31:25 -0400
  • No more delays, UK PM Johnson appeals to parliament to back Brexit bill

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to lawmakers on Monday to approve his Brexit bill this week, saying neither he, the European Union or the public wanted any more delays to Britain's departure from the bloc. With just over a week before Britain is due to leave the EU, Johnson is scrambling to get his deal through parliament, which has put up a series of hurdles for the prime minister to meet his Oct. 31 deadline to try to prevent a no-deal Brexit. After the parliamentary speaker ruled out a straight 'yes or no' vote on the deal itself on Monday, Johnson is now looking to pass the legislation implementing the agreement through parliament as quickly as possible.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:30:00 -0400
  • Russia’s Troll Farm Is Kind of Sh*tting the Bed on Facebook

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    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyFacebook on Monday removed nearly 200 newly discovered fake accounts linked separately to Iran and to Russia’s Internet Research Agency. The takedowns demonstrate that foreign influence operations are already targeting the 2020 election, but provide evidence that Russia’s notorious troll farm is struggling to regain anything close to the influence in held in 2016.The new wave of takedowns targeted separate networks of deceptive accounts created by Iran and Russia, including dozens of fake Facebook organization pages. In a press call, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the takedowns show the company has come far since getting caught flat-footed in 2016. “The fact that we’ve identified them proactively should provide some confidence that our systems here are working,” Zuckerberg said.The Russian accounts were far more focused on U.S. domestic issues, but in terms of sheer numbers and longevity, the Iranian effort outstripped Russia. The Iranian accounts included 21 Instagram accounts and 135 fake Facebook accounts propping up 26 phony organization pages and four Facebook groups. More than 90 of the accounts were primarily focused on U.S. readers, with the others mostly targeting Latin America. The accounts largely pushed links to Iranian propaganda on state-run news outlets, according to Facebook.As with past takedowns, the company’s announcement only identified a handful of the Iranian personas. Of those, though, one stands out as eerily reminiscent of Russia’s 2016 efforts—a Facebook page called “BLMnews” that purported to be a news site covering the Black Lives Matters movement. The page had a meager 45 followers, and, according to Facebook, was devoted to driving traffic to an associated website that’s been operating since August 2016, according to Internet registration records.Russia’s Internet Research Agency ran similar sites and Facebook pages during and after the 2016 election season, some with sizable followings. But so far the Saint Petersburg troll farm appears to have a long way to go. Of the 50 accounts banned by Facebook on Monday, all but one were on Instagram alone, with no Facebook presence at all. The Russian operation appears to be in the early stages, Facebook said. “They're still trying to build their audience, and they put significant operation security into concealing who they were,” said company cybersecurity chief Nathaniel Gleicher in Monday’s press call.One sign of that improved op-sec is the dearth of text on the troll’s posts—perhaps a sign that Russia is seeking to avoid the linguistic giveaways that marred some of its 2016 content. According to social network analysis tool Graphika, which had inside access to Facebook’s data, the accounts generally pushed screenshots of other people’s tweets and memes with no commentary. “Some posts gained hundreds of likes but typically obtained orders of magnitude fewer than the American personalities they copied,” reads Graphika’s report on the Russian accounts. “The ‘conservative’ accounts in the set had a particular fondness for the conservative partisan group Turning Point USA, often sharing its memes and comments.”That may be a factor in the relatively limited reach of Russia’s identified personas. The 50 accounts together had a total of 246,000 followers, according to Facebook’s figures. “It seems they are getting stuck at the mimicry phase of infiltration,” said Clint Watts, a research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.As tallied by Graphika, the personas are the usual Russian mix of accounts pretending to be arch-conservatives in the heartland, and a roughly equal number pretending to be African American activists. A smattering of accounts were focused on more specific issues, like gun rights on the right or LGBTQ rights on the left.The accounts were largely devoted to sowing division, but when they directly addressed the 2020 election, they followed the IRA’s 2016 playbook to the letter. The “conservative” accounts attacked liberals and heaped praise on Donald Trump, while “liberal” accounts derided the president while vocally supporting Bernie Sanders over Democratic frontrunners. Joe Biden is singled out for criticism in much the same way as Clinton in 2016.Notably, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, a favorite of Russia’s state-owned media, isn’t featured at all in the posts shared by Graphika and Facebook, despite recently being labeled a “Russian asset” by Hillary Clinton.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:04:54 -0400
  • 'Get Over It'? Why Political Influence in Foreign Policy Matters

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    WASHINGTON -- A July 25 call between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine is the basis for an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump withheld U.S. military aid until Ukrainian officials investigated former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.Last week, the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, effectively acknowledged the quid pro quo, although he said the aid was in part contingent on Ukraine's investigating Trump's widely debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic Party emails in 2016. The theory is politically helpful to Trump because it would show he was elected president without that Russian help.Mulvaney was unapologetic in his remarks. "I have news for everybody: Get over it," Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. "There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." (He later reversed himself and has said his comments were misconstrued.)Readers have asked The New York Times to explain why, exactly, another nation's interference in the democratic process is such a serious issue.Here are some answers.Why don't we want foreign countries involved in our elections?Other countries have their own interests, and those interests don't always match ours, said Trevor Potter, the founder of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group that works to ensure fair elections."Many countries are rivals of ours and of our democratic system," Potter said. He listed as two chief examples China and Russia, countries that Trump has publicly suggested could help him achieve his political aims. "In some cases, they're going to want policies that help them and therefore hurt us. In other cases, though, they just want us to fail."Trump administration officials -- but not the president himself -- have publicly and repeatedly warned foreign governments not to meddle in U.S. elections.Are protections against this kind of thing in place?Yes. The ability of a foreign nation to gain access and influence over the U.S. democratic process has been a concern since the early days of the republic.During the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, delegates debated what kind of behavior should merit a president's removal from office. George Mason suggested the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors," which holds to this day. One of the high crimes the framers had in mind was accepting money from a foreign power, or what Alexander Hamilton said was giving in to "the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils."In short, the authors of the Constitution saw few bigger threats than a president corruptly tied to forces from overseas.What was the quid pro quo on the Ukraine call?Trump has denied any explicit quid pro quo -- a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something -- in his call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He has repeatedly referred to it as a "perfect" conversation.But several elements of the call could conceivably have been used as bargaining chips by Trump.One was the U.S. military aid, which came to nearly $400 million for security assistance to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression on its eastern border. The other was a proposed Oval Office meeting between Zelenskiy and Trump, highly desired by Zelenskiy as a powerful show of U.S. support at a time when Ukraine is under threat from Russia.According to a summary of the call released by the White House, Trump raised two matters after Zelenskiy spoke of his need for U.S. help. "I would like you to do us a favor, though," Trump said, shifting the conversation to ask Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens as well as the conspiracy theory.Zelenskiy responded that his prosecutor general would look into those issues, and asked Trump to provide any additional information that could aid in the investigation.So what's the problem?At its most basic level, asking another government for help -- whether a quid pro quo existed or not -- means that Trump would find himself indebted to another country.Doing this in private is especially alarming, Potter said, because the Trump administration's decision to even temporarily withhold military aid for a country that needs to arm itself against Russia goes directly against U.S. national security interests."If the president of Ukraine has agreed to do this, he has something to hold over the head of the president of the United States," Potter said. "It indeed opens the president up to political blackmail."Is this illegal?Asking a foreigner for aid in a U.S. political campaign is illegal, which Ellen Weintraub, the head of the Federal Election Commission, has made clear."If a foreign government is investing resources in producing something that will be a value to a campaign here in the United States, that's a problem," Weintraub said in an interview with ABC News.Isn't this business as usual?No. Both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have resisted the idea of enlisting help from foreign powers for political advantage.In 1992, when President George H.W. Bush was behind in the polls in his reelection campaign against Bill Clinton, a group of Republican lawmakers suggested to White House officials that they ask the British and Russian governments to dig up unflattering information on Clinton's actions protesting the Vietnam War during his time in London, and to look into a visit he made to Moscow."They wanted us to contact the Russians or the British to seek information on Bill Clinton's trip to Moscow," James A. Baker III, Bush's chief of staff, wrote in a memo at the time. "I said we absolutely could not do that."Ten former chiefs of staff for five former presidents -- Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton and Barack Obama -- have all said they would have considered such a prospect unacceptable.But that doesn't mean the Russians haven't tried. The Soviet Union offered to help Adlai Stevenson make a third presidential run in 1960, a proposal he turned down. The Soviet ambassador likewise offered to help finance Hubert Humphrey's campaign in 1968, drawing another rejection. And Leonid Brezhnev told Gerald Ford that he would "do everything we can" to help him win in 1976, a comment Ford brushed off without taking seriously.Doesn't the U.S. meddle in other countries?Yes.The CIA helped overthrow elected leaders in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s and backed violent coups in several other countries in the 1960s. It plotted assassinations and supported brutal anti-Communist governments in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The CIA has planted misinformation and, at times, used cash as a way to achieve foreign policy aims.But experts have argued that modern U.S. efforts are not morally equivalent to those in Russia. In recent decades, U.S. efforts have been geared toward promoting candidates who challenge authoritarian leaders. Russian efforts, on the other hand, are meant to sow discord."We often consider ourselves and hold ourselves out as an example of how other countries should conduct themselves," Potter said. "When we have internal battles or things have gone wrong here, it is much harder to do that."He added, "Countries can exploit that and say, 'We may be bad, but the United States is no better.'"Has this happened in previous U.S. elections?Sort of.The only impeachment involving foreign policy came in the case of a senator, William Blount, who was accused in 1797 of scheming to transfer parts of Florida and the Louisiana Territory to Britain. The House impeached Blount, but he fled Washington. The Senate opted to expel him rather than convict him at trial.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:59:43 -0400
  • Chile must investigate protest deaths, UN High Commissioner and former president says

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    The United Nations High Commissioner for human rights and former president of Chile has called for independent investigations to be held into the deaths of several protesters in the country following days of rioting, looting and arson.At least 11 people are reported to have died in unrest which began as protests by students opposed to a 4 per cent rise in train fares, but quickly escalated into anger over the cost of living across the country.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:37:18 -0400
  • Thousands protest in Sudan, call to disband ex-ruling party

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    Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Sudan on Monday to call for disbanding former President Omar al-Bashir's party, the political organ he used to control the country during his 30 years of autocratic rule before being ousted in April. Separately, Sudan's transitional government and a main rebel faction signed a political declaration amid peace negotiations that began last week, taking a new step toward ending the country's yearslong civil wars. Sudan's current transitional government came to power after a similar campaign of mass unrest, which eventually led the military to overthrow al-Bashir.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:18:29 -0400
  • Putin removes critical voices from his rights council

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin has removed several opposition figures from his human rights council, a decree published Monday showed, with critics saying the move robs the advisory body of its legitimacy. The 50-member body, which has spoken out against abuses, has gradually been losing its influence and many respected members of the human rights community had already quit in protest at various Kremlin actions. The five people being removed from the council, include its veteran head Mikhail Fedotov, according to the presidential decree on the government website.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:10:15 -0400
  • Protesters remain despite Lebanese PM's reform package

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    Facing escalating mass protests, the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri approved Monday a package of economic reforms and a 2020 budget without new taxes, hoping to appease people in the streets. Following a nearly five-hour Cabinet meeting, Hariri announced a series of economic and financial reforms which he described as a "coup," saying no government in Lebanon's history has taken such radical steps before. "The decisions that we made today might not fulfil your goals, but for certain it achieves what I have been seeking for two years," Hariri told the protesters.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:08:40 -0400
  • Israel's Netanyahu gives up on forming new coalition

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    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that he had failed to form a majority government in parliament, marking a major setback for the embattled Israeli leader that plunges the country into a new period of political uncertainty. In a statement, Netanyahu said he had worked "tirelessly" to establish a unity government with his chief rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, but been repeatedly rebuffed. Facing a Wednesday deadline, Netanyahu said he was returning the "mandate" to President Reuven Rivlin, who will now ask Gantz to try to form a coalition.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:58:36 -0400
  • Water cut to migrant camp as Bosnian authorities feud

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    BIHAC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Local authorities in the Bosnian town of Bihac on Monday cut off a nearby migrant camp's water supply, to pressure the government into reducing the population of the overcrowded site that international organizations have criticized as unsuitable. Officials in the northwestern town also announced a crisis meeting to discuss what to do with the camp, which hosts migrants stopped in the impoverished Balkan country while trying to reach Western Europe. Both the United Nations and the European Union missions in Bosnia have urged authorities to relocate the migrants from Vucjak — which is situated on a former landfill and near minefields left over from the 1992-95 war.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:47:58 -0400
  • Trump warns U.S. 'may have to get in wars'

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    President Donald Trump on Monday offered a confusing description of his foreign policy priorities as commander in chief — insisting that he is working to bring home American soldiers, while warning the U.S. may soon enter into new military conflicts. “If Iran does something, they'll be hit like they've never been hit before. Trump in recent days has sought to promote a temporary cease-fire agreement Vice President Mike Pence negotiated last week with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, aimed at halting the slaughter of U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria by Turkish forces.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:41:26 -0400
  • Brandi Carlile Is Latest to Drop Out of Fortune’s Powerful Women Summit Over Kirstjen Nielsen

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    Steve Marcus/ReutersAnother high-profile headliner has dropped out of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in protest of Kirstjen Nielsen, the former homeland security secretary who is scheduled to speak at the prestigious event.Prominent speakers like Hillary Clinton and filmmaker dream hampton have fled the summit’s lineup in recent days, citing Nielsen’s participation in the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy that resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border.Singer Brandi Carlile became the latest celebrity to drop out in protest, as pressure mounted on remaining headliners like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Anita Hill to take a stand.“At the end of the day I’m a mother with a ridiculous birthright and a heart for displaced people,” Carlile wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Respectfully, I absolutely cannot support Kirstjen Nielsen having a voice among the most powerful and inspiring women in America.”Clinton announced last week that she would no longer be speaking, citing scheduling conflicts. But a person close to the former secretary of state told Slate she cancelled after learning Nielsen was part of the lineup. Hampton cited Nielsen’s “immoral and reprehensible actions” when she pulled out last week.More than 53,000 people have signed onto a petition asking Fortune to disinvite Nielsen from the yearly event, which brings together the most prominent women in the Fortune 500. In a statement, Fortune spokeswoman Alison Klooster said the organization wanted Nielsen to have to answer “tough questions” in a “no-holds-barred interview.” “We believe that the most powerful women in business, who also happen to be some of the most powerful women in the world, have strong views about how the U.S. Administration has handled its immigration policy,” Klooster said. “We sought out an opportunity to bring the woman who was effectively responsible for that policy to ask her tough questions publicly and on stage about that policy.”Nielsen will appear in a 30-minute segment on Tuesday called “The Hard Questions,” moderated by PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz. She was previously scheduled to speak on a panel with Cisco Chief Security Officer Edna Conway, focused on Neilsen’s time at the department and the border security landscape. Klooster told the Huffington Post that the panel description changed because Conway was no longer able to attend. Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate who sparred with Clinton on Twitter earlier this week, is still scheduled to speak at the summit during dinner program on Tuesday night. And Hill, the law professor who became a feminist icon after testifying against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, will speak at a segment on the future of the MeToo movement.Both women, along with actress Eva Longoria and former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, have been pressured on Twitter to drop out of the program. Even journalists who planned to cover the summit received pushback from concerned citizens, many of whom used the hashtag NoSoftLanding—the same slogan activists used to protest Nielsen’s inclusion in the Atlantic Festival last month. (The Atlantic announced a week before the festival that Nielsen would no longer be able to attend.)  Amy Nelson, the founder of women’s coworking space The Riveter, responded to the public pressure in a lengthy Twitter thread in which she said she had considered dropping out of the summit, as well. Instead, the lawyer said, she decided to attend in order to ask Nielsen  about her role in family separations. “Like it or not—and I don’t—the Trump administration and his executives are powerful beyond words,” she tweeted. “@SecNielsen is part of that power. Her actions will live on in history. In infamy. We must ask her why.”As Homeland Security secretary, Nielsen oversaw the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy starting in June 2018. According to the ACLU, more than 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the border as a result of Trump administration policies and more than 100 have yet to be returned.Last summer, Nielsen famously claimed the administration did not have a policy of separating families at the border—a claim the Washington Post fact checker dismissed as “Orwellian.” She resigned as secretary in April of this year.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 14:14:51 -0400
  • High stakes for Putin, Erdogan summit on northeast Syria

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    Turkey's president is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin this week in talks crucial to the outcome of Turkey's latest incursion into northern Syria , and to the broader Syrian war. An agreement between Putin — who has backed the Syrian government of Bashar Assad in Syria's multi-faceted war, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could definitively end the fighting along the Turkey-Syria border.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:45:41 -0400
  • ‘This is oil country’: Newly painted Greta Thunberg mural defaced

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    A mural of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has been defaced with pro-oil and derogatory messages days after it was created.The vast artwork appears to depict the Swedish campaigner during her United Nations speech last month when she criticised world leaders for their “betrayal” of young people through their inertia over the climate crisis.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:20:41 -0400
  • As Boris tries to cinch Brexit, two Brits try to make sense of it all

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    Brexit nears a turning point as Boris Johnson seeks to push his deal across the finish line. A brief conversation about what is happening.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:15:07 -0400
  • A vote against Brexit timetable is a vote against Oct. 31 departure -UK govt

    British lawmakers who do not support the government's planned timetable to pass legislation to ratify its Brexit deal will be voting not to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, the leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said on Monday. The government said it planned for the legislation to complete its House of Commons stages by the end of Thursday, prompting anger from many lawmakers that the tight schedule would not provide enough time to properly scrutinise the legislation. Lawmakers will on Tuesday be asked to approve the proposed timetable, known as the programme motion.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:09:51 -0400
  • Putin removes critical voices from his rights council

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin has removed several opposition figures from his human rights council, a decree published Monday showed, with critics saying the move robs the advisory body of its legitimacy. The 50-member body, which has spoken out against abuses, has gradually been losing influence and many respected members of the human rights community have already quit in protest at various Kremlin actions. Five people will be removed from the council including its veteran head Mikhail Fedotov, according to the presidential decree on the government website.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:02:54 -0400
  • Far-Right death threat to German politician

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    Police in Germany are investigating suspected far-Right death threats against a senior politician from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU) ahead of regional elections this weekend. The threats are being taken seriously in the wake of this month’s far-Right attack on a synagogue in Halle and the assassination of a politician by a suspected far-Right gunman in June. Mike Mohring, the CDU’s lead candidate in regional elections in the eastern state of Thuringia, on Sunday made public details of a threatening email he received. The anonymous email threatened him with “countermeasures” including stabbing and a car bomb attack unless he withdraws from the election. “If you don’t heed this warning the same will happen to you as happened to Henriette Reker,” the email says, referring to the mayor of Cologne who survived a stabbing at an election rally in 2015. “We will try to stab you at your next public event, and if that fails, you can expect a car bomb or some other form of assassination,” it goes on. The email is signed “The musicians of the Reich State Orchestra” — a clear reference to the Nazi regime . Police are already investigating a number of other threats to high-profile figures signed in the same way. Walter Luebcke was assassinated outside his home by a suspected far-Right gunman in June  Credit: UWE ZUCCHI/DPA Police are also investigating a postcard sent to Mr Mohring in September which threatened he would be “number two to get a shot in the head”. The wording is believed to be a reference to the assassination of Walter Lübcke, a prominent CDU politician who was shot dead by a suspected far-Right gunman outside his home in June. Mr Lübcke was an outspoken supporter of Mrs Merkel’s former “open door” migrant policy. Mr Mohring is leading the CDU campaign to regain control of Thuringia from the Left Party in Sunday’s elections. The campaign has been overshadowed by the far-Right attack in nearby Halle earlier this month. Stephan Balliet failed in his attempt to massacre more than 50 people marking Yom Kippuer in the city’s synagogue, but shot dead two random passers by. The latest polls suggest the fall-out from the attack has led to a drop in support for the nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD), which is currently in third place on 20 per cent. Rival politicians accused the party of stoking anti-Semitic feeling which led to the Halle attack — a charge AfD leaders have denied. The CDU and the Left Party are currently neck-and-neck ahead of Sunday’s vote, on 27 per cent each.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:00:27 -0400
  • US defence secretary in Saudi Arabia on unannounced visit

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    US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia, state television said, days after the Pentagon said it was bolstering its forces in the kingdom amid tensions with Iran. Al-Ekhbariyah television gave no details on the previously unannounced visit, which comes after Esper visited Afghanistan. On October 11, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh asked for reinforcements following a mid-September drone and missile attack on Saudi oil plants, which Washington blames on Iran.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:57:51 -0400
  • Speaker Denies Johnson New Vote on Divorce Deal: Brexit Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit, sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, and tell us your Brexit story. Boris Johnson was thwarted in his latest attempt to get his Brexit deal approved in Parliament, in another blow to his effort to take the U.K. out of the European Union in 10 days’ time.House of Commons Speaker John Bercow rejected the government’s bid to trigger a second parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal the prime minister secured last week in Brussels.Bercow said members of Parliament had already debated and voted on Johnson’s deal in principle in a rare sitting on Saturday -- two days ago -- and they had decided to delay taking a final decision on whether to approve or reject it.The prime minister cannot keep asking MPs to answer the same question in an attempt to get them to change their minds, Bercow said, citing a parliamentary convention dating back to 1604.“It is clear that the motions are in substance the same,” Bercow said. “My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.”On Saturday, Parliament voted to postpone a final verdict on Johnson’s Brexit deal until after detailed legislation has been passed to implement it, a move designed to prevent the U.K. accidentally tumbling out of the EU with no deal.Johnson has vowed repeatedly to force the U.K. out of the EU with or without a deal by the current Oct. 31 deadline. He will now attempt to fast-track the draft law to implement his exit agreement through Parliament over the next 10 days, as he battles to deliver Brexit on time.“We’re disappointed that the Speaker has yet again denied us the chance to deliver on the will of the British people,” Johnson’s spokesman told reporters.Betrayal, Jealousy and Cliff Edges: Johnson’s Brexit MinefieldKey Developments:Speaker John Bercow ruled a second vote on Johnson’s Brexit deal cannot take place on MondayMinisters said Sunday the government has enough support in Parliament to get Johnson’s Brexit deal ratifiedDUP’s Jim Shannon says the party won’t back an amendment to the deal to keep the U.K. in a customs union with the EU, after Labour said it is seeking support for such a moveGovernment says it will introduce Brexit bill on MondayPound trades near a five-month high on speculation Johnson will win MPs’ backing for his Brexit deal this weekGovernment Plans 3 Commons Days in Brexit Bill (5:55 p.m.)Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg set out the accelerated schedule on which the government hopes to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the chamber. He said it’ll complete all its stages by Thursday Oct. 24. That implies:Tuesday: Second Reading and so-called program motionWednesday: Committee StageThursday: Third ReadingBut all that depends on the program motion passing, and opposition MPs are complaining that this timetable leaves them no space to scrutinize the bill.Johnson Attacks Bercow Over Vote Rejection (5:30 p.m.)Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, attacked John Bercow’s decision not to let members of Parliament vote again on the prime minister’s Brexit deal. “We’re disappointed that the Speaker has yet again denied us the chance to deliver on the will of the British people,” Slack told reporters.Johnson earlier spoke to David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, and urged him to get the Brexit deal ratified on his side by Oct. 31, Slack said.Corbyn Demands Economic Impact Assessment (4:30 p.m.)Opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn put an urgent question to the government, calling for ministers to publish an assessment of the economic impact of the exit deal Boris Johnson brokered last week with the EU.Earlier on Monday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said in a letter to Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee that there’s no need for an impact assessment because the benefits of the deal are “self-evidently in our economic interest.”Bercow Bans New Vote on Brexit Deal Today (3:40 p.m.)Commons Speaker John Bercow threw another obstacle in Johnson’s way, rejecting the prime minister’s attempt to put his Brexit deal to another vote, just two days after MPs debated it.Bercow cited a parliamentary rule dating back to 1604 under which the government cannot repeatedly ask Parliament to vote on the exact same motion.“It is clear that the motions are in substance the same,” Bercow said. “My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.”Judges Extend Decision on Johnson, Benn Act (1 p.m.)Scottish judges held off on ruling on a case brought by opponents of a no-deal Brexit to ensure that Prime Minister Boris Johnson complies with a law requiring he reach an agreement with the European Union on leaving or postponing the country’s departure.The panel didn’t set a date for the next hearing when releasing their decision in Edinburgh on Monday. The opponents are seeking a continuation to ensure that Johnson accepts an extension from the EU if it’s offered.Johnson Would Pull Vote on Deal If MPs Amend It (11:30 a.m.)Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the government would pull a planned “meaningful vote” on its Brexit deal if Members of Parliament “render it pointless” with amendments, the prime minister’s spokesman told reporters in London. In any case, the vote would only go ahead if Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow allows it, James Slack said.The government wants to hold a second reading of its Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Tuesday, Slack said. It will be published once it’s introduced to the House of Commons later on Monday. He said the government aims to submit its so-called program motion on Tuesday to fast-track the legislation, but is also holding discussions on when to pull the draft law if amendments take it too far from the deal agreed with the EU.Slack also said negotiations with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which the government still considers to be its partner in Parliament, are ongoing to try to persuade its MPs to back Johnson’s Brexit deal.Government to Introduce Brexit Bill (10:15 a.m.)The U.K. government confirmed it will introduce its Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the crucial piece of law that will incorporate Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal into British statute, on Monday.“MPs and peers will today have in front of them a bill that will get Brexit done by October 31, protect jobs and the integrity of the U.K., and enable us to move onto the people’s priorities like health, education and crime,” Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said in an emailed statement. “If Parliament wants to respect the referendum, it must back the bill.”DUP Will Not Support Customs Union: Shannon (9:30 a.m.)Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon told Sky News his party is “meeting shortly” to discuss issues including potential amendments to the government’s Brexit legislation, but ruled out backing any move to keep the U.K. in the European Union’s customs union.“We are clear where we stand on the customs union, that’s something that the cannot support and will not support,” Shannon said.The comments come after the main opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said his party would back amendments on a second referendum and a customs union, and made a direct appeal to the DUP to rethink their opposition to the latter. Getting an amendment through the House of Commons would likely require the DUP’s votes.Baker: Will Compromise to Get U.K. Out of EU (Earlier)Steve Baker, chairman of the Conservative Party’s European Research Group pro-Brexit caucus, told BBC Radio on Monday his colleagues are prepared to compromise to get the U.K. out of the European Union on Oct. 31.His advice to the group is “that we should number one back the deal, number two vote for the legislation all the way through unless it was wrecked by opponents,” Baker said, though he notably did not rule out accepting a deal that keeps the U.K. in the EU’s customs union.“For people like me, vast areas of that Withdrawal Agreement are unchanged and we are going to have to choke down our pride and vote in the national interest to get Brexit done,” he said.Earlier:Johnson’s Battle to Deliver Brexit: Here’s What Happens NextJohnson Might Yet Get Brexit Done: Counting the VotesU.K. Starts ‘No-Deal’ Brexit Preparations as EU Poised to Delay\--With assistance from Christopher Elser, Greg Ritchie, Jessica Shankleman, Andrew Atkinson, Robert Hutton and Tiago Ramos Alfaro.To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, ;Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:56:49 -0400
  • Congo's Ebola outbreak, now concentrated in a gold mining area, remains a global emergency: WHO

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    The World Health Organization says the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to pose an international emergency as the deadly virus emerges in a remote gold mining area. The global health arm of the United Nations convened its technical advisory committee on Friday to review the situation since first declaring the Ebola epidemic -- the second-deadliest in history -- a "public health emergency of international concern" on July 17.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:54:00 -0400
  • Dozens of elephants die in Zimbabwe drought

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    At least 55 elephants have died in a month in Zimbabwe due to a lack of food and water, its wildlife agency said Monday, as the country faces one of the worst droughts in its history. More than five million rural Zimbabweans -- nearly a third of the population -- are at risk of food shortages before the next harvest in 2020, the United Nations has warned. The shortages have been caused by the combined effects of an economic downturn and a drought blamed on the El Nino weather cycle.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:47:56 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Still Has a Bazooka at His Disposal

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It turned out last week that the key to getting a new Brexit agreement in Brussels wasn’t so complicated: Boris Johnson simply gave in on a couple of major negotiating red lines and then declared victory. He’ll have a much harder time repeating the trick in Parliament this week.The price of Johnson’s concessions to the European Union became clear on Saturday. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose interests were sold out by the British prime minister so he could strike the deal, gave their backing to a parliamentary amendment that vastly complicates Johnson’s task. The Letwin amendment, named after the former Conservative lawmaker who drafted it, says the new Brexit deal isn’t done until Parliament passes the legislation to implement it.That had two effects. First, it forced Johnson to ask the EU for an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline, as required by a law that he said he’d rather “die in a ditch” than comply with. Second, it has set up another epic battle between the executive and Parliament that will determine whether Britain leaves on Halloween. It might also determine the shape of future U.K.-EU customs arrangements, whether there’s a second referendum and even the timing of new elections.The new battlefield is over the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which would turn Johnson’s agreement into British law, including things such as controversial new customs arrangements and institutional frameworks, among many others.Unlike the U.K.-EU deal itself (a formal treaty), the withdrawal bill can be amended by Parliament. Given the bitter opposition to Johnson’s administration from many lawmakers, expect it to be larded with attempted amendments to tie his hands in implementing the new treaty. The two most important ones being discussed are an amendment from the opposition Labour Party that would seek to keep the U.K. in the EU customs union and one to put the deal to a referendum. Johnson would probably abort the effort rather than submit to either.For those who just got their heads around the “Irish backstop” — the guarantee in former prime minister Theresa May’s deal to keep the Irish border fully open — my sympathies. Her backstop would have effectively locked the whole of the U.K. into the EU customs union (anathema to Brexiters), while Johnson’s deal effectively does that only for Northern Ireland, to the displeasure of his erstwhile allies in the DUP. There was no wriggling out of May’s backstop in a way that satisfied Brexiters without exactly these consequences.The central feature of Johnson’s deal is a permanent customs arrangement that leaves Northern Ireland in the U.K.’s customs regime legally but that creates a complex customs system in the Irish Sea between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland. The system will require the filling in of detailed customs forms for each good being transported from the mainland to Northern Ireland that might end up in Ireland and the EU. And it creates an entirely untested system by which EU tariffs would be paid for those goods, and then refunded if they didn’t go to the EU in the end.And people thought the backstop was a brain twister.This arrangement imposes a new barrier on mainland-Northern Ireland trade, however much Johnson tries to dress it up as a simple matter of box-ticking. As such, it drives a cart and horses through the DUP’s one main demand: that Northern Ireland be treated no differently from the rest of Britain. It would be surprising, to put it mildly, if the famously recalcitrant DUP moved at all.Johnson has two strong cards, however. First, momentum. Such is the general exhaustion with Brexit (and fear that further delay will see it never delivered) that his parliamentary support is already greater than any registered for May’s deal. The European Research Group of hard-core Brexiters, most of the Conservative moderates he booted out of the party for defying him and some Labour MPs seem to be on board. His deal could squeak through if given the chance.The prime minister had hoped to keep the momentum going with a vote on Monday to show his deal could pass Parliament. But the House of Commons speaker John Bercow disallowed the motion. Tuesday will see the government seek approval from lawmakers for the withdrawal bill — which would be a huge win for Johnson, though not decisive — and an expedited timetable to try to get the legislation passed before the Oct. 31 departure date.If Johnson becomes convinced that the bill won’t be approved or that unacceptable amendments will be attached, he would probably play his second card and move to get a general election agreed this week, to be held at the end of November. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may run out of excuses to deny him a vote, especially once the EU approves Johnson’s request for an extension.Another bit of good news for Johnson: Polls suggest that Leave voters express a greater preference for his deal than a no-deal exit, which might just banish his fears of losing support at the ballot box to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Things could change once the withdrawal bill gets an airing, but Johnson’s election strategy, as I wrote Saturday, is now clear: It’s his deal or no deal.Having retreated once in Brussels, the withdrawal bill may be a hill Johnson can’t hold either. But once again, he could fall back, this time asking Britain’s electorate to arm him for the next battle with a bazooka: a parliamentary majority.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 the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:35:28 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Still Has a Bazooka at His Disposal

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It turned out last week that the key to getting a new Brexit agreement in Brussels wasn’t so complicated: Boris Johnson simply gave in on a couple of major negotiating red lines and then declared victory. He’ll have a much harder time repeating the trick in Parliament this week.The price of Johnson’s concessions to the European Union became clear on Saturday. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose interests were sold out by the British prime minister so he could strike the deal, gave their backing to a parliamentary amendment that vastly complicates Johnson’s task. The Letwin amendment, named after the former Conservative lawmaker who drafted it, says the new Brexit deal isn’t done until Parliament passes the legislation to implement it.That had two effects. First, it forced Johnson to ask the EU for an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline, as required by a law that he said he’d rather “die in a ditch” than comply with. Second, it has set up another epic battle between the executive and Parliament that will determine whether Britain leaves on Halloween. It might also determine the shape of future U.K.-EU customs arrangements, whether there’s a second referendum and even the timing of new elections.The new battlefield is over the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which would turn Johnson’s agreement into British law, including things such as controversial new customs arrangements and institutional frameworks, among many others.Unlike the U.K.-EU deal itself (a formal treaty), the withdrawal bill can be amended by Parliament. Given the bitter opposition to Johnson’s administration from many lawmakers, expect it to be larded with attempted amendments to tie his hands in implementing the new treaty. The two most important ones being discussed are an amendment from the opposition Labour Party that would seek to keep the U.K. in the EU customs union and one to put the deal to a referendum. Johnson would probably abort the effort rather than submit to either.For those who just got their heads around the “Irish backstop” — the guarantee in former prime minister Theresa May’s deal to keep the Irish border fully open — my sympathies. Her backstop would have effectively locked the whole of the U.K. into the EU customs union (anathema to Brexiters), while Johnson’s deal effectively does that only for Northern Ireland, to the displeasure of his erstwhile allies in the DUP. There was no wriggling out of May’s backstop in a way that satisfied Brexiters without exactly these consequences.The central feature of Johnson’s deal is a permanent customs arrangement that leaves Northern Ireland in the U.K.’s customs regime legally but that creates a complex customs system in the Irish Sea between the U.K. mainland and Northern Ireland. The system will require the filling in of detailed customs forms for each good being transported from the mainland to Northern Ireland that might end up in Ireland and the EU. And it creates an entirely untested system by which EU tariffs would be paid for those goods, and then refunded if they didn’t go to the EU in the end.And people thought the backstop was a brain twister.This arrangement imposes a new barrier on mainland-Northern Ireland trade, however much Johnson tries to dress it up as a simple matter of box-ticking. As such, it drives a cart and horses through the DUP’s one main demand: that Northern Ireland be treated no differently from the rest of Britain. It would be surprising, to put it mildly, if the famously recalcitrant DUP moved at all.Johnson has two strong cards, however. First, momentum. Such is the general exhaustion with Brexit (and fear that further delay will see it never delivered) that his parliamentary support is already greater than any registered for May’s deal. The European Research Group of hard-core Brexiters, most of the Conservative moderates he booted out of the party for defying him and some Labour MPs seem to be on board. His deal could squeak through if given the chance.The prime minister had hoped to keep the momentum going with a vote on Monday to show his deal could pass Parliament. But the House of Commons speaker John Bercow disallowed the motion. Tuesday will see the government seek approval from lawmakers for the withdrawal bill — which would be a huge win for Johnson, though not decisive — and an expedited timetable to try to get the legislation passed before the Oct. 31 departure date.If Johnson becomes convinced that the bill won’t be approved or that unacceptable amendments will be attached, he would probably play his second card and move to get a general election agreed this week, to be held at the end of November. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may run out of excuses to deny him a vote, especially once the EU approves Johnson’s request for an extension.Another bit of good news for Johnson: Polls suggest that Leave voters express a greater preference for his deal than a no-deal exit, which might just banish his fears of losing support at the ballot box to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Things could change once the withdrawal bill gets an airing, but Johnson’s election strategy, as I wrote Saturday, is now clear: It’s his deal or no deal.Having retreated once in Brussels, the withdrawal bill may be a hill Johnson can’t hold either. But once again, he could fall back, this time asking Britain’s electorate to arm him for the next battle with a bazooka: a parliamentary majority.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 the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:35:28 -0400
  • Lebanon Pledges Bank Tax as Part of Sweeping Drive to End Unrest

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    (Bloomberg) -- Lebanese officials promised to tax banks and slash their own pay as they unveiled an unprecedented package of measures to avert a financial meltdown and appease tens of thousands of protesters demanding they leave power.The emergency plan, announced Monday by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, includes the approval of a 2020 budget targeting a deficit of 0.6% of economic output with no other taxes or borrowing and more aid to poorer families.“Your movement is what led to these decisions today,” Hariri said in a powerful televised address, saying people had the right to keep protesting. “The demands are many and justified and varies but the clear demand that everyone united around was for dignity and respect and for them and their voice.The vision was met with skepticism by economists, not least because Lebanon’s budget deficit stood at just under 12% of gross domestic product in 2018. And while the plans appear to meet demands for change that have gone answered for decades -- including an end to electricity blackouts -- they did little to calm tempers in the street.Demonstrators gathered for a fifth day said they would remain -- settling for nothing less than a wholesale change to a political system based on sectarian power-sharing and the removal of a political elite they say has lined its pockets by exploiting poverty and differences.The stakes are high for Lebanon, which straddles the region’s geopolitical fault-lines and has often been a proxy battleground for the Middle East’s broader conflicts. The 15-year civil war ended in 1990 but still haunts a country where the warlords became the rulers and have remained in power ever since. It’s that class that protesters say has plundered the state, leaving it unable to provide basic services and close to bankruptcy.Highlighting the depth of public anger, the revolt for the first time cut across sectarian and political lines, with demonstrators taking aim at both local lawmakers and senior politicians in a way that was, until recently, unimaginable.“The problem is there is no trust in them, all of them. I don’t trust a single one,” said Elie Sleiman, a young businessman, who was carrying a large Lebanese flag. “We need a technocratic government, a new election law that is not sectarian and new elections. That would be a good start.”How Lebanon’s Unrest Is Both New and More of the Same: QuickTakeClock TicksTime isn’t on Lebanon’s side. One of the most indebted countries in the world, it needs to find fresh sources of funding as the foreign inflows on which it has traditionally relied have dried up.Even after Hariri’s speech, the yield on Lebanon’s Eurobonds due in 2021 was up more than 300 basis points on Monday to almost 24%, a record.“The deficit target is both unrealistic and unnecessary,” said Ziad Daoud, Dubai-based Chief Middle East Economist, Bloomberg Economics. “It’s just short of fantasy to expect it to go from near double digits to zero in one year. Fiscal sustainability requires a reduction of the deficit, but not necessarily to this extent. The goal was likely chosen for theatrics.”Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, has traditionally been backed by Saudi Arabia, but the kingdom has withheld support as the influence of Iranian-backed Hezbollah over the government has grown. It has ignored Hariri’s pleas for financial aid to avert a looming debt crisis.Meanwhile, Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Muslim armed group with a powerful political wing, has seen its own income dwindle as the U.S. sanctions some of its members as well as its main backer, Iran. With financial pressures rising, Hezbollah and its allies have opposed Hariri’s push to impose taxes and take other measures they fear will harm low income families that form a large section of their support base.The reform package promises to impose a one-off tax on bank revenues and cut ministers’ salaries by 50%. It also promises to implement the much-delayed restructuring of an electricity sector that loses $2 billion a year and to look at the possibility of selling off part of the telecoms sector, where a lack of competition has lead to some of the highest costs in the region.The government also pledged to meet the conditions required to unlock about $11 billion in international aid pledges made at a donor conference in Paris 18 months ago -- key to reviving a moribund economy and averting a debt crunch.The International Monetary Fund projects Lebanon’s current-account deficit will reach almost 30% of GDP by the end of this year. It predicts that economic growth, stagnant at 0.3% in 2018, would continue to be weak. Public debt is projected to increase to 155% of GDP by the end of 2019.“None of this satisifies the protesters’ core demands: removal of a deeply corrupt, sectarian and inept oligarchy whose systemic function is to divide, exploit, and profit off of a subjected society,” said Paul Salem, president of the Middle East Institute in Washington DC. “They’ve had enough; they want fundamental change: this is not it.”No More TrustAgainst this backdrop, banks, schools and the stock market were shut on Monday, as were many businesses. Protesters blocked roads around the country as protesters filled the streets waving the flag.The financial crisis has been years in the making. For months, sporadic protests and strikes have erupted as a shortage of dollars squeezes businesses and threatens a currency peg in place for more than two decades.Four ministers loyal to the Lebanese Forces, a major Christian party allied to Hariri, resigned from the government on Satruday night, saying they had lost their confidence in the government’s ability to change. Other ministers have stayed on, saying they feared a vacuum would hasten the moment of financial reckoning.In downtown Beirut, crowds stayed on as night fell, waving the red and white flag and dancing to blaring music in a festive atmosphere. “We want 24-hour electricity, 24-hour water, free hospitals for the poor, free good schools. We pay taxes and we get nothing and they want to increase them as well?” said Iman, who runs a snack bar in Beirut, declining to give her full name for privacy. “We want a new generation, not the old faces. Get rid of the sectarian system. Let Lebanese just be a Lebanese and not have to beg a sectarian leader for help securing their most basic needs.”To contact the reporters on this story: Lin Noueihed in Beirut at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net;Dana Khraiche in Beirut at dkhraiche@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Alaa Shahine, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:20:33 -0400
  • UK's Corbyn mocks PM Johnson for sending Brexit delay letter

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    The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party mocked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for sending a letter to ask for a Brexit delay after saying "over and over again" that he would never do it. Jeremy Corbyn told the House of Commons that Johnson's request had been handled with "posturing and attempts to distract" but said the letter had now been sent.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:13:54 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson is disappointed Brexit vote will not go ahead on Monday - spokesman

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    Prime Minister Boris Johnson is disappointed the parliament will not allow a vote on his Brexit deal on Monday, his spokesman said, describing the speaker's move as one that denied the chance to deliver on the will of the British people. Earlier, parliamentary speaker John Bercow said he could not allow another 'yes or no' vote on Johnson's deal to leave the European Union as it was a repeat of the question posed to lawmakers on Saturday.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:13:08 -0400
  • UK can still get Brexit deal approved this month - parliament speaker

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    The British government still has the opportunity to get its Brexit deal through parliament in time to leave the European Union at the end of October, the speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said on Monday. Earlier Bercow ruled the government could not hold a 'yes or no' vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal on Monday but could instead pursue the route of getting the legislation required for Brexit through parliament. "Nothing in what I have said in any way impinges upon the opportunity for the government to secure approval of its deal and the passage of the appropriate legislation by the end of the month.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:12:20 -0400
  • U.K. Parliament won't vote on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal today like he wanted

    The Brexit clock is ticking for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and he just hit another momentary snag.With 10 days remaining until the Oct. 31 deadline, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow denied Johnson's attempt to put the Brexit deal he brokered with the European Union up for a "meaningful vote" Monday. Bercow said the motion was the same as the one that was debated Saturday before Parliament passed an amendment requiring Johnson to ask for an extension from the EU before voting on his deal, which he did begrudgingly.Bercow said debating the motion again would "be repetitive and disorderly," citing a parliamentary rule from 1604 which prohibits the government from repeatedly asking Parliament to vote on the exact same motion. The speaker did say he was not preventing a vote on Johnson's legislation at a later date, but added that MPs must see the legislation, which is being introduced for a first reading Monday, first. Once they've gone through that, MPs will vote on whether to back it tomorrow.> "Nothing in what I have said, in any way impinges upon the opportunity for the government to secure approval of its deal" - John Bercow says it's "not for the Speaker to interfere" and makes "no apology" for his decision > > Latest Brexit updates: https://t.co/3zdhRbANWj pic.twitter.com/SuxnYb9Kp5> > -- BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 21, 2019Bercow received some pushback for his decision from Conservatives, and a spokesperson for Johnson said the government was "disappointed," but several other MPs respected the conclusion. Read more at The Financial Times and The Guardian.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:56:00 -0400
  • US may now keep some troops in Syria to guard oil fields

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    Even as American forces make a hasty and chaotic withdrawal from northeastern Syria, the U.S. is considering leaving some troops behind to secure oil fields in the region and make sure they don't fall into the hands of a resurgent Islamic State, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday. The Pentagon chief said the plan for was still in the discussion phase and had not yet been presented to President Donald Trump. Trump has repeatedly said the Islamic State has been defeated and has portrayed the withdrawal of American support for Kurdish forces as part of his larger goal of bringing troops home from the Middle East.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:50:06 -0400
  • Youtube star banned from Internet in China

    Youtube star PewDiePie has been banned from China allegedly for talking about protests in Hong Kong, China, and mocking President Xi Jinping for his resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:38:50 -0400
  • Betrayal, Jealousy and Cliff Edges: Johnson’s Brexit Minefield

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    (Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson is giving members of Parliament only a few days to debate the most important change to Britain’s constitution in almost 50 years. The outcome will decide the fate of Brexit and potentially his own future.Unlike his predecessor, Theresa May, the prime minister wants Britain to have far looser ties with the European Union after leaving, which means withdrawing in full from the bloc’s customs union. That decision may have helped him to pacify the Tory right, which torpedoed May’s proposals three times, but it leaves him facing opposition on multiple fronts. The opposition Labour party, for starters, wants to remain in the EU customs union.With the voting in Parliament on whether to back his deal too close to call, here are some of the key issues that Johnson has to navigate.Northern IrelandThe Democratic Unionist Party has refused to back his deal because it would see Northern Ireland being treated differently for customs purposes to the rest of the U.K. The grouping is also unhappy that it won’t be able to exercise a veto on the arrangements, after Johnson diluted it in an effort to secure the EU’s backing for his plans.The DUP’s view matters because the opposition of the party’s 10 MPs contributed to Johnson losing a key Brexit vote on Saturday. Can he win them over? Unlikely, as my colleague Dara Doyle has explained here.Johnson Has a Big Brexit Problem: His Northern Irish FriendsScotlandIf they can have it, why can’t we? Voters in Scotland, who overwhelmingly wanted to remain in the EU, are unlikely to relish the idea that Johnson’s deal will give Northern Ireland special treatment. The province will be closely aligned with the EU’s customs rules, potentially giving companies in the region an advantage over their Scottish peers.The Scottish National Party will almost certainly ramp up pressure for a second independence referendum after Brexit. Will Johnson be able to avoid the breakup of the U.K.?2020 Cliff EdgeThe Withdrawal Agreement Bill creates a new cliff edge: If a free trade agreement hasn’t been reached with the EU by the end of 2020 (or up to two years later, if both sides agree) then we are back to leaving without a deal. When Conservative MP John Baron pointed that risk out in a BBC interview, waverers took it to mean that Johnson isn’t serious about leaving with a divorce agreement.The Not-So-Level Playing FieldThe prime minister moved the U.K.’s commitments to abide by EU standards on tax, labor protections and environmental standards from the Withdrawal Agreement into the Political Declaration -- which, crucially, isn’t legally binding.Johnson has pledged to protect labor rights, but opposition Labour politicians are deeply skeptical he really means it. He will need to convince at least a few to believe him if he is to get his deal through Parliament.Second Referendum?Labour is backing an amendment to put Johnson’s Brexit deal to hold another referendum -- something the government has so far resisted.(Updates cliff edge section.)To contact the reporter on this story: Edward Evans in London at eevans3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:22:57 -0400
  • Pound Stays Near Highest Since May; No Brexit Vote Coming Monday

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    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Sterling traded near a five-month high amid speculation Prime Minister Boris Johnson will eventually be able to win parliamentary backing for his Brexit deal.The pound clung to the $1.30 mark, even as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow rejected the government’s attempt to bring back the divorce agreement for debate Monday. A vote on the deal failed at the weekend and that pressured sterling at the market open. But the British currency has since recovered, with strategists arguing that any dip would prove short-lived, and approval for the deal may ultimately be possible. U.K. government bonds slid and stocks advanced.With the parliamentary vote likely to be decided by fine margins, sterling failed to build on gains after breaching the $1.30 mark. The U.K. prime minister needs to garner support of 61 Members of Parliament to back his deal -- he likely has 62, according to a Bloomberg analysis.“It’s all to play for and while the numbers in parliament are extremely tight, we would give the probability of success for the government at 60%,” strategists at MUFG, including Lee Hardman, wrote in a client note before the speaker’s decision Monday. “We would expect to see sterling into a new equilibrium range of $1.30-$1.35 if parliament approves the deal as we expect.”The pound rose as much as 0.2% to $1.3013 after a four-day run of gains last week. Gilts fell, with the 10-year yield climbing four basis points to 0.75%, while the domestically focused FTSE 250 index of stocks extended two weeks of gains.“The price action today suggests that the FX investors are fairly comfortable holding on to their pound positions, notwithstanding the lingering political uncertainty in the U.K.,” said Valentin Marinov, head of Group-of-10 strategy at Credit Agricole SA. “This could point at further pound resilience on the back of abating concerns about a no-deal Brexit and/or hopes for a Brexit deal.”Some analysts remained cautious, given a set of potential amendments on a second referendum and a customs union is being considered.“Even if there is a positive outcome for the government, then the next set of risks are the actual amendments,” said Petr Krpata, chief currency strategist at ING Bank. If the customs union motion is passed “there is a risk that the whole bill will lose the support of the hard-line Conservative Brexiteers and the deal won’t eventually have a majority. So still plenty of uncertainties.”(Adds House Speaker’s decision in second paragraph, updates prices)\--With assistance from Charlotte Ryan.To contact the reporter on this story: Anooja Debnath in London at adebnath@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Dobson at pdobson2@bloomberg.net, Anil VarmaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:18:07 -0400
  • UK speaker rules against government trying to get another vote on Brexit deal

    Britain's parliamentary speaker John Bercow told the government on Monday it could not again try to get a vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal because it was posing the same question to parliament twice. Instead, Bercow said, it could pursue the route of getting the legislation required for Britain's departure from the European Union through parliament first rather than having a straight 'yes or no' vote on the agreement. Today's circumstances are in substance the same as Saturday's circumstances," Bercow told parliament.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 10:39:09 -0400
  • Agreeing Brexit deal 'self-evidently' in UK's economic interest - finance minister

    Agreeing the Brexit deal negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "self-evidently" in the interest of Britain's economy, finance minister Sajid Javid said in a letter published on Monday. "My starting point is that agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement is self-evidently in our economic interest," Javid said in the letter responding to a parliamentary committee's request for an economic analysis of Johnson's deal.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 10:06:20 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson Battles To Push Brexit Deal Through

    Johnson’s spokesman said the U.K. government is hoping to hold a new vote on its Brexit deal Monday. Earlier Monday, the pound sterling reached a five-month high at $1.30, and domestic stocks in the U.K. continued to have a good day.

    Mon, 21 Oct 2019 10:05:42 -0400
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