Sign In   |   Sign Up   |   Contact Us

International News

  • US pullout from Syria leaves a major prize for its foes

    Golocal247.com news

    The U.S. decision to withdraw from northeastern Syria after paving the way for a Turkish invasion has placed the oil-rich region back in play, heralding a new phase in the long civil war in which America's adversaries are set to make major gains. Until last week, Syrian Kurdish forces supported by about 1,000 American troops held around a fourth of Syria's territory, lands captured at great cost from the Islamic State group that gave Washington some leverage in the larger conflict. The resulting chaos forced a broader pullout of U.S. troops and led the Kurds to turn to President Bashar Assad, their last remaining hope for protection against Turkish-led forces.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:35:35 -0400
  • In one fell swoop, Trump throws US goals in Syria into disarray

    Golocal247.com news

    Since the outbreak of Syria's brutal civil war, the United States has stated several objectives -- destroying Islamic State extremists, easing from power President Bashar al-Assad and limiting Iran's influence. In just one decision, President Donald Trump may have undone all three. The mercurial leader pulled US troops out of northern Syria in the face of a Turkish invasion against Kurdish forces, who had led the campaign to crush the Islamic State group and with US protection had enjoyed effective autonomy.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:01:45 -0400
  • NHS hospital books hotel rooms for cancer patients under Brexit plans

    Golocal247.com news

    An NHS hospital has booked hotel rooms for cancer patient as part of contingency plans for Brexit. Maidstone Hospital has taken the steps in case of severe traffic congestion in Kent, under a “worst case scenario”. The trust running the site said it had booked “a small number of hotel rooms” to ensure patients could still be treated, in the event of problems on the key routes to the Channel ports.  A report to the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust board, reveals the contingency plans for those in need of essential treatment, such as cancer patients.  Patients and medical supplies could also be airlifted into the hospital by helicopter, under the measures.  Maidstone is close to the M20, one of the key routes to the Channel ports. A spokeswoman for the trust said a small number of hotel rooms had been booked “as a precautionary measure, to ensure we can continue to treat those patients requiring daily treatment”. Brexit | The best comment and analysis In a report to the trust board, health officials said the plans were for a “worst case” scenario, and pointed out the trust has experience of coping with travel disruption.  A new helipad at Maidstone General Hospital is expected to be operational by 31 October when the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. It could be used to move both patients and essential supplies if the hospital is badly affected by traffic disruption, according to the board papers. The plans, revealed by Health Service Journal, say that under a worst case scenario, services will be disrupted, but says critical services are believed to be resilient.  A trust spokesperson said: “To ensure our patients can continue to access services in a range of circumstances, such as when travel disruption is anticipated or severe weather is forecast, we have well-tested plans in place as part of our standard business continuity planning. ”We are working in partnership with other agencies across Kent and the wider NHS on our EU exit resilience planning and are confident that we are as prepared as we can be.” The plans also set out measures such as encouraging staff to use public transport, rather than cars, with pickups from local stations and use of motorcycle couriers for urgent blood supplies.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:00:00 -0400
  • This paragraph could suggest Trump's top Russia adviser isn't giving very flattering testimony to Congress

    Fiona Hill might be a major threat to President Trump.Hill, who serves as Trump's top adviser to Russia, was hired in March 2017 as an ally to then-National Security Adviser and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And as a story of her first time meeting Trump reveals, she's seemingly unafraid to hurt the president's feelings -- something that could prove notable as she testifies for Congress on Monday.As The Washington Post reported in 2017, Hill's hiring was "a reassuring selection among Russia hard-liners." But as the Post continues, Hill's "relationship with Trump, however, was strained from the start."> In one of her first encounters with the president, an Oval Office meeting in preparation for a call with Putin on Syria, Trump appeared to mistake Hill for a member of the clerical staff, handing her a memo he had marked up and instructing her to rewrite it. When Hill responded with a perplexed look, Trump became irritated with what he interpreted as insubordination, according to officials who witnessed the exchange. As she walked away in confusion, Trump exploded and motioned for McMaster to intervene.Things got even worse for Hill "when she was forced to defend members of her staff suspected of disloyalty" after Trump's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was leaked, per the Post. Read more about Hill and Trump's troubles at The Washington Post.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:58:12 -0400
  • Johnson Sets Tone for Election in Queen’s Speech: Brexit Update

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Queen Elizabeth II delivered a speech outlining the U.K. government’s program in Parliament as Boris Johnson laid the ground for a general election in which he aims to win public support for his Brexit strategy. The prime minister later repeatedly pledged to “get Brexit done” as he underlined the campaigning nature of the plans in his own speech to The House of Commons.In Brussels, Brexit talks continued after European Union Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said on Sunday that Johnson’s proposals to break the deadlock lack detail and risk leaving the single market vulnerable to fraud. Time is running short before Thursday’s crunch summit of EU leaders and the prime minister’s Oct. 31 deadline to deliver Brexit. The pound fell.Key developments:Queen Elizabeth II delivered a speech outlining Boris Johnson’s program for government ahead of a general election expected within weeksJohnson sets out campaign themes for next electionJohnson Stumbles in Bid for Brexit Deal as EU Demands AnswersPound Shaken Up by Positioning in Fear of Swift and Brutal MoveOpposition Parties Will Push For Second Referendum (7:35 p.m)Opposition parties who met this afternoon decided to wait and see if Boris Johnson strikes a deal with the EU in the next 48 hours before making their next move, according to two people who were at the meeting.The group, which consists of some Labour MPs, the Liberal Democrats, Wales’ Plaid Cyrmu, the Scottish National Party and Greens — alongside some former Conservatives — will then decide whether to seek a confirmatory public vote on a deal that the prime minister brings back as a price for allowing it to pass Parliament, the people said.They expect Johnson would still need to seek a delay to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline even if he gets a deal, because it’s likely to be incomplete. The Benn Act passed last month by Parliament requires him to ask for a delay if he hasn’t got a deal approved by MPs by Oct. 19.Finnish PM Says No Brexit Deal Before Summit (6:25 p.m.)The prime minister of Finland -- which currently has the rotating presidency of the EU -- said he doesn’t think it’s possible for the bloc and the U.K. to agree on the terms of a Brexit deal in time for the summit of leaders that starts Thursday. The EU plans to decide on Wednesday whether there will be a deal for leaders to sign during the summit and has ruled out negotiating during the actual meeting of leaders.“I think there is no time in a practical way and in a legal base to reach an agreement before the Council meeting, I think we need to have more time,”Antti Rinne told reporters in Helskini. “If there is a possibility to negotiate after the Council meeting, it would be so.”SNP Westminster Leader Appeals For Calm (4:30 p.m.)Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s leader in the House of Commons, appealed for MPs to remain calm and use measured language as political tensions rise ahead of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deadline of Oct. 31.Recalling the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox during the 2016 referendum campaign, Blackford called on leaders “to cool the temperature in this place” in what will be a series of “challenging” days. “Let’s show some responsibility, let’s show leadership in what is a time of crisis,” he said.Blackford, who called for a general election, said Johnson’s plan to end freedom of movement and leave the EU single market and customs union after Brexit would lead to “economic catastrophe.”PM Rules Out ‘Toxic’ Repeat Referendum (4 p.m.)Johnson said delivering Brexit will give certainty to business and talked up the benefits for the U.K. that a split from the EU could bring.“Brexit will bring all sorts of commercial, economic and humanitarian objectives,” Johnson told the House of Commons. “Let’s not wait, we can’t wait,” he added, ruling out any “pointless procrastination” proposed by opposition parties.“If there could be one thing more divisive more toxic than the first referendum, it would be a second referendum,” he said. “Let’s get Brexit done.”Johnson Sets Out Election Themes (3:30 p.m.)Mindful that a general election could be called within weeks, and the broadcast clips the Conservatives will want to use on social media, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons “we aim to create a new age of opportunity for the whole country” and “let’s get Brexit done.”He also promised a “high wage, low tax economy, with the highest environmental standards” and drew attention to the Tories’ spending pledges for the state-run National Health Service.Corbyn Promises Public ‘Final Say’ on Brexit (3:10 p.m.)Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he doesn’t trust the prime minister and will only facilitate a general election once a no-deal split from the EU is off the table. The Queen’s speech was a pointless exercise, he said.“There’s never been such a farce as a government with a majority of minus 45 and a 100% record of defeat in the House of Commons setting out a legislative agenda they know can’t be delivered in this Parliament,” Corbyn said. For Labour to support an election, Johnson must “get an extension, take us away from the dangers of a no-deal,” he added.Corbyn told MPs a Labour government would concentrate on tackling poverty, investing in public services and tackling inequality. It would also offer a vote for the U.K. public on Brexit, he said. “The only legitimate way to sort Brexit now is to let the people decide with the final say,” he said.“We may only be weeks away from the first Queen’s speech of a Labour government,” he said. “Labour will put forward the most radical and people focused program of modern times.”Johnson Makes Election Pitch in Queen’s Speech (11:30 a.m.)Boris Johnson set out his ambitions for governing the U.K. with an outline plan for what he will do if he wins the general election that’s expected to be triggered within weeks.The prime minister promised a focus on domestic issues if he can “get Brexit done,” as he used the pomp and ceremony of a speech to Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II to announce 26 draft government bills.Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, has already dismissed Johnson’s use of the speech, in which the monarch outlines the government’s program, as a “cynical stunt.”‘Sterling Euphoria Wearing Off’ (Earlier)The pound pulled back from a three-month high and U.K. government bonds rallied as traders reassessed the prospect of the U.K. securing a Brexit deal this week.Sterling dropped as much as 1.2% against the dollar after surging 3.8% during the previous two days amid optimism the two sides would reach an agreement to avoid a no-deal.“After the best two-day rally in 10 years, sterling euphoria as regards the prospects of an imminent deal is wearing off,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of Group-of-10 currency strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. “The prospects of a deal have dimmed from the extremes seen on Friday.”Sinn Fein Say PM Said There’ll Be No Veto (Earlier)Boris Johnson told Sinn Fein, the main nationalist party in Northern Ireland, that no single party would be allowed a veto on border arrangements under the proposals he has made to the EU, according to Mary Lou McDonald, the party’s president.“I spoke with the Prime Minister yesterday lunchtime and I raised this issue with him in respect of a veto that might be afforded to Irish unionism, to the DUP in particular,” she told BBC radio. “He assured me, or sought to assure me, that there would be no vetoes afforded to anybody in this process. So I can only take him on his word on that matter.”The Irish government and Sinn Fein are opposed to the Democratic Unionist Party being given a veto over future arrangements for the border in a vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly.Earlier:Johnson Stumbles in Bid for Brexit Deal as EU Demands AnswersBrexit Cloud Hangs Over Energy Supplies From Dublin to Belfast\--With assistance from Charlotte Ryan, Ruth Carson and Jessica Shankleman.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Kati Pohjanpalo in Helsinki at kpohjanpalo@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Thomas Penny, Caroline AlexanderFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:48:20 -0400
  • US troops scramble for the exits in Syria

    Golocal247.com news

    U.S. troops scrambled for Syria's exits Monday while the Trump administration threatened economic penalties on Turkey for an invasion that opened the door to a resurgence of the Islamic State group -- the fighters who were the reason U.S. forces came in the first place. The Turks began attacks in Syria against the Kurds, longtime U.S. battlefield allies against IS, after President Donald Trump declared U.S. troops would stay out of the fight. American troops consolidated their positions in northern Syria and prepared to evacuate equipment in advance of a full withdrawal as Turkish forces pressed an offensive against the Kurds, a U.S. defense official said.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:48:40 -0400
  • The Latest: Report: Syrian troops enter town of Manbij

    Golocal247.com news

    Syrian state media says government forces have entered the northern Kurdish-held town of Manbij, hours after Turkey-backed opposition fighters announced that they are advancing on the city. Monday's move was expected, coming a day after Syrian Kurdish militias struck an alliance with government forces to help fend off the Turkish offensive. Manbij houses U.S. troops, and an American official says troops are still in the flashpoint city, preparing to leave.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:37:21 -0400
  • Libyan officials: Airstrike kills 3 civilians in Tripoli

    An airstrike slammed into a house in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Monday, killing at least three civilians and wounding two others including a child, health authorities said. Tripoli has been the scene of fighting between rival militias since April. The U.N.-supported but weak government holds the capital, while forces associated with Gen. Khalifa Hifter are trying to seize it.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:17:53 -0400
  • Golocal247.com news

    Syrian army returns to northeast, as Turkey widens invasion

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 14:47:51 -0400
  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Pakistan for five-day visit

    Golocal247.com news

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Pakistan amid extensive security for a five-day visit the two counties hope will showcase the South Asian nation and strengthen ties with Britain. More than 1,000 Pakistani police officers are being deployed to watch over the royal couple as they criss-cross the second most populous country in the Commonwealth. The pair touched down at the Nur Khan airbase, close to Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, soon after 9.30pm local time (5.30 UK time) onboard a RAF Voyager plane from Brize Norton. The couple were met by the country's foreign minister, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi. Details of the visit have been kept under tight secrecy, but the pair will meet the prime minister, former cricketer Imran Khan, and visit Lahore, as well as the north and west of the country. Their visit has been billed as the most complex undertaken by the pair and comes 12 years since the last visit by the Royal family, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall met survivors of the Kashmir earthquake. Credit:  Chris Jackson Both the Queen and Princess Diana visited the country in the Nineties, before the country sank into a spiral of militant violence and became out of bounds for many foreign visitors. Pakistan hopes to use the visit to show off its improved security after military operations pushed much of its domestic Taliban militancy over the border into Afghanistan. Violence in the country has fallen sharply since earlier in the decade and Pakistan hopes a successful visit can showcase its potential as a tourist destination. Thomas Drew, British High Commissioner, said in advance of the trip that the visit would show the country of more than 210m as “dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking”. Pakistan hosts one of Britain's biggest diplomatic missions and receives more UK aid than any other country, much of it spent on education. William and Kate are expected to meet leaders from government and well-known cultural figures and sporting stars, as well as visiting programmes which empower young people. They will also cover how communities in Pakistan are responding and adapting to climate change, and are due to spend time understanding the "complex security picture" of the region. Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour Pakistan, in pictures The tour, which wraps up on Friday, aims to strengthen ties between the two countries and a time when, with Brexit looming, Britain is also keen to bolster its international relationships. The Duke and Duchess arrive as tensions between Pakistan and India are again strained over Kashmir. The nuclear-armed neighbours almost came to war earlier in the year after Delhi blamed Pakistan for a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 paramilitary police in the Indian Administered Kashmir. Their stand-off flared again in August when Delhi revoked Kashmir's special autonomous status. Both nations claim the Himalayan former princely state, but it is divided between them by a contested and heavily militarised frontier. Pakistan has tried to marshal international opinion against  India's move, but British diplomats are likely to try to avoid the issue during the visit.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:51:58 -0400
  • Sudan's government, rebels start peace talks in Juba

    Golocal247.com news

    The peace initiative was built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan's army and its pro-democracy movement. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir is hosting the talks in its capital, Juba, where some rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place. South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:31:31 -0400
  • Johnson repeats Brexit vow as EU talks reach critical point

    Golocal247.com news

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeated Monday that Britain must leave the EU on October 31, as divorce talks resumed in Brussels in a pivotal week that could define how and when Brexit finally happens. "My government's priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on October 31," she said in a speech to robed peers from a gilded throne in the upper House of Lords.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:30:44 -0400
  • Finnish PM says more time needed for Brexit negotiations

    Finland's Prime Minister Antti Rinne said on Monday more time was needed for the Brexit negotiations and that they could continue even after a summit of European Union leaders set for Thursday and Friday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to strike an exit deal at the summit to allow for an orderly departure from the EU on Oct. 31. Finland currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:21:34 -0400
  • Drugs investigators close in on Asian 'El Chapo' at centre of vast meth ring

    Golocal247.com news

    A vast drugs Asian drugs syndicate, which is wealthy, disciplined and less violent than Latin America’s cartels has become the prime target of a sprawling, previously unreported counter-narcotics operation, according to a new Reuters investigation.  The suspected leader of the multinational drugs trafficking syndicate, protected by a guard of Thai kickboxers, is Tse Chi Lop, a China-born Canadian citizen.  The elusive Mr Tse, said to be on a par with Latin America's legendary drugs traffickers “El Chapo” and Pablo Escobar, is being investigated in connection with a network formed out of an alliance of five of Asia’s triad groups that allegedly smuggles methamphetamine, heroin and ketamine, said the newswire. Known as “The Company” or “Sam Gor” after one of Mr Tse’s reported nicknames, which means “Brother Number Three” in Cantonese, the crime ring deals mainly in meth - a highly addictive drug that has devastating effects on long term users – and which it often conceals in packets of tea.  According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Sam Gor syndicate’s meth revenue in 2018 was at least $8 billion a year, but could be as high as $17.7 billion.  Suspected drugs kingpin Tse Chi Lop Credit: Reuters The UN agency estimates that the cartel has a 40% to 70% share of the wholesale regional meth market that has expanded at least fourfold in the past five years. Lawmakers believe the drugs are being funneled to at least a dozen countries from Japan in North Asia to New Zealand in the South Pacific.  Sam Gor is believed to collaborate with a more diverse range of local crime groups than the Latin cartels do, including Japan’s Yakuza, Australia's biker gangs and ethnic Chinese gangs across Southeast Asia. The crime network is also less prone to uncontrolled outbreaks of internecine violence than their Latin counterparts, setting aside rivalries in pursuit of massive profits, police say.  The Reuters investigation uncovered that Mr Tse, 55, is the main focus of Operation Kungur, a massive transnational counter-narcotics case, led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and drawing in about 20 agencies from Asia, North America and Europe.  It surpasses any other international effort to combat Asian drug trafficking syndicates, say law enforcement agents linked to the probe, and includes authorities from Burma, China, Thailand, Japan, the United States and Canada.  Taiwan, while not formally part of the operation, is assisting in the investigation. An AFP document reveals that the organisation has “been connected with or directly involved in at least 13 cases” of drug trafficking since January 2015, and names Mr Tse as the suspected ringleader, among the profiles of the operation’s top 19 targets.  Reuters was unable to contact Mr Tse. The AFP, US Drugs Enforcement Agency and Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau said they would not comment on investigations.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:15:38 -0400
  • Normally Hush-Hush NSA Opens Doors of New Cyber Directorate

    (Bloomberg) -- The National Security Agency is normally so secretive that its creation was classified, leading to the nickname “No Such Agency.”But in a move that surely caused hand-wringing and murmurs among the nation’s longtime spies, the agency opened its doors to journalists. But just a crack.Reporters were welcomed into the agency’s Fort Meade, Maryland headquarters last week for a carefully curated tour. The occasion? The NSA wanted to show off its Cybersecurity Directorate, a newly minted organization that began operations this month to protect the U.S. against emerging cyber threats.“This is a little bit of a different approach for us from the traditional No Such Agency approach,” said Anne Neuberger, the head of the new cyber directorate, who was among the handful of NSA officials who spoke to journalists during the two-hour event.The tour took place on Oct. 10 amid a recognition that U.S. enemies are rapidly developing cyber tools that threaten national security and the private sector alike, according to agency officials.Black BoxBut Neuberger also traced the agency’s new openness to 2013, the infamous year in NSA history when whistle-blower Edward Snowden spilled its secrets. Neuberger, who served as the agency’s chief risk officer following the disclosures, was struck that a surveillance agency has a unique role in a democracy -- it should publicly explain its values and the way it balances national security with civil liberties and privacy.“If we are a black box then a black box is not trusted,” she recalls thinking at the time. “The average American is a thoughtful thinking person, and they want to know what’s in the box.”Two hours wasn’t much time to examine the box. But it was a start.One of the highlights came after journalists were led into a conference room where opaque frosted glass panels lined the wall. Then, in a technological feat worthy of a Bond movie, the glass clarified on command -- revealing a view, albeit brief, of a newly formed cyber operations center that had been fogged from sight moments before.There, the nation’s cyber warriors -- some in plain clothes, others in uniform -- sit hunched over in semi-circular pods that face 20-foot-tall screens, where they search for malicious hackers stalking through the nation’s computers. This “Joint Operations Center” includes a mix of employees from the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, the military’s cyber division and is staffed around the clock.Each 12-hour shift includes a staff of about 200. Besides searching for adversaries, the cyber sleuths defend government networks, share information with government agencies, coordinate with allies and support offensive cyber operations, officials said.The glass refogged 12 minutes later and the hub of cyber activity vanished from sight, a reminder that the NSA’s new transparency policy has its limits.Defensive MissionCreation of the Cybersecurity Directorate is the first major reorganization of the agency in three years, and it seeks to restore some of the old organizational chart -- with a few tweaks. Under the 2016 reorganization, the agency’s Information Assurance Directorate, which had been responsible for the NSA’s defensive mission, was eliminated and the agency’s offensive and defensive missions were combined.Since then, the so-called ’defensive’ challenges facing the NSA have only grown. Advances in quantum computing may soon threaten the security of the U.S. government’s most sensitive communications. And digital adversaries like Russia, China and Iran have grown both more sophisticated and more ruthless.During the tour, officials said the new directorate does more than resurrect the old IAD. Under the new directorate, cyber defenders will have better access to real-time intelligence collected by the agency’s cyber spies and be expected to defend against attacks by targeting the adversary’s technology.The directorate doesn’t have an easy task. As the 2020 presidential election approaches, it is responsible for gathering and distributing intelligence needed to defend the vote, punish bad actors and avoid a repeat of 2016 -- when Russia meddled with state election data and launched a foreign influence campaign on social media.Beyond elections, new threats to the power grid, financial sector and air traffic safety are arising at an unprecedented pace.‘Don’t Talk’Since new cyber threats affect all Americans, the agency’s ethos -- “we don’t talk about who we are, we don’t talk about what we do” -- needed to change too, Neuberger said. In her view, the press could play a role in helping the NSA and the public understand each other.“If we want the average American to feel that they can trust the best of the country’s intelligence capabilities to be protecting the security and stability we rely on, they need to know the principles we operate under,” she said. “They need to know the questions asked here.”\--With assistance from Michael Riley.To contact the reporter on this story: Alyza Sebenius in Washington at asebenius@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Martin at amartin146@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:08:00 -0400
  • CFTC chair on ‘financial stability risk’ from a possible no-deal Brexit

    Golocal247.com news

    The clock is ticking for the UK to reach a deal with the European Union to avoid a no-deal scenario. Heath Tarbert, Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, a key Wall Street regulator, is watching Brexit closely, as London is a major hub for derivative clearing houses.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:51:29 -0400
  • Fiona Hill: British-born Russia expert drawn into impeachment storm

    Golocal247.com news

    The former National Security Council official saw the struggle over US policy on Moscow and Trump’s special bond with Putin * Former aide to testify she opposed Zelenskiy call – liveFiona Hill, a former adviser on Russia, arrives to be deposed behind closed doors amid the US House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into Trump. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/APFiona Hill, a coalminer’s daughter from County Durham who became the top Russia expert in the White House, is the latest official to find herself at the eye of the impeachment storm engulfing Donald Trump.British-born Hill arrived on Capitol Hill on Monday morning to give testimony behind closed doors to congressional committees investigating Trump’s conduct in his relations with his Ukrainian counterpart.The committees are looking for evidence on whether Trump abused his office to try to persuade the government in Kyiv to provide compromising material on a political opponent, former vice-president Joe Biden.Hill is likely to be interviewed on a much broader range of subjects, however. She was senior director for Europe and Russia in the National Security Council (NSC) for more than two years, giving her a front seat at the struggle over US policy towards Moscow and Trump’s peculiar personal attachment to Vladimir Putin.Hill was brought into the White House by Trump’s second national security adviser, HR McMaster, plucking her out of the Washington thinktank world, because of her expertise on Putin and Russia. She had co-written a book on the Russian autocrat, titled Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, that stressed the extent that his KGB career had shaped his worldview.“She went in out of a sense of duty,” a friend said. “Once she was in the White House, she tried to impose some sense of order and process on the chaos over Russia policy. When there was a state department translator in meetings Trump meetings with Putin, that didn’t happen by accident.”Hill planned to work at the NSC for a year but was asked to stay on by McMaster’s successor, John Bolton, despite calls to get rid of her from Trump acolytes, aware Hill was not a political loyalist.She handed responsibilities to her successor, Tim Morrison, on 15 July, and actually left the White House on 19 July, six days before Trump’s infamous call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which the US president asked for “a favour” in carrying out certain targeted investigations.It is unclear whether Trump’s efforts to use Ukrainian reliance on the US to his political advantage affected the timing of Hill’s departure, but she is expected to testify about the emergence of a parallel Ukraine policy run by Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is commonly described as Trump’s personal lawyer.Giuliani clearly thought his channel, focusing on digging dirt on the Bidens, had priority, and has sought to portray Hill as being out of the loop.“Maybe she was engaged in secondary foreign policy if she didn’t know I was asked to take a call from President Zelenskiy’s very close friend,” he told NBC News.Texts released by Congress between two diplomats working with Giuliani, the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and Kurt Volker, formerly special envoy for Ukraine, suggest that they expected more flexibility from Morrison, Hill’s replacement.Hill was born in Bishop Auckland, Durham, the daughter of a miner and a nurse, and became a dual national after marrying an American she met at Harvard. She still speaks with flat northern English vowels.The American chapter in her life opened quite by chance. After winning a scholarship to St Andrews University, she was in Moscow during the 1988 Reagan-Gorbachev summit and got an internship making coffee for the NBC Today Show. There, she met an American professor who suggested she apply for postgraduate studies at Harvard.Since it became clear Hill would be an important witness in the House impeachment hearings, she has been subjected to furious attack on hard-right talkshows and conspiracy theories on social media, some pointing to the fact that she knows Christopher Steele, the author of the famous 2016 dossier alleging Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin, from a previous stint in government, in the National Intelligence Council.Such attacks have become a routine form of intimidation aimed at stopping officials like Hill saying what they know about the inner workings of the Trump White House.Hill’s manner is understated, precise and discreet. Since entering the White House, she has hardly talked to the press and not made appearances in the thinktank world. Her deposition to Congress puts her into an unaccustomed limelight.“She was not looking forward to it but she knew she was going to testify. She will answer the questions and says what she knows, but she is not going to give some sweeping denunciation of the Trump administration,” her friend said.“She has respect for the people she worked for, even if she didn’t necessarily agree with them. They have all been in the same foxhole together.”

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:30:44 -0400
  • Russia, Saudi Arabia seal key oil deal

    Golocal247.com news

    Energy superpowers Saudi Arabia and Russia on Monday signed a key deal to bolster cooperation among the world's oil giants, as visiting President Vladimir Putin sought to defuse political tensions in the Gulf. Putin's visit follows attacks on Saudi oil installations that Riyadh and Washington have blamed on Moscow ally Tehran. At a ceremony in Riyadh, Putin and his host, Saudi King Salman, penned a string of multi-million-dollar investment contracts targeting the aerospace, culture, health, advanced technology and agriculture sectors.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:11:32 -0400
  • Putin aide: Turkish operation 'not exactly' compatible with Syria's territorial integrity

    Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said on Monday that Turkey's military incursion into northern Syria was "not exactly" compatible with Syria's territorial integrity. Ushakov, speaking in Riyadh during an official visit to Saudi Arabia by President Vladimir Putin, was commenting on Turkey's military operation which it launched last week.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:00:00 -0400
  • Russia's Putin visits Saudi Arabia on Mideast trip

    Golocal247.com news

    Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Saudi Arabia on Monday, meeting with the oil-rich nation's king and crown prince as he seeks to cement Moscow's political and energy ties across the Mideast. Putin received all the trappings of a state visit, with a mounted guard escorting his limousine to King Salman's Al-Yamamah palace in Riyadh on his first visit to the kingdom since 2007. In the intervening years, the Arab Spring roiled the wider Mideast as Putin would partner with Iran in backing Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country's still-raging war.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:40:37 -0400
  • President Xi Jinping vows Chinese separatists will be ‘smashed to pieces’ as US-themed protests begin in Hong Kong

    Golocal247.com news

    President Xi Jinping said that those seeking to divide China would be “smashed to pieces” in comments reported by state media Sunday, as protesters gathered for US-themed protests after weekend rallies descended into violence over the weekend. Although the comments were not made directly in connection with the Hong Kong protests, they followed a weekend of violence in which a bomb exploded and a police officer was stabbed during overnight clashes between protesters and police.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:11:00 -0400
  • President Xi Jinping vows Chinese separatists will be ‘smashed to pieces’ as US-themed protests begin in Hong Kong

    Golocal247.com news

    President Xi Jinping said that those seeking to divide China would be “smashed to pieces” in comments reported by state media Sunday, as protesters gathered for US-themed protests after weekend rallies descended into violence over the weekend. Although the comments were not made directly in connection with the Hong Kong protests, they followed a weekend of violence in which a bomb exploded and a police officer was stabbed during overnight clashes between protesters and police.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:11:00 -0400
  • The Latest: Graham to discuss Turkey sanctions with Trump

    Golocal247.com news

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham says he'll meet with President Donald Trump on Monday and plans to discuss sanctions against Turkey over its invasion into Syria. The South Carolina senator last week was critical of Trump's announcement about removing U.S. troops from Syria.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:53:49 -0400
  • Abandoned by U.S. in Syria, Kurds Find New Ally in U.S. Foe

    Golocal247.com news

    DOHUK, Iraq -- Kurdish forces long allied with the United States in Syria announced a new deal Sunday with the government in Damascus, a sworn enemy of Washington that is backed by Russia, as Turkish troops moved deeper into their territory and President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of the U.S. military from northern Syria.The sudden shift marked a major turning point in Syria's long war.For five years, U.S. policy relied on collaborating with the Kurdish-led forces both to fight the Islamic State group and to limit the influence of Iran and Russia, which support the Syrian government, with a goal of maintaining some leverage over any future settlement of the conflict.On Sunday, after Trump abruptly abandoned that approach, U.S. leverage appeared all but gone. That threatened to give President Bashar Assad and his Iranian and Russian backers a free hand. It also jeopardized hard-won gains against Islamic State -- and potentially opened the door for its return.The Kurds' deal with Damascus paved the way for government forces to return to the country's northeast for the first time in years to try to repel a Turkish invasion launched after the Trump administration pulled U.S. troops out of the way. The pullout has already unleashed chaos and bloodletting.The announcement of the deal Sunday evening capped a day of whipsaw developments marked by rapid advances by Turkish-backed forces and the escape of hundreds of women and children linked to Islamic State from a detention camp. As U.S. troops were redeployed, two U.S. officials said the United States had failed to transfer five dozen "high value" Islamic State detainees out of the country.Turkish-backed forces advanced so quickly that they seized a key road, complicating the U.S. withdrawal, officials said.The invasion ordered by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which came after a green light from Trump, is aimed at uprooting the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that has been a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State group. Turkey sees the group as a security threat because of its links to a Kurdish separatist movement it has battled for decades.The Turkish incursion has killed scores of people, and left Kurdish fighters accusing the United States of betrayal for leaving them at the Turks' mercy. That is what led them to strike the deal with Damascus, which said Sunday that its forces were heading north to take control of two towns and to fight the "Turkish aggression."Turkey's invasion upended a fragile peace in northeastern Syria and risks enabling a resurgence of Islamic State, which no longer controls territory in Syria but still has sleeper cells and supporters.Since the Turkish incursion began Wednesday, ISIS has claimed responsibility for at least two attacks in Syria: one car bomb in the northern city of Qamishli and another on an international military base outside Hasaka, a regional capital farther to the south.Trump has said repeatedly that the United States has taken the worst ISIS detainees out of Syria to ensure they would not escape. But in fact the U.S. military took custody of only two British detainees -- half of a cell dubbed the Beatles that tortured and killed Western hostages -- U.S. officials said.As the Turkish incursion progresses and Kurdish casualties mount, the members of the Syrian Democratic Forces have grown increasingly angry at the United States. Some have cast Trump's move as a betrayal.The Kurds refused, the U.S. officials said, to let the American military take any more detainees from their ad hoc detention sites for captive Islamic State fighters, which range from former schoolhouses to a former Syrian government prison. Together, these facilities hold about 11,000 men, about 9,000 of them Syrians or Iraqis. About 2,000 come from 50 other nations whose governments have refused to repatriate them.The fighting has raised concerns that jihadis detained in the battle to defeat ISIS could escape, facilitating the reconstitution of the Islamic State. Five captives escaped during a Turkish bombardment on a Kurdish-run prison in Qamishli on Friday, Kurdish officials said.The Kurdish authorities also operate camps for families displaced by the conflict that hold tens of thousands of people, many of them wives and children of Islamic State fighters.After a Turkish airstrike, female detainees connected to the Islamic State rioted in a camp in Ain Issa, lighting their tents on fire and tearing down fences, according to a camp administrator, Jalal al-Iyaf.In the mayhem, more than 500 of them escaped, al-Iyaf said.Most of the camp's other 13,000 residents are Syrian, but there are also refugees from Iraq who sought safety in Syria because of violence at home. By nightfall, some of those people had left the unguarded camp, too, fearing that it was no longer safe, al-Iyaf said."Everyone thought that the camp was internationally protected, but in the end there was nothing," al-Iyaf said. "It was not protected at all."Determining the exact state of play on the ground proved difficult Sunday, as the advances by Turkish-backed Arab fighters scattered Kurdish officials who had previously been able to provide information.The likelihood of an ISIS resurgence remains hard to gauge, since the Syrian Kurdish leadership may have exaggerated some incidents to catch the West's attention.The camp escape came hours before the U.S. military said it would relocate its remaining troops in northern Syria to other areas of the country in the coming weeks.Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" that the United States found itself "likely caught between two opposing advancing armies" in northern Syria. Syrian government troops were expected to enter the city of Kobani overnight.The Kurdish-led militia said the Syrian government had a "duty to protect the country's borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty" and would deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border.Previously, Trump administration officials argued that keeping Assad's forces out of the territory was key to stemming Iranian and Russian influence and keeping pressure on Assad.Trump says his decision to pull U.S. troops out of the way of the Turkish advance was part of his effort to extricate the United States from "endless wars" in the Middle East and elsewhere."The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years," Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday.Trump also tried to assuage his critics, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who broke with him over the Syria decision and is promising bipartisan legislation to slap economic sanctions on Turkey."Dealing with @LindseyGrahamSC and many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey," Trump wrote. "Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought."But his decision has had devastating consequences for Syria's Kurds.They lost thousands of fighters in battles against Islamic State and sought to establish a form of autonomous rule in the lands captured from the jihadis. Now that project has collapsed, and it remains unclear what rights they will retain, if any, should they fall back under Assad's government.On Sunday, Turkish troops and their Arab proxies made major progress on the ground, seizing the strategic border town of Tel Abyad and prompting celebrations across the border in Turkey.In Akcakale, a Turkish border town, residents raced around in cars, flying Turkish flags and honking their horns. Exiled Syrians, many of them from Tel Abyad, climbed onto rooftops to watch the end of the battle as gunfire sounded.Three wounded Syrian Arab fighters were recuperating in a private apartment near the border in Akcakale after returning from the front line, where they had been shot in an ambush by Kurdish troops.The men were from an area controlled by Kurdish forces who they said had prevented them from returning home."We will not stop," said Abu Qasr al-Sharqiya, 34, who was shot three times in the leg. "We need our houses back, our children's homes."On Sunday afternoon, Erdogan announced that his forces controlled nearly 70 square miles of territory in northern Syria.They have also taken control of an important highway connecting the two flanks of Kurdish-held territory, the Turkish defense ministry said. This allows Turkish troops and their proxies to block supply lines between Kurdish forces -- and cut an exit route to Iraq.It also makes it harder for U.S. troops to leave Syria by road.Since the Syrian civil war began eight years ago, northern Syria has changed hands several times as rebels, Islamists, extremists and Kurdish factions have vied with the government for control.After joining U.S. troops to drive out the Islamic State group, the Kurdish-led militia emerged as the dominant force across the area, taking control of former ISIS territory and guarding former ISIS fighters on behalf of the United States and other international allies.With Turkey making increasing noise in recent months about forcing the Kurdish militia away from its border, the U.S. military made contingency plans to get about five dozen of the highest-priority detainees out of Syria.The planning began last December, when Trump first announced that he would withdraw troops from the country before his administration slowed down that plan, one official said.U.S. Special Operations forces moved first to get the two British detainees, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, on Oct. 9, in part because there was a clear plan for them already in place: The Justice Department wants to bring them to Virginia for prosecution. They are now being held in Iraq.But as the military then sought to take custody of additional detainees, the Kurds balked, the two U.S. officials said. The Kurds' animosity might harden now that they have aligned themselves with Assad, a U.S. foe.That, combined with the Pentagon's withdrawal of U.S. forces, makes it even less likely the United States will be able to take any more detainees out.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:34:08 -0400
  • Iran's Guard says it detains Paris-based exiled journalist

    Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said Monday it arrested an exiled journalist who helped fan the flames of nationwide economic protests that struck the country at the end of 2017. Meanwhile, Iran's president said his country was prepared to begin using even more-advanced centrifuges as its nuclear deal with world powers collapses. The Guard and a later announcement on state television did not explain how authorities detained Ruhollah Zam, who ran a website called AmadNews that posted embarrassing videos and information about Iranian officials.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:24:22 -0400
  • The Budapest Election Is a Victory for Cities

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- With the election of Gergely Karacsony as mayor, Budapest joins a long list of big cities pitched against nationalist, populist and otherwise illiberal national governments. These cities, however, are largely powerless now to reverse countries’ policies which they abhor. By finding new ways to work together, though, these cities may find they can not only solve some of the thornier problems of urban life, but form an effective counterweight against authoritarian rule. Though it has been run by Hungary’s governing party, Fidesz, ever since its leader Viktor Orban came to power in 2010, Budapest, with its large creative and intellectual class, has always felt uneasy about Orban’s authoritarian ways and crude nationalism. This year, Hungary’s fragmented opposition finally united around a single candidate, political scientist Karacsony, and he comfortably beat the Fidesz incumbent, Istvan Tarlos. In Eastern Europe, where most countries are run by nationalist or populist governments, the dynamic capital cities tend to vote differently. In Poland, where the nationalist Law and Justice Party triumphed in Sunday’s national election, winning an outright majority in parliament, Warsaw backed the main opposition force, centered around the liberal Civic Platform party; since last year, the capital city has been run by a Civic Platform mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski. Zdenek Hrib from the liberal Pirate Party is the mayor of Prague, a city that has no love for populist prime minister Andrej Babis. Matus Vallo, the urban activist elected mayor of Bratislava last year, is no supporter of the country’s governing leftist-populist party.That, of course, is part of a global trend: Big cities tend to stand out politically in countries where nationalists, populists and authoritarians win. Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced to concede his loyal candidate’s defeat in the Istanbul mayoral election, and the new mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, has emerged as Erdogan’s top political rival. In Delhi, the Indian capital, an anti-corruption party opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi runs the legislative assembly.  In the U.S., most big city mayors are opponents of President Donald Trump; in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan is a member of the opposition Labour Party. Even in Moscow, had it run an honest city council election this year, the ruling United Russia party could have lost its majority; President Vladimir Putin’s support in the Russian capital is always lower than the national average.Authoritarians and populists find it easier to win in the heartland than in the big cities. The erosion of the local media makes rural areas and smaller cities more susceptible to propaganda. Corrupt local political networks operate under the radar. In Hungary, few  media that reach the rural population aren’t under Fidesz control. Recently, when a blogger released video of Zsolt Borkai, the Fidesz mayor of Gyor, cavorting with prostitutes on a yacht in Croatia, the scandal hurt Fidesz support in Budapest (Tarlos even urged Borkai to resign to minimize damage to the party). But in Gyor, a city of 130,000 located halfway between Budapest and Vienna, Borkai won re-election on Sunday as Fidesz retained control over  most of the key municipalities.In countries with mature democratic systems, election results in big cities simply reflect the relative cosmopolitanism and higher education levels of their inhabitants. In authoritarian countries, however, there’s more to these results: Big city campaigns and the votes themselves are more transparent and thus likely fairer than in the provinces.In addition to this enhanced political legitimacy of the big city leaders, the cities carry a disproportionately high economic weight. In 2015, the latest year for which data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are available, the Budapest metropolitan area contributed almost 46% of Hungary’s gross domestic product, one of the highest proportions among wealthy nations. Based mostly on the oversized economic contribution of major cities, the business consultancy McKinsey predicted back in 2011 that “In this century, it will be the city, not the state, that becomes the nexus of economic and political power.” But this prediction is still a long way off being realized because nation states suppress cities’ political power — more so in authoritarian countries than elsewhere. In eastern Europe, national governments carve off economically weaker parts of large cities into separate regions to keep European Union subsidies flowing and at the same time assert their political influence. Budapest and Warsaw were recently separated from their suburbs for these purposes.There’s not much mayors can do to resist national governments that try to weaken them. They can try to use the visibility of their position to win national office, following the examples of Jacques Chirac, a former mayor of Paris who went on to become president, Boris Johnson, whose popularity as mayor of London helped him move on to the national level, or, indeed, Erdogan, who was mayor of Istanbul before going on to run Turkey. But such successful transitions are relatively rare, perhaps because capital city mayors often have a hard time selling their success stories to provincial voters.Increasing efforts at international cooperation and policy coordination reflect mayors’ dissatisfaction with their relative political weakness. U.S. mayors are trying to stay within the Paris Agreement climate guidelines despite Trump’s withdrawal from that pact. There are numerous subnational diplomacy programs involving mayors. In a brief last year for the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Alyssa Ayres wrote of a “new city multilateralism” where mayors develop partnerships and share best practices.Mayors who disagree with their national governments can use these platforms to work out how to resist. In eastern Europe, for example, the liberal city bosses could learn from the example of “sanctuary city” mayors in the U.S., who welcome immigrants in defiance of Trump’s tough line on immigration. There are enough “dissident” mayors now that they could try forming international united fronts on issues like policing and fighting corruption. Cities also need to push for more powers within their nation states. It’s unfair both economically and politically that the urban centers of today don’t enjoy  more of the freedoms and independence from national authorities that, for example, accrued to the merchant cities of old — like the Free and Hanseatic City of Luebeck, whose ancient self-government was only taken away by Adolf Hitler (as a questionable but widespread  legend goes, as vengeance for the city’s refusal to let him campaign there in 1932). Given the limited powers of mayoral authorities, voting in people like Karacsony will sometimes not feel like enough where people feel their rights or freedoms are being curtailed. This year’s Hong Kong protests in the face of China’s enormous pressure are an extreme but useful example. Even if the people of big cities cannot completely change their nation states, they can at least try to turn the urban centers into oases of relative liberty.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 08:37:14 -0400
  • The Budapest Election Is a Victory for Cities

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- With the election of Gergely Karacsony as mayor, Budapest joins a long list of big cities pitched against nationalist, populist and otherwise illiberal national governments. These cities, however, are largely powerless now to reverse countries’ policies which they abhor. By finding new ways to work together, though, these cities may find they can not only solve some of the thornier problems of urban life, but form an effective counterweight against authoritarian rule. Though it has been run by Hungary’s governing party, Fidesz, ever since its leader Viktor Orban came to power in 2010, Budapest, with its large creative and intellectual class, has always felt uneasy about Orban’s authoritarian ways and crude nationalism. This year, Hungary’s fragmented opposition finally united around a single candidate, political scientist Karacsony, and he comfortably beat the Fidesz incumbent, Istvan Tarlos. In Eastern Europe, where most countries are run by nationalist or populist governments, the dynamic capital cities tend to vote differently. In Poland, where the nationalist Law and Justice Party triumphed in Sunday’s national election, winning an outright majority in parliament, Warsaw backed the main opposition force, centered around the liberal Civic Platform party; since last year, the capital city has been run by a Civic Platform mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski. Zdenek Hrib from the liberal Pirate Party is the mayor of Prague, a city that has no love for populist prime minister Andrej Babis. Matus Vallo, the urban activist elected mayor of Bratislava last year, is no supporter of the country’s governing leftist-populist party.That, of course, is part of a global trend: Big cities tend to stand out politically in countries where nationalists, populists and authoritarians win. Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was forced to concede his loyal candidate’s defeat in the Istanbul mayoral election, and the new mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, has emerged as Erdogan’s top political rival. In Delhi, the Indian capital, an anti-corruption party opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi runs the legislative assembly.  In the U.S., most big city mayors are opponents of President Donald Trump; in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan is a member of the opposition Labour Party. Even in Moscow, had it run an honest city council election this year, the ruling United Russia party could have lost its majority; President Vladimir Putin’s support in the Russian capital is always lower than the national average.Authoritarians and populists find it easier to win in the heartland than in the big cities. The erosion of the local media makes rural areas and smaller cities more susceptible to propaganda. Corrupt local political networks operate under the radar. In Hungary, few  media that reach the rural population aren’t under Fidesz control. Recently, when a blogger released video of Zsolt Borkai, the Fidesz mayor of Gyor, cavorting with prostitutes on a yacht in Croatia, the scandal hurt Fidesz support in Budapest (Tarlos even urged Borkai to resign to minimize damage to the party). But in Gyor, a city of 130,000 located halfway between Budapest and Vienna, Borkai won re-election on Sunday as Fidesz retained control over  most of the key municipalities.In countries with mature democratic systems, election results in big cities simply reflect the relative cosmopolitanism and higher education levels of their inhabitants. In authoritarian countries, however, there’s more to these results: Big city campaigns and the votes themselves are more transparent and thus likely fairer than in the provinces.In addition to this enhanced political legitimacy of the big city leaders, the cities carry a disproportionately high economic weight. In 2015, the latest year for which data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are available, the Budapest metropolitan area contributed almost 46% of Hungary’s gross domestic product, one of the highest proportions among wealthy nations. Based mostly on the oversized economic contribution of major cities, the business consultancy McKinsey predicted back in 2011 that “In this century, it will be the city, not the state, that becomes the nexus of economic and political power.” But this prediction is still a long way off being realized because nation states suppress cities’ political power — more so in authoritarian countries than elsewhere. In eastern Europe, national governments carve off economically weaker parts of large cities into separate regions to keep European Union subsidies flowing and at the same time assert their political influence. Budapest and Warsaw were recently separated from their suburbs for these purposes.There’s not much mayors can do to resist national governments that try to weaken them. They can try to use the visibility of their position to win national office, following the examples of Jacques Chirac, a former mayor of Paris who went on to become president, Boris Johnson, whose popularity as mayor of London helped him move on to the national level, or, indeed, Erdogan, who was mayor of Istanbul before going on to run Turkey. But such successful transitions are relatively rare, perhaps because capital city mayors often have a hard time selling their success stories to provincial voters.Increasing efforts at international cooperation and policy coordination reflect mayors’ dissatisfaction with their relative political weakness. U.S. mayors are trying to stay within the Paris Agreement climate guidelines despite Trump’s withdrawal from that pact. There are numerous subnational diplomacy programs involving mayors. In a brief last year for the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Alyssa Ayres wrote of a “new city multilateralism” where mayors develop partnerships and share best practices.Mayors who disagree with their national governments can use these platforms to work out how to resist. In eastern Europe, for example, the liberal city bosses could learn from the example of “sanctuary city” mayors in the U.S., who welcome immigrants in defiance of Trump’s tough line on immigration. There are enough “dissident” mayors now that they could try forming international united fronts on issues like policing and fighting corruption. Cities also need to push for more powers within their nation states. It’s unfair both economically and politically that the urban centers of today don’t enjoy  more of the freedoms and independence from national authorities that, for example, accrued to the merchant cities of old — like the Free and Hanseatic City of Luebeck, whose ancient self-government was only taken away by Adolf Hitler (as a questionable but widespread  legend goes, as vengeance for the city’s refusal to let him campaign there in 1932). Given the limited powers of mayoral authorities, voting in people like Karacsony will sometimes not feel like enough where people feel their rights or freedoms are being curtailed. This year’s Hong Kong protests in the face of China’s enormous pressure are an extreme but useful example. Even if the people of big cities cannot completely change their nation states, they can at least try to turn the urban centers into oases of relative liberty.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 08:37:14 -0400
  • Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling 'Ashamed,' and Kurdish Allies Describing 'Betrayal'

    Golocal247.com news

    WASHINGTON -- U.S. commandos were working alongside Kurdish forces at an outpost in eastern Syria last year when they were attacked by columns of Syrian government tanks and hundreds of troops, including Russian mercenaries. In the next hours, the Americans threw the Pentagon's arsenal at them, including B-52 strategic bombers. The attack was stopped.That operation, in the middle of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria, showed the extent to which the U.S. military was willing to protect the Syrian Kurds, its main ally on the ground.But now, with the White House revoking protection for these Kurdish fighters, some of the Special Forces officers who battled alongside the Kurds say they feel deep remorse at orders to abandon their allies."They trusted us and we broke that trust," one Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria said last week in a telephone interview. "It's a stain on the American conscience.""I'm ashamed," said another officer who had also served in northern Syria. Both officers spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals from their chains of command.And the response from the Kurds themselves was just as stark. "The worst thing in military logic and comrades in the trench is betrayal," said Shervan Darwish, an official allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.The next flurry of orders from Washington, as some troops had feared, will pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria altogether. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Sunday that President Donald Trump had ordered the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops in the country's northeast to conduct a "deliberate withdrawal" out of the country in the coming days and weeks.The defense secretary's statement came after comments Friday pushing back on complaints that the United States was betraying allies in Syria -- "We have not abandoned the Kurds" -- even as he acknowledged that his Turkish counterpart had ignored his plea to stop the offensive.Army Special Forces soldiers -- mostly members of the 3rd Special Forces Group -- moved last week to consolidate their positions in the confines of their outposts miles away from the Syrian border, a quiet withdrawal that all but confirmed the United States' capitulation to the Turkish military's offensive to clear Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.But as the Americans pulled back, the Kurds moved north to try to reinforce their comrades fighting the offensive. The U.S. soldiers could only watch from their sandbag-lined walls. Orders from Washington were simple: Hands off. Let the Kurds fight for themselves.The orders contradicted the U.S. military's strategy in Syria over the last four years, especially when it came to the Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG, who were integral to routing the Islamic State group from northeastern Syria. The Kurds had fought in Manbij, Raqqa and deep into the Euphrates River Valley, hunting the last Islamic State fighters in the group's now defunct physical caliphate. But the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, as the Kurdish and their allied Arab fighters on the ground are called, are being left behind.U.S. Special Forces and other troops had built close ties with their Kurdish allies, living on the same dusty compounds, sharing meals and common dangers. They fought side by side, and helped evacuate Kurdish dead and wounded from the battlefield."When they mourn, we mourn with them," Gen. Joseph L. Votel, a former head of the military's Central Command, said Thursday at the Middle East Institute.The Kurdish forces and U.S. military have survived previous strains, including Trump's sudden decision in December to withdraw all U.S. troops from northern Syria, a decision that was later walked back somewhat.This time may be different, and irreversible. "It would seem at this particular point, we've made it very, very hard for them to have a partnership relationship with us because of this recent policy decision," Votel said.As part of security measures the United States brokered to tamp down tensions with Turkish troops, Kurdish forces agreed to pull back from the border, destroy fortifications and return some heavy weapons -- steps meant to show that they posed no threat to Turkish territory, but that later made them more vulnerable when Turkey launched its offensive.Special Forces officers described another recent operation with Kurds that underscored the tenacity of the group. The Americans and the Kurdish troops were searching for a low-level Islamic State leader in northern Syria. It was a difficult mission and unlikely they would find the commander.From his operations center, one U.S. officer watched the Kurds work alongside the Americans on the ground in an almost indistinguishable symmetry. They captured the Islamic State fighter."The SDF's elite counterterrorism units are hardened veterans of the war against ISIS whom the U.S. has seen in action and trust completely," said Nicholas A. Heras, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, who visited the SDF in July to advise them on the Islamic State group, or ISIS.During the battle against ISIS, coordination between the U.S. military and the Syrian Democratic Forces has extended from the highest levels to rank-and-file fighters, according to multiple interviews with SDF fighters and commanders in Syria over the course of the campaign.SDF commanders worked side by side with U.S. military officers in a joint command center in a defunct cement factory near the northern Syrian town of Kobani, where they discussed strategy and planned future operations.The battle of Kobani that began in 2014 gave birth to the United States' ties to the Kurds in northeastern Syria. ISIS fighters, armed with heavy American-made artillery captured from retreating Iraqi army units, surrounded Kobani, a Kurdish city, and entered parts of it.Despite the Obama administration's initial reluctance to offer help, the United States carried out airstrikes against advancing ISIS militants, and its military aircraft dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to replenish the Kurdish combatants.That aid helped turn the tide, the Kurds defeated ISIS, and U.S. commanders realized they had discovered a valuable ally in the fight against the terrorist group.Thousands of SDF fighters received training from the United States in battlefield tactics, reconnaissance and first aid. Reconnaissance teams learned to identify Islamic State locations and transmit them to the command center for the U.S.-led military coalition to plan airstrikes.Visitors to front-line SDF positions often saw Syrian officers with iPads and laptops they used to communicate information to their U.S. colleagues."For the last two years, the coordination was pretty deep," said Mutlu Civiroglu, a Washington-based Kurdish affairs analyst who has spent time in northeastern Syria. "The mutual trust was very high, the mutual confidence, because this collaboration brought enormous results.""They completed each other," he said of the SDF and U.S.-led coalition. "The coalition didn't have boots on the ground, and fighters didn't have air support, so they needed each other."That coordination was critical in many of the big battles against the Islamic State group.To open the battle in one town, SDF fighters were deposited by coalition aircraft behind the Islamic State group's lines. At the start of another battle, U.S. Special Operations forces helped the SDF plot and execute an attack across the Euphrates River.Even after the Islamic State group had lost most of its territory, the United States trained counterterrorism units to do tactical raids on ISIS hideouts and provided them with intelligence needed to plan them.Even in territory far from the front lines with the Islamic State, SDF vehicles often drove before and after U.S. convoys through Syrian towns and SDF fighters provided perimeter security at facilities where U.S. personnel were based.The torturous part of America's on-again, off-again alliance with the Kurds -- one in which the United States has routinely armed the Kurds to fight various regimes it viewed as adversaries -- emerged in 1974, as the Kurds were rebelling against Iraq. Iran and the United States were allies, and the Shah of Iran and Henry Kissinger encouraged the Kurdish rebellion against the Iraqi government. CIA agents were sent to the Iraq-Iran border to help the Kurds.The Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani did not trust the Shah of Iran, but believed Kissinger when he said that the Kurds would receive help from the Americans.But a year later, the Shah of Iran made a deal with Saddam Hussein on the sidelines of an OPEC meeting: In return for some territorial adjustments along the Iran-Iraq border, the shah agreed to stop support for the Kurds.Kissinger signed off on the plan, the Iraqi military slaughtered thousands of Kurds and the United States stood by. When questioned, Kissinger delivered his now famous explanation: "Covert action," he said, "should not be confused with missionary work."In the fight against ISIS in Syria, Kurdish fighters followed their hard-fought triumph in Kobani by liberating other Kurdish towns. Then the Americans asked their newfound Kurdish allies to go into Arab areas, team up with local militias and reclaim those areas from the Islamic State group.The U.S. military implored the SDF to fight in the Arab areas, and so they advanced, seizing Raqqa and Deir el-Zour, winning but suffering large numbers of casualties.The American-Kurdish military alliance against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq "began with us helping them," said Peter W. Galbraith, the former U.S. diplomat who has for years also been a senior adviser to the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq. "But by the end, it was them helping us. They are the ones who recovered the territory that ISIS had taken."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 08:12:35 -0400
  • Johnson Stumbles in Bid for Brexit Deal as EU Demands Answers

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson’s attempt to secure a Brexit deal ran into trouble after the European Union warned the talks were still a long way from a breakthrough and the British prime minister’s political allies distanced themselves from his plans. The pound fell.After a weekend of intensive negotiations in Brussels, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told a meeting of envoys on Sunday that the U.K.’s proposals for breaking the deadlock over the Irish border lacked detail and risked leaving the single market vulnerable to fraud, officials said. The unionist party that backs Johnson’s minority Conservative government in London also raised concerns.Talks are continuing to resolve the impasse over customs checks, but the U.K. isn’t sure the EU will change its position, a government official said on Monday.The Frenzied Fortnight That’s Set to Seal the Fate of BrexitNegotiators are now in a race against time to sketch out an accord for EU leaders to endorse at a summit that starts on Thursday. Johnson wants an agreement at that gathering so that members of the U.K. Parliament can vote to approve or reject it in a special session on Saturday. That way, he may just be able to avoid being forced to delay Britain’s departure beyond the Oct. 31 deadline, which he has vowed to meet.The next 48 hours will be crucial, with the bloc wanting to know by Wednesday how the negotiations are to proceed. If Barnier’s talks founder, EU leaders will have to decide whether to abandon them and move on to the question of whether to allow Britain to delay its departure. Or, if there’s still a chance of a breakthrough, they may hold another emergency summit shortly before Brexit day, according to officials in Brussels.Any agreement will still have to be ratified by the U.K. Parliament, which was re-opened by Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony on Monday. There, the government repeated its pledge to deliver Brexit by the month’s end. But Johnson lacks a majority at Westminster and will now be vulnerable to attempts to oust him or reject any accord he reaches with the EU. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn warned on Sunday that he was unlikely to support any deal agreed by the prime minister.Early on Monday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid announced a post-Brexit budget for Nov. 6 less than a week after the U.K. is expected to leave the bloc. That budget could be a pre-election spending spree or the way government is going to deal with a no-deal Brexit. Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon told BBC radio the government “is making it up as they go along” with no guarantee the nation will have left the bloc by Oct. 31.The obstacle the negotiators are grappling with is the thorny question of how to ensure there is no need for checkpoints to inspect goods crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and the U.K. region of Northern Ireland after Brexit.Last week, Johnson put forward plans to take Northern Ireland out of Europe’s customs union and give Stormont, its power-sharing assembly, a veto over the arrangement. EU officials say both of these are hugely problematic.Johnson’s OfferThe U.K. has softened its position on the veto and has proposed a complex customs solution that would see Northern Ireland leave the EU’s customs union but still adhere to its rules. The U.K. wants to be able to track goods entering Northern Ireland but treat them differently depending on where they are due to end up, two officials said.That may incur the wrath of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party -- which is in a formal agreement to support Johnson’s government and influences how a significant number his euro-skeptic Conservative MPs vote. DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds told Italy’s La Repubblica on Saturday that the party would reject any solution that would weaken Northern Ireland’s custom ties to the U.K.In Brussels on Sunday, Barnier updated envoys from EU governments on the progress in the talks, which re-started in earnest on Friday. He said the latest version of Johnson’s customs proposal was untested, risked undermining the EU’s single market by leaving it vulnerable to fraud, and was unlikely to be nailed down in the next few days, according to officials.If talks break down, Johnson is required under a new law to delay Brexit, something that he has vowed to avoid. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker indicated on Sunday that he would approve another delay, if the British side asked for it.(Adds detail from Queen’s speech in sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Kitty Donaldson.To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Wishart in Brussels at iwishart@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Edward Evans, Tim RossFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 08:03:19 -0400
  • Report: China Wants More Talks Before Signing Trump's Phase 1 Trade Deal

    China wants further talks in October to over the details of the "Phase One" trade deal set out by President Donald Trump before getting Xi Jinping to sign it, Bloomberg reports. Last Friday, Trump said the U.S. and China reached an initial but “substantial” trade agreement dealing with intellectual property, major agricultural purchases and financial services. The deal would avert a new round of tariffs on China, and includes an agreement by the Chinese to purchase up to $50 billion worth of agricultural items.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:59:41 -0400
  • Boris Johnson Uses Queen’s Speech to Set Out General Election Platform

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson set out his ambitions for governing Britain with an outline plan for what he will do if he wins the general election that’s expected to be triggered within weeks.The British prime minister promised a focus on domestic issues if he can “get Brexit done,” as he used the pomp and ceremony of a speech to Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II to announce 26 draft government bills.Without a majority in the House of Commons, Johnson has little chance of seeing his plans turned into law. With that in mind, he is seeking an early general election -- and Monday’s policy package is likely to form the skeleton of his manifesto for that campaign.Seven of the proposals related to Brexit, but everything hangs on the first one: The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which would allow the U.K. to leave the EU with a deal -- if one is agreed.In the event that Johnson and the EU can reach an accord before the end of the month, Johnson will try to rush that bill through Parliament. If not, he may try to take Britain out of the bloc without a deal, or he might be forced to delay the divorce.The issue for Johnson is that he is so far short of a majority he cannot pass any controversial legislation without an election, which the opposition parties won’t let him hold until he delays Brexit or agrees a deal with the EU.In that context, the speech, delivered to both Houses of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II on her throne in the House of Lords, was a preview of the ground on which Johnson would like to fight that election: Health, crime and education.“People are tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change,” Johnson wrote in an introduction to the Queen’s speech. “They don’t want to wait for their streets to be safer. They don’t want to wait for their schools to have the funding they need.”There were other measures to deal with Brexit, covering agriculture, fisheries, trade and immigration. A financial services bill aims to maintain the U.K.’s status as an investment center.Measures affecting business included:a Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, to simplify trials and prescribinga pension bill to make it easier for savers to keep track of different pots of moneyMoves to give government more powers to scrutinize takeovers of companies with national security linksa crackdown on child abuse online, putting a duty of care on technology companiesThe speech also contained lines clearly intended as voter-friendly talking points in an election:a law to let servers in restaurants keep all their tipsa nationwide roll-out of gigabit broadbandan Animal Welfare Bill, banning the use of wild animals in circusesAnother promise seeks to give Johnson’s Conservatives an answer to the opposition Labour Party’s eye-catching plan to take railways back into public ownership. The government will review how the trains work, with a pledge to simplify ticket structures and a new industry structure, Johnson’s office said in a briefing.The rest of the week will see debate on these measures in Parliament, but the political focus will be on Johnson’s talks with the EU, and a summit of EU leaders starting on Thursday. The government wants Parliament to sit on Saturday, the first weekend sitting since the Falklands War in 1982, to discuss the outcome of that meeting.The pageantry of the Queen’s Speech began at 10 a.m., when the Yeomen of the Guard, the royal bodyguards known as “Beefeaters,” searched the cellars of Parliament. The tradition dates back to 1605, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament, and King James I with it.The Queen then traveled in a gilded coach from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, escorted by the Household Cavalry. As the Queen arrived, the Union Flag of the U.K. was lowered and her Royal Standard raised over Parliament.At 11:30 a.m., Sarah Clarke, the Queen’s representative to Parliament -- generally known by her official title of Black Rod -- marched to the House of Commons, the lower, elected, chamber. She summoned politicians to hear the Queen, who was waiting in the House of Lords, the upper, unelected chamber. The door of the Commons was slammed in her face.This ritual symbolizes the independence of the Commons from the Crown: no British monarch has entered the lower house since 1642, when King Charles I tried to arrest five members in the run-up to a civil war that ended with his execution in 1649.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Thomas Penny, Andrew AtkinsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:39:25 -0400
  • Brexit on October 31 a 'priority' for British government: Queen

    Golocal247.com news

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday set out his government's priorities at a parliamentary ceremony full of pomp and pageantry attended by the queen, with Brexit top of the agenda. Queen Elizabeth II announced in a speech to lawmakers a list of 26 new bills ranging from implementing a yet-to-be finalised EU divorce agreement to criminal sentencing and the environment. "My government's priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on October 31," the 93-year-old monarch said from a gilded throne, delivering words written by government officials.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 07:30:39 -0400
  • Egypt: Prominent activist is arrested, jailed for 15 days

    An Egyptian rights lawyer says prosecutors have ordered a prominent pro-democracy activist to remain in custody for 15 days. Khaled Ali says Esraa Abdel-Fattah was brought before prosecutors late Sunday, after she was arrested by security forces in plain cloths a day earlier. Abdel-Fattah was a co-founder of the April 6 movement which played a crucial role in the 2011 pro-democracy uprising.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:56:10 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Queen Elizabeth sets out PM Johnson's Oct. 31 Brexit priority

    Queen Elizabeth set out Prime Minister Boris Johnson's agenda for his government on Monday, including an Oct. 31 Brexit, a new deal with the European Union, and a host of domestic policies designed to win over voters ahead of an expected election. The so-called Queen's Speech is the highlight of a day of elaborate pageantry in Westminster and is used to detail all the bills the government wants to enact in the coming year.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:54:08 -0400
  • Trump has delivered what Russia wants in Syria — at zero cost — and 'Putin likely can't believe his luck'

    Golocal247.com news

    Vladimir Putin "didn't even have to try to make it happen," a NATO official told us. "Small wonder he'd interfere on Trump's side in an election."

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:53:05 -0400
  • Unveiling UK government plan, Queen Elizabeth says priority is to exit EU on Oct. 31

    The priority of Britain's government is to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, Queen Elizabeth said on Monday, setting out Prime Minister Boris Johnson's programme for a country deeply divided over Brexit. In a speech to parliament, which sets out the legislative agenda for the government, the queen set out Johnson's plan to "work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation".

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:47:39 -0400
  • South Korea deploys snipers and thermal vision drones to kill infected pigs coming from North

    Golocal247.com news

    South Korea is deploying snipers to the Demilitarised Zone with orders to shoot any wild boar that are seen in the buffer zone with North Korea before they can bring more cases of African swine fever into the South.  Sharpshooters from the military will be sent to the border on Tuesday, supported by civilian hunters and drones fitted with thermal imaging equipment to locate and track boar.  The cull will focus on areas to the north of Seoul and Incheon, where five wild boar have been found dead so far this month. All of the feral pigs have tested positive for African swine fever, which is highly contagious and has no cure. It does not affect humans.  The latest outbreak of the disease was reported in China in August last year and has spread in the intervening months. Cases have been reported in Mongolia and Vietnam, with North Korean authorities confirming a single outbreak at a farm near its border with China in May.  South Korean authorities offered to assist efforts in the North to contain and eradicate the virus, but were ignored. Pyongyang has made no announcements on further cases.  Animal rights activists wearing pig masks stage a rally calling for the humane slaughtering of pigs  Credit: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon Fourteen South Korean farms located close to the heavily fortified border with the North have reported cases since mid-September, with authorities imposing no-go zones in some areas in an effort to stop the disease from spreading further. The assumption is that wild boar contracted the virus in the North and have transmitted it to farms in the South.  The last confirmed case was nearly one week ago, but Seoul is not taking any chances. It has also communicated its plan to cull wild boar to North Korea.  “In order to prevent accidental clashes with the North due to our gunshots, we have notified the North of our decision as well,” a government official told Yonhap News.  State media in North Korea has made little mention of the disease spreading among domestic pigs, although there are unofficial reports from dissident media suggesting that the virus has wiped out entire herds and is out of control. That assessment is backed up by reports by the South Korean National Intelligence Service. Pork accounts for as much as 80 percent of the protein consumed by North Koreans and the loss of the nation’s herds will have a serious impact on the diet and health of the 25.2 million-strong population. Aid agencies say that crop production has been affected by poor rainfall this year, while an estimated 40 percent of the population are in urgent need of food assistance.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:43:25 -0400
  • Trump’s Heavy Use of Sanctions Isn’t a Bad Thing

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The oldest known instance of a country deploying economic sanctions against another dates from 432 B.C., when Athens imposed severe restrictions on Megara. The Megarian Decrees denied the city-state use of the Athenian empire’s harbors, cutting off its trade. But tiny Megara was an ally of Athens’ great rival Sparta, and disagreements over the sanctions were among the reasons that precipitated the Second Peloponnesian War between Greece’s two dominant powers.Some historians believe Pericles, the ruler of Athens, was looking for a way to provoke the Spartans into war, and the decrees served his purpose; others argue the decrees were meant to avoid war by imposing a non-military solution on the Megarians — and failed.Two-and-a-half millennia later, the potency of economic sanctions as an instrument of statecraft still depends greatly on their purpose. But the risks of getting it wrong have not prevented governments from using them, with greater frequency and mixed results, against individuals, institutions and countries, as punishment for infractions, ranging from financial chicanery and drug smuggling to nuclear proliferation and genocide.The U.S., long the world’s most prodigious exponent of sanctions, has grown even more prolific in recent years. According to a study by the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, President Donald Trump, in his very first year in office, increased the number of people and entities under sanctions by nearly 1,000. That’s a 30% jump over the final year of President Barack Obama’s administration, and a 300% increase over its first year in the White House. The U.S. Treasury’s list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons now runs to 1,300 close-typed pages.The more frequent use of sanctions is not necessarily a bad thing. To a substantial extent, it is a natural American response to changing strategic and political realities. Around the world, those who threaten the U.S. and its interests are becoming harder to detect, and harder still to interdict. Dangerous people and organizations can conceal themselves in the digital fog, or behind the protection of countries that are hostile to the U.S. At the same time, American presidents have grown more circumspect about using some of the blunter and more kinetic implements deployed by their predecessors. Diplomacy, the other tool available to states, is often too slow to yield results, and largely useless against some modern threats such as cyber-attacks by non-state actors, for instance.In comparison, sanctions are a compelling offensive weapon — one that is also, for the most part, defensible. They can be deployed quickly and bloodlessly, allowing a president to be seen as taking action against perceived threats, without the risk of American lives or property. Also, they can be more subtle, allowing action against individuals or entities without automatically severing relations with governments.But do they work? That depends, as with the Megarian Decrees, on their purpose. All the empirical evidence suggests that sanctions don’t lead to regime change — Cuba and North Korea have been under sanctions for decades, but their dictators have tended to die in their beds, with power transferring smoothly to the next generation of tyrants. Sanctions didn’t topple Saddam Hussein; that required a war.Even when sanctions aim mainly to change regime behavior, the track record is mixed. Scholars at the Peterson Institute for International Economics have run the rule over hundreds of instances of economic sanctions imposed on countries — as opposed to individuals or institutions — going back to the start of World War I. Their conclusion: sanctions don’t often produce the desired result. The reasons for failure vary: the sanctions may be inadequate; they may generate opposition from allies; the target regime may be able to turn isolation into a political advantage; the regime may be able to get help from other sources.Of course, diplomacy and war are no more certain than sanctions to bring about the desired change. And even where sanctions have failed, things might arguably have been worse if they had not been imposed at all. How much more harm might the Castros, the Kims and Saddam Hussein done if they had free access to markets and arms?   In the right circumstances, sanctions can be very effective indeed. David S. Cohen, a former Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence (and ex-CIA deputy director) has suggested that sanctions work best when they meet three conditions: when they serve clear and attainable policy objectives; when they are used in conjunction with other levers of pressure, like diplomacy and the threat of military action; and when other countries lend support by imposing their own restrictions on the targeted individual, institution or regime.All three conditions applied to the sanctions on Iran in the mid-2000s, when the European Union and the United Nations shared the American goal of preventing the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. Facing prolonged isolation and deep economic pain, the Iranians grew serious about negotiations with the U.S. and other world powers, and eventually signed the 2015 nuclear deal.Cohen’s criteria represent the ideal; not all three conditions are absolutely necessary for sanctions to work. The Trump administration didn’t need other countries to endorse, much less join, its sanctions against top Turkish officials last year, to secure the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson. The sanctions were promptly dropped after Brunson came home.The deepening cleavage of world politics into liberal and illiberal camps will make multilateral consensus over sanctions almost impossible to achieve. Russia and China are unlikely to agree with Western democracies to impose more sanctions on Syria, for instance. Within the European Union, which requires unanimous consent for such decisions, right-wing and populist leaders — Hungary’s Viktor Orban, say — would likely balk at new sanctions on Russia. Thank goodness for American exceptionalism — and American muscle. Given the size of the U.S. economy, and the dollar’s role as the world’s main trading currency, sanctions imposed unilaterally by the White House have the same effect as multilateral restrictions. Consider the current U.S. sanctions on Iran, imposed after Trump abrogated the 2015 nuclear deal last year. The other signatories to the deal remain vocally committed to it; Germany, France and Britain have devised a “special purpose vehicle” to give companies a supposedly fail-safe way to evade American sanctions.Not a single European company has stepped forward, for fear of attracting the attentions of the U.S. Treasury.The risk, of course, is that the Trump administration will overuse the weapon. Former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has warned of sanctions overreach: “If foreign jurisdictions and companies feel that we will deploy sanctions without sufficient justification or for inappropriate reasons — secondary sanctions in particular — we should not be surprised if they look for ways to avoid doing business in the U.S. or in U.S. dollars.”This was not a problem for Pericles when he dealt with the Megarians, but American presidents — even Donald Trump, who is as far removed from the Athenian statesman as can be imagined — must reckon with the risk that one of their most versatile and potent instruments of coercion might, with overuse, lose its persuasive power.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:30:09 -0400
  • Trump’s Heavy Use of Sanctions Isn’t a Bad Thing

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The oldest known instance of a country deploying economic sanctions against another dates from 432 B.C., when Athens imposed severe restrictions on Megara. The Megarian Decrees denied the city-state use of the Athenian empire’s harbors, cutting off its trade. But tiny Megara was an ally of Athens’ great rival Sparta, and disagreements over the sanctions were among the reasons that precipitated the Second Peloponnesian War between Greece’s two dominant powers.Some historians believe Pericles, the ruler of Athens, was looking for a way to provoke the Spartans into war, and the decrees served his purpose; others argue the decrees were meant to avoid war by imposing a non-military solution on the Megarians — and failed.Two-and-a-half millennia later, the potency of economic sanctions as an instrument of statecraft still depends greatly on their purpose. But the risks of getting it wrong have not prevented governments from using them, with greater frequency and mixed results, against individuals, institutions and countries, as punishment for infractions, ranging from financial chicanery and drug smuggling to nuclear proliferation and genocide.The U.S., long the world’s most prodigious exponent of sanctions, has grown even more prolific in recent years. According to a study by the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, President Donald Trump, in his very first year in office, increased the number of people and entities under sanctions by nearly 1,000. That’s a 30% jump over the final year of President Barack Obama’s administration, and a 300% increase over its first year in the White House. The U.S. Treasury’s list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons now runs to 1,300 close-typed pages.The more frequent use of sanctions is not necessarily a bad thing. To a substantial extent, it is a natural American response to changing strategic and political realities. Around the world, those who threaten the U.S. and its interests are becoming harder to detect, and harder still to interdict. Dangerous people and organizations can conceal themselves in the digital fog, or behind the protection of countries that are hostile to the U.S. At the same time, American presidents have grown more circumspect about using some of the blunter and more kinetic implements deployed by their predecessors. Diplomacy, the other tool available to states, is often too slow to yield results, and largely useless against some modern threats such as cyber-attacks by non-state actors, for instance.In comparison, sanctions are a compelling offensive weapon — one that is also, for the most part, defensible. They can be deployed quickly and bloodlessly, allowing a president to be seen as taking action against perceived threats, without the risk of American lives or property. Also, they can be more subtle, allowing action against individuals or entities without automatically severing relations with governments.But do they work? That depends, as with the Megarian Decrees, on their purpose. All the empirical evidence suggests that sanctions don’t lead to regime change — Cuba and North Korea have been under sanctions for decades, but their dictators have tended to die in their beds, with power transferring smoothly to the next generation of tyrants. Sanctions didn’t topple Saddam Hussein; that required a war.Even when sanctions aim mainly to change regime behavior, the track record is mixed. Scholars at the Peterson Institute for International Economics have run the rule over hundreds of instances of economic sanctions imposed on countries — as opposed to individuals or institutions — going back to the start of World War I. Their conclusion: sanctions don’t often produce the desired result. The reasons for failure vary: the sanctions may be inadequate; they may generate opposition from allies; the target regime may be able to turn isolation into a political advantage; the regime may be able to get help from other sources.Of course, diplomacy and war are no more certain than sanctions to bring about the desired change. And even where sanctions have failed, things might arguably have been worse if they had not been imposed at all. How much more harm might the Castros, the Kims and Saddam Hussein done if they had free access to markets and arms?   In the right circumstances, sanctions can be very effective indeed. David S. Cohen, a former Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence (and ex-CIA deputy director) has suggested that sanctions work best when they meet three conditions: when they serve clear and attainable policy objectives; when they are used in conjunction with other levers of pressure, like diplomacy and the threat of military action; and when other countries lend support by imposing their own restrictions on the targeted individual, institution or regime.All three conditions applied to the sanctions on Iran in the mid-2000s, when the European Union and the United Nations shared the American goal of preventing the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. Facing prolonged isolation and deep economic pain, the Iranians grew serious about negotiations with the U.S. and other world powers, and eventually signed the 2015 nuclear deal.Cohen’s criteria represent the ideal; not all three conditions are absolutely necessary for sanctions to work. The Trump administration didn’t need other countries to endorse, much less join, its sanctions against top Turkish officials last year, to secure the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson. The sanctions were promptly dropped after Brunson came home.The deepening cleavage of world politics into liberal and illiberal camps will make multilateral consensus over sanctions almost impossible to achieve. Russia and China are unlikely to agree with Western democracies to impose more sanctions on Syria, for instance. Within the European Union, which requires unanimous consent for such decisions, right-wing and populist leaders — Hungary’s Viktor Orban, say — would likely balk at new sanctions on Russia. Thank goodness for American exceptionalism — and American muscle. Given the size of the U.S. economy, and the dollar’s role as the world’s main trading currency, sanctions imposed unilaterally by the White House have the same effect as multilateral restrictions. Consider the current U.S. sanctions on Iran, imposed after Trump abrogated the 2015 nuclear deal last year. The other signatories to the deal remain vocally committed to it; Germany, France and Britain have devised a “special purpose vehicle” to give companies a supposedly fail-safe way to evade American sanctions.Not a single European company has stepped forward, for fear of attracting the attentions of the U.S. Treasury.The risk, of course, is that the Trump administration will overuse the weapon. Former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has warned of sanctions overreach: “If foreign jurisdictions and companies feel that we will deploy sanctions without sufficient justification or for inappropriate reasons — secondary sanctions in particular — we should not be surprised if they look for ways to avoid doing business in the U.S. or in U.S. dollars.”This was not a problem for Pericles when he dealt with the Megarians, but American presidents — even Donald Trump, who is as far removed from the Athenian statesman as can be imagined — must reckon with the risk that one of their most versatile and potent instruments of coercion might, with overuse, lose its persuasive power.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:30:09 -0400
  • Syrian Fight Heats Up With U.S. on Sidelines

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.President Donald Trump’s desire to get the U.S. out of Middle East wars is creating a mess that could reverberate long after America departs.His decision to give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the green light to cross the border into Syria in an operation against the Kurds, the U.S.’s erstwhile allies in the fight against Islamic State, has sparked an alliance shift.The Kurds say they’ve now enlisted help from former foe Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who’s supported by Russia. Turkish and Syrian troops could end up in close proximity as a result.Trump’s withdrawal of all U.S. troops from northern Syria prompted fresh criticism from lawmakers, including fellow Republicans, who return to Washington today after a two-week break ready to pursue penalties against Turkey. Critics accuse Trump of selling out the Kurds and abdicating America’s responsibilities in the region.Having enabled Erdogan’s initial move, Trump now says he’s ready to impose “powerful” sanctions if Turkey does anything in Syria the U.S. considers off-limits.Penalties though may not stop Erdogan, who has vowed to push the Kurds back from his border. That raises the chance of a broader clash as Assad’s troops move toward the area. Yet Damascus, with its forces fatigued by an eight-year civil war, probably doesn’t have the wherewithal to take on the Turks without Moscow’s help.How all this plays out depends largely on Turkey and Russia. Washington is now a bystander.Global HeadlinesJust In: Hold the champagne. China wants further talks as soon as the end of the month to hammer out the details of a “phase one” trade deal touted by Trump before President Xi Jinping agrees to sign it.Political posturing | Queen Elizabeth II will deliver Boris Johnson’s legislative agenda today, yet, with no working majority in Parliament, the prime minister’s proposed 22 bills stand little chance of becoming law. Instead, the speech is a way for Johnson’s Conservatives to outline their election manifesto. It comes as his attempt to secure a Brexit deal ran into trouble after the European Union said talks were a long way from a breakthrough.Read about how Brexit will only speed up the decline of Brand Britannia and click here for a timeline of events to watch over the next two weeks as the Oct. 31 divorce deadline approaches. Need for speed | If U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to finish the impeachment inquiry into Trump before the heart of the 2020 election, she’ll likely need to do it without help from federal courts, which could take months to resolve any fight over presidential stonewalling. Even though at least two State Department officials are testifying as part of Democrats’ probe, the White House continues to block access to documents and prevent testimony from other witnesses.Happening today: Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill is scheduled to testify behind closed doors before three House panels leading the impeachment inquiry.  Read more about Hunter Biden’s decision to step down from the board of a Chinese-backed private equity company. The son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has been at the center of discredited allegations by Trump related to his work on behalf of foreign companies. Budapest brooding | Hungarian opposition parties celebrated last night after winning local elections in the capital and other cities, loosening the political stranglehold of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has clashed with the European Union over democratic standards. But another vote in regional peer Poland served to remind them how tough it is to expand local victories to the national level. A year after the nationalist ruling Law & Justice party lost big in city votes, it trounced pro-European parties in yesterday’s parliamentary election.Jail time | Catalan separatists who tried to break away from Spain two years ago were given jail sentences of up to 13 years by the Supreme Court in Madrid in an unprecedented ruling that marks a watershed in relations with the troubled region. The convictions will inject an extra dose of rancor into the political system as Spain prepares for a fourth general election in as many years on Nov. 10.Key state | No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. But Trump may not be able to count on the affluent suburbs that have helped all modern Republican presidents secure the must-win battleground state. Gregory Korte and Mark Niquette explain how one such community, Westerville, the site of tomorrow’s debate with the top 12 Democratic candidates, highlights warning signs for Republicans. Billionaires may have much more to fear (tax rates of up to 97.5%) from a Bernie Sanders presidency than they do from an Elizabeth Warren administration.What to Watch This Week Hong Kong protesters plan a rally tonight in support of legislation the U.S. House may vote on this week that would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trading status and potentially sanction some Chinese officials. South Korean President Moon Jae-in apologized today as his justice minister — and close confidant — offered to resign amid a widening corruption probe. Islamist-backed law professor Kais Saied is poised for a landslide victory in Tunisia’s presidential election, an exit poll suggested, with official results expected later today. U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars of EU products, including Scotch whiskeys and French wine and cheese, are scheduled to take effect Friday.Thanks to all who responded to our pop quiz Friday and congrats to reader Jay Kraker, who was the first to correctly name Rex Tillerson as the person Trump asked to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab. Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.And finally ... The women who spearheaded the “Me Too” movement in India are still fighting for justice. Their accusations against powerful men forced some to resign. Yet a year later, those who led the campaign and helped hundreds of others tell their stories find themselves stigmatized, out of work or embroiled in court cases. One high-profile journalist has been sued for defamation by the man she accused. \--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter, Archana Chaudhary, Kitty Donaldson and Ruth Pollard.To contact the author of this story: Karl Maier in Rome at kmaier2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 06:04:09 -0400
  • China’s Xi warns efforts to divide China will end with ‘crushed bodies and shattered bones'

    Golocal247.com news

    China’s president Xi Jinping has warned efforts to divide or destabilise China will end with “shattered bones,” as international pressure mounts over the government’s handling of protests in Hong Kong and a widespread crackdown on Muslim minority groups.  “Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones,” Mr Xi said, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.  “And any external forces backing such attempts dividing China will be deemed by the Chinese people as pipe-dreaming!” he was quoted as saying to Nepal’s prime minister KP Sharma Oli during China’s first state visit to the South Asian country in two decades. Mr Xi’s comments come ahead of a potential flashpoint on Wednesday, when the Hong Kong government will reconvene its Legislative Council for a fall session. Embattled chief executive Carrie Lam is also scheduled to give a speech, and is expected to formally withdraw the extradition bill that sparked the protests. With violence escalating, foreign governments including the US and UK are putting more pressure on Beijing to act humanely and hold up its end of the Sino-British Joint Declaration – an agreement meant to protect freedoms in Hong Kong when the former colony was returned to China. China: Beijing celebrations mark 70 years of Communist rule in pictures American politicians have also introduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would mandate an annual review to determine whether Hong Kong remained sufficiently autonomous to justify unique treatment by the US. It would also sanction individuals over human rights violations and bar them from entering the country. The bill has drawn bipartisan support and is scheduled to be considered in the House this week, after sailing unanimously through earlier committees. Protesters first took to the streets over concerns that suspects extradited to China would not receive a fair trial, as Communist Party control contributes to a 99.9 per cent conviction rate.  Hong Kong protests | Read more But after a summer of unrest, a pledge Ms Lam made last month to officially axe the legislation wasn’t enough to appease protesters. Activists have expanded their demands to include Ms Lam’s resignation, an independent probe into police handling of the protests, democratic election reforms, and for all rioting charges to be dropped as the offence carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.  Police have fired live rounds, sometimes as a warning, hitting at least two teenage protesters. Activists are also increasingly aggressive, hitting police officers with sticks, throwing petrol bombs and setting fire to road barricades. Over the weekend, the back of a police officer’s neck was also slashed. China is also battling foreign scrutiny in Xinjiang, a land-locked western province where millions of Muslim minorities have been locked up and tortured in “re-education camps.” Last week, the US Commerce Department also announced sanctions on 28 public security bureaus and companies in China implicated in human rights violations in Xinjiang.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 05:37:57 -0400
  • EU negotiators continue to discuss Brexit as deadline looms

    Negotiators are trying to reach a deal ahead of the Brexit deadline of Oct. 31.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 05:32:56 -0400
  • British experts in Iran to upgrade Arak reactor: embassy

    Golocal247.com news

    A team of British experts arrived in Iran on Monday to begin work to upgrade the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor, the UK embassy in Tehran said. Iran removed the core of the Arak facility and filled part of it with cement as part of a 2015 deal that gave the country relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme. Located southwest of Tehran, the reactor is to be modernised with the help of foreign experts under the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 05:20:29 -0400
  • Brexit hangs in the balance as EU demands more British concessions

    LONDON/LUXEMBOURG, Oct 14 (Reuters) - A deal to smooth Britain's departure from the European Union hung in the balance on Monday after diplomats indicated the bloc wanted more concessions from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said a full agreement was unlikely this week. After three years of crisis in London and tortuous negotiations with the EU, a crucial week of last-ditch talks could decide whether Brexit is orderly, acrimonious or delayed yet again. Johnson says he wants an exit deal with the EU to allow an orderly departure on Oct. 31 but that if one is not possible he will lead the United Kingdom out of the club it joined in 1973 without a deal, though a law demands he delay.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 04:29:39 -0400
  • Brexit Bulletin: Not Good Enough

    Golocal247.com news

    Brexit is 17 days away.(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to get the Brexit Bulletin in your inbox every weekday.Today in Brexit: British negotiators are running out of time to convince the European Union that they have a viable Brexit plan.What’s happening? After an about-turn at the end of last week, Boris Johnson’s chances of sealing a Brexit deal with the European Union are hanging in the balance once again. The next 48 hours will be crucial, Bloomberg’s Ian Wishart reports, with the bloc wanting a resolution by Wednesday at the latest.Despite intensive negotiations over the weekend, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned a meeting of EU envoys on Sunday that U.K. proposals are not yet good enough to be the basis for an agreement. Disagreement still remains about how to break the deadlock over the Irish border, where the issue of customs remains a problem. A spokesman for Johnson said “significant work” was still needed.It leaves the U.K. in a race against time to reach a deal for EU leaders to sign at a summit that starts on Thursday. Johnson wants an agreement that he can put to a vote in a special session of Parliament in London on Saturday. (Even though that’s no cakewalk either: Bloomberg’s Rob Hutton surveyed the Westminster battle lines over the weekend.) If there’s no agreement, a recent U.K. law requires the prime minister to ask for an extension to the current Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.Almost six months after the EU handed the U.K. a Brexit extension and warned “don’t waste this time,” the long-anticipated October crunch is now upon us. Former Theresa May aide Nick Timothy forsees “cries of anger, howls of anguish and claims of betrayal” — from Remainers. Whatever happens in the next 17 days, British and European politics will look quite different on the other side.Today’s Must-ReadsWe’re heading into a frenzied fortnight in the run-up to Oct 31. Tim Ross explains how the next two weeks could unfold. Many world-famous British brand names are failing or struggling badly. They won’t be helped by Brexit, Katie Linsell and Thomas Buckley write for Bloomberg Businessweek. Johnson’s Tories could be on the cusp of a small majority in any upcoming election, academic and polling expert John Curtice writes in The Times.If you’re enjoying the Brexit Bulletin, or if you think we could do better, we’d love to hear your views. Please take a few minutes to fill in our survey.Brexit in BriefWhat Happened at the Weekend? | Observer readers had barely digested the newspaper’s report of increased talk of a new Brexit referendum when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Sky News he still believes a general election should come first. (Though Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey contradicted her leader on the BBC moments later.)Anything Else? | Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg warmed Telegraph readers up for Brexit concessions, while former Chancellor Philip Hammond denied a Mail on Sunday report that he is heading a “plot” to delay the divorce. Over the water, RTE’s Europe Editor Tony Connelly took a deep-dive into last week’s events — and what they mean.Johnson v May | Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals would leave the British economy worse off than the deal agreed to by his predecessor Theresa May, according to a new report by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe.“Beyond Eye-Watering” | Separately, the Confederation of British Industry has a report out today on Labour’s plans to nationalize key companies and services. The projected cost? Almost $250 billion (£200 billion.)Energy Concerns | Questions remain over the viability of Ireland’s 12-year-old single electricity market (SEM) in the years after Brexit, Olivia Konotey-Ahulu and Jeremy Hodges report. Problems could mount further down the line because of the market’s large reliance on supplies from power plants in the rest of the U.K.Prayer Services | U.K. services companies face a slew of new rules after Brexit and could find themselves in breach of the law if they are unprepared, Jill Ward and Bryce Baschuk report.State Opening | A new parliamentary session opens on Monday with the traditional Queen’s Speech. Legislative plans due to be announced include a Brexit Withdrawal Bill as well as healthcare investment, measures to tackle violent crime and increase wages for the lowest paid. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid is due to deliver his annual budget on Nov. 6.On the Markets | The pound slid from near a three-month high on news from Brussels, dropping as much as 0.6% against the dollar. Sterling traded at $1.2597 as of 7:08 a.m. in London after climbing to $1.2707 on Friday.Want to keep up with Brexit?You can follow us @Brexit on Twitter, and listen to Bloomberg Westminster every weekday. It’s live at midday on Bloomberg Radio and is available as a podcast too. Share the Brexit Bulletin: Colleagues, friends and family can sign up here. For full EU coverage, try the Brussels Edition.For even more: Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access for our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.The Bloomberg Breakaway CEO Summit returns to London on November 12, with Bloomberg  TV and radio co-anchor Carol Massar. Join 100+ CEOs and founders for a day of expert-led workshops, compelling keynotes and news-making interviews to help scale up and transform your organization. Apply here to become a member and attend the London summit this November.To contact the author of this story: Adam Blenford in London at ablenford@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Kay at ckay5@bloomberg.net, Leila TahaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 02:33:09 -0400
  • UPDATE 2-UK's Javid plans first post-Brexit budget on Nov 6

    Finance minister Sajid Javid said on Monday he planned to deliver Britain's first post-Brexit budget statement on Nov. 6, less than a week after the country's deadline for leaving the European Union, if it exits with a deal. "I will be setting out our plan to shape the economy for the future and triggering the start of our infrastructure revolution," Javid said in a statement.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 02:29:50 -0400
  • Saudi visit showcases Putin's growing Middle East influence

    Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Saudi Arabia on Monday for the first time in over a decade, seeking to capitalise on growing influence borne of military advances in Syria, strong ties with regional rivals and cooperation on energy policy. Moscow accrued power in the Middle East in 2015 by sending troops to Syria, where it and Iran have been key backers of President Bashar al-Assad amid civil war, while the United States pulled back.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 02:08:27 -0400
  • Hong Kong Police Officer Slashed in Neck as Violence Continues

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- A Hong Kong police officer was slashed in the neck by a protester as clashes continued following an escalation of violence earlier this month in demonstrations that began in June.Demonstrators spread out across 18 districts on Sunday in scattered, pop-up protests to pressure the government to meet their remaining demands, including the right to choose and elect their own leaders. Police said the officer suffered a neck wound after being attacked with a “sharp-edged” object in a subway station. On Monday, police said the officer remained in hospital but was in stable condition.Due to “serious vandalism,” the city’s rail operator MTR Corp. said on Monday all main subway lines, MTR buses and light rail would shut down early at 10 p.m. The Airport Express route was not affected, the company said, adding that it made the decision after reviewing ongoing repairs and conducting a “joint risk assessment” with the government.Overall the disruption wasn’t as bad as earlier this month, when the subway system was completely shut down due to widespread violence after leader Carrie Lam invoked emergency powers last used more than half a century ago to impose a ban face masks. Prior to this weekend, some activists had urged others to scale back the vandalism that has shut shops, banks and train stations over concerns it could sap support for the movement.Several events later this week could add fuel to the protests: Lam is due to give her annual economic-policy address, and U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives may vote on a bill that would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trading status and potentially sanction some Chinese officials. Protesters plan to hold a rally in support of the bill in Central starting at 7 p.m. on Monday.“The protesters and the people in Hong Kong certainly would like to have more international attention, would like to secure international sympathy,” Joseph Cheng, a retired political science professor and pro-democracy activist, said Sunday. “The concern obviously is that violent activities may lose international support. There is a definite awareness.”Protesters are also concerned that violence may give the government an excuse to delay local elections next month, particularly as demonstrators are still enjoying popular support. Lam’s approval rating has been stuck near record lows for months.U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday appeared to endorse the notion that the protests were waning in a meeting in Washington with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. The two sides agreed to “phase one” of a trade deal that reduced tensions between the world’s biggest economies, even as thorny issues remain.“We discussed Hong Kong and I think great progress has been made by China in Hong Kong,” Trump said. “And I’ve been watching and I actually told the vice premier it really has toned down a lot from the initial days of a number of months ago when I saw a lot of people, and I see far fewer now.”The issue jumped into the forefront of debate in the U.S. over the past week after the general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team tweeted support for the anti-Beijing protesters. The tweet was quickly deleted, but it triggered a backlash from Chinese companies and fans, leading to an exhibition game on Thursday in Shanghai not being aired or streamed in China.While he didn’t refer directly to Hong Kong, China President Xi Jinping told Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli that those attempting to split China will be crushed, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday. Xi said any external force backing the split of China will be considered as delusional by the Chinese people, the report said.The ongoing unrest was sparked by the Hong Kong government’s plan to introduce now-withdrawn legislation that would’ve allowed extradition to mainland China. Protester demands have since broadened to include an independent commission of inquiry into police brutality and greater democracy. Lam’s use of the emergency law raised the ire of protesters and paralyzed large parts of the city.About 100 restaurants have closed because of the unrest, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a blog post Sunday. Around 2,000 employees have been affected as a result of the closures, Chan said, citing the catering industry.Since protests erupted on China’s National Day on Oct. 1, police have arrested about 500 people, including 77 for violating the mask ban, and fired almost 2,000 rounds of tear gas. Dozens of people have have been injured, including two teenage protesters who were shot during fights with police.Lam has refused to rule out further emergency measures, or even requesting Chinese military intervention to halt the unrest. “If the situation becomes so bad, then no option should be ruled out, if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance,” she told reporters Tuesday.(Updates with police officer’s condition in second paragrah)\--With assistance from Stanley James and Iain Marlow.To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Eric Lam in Hong Kong at elam87@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 01:45:25 -0400
  • The Latest: Australia says Turkey to blame for IS escapes

    Golocal247.com news

    Australia's foreign minister says Turkey is solely responsible for the escape of Islamic State group fighters from custody in Syria. Foreign Minister Marise Payne was commenting in the Australian Senate after hundreds of Islamic State families and supporters escaped from a holding camp on Sunday amid fighting between Turkish forces and the Kurds. Opposition lawmakers argue that Turkey's military incursion has been enabled by the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 01:22:19 -0400
  • Pakistan on Mission to Enable Iran Talks With U.S., Saudi Arabia

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan is conducting shuttle diplomacy to promote talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia to end a tense standoff that has roiled energy markets and pushed the rival Gulf powers to the brink of war.During a visit to Iran on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was acting “not as a mediator but as a facilitator” for talks between Tehran and Riyadh, where he’s traveling on Monday. In a statement shown live on Iranian state television, Khan said President Donald Trump had also asked him to help aid a dialogue between Iran and the U.S. over the 2015 nuclear deal.Iranian Oil Tanker Attacked as Middle East Tensions Remain HighComing two days after an Iranian oil tanker was attacked in the Red Sea, the visit is the latest outside attempt to broker some sort of engagement between the oil-rich Persian state, the U.S. and its stalwart regional ally, Saudi Arabia. Earlier efforts by Japan and France have yielded little progress. Khan said he’ll travel to Saudi Arabia with a “positive frame of mind.”Iran said the tanker was struck by two missiles early Friday. It hasn’t directly blamed Saudi Arabia for the incident and withdrew an initial remark by an official that the rockets probably emanated from the kingdom. On Sunday Iranian maritime officials said rescue centers in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Egypt all ignored emails sent from the ship requesting help in violation of international rules, the semi-official Fars News reported, citing the National Iranian Tanker Company.Pressure has been rising in the region since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the international accord with Iran last year and imposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic, vowing to wipe out its crude exports. Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were attacked last month, briefly slashing global oil output by 5%.Appearing alongside Khan, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said he told the Pakistani premier in their meeting that the U.S. must return to the original nuclear agreement. He said he welcomed any effort to reduce tensions in the region.Khan -- one of several leaders who unsuccessfully tried to broker talks between Trump and Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly last month -- also met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who pressed him to complete Pakistan’s share of a stalled joint gas pipeline, which Islamabad abandoned in 2014, citing international sanctions at the time.Khamenei also used his meeting with Khan to warn countries that they would “regret” starting a war with Iran, according to his official website.The kingdom didn’t ask for Pakistan’s mediation and is waiting for Iran to take the initiative, according to Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.“It’s really up to Iran, they know what they need to do,” Al-Jubeir said in Riyadh Sunday. “And they need to change their behavior, their policies, if they want countries to deal with them as with normal countries.”\--With assistance from Dina Khrennikova.To contact the reporters on this story: Abbas Al Lawati in Dubai at aallawati6@bloomberg.net;Arsalan Shahla in Tehran at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Mon, 14 Oct 2019 01:00:00 -0400
Data by Localeze
Powered by Intelligenx