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  • Trump Offers Brazil Help on Amazon After Macron Faulted Brazil

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he had told Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro that the U.S. stands ready to help fight fires in the Amazon and that trade prospects between the two countries are “very exciting.”Trump’s comment, in a tweet on Friday, came after French President Emmanuel Macron, outraged over the Amazon fire, branded Bolsonaro a liar and threatened to block the European Union’s trade deal with the Mercosur countries.“Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before,” Trump said in the tweet. “I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!”The French president’s office said that it has become clear that Bolsonaro wasn’t serious about his commitments on addressing climate change when he spoke to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka earlier this year.A day before he’s set to welcome the Group of Seven leaders to Biarritz, France, Macron said he would make the burning of the Amazon jungle a priority at the summit. That provoked an angry response from Bolsonaro, who accused him of acting like a colonialist. Issues relating to Brazil should not be discussed without the country at the table, Bolsonaro added.German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly disagreed with Macron. Her spokesman told Bloomberg that she did not think upending the trade deal would achieve Macron’s aim of slowing deforestation in Brazil.To contact the reporter on this story: Austin Weinstein in New York at aweinstein18@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at, Justin Blum, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:33:57 -0400
  • Trump Raises Tariffs on China as Frustration Mounts Ahead of G-7

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump escalated the trade war with China on Friday and moved further away from a deal to resolve frictions, announcing a wave of higher tariffs even as he prepared to set off for a gathering of world leaders.In an announcement, tweeted out after major indices on Wall Street sank, Trump said existing 25% tariffs on some $250 billion in imports from China would rise to 30% come Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.Planned 10% tariffs on a further $300 billion in Chinese goods will be taxed at 15% instead of 10% starting with the first tranche on Sept. 1. The second batch of goods is due to be hit on Dec. 15.The move was foreshadowed in an earlier series of presidential tweets that again roiled U.S. markets concerned about the growing impact of his trade wars on a slowing global and U.S. economy. In those tweets, Trump vowed to respond to Chinese retaliatory tariffs, accused Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell of being a bigger U.S. “enemy” than China’s Xi Jinping and issued a call for American companies to abandon China.Trump was responding to an announcement that Beijing was planning to impose retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports, targeting politically sensitive products from American factories to farms.“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump wrote.The move came shortly before the president was due to get on a plane to France for a Group of Seven meeting at which responding to a slowing global economy -- blamed by many on Trump’s trade wars -- sits at the top of the agenda.In a statement issued ahead of the weekend meetings, Boris Johnson, the new British prime minister, warned that “international tensions and new trade barriers are threatening global growth.”Friday’s procession of angry Trump tweets marked what analysts and people close to the administration said was a clear shift in tone by a president increasingly frustrated by both the lack of progress in his trade assault on China and a slowing economy, for which he’s eager to blame Powell and the Fed.In his order for U.S. companies to withdraw from China, some close to the administration saw the president embracing the calls for an economic decoupling made by the hawks inside his administration.The evidence of the shift may have been most apparent in a 14-word tweet in which Trump appeared to call Xi an “enemy.”“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” he said in a Tweet posted after Powell gave a speech in Jackson Hole that contained implicit criticism of Trump’s trade policies and their impact on the U.S. and global economies.Trump has worked very hard ever since entering the presidency to portray his relationship with Xi as a friendship. By using the sort of inflammatory language for the Chinese leader that he has avoided in the past, Trump is likely to be noticed in Beijing.Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who sometimes advises Trump, said the president’s move on Friday reflected the fact he had grown increasingly frustrated with China’s response to his escalating tariffs in recent months.That has been driven in part by a change of attitude in Beijing, where officials seem increasingly dismissive of Trump and his chances of re-election and convinced that hawkish aides like Peter Navarro, a senior White House trade adviser, are increasingly directing policy, Pillsbury said.“There’s a growing perceptions gap,” he said. “The China hawks in Washington have successfully encouraged their America hawks in Beijing.”Trump’s move on Friday appeared to have been hastily assembled.In an appearance on the Fox Business Network in the morning, Navarro played down the new tariffs announced by China. “Seventy-five billion dollars worth of tariffs in terms of, what, the combined $30 trillion economy is not something for the stock market to worry about and we’re cool here,” he said.But just a few hours later Navarro, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and other aides were in the Oval Office for a midday meeting to figure out the administration’s next step.Not WorkingThe National Retail Federation, whose membership includes Walmart Inc., issued a statement on Friday sounding the alarms about the added tariffs.“It’s impossible for businesses to plan for the future in this type of environment,” said David French, senior vice president of government affairs for the organization. “The administration’s approach clearly isn’t working, and the answer isn’t more taxes on American businesses and consumers. Where does this end?”The president has little legal authority to ban all American companies from doing business with China. But he has the capacity to make life difficult for them, as he has with his tariffs, and could ban some tech companies from doing business with China were he to invoke special powers and declare a national economic emergency, according to trade lawyers and analysts.Although some White House aides have sought to portray calls in recent weeks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators as making progress, people close to the talks and briefed on them say they have yielded little of immediate substance.Larry Kudlow, the head of Trump’s National Economic Council, said this week that a phone call between U.S. and Chinese officials on Wednesday had gone well and that the goal remained a resumption of face-to-face talks in Washington in September.Privately, however, others familiar with the discussions say that major questions remain over those talks and how willing China is to return to the substantive negotiations over structural economic reforms that broke down in May.Distant Deal“The U.S. and China can’t even agree on what text to begin the negotiations with again,” said Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute who has advised the administration.The one thing left clear was that Friday’s escalation raised more doubts about Trump’s chosen path with China and made prospects of a deal even more distant, analysts said.Though Trump has insisted he had little choice but to take on the fight with a China that threatens to overtake the U.S. economically and technologically in the years to come, his critics insist he has done so in an ill-conceived and ad-hoc way that has caused more damage than necessary to the U.S. economy.“His approach to these negotiations all along has been, just as you are about to sit down to negotiate, you make things significantly worse for the other side and hope that they are going to give you lot of concessions just to get back to where they were,” said Philip Levy, who served as an economic adviser to President George W. Bush and is now chief economist for Flexport, a logistics company. “The Chinese don’t seem very enthused about playing this game.”To contact the reporters on this story: Shawn Donnan in Washington at;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Kennedy at, Sarah McGregor, Margaret CollinsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:26:28 -0400
  • China Says U.S. Is Using Fentanyl Feud as Political Weapon

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is politicizing the issue of illicit Chinese exports of fentanyl and using it as a weapon against China, said the country’s narcotics regulator on Friday.Liu Yuejin, deputy head of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, rebutted accusations from the U.S. that China is not doing enough to curb the flow of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid painkiller, beyond its borders. Some American politicians “are up-ending the facts for their own political necessities,” Liu said in an interview in Beijing on Friday.The comments come just weeks after President Donald Trump lashed out at his Chinese counterpart in a tweet, saying Xi Jinping hadn’t stopped the flow of Chinese-made fentanyl as promised, and citing this failure as one reason that another 10% tariff would be levied on $300 billion of Chinese exports on Sept. 1.In a series of new tweets on Friday, Trump said that he would order U.S. shipping companies to search for and reject any packages containing fentanyl, from China or any other country.FedEx Corp. already has extensive security measures to prevent the use of its network for illegal purposes, the company said in a statement. United Parcel Service Inc. said it works closely with authorities to monitor for prohibited substances, and takes a “multi-layered” approach to prevent such shipments. Inc. didn’t respond to a request for comment.The U.S. Postal Service said it’s “aggressively working” to implement provisions of an existing law to keep illicit drugs from entering the U.S.As an example of facts being twisted by the U.S., Liu cited three Chinese nationals whom the U.S. issued economic sanctions against earlier this week for allegedly producing and trafficking fentanyl. Liu said Chinese authorities have been closely cooperating with their American counterparts on the issue of the three men, but that the individuals’ actions occurred before China’s tightening of its laws regulating the drug in April.“It was hard to prosecute them with the law at that time and U.S. enforcement knows this very clearly,” he said. “Some U.S. politicians refuse to face the reality, upend the facts, turn black into white and muddy clear water. And they mislead Americans who may not know the truth.“Fentanyl has played a role in the opioid epidemic that’s been blamed for thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. and been declared a public health emergency. It’s also been an issue in trade war negotiations. Last year, China’s move to tighten supervision and revise rules around fentanyl production after the two presidents met at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina was talked up by Trump as a major concession.But earlier this month, he tweeted that “my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!”The three Chinese nationals, Zheng Fujing, Zheng Guanghua and Yan Xiaobing, were added to the U.S. Treasury’s “Specially Designated Nationals List” earlier this week for running what the agency said was “an international drug trafficking operation that manufactures and sells lethal narcotics, directly contributing to the crisis of opioid addiction, overdoses and death in the U.S.” The move allows the government to freeze their U.S.-based financial assets.“These actions by the U.S. are not constructive and will hurt the good relationship between the two countries’ law enforcement organs,” said Liu. He added that China is still open to working with the U.S. on the fentanyl problem.China has repeatedly pushed back against the U.S. claim that it is responsible for the fentanyl problem, arguing that the epidemic is due to the U.S.’s own lax regulation over the prescription of addictive opioids to patients. Liu pointed out that China doesn’t have a domestic opioid abuse issue because of its strict regulation over the use of painkillers.(Updates with company comments beginning in fifth paragraph)\--With assistance from John Liu and Ben Brody.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dong Lyu in Beijing at;Tom Mackenzie in Beijing at tmackenzie5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at, Jeff Sutherland, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:59:22 -0400
  • Britain wants U.S. trade deal quickly, but terms have to be right - UK spokeswoman

    Britain wants to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States quickly, but the terms have to work for both sides, a British spokeswoman said on Friday ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Trump. Johnson, only a month into his leadership, will travel to the French seaside resort of Biarritz on Saturday for a G7 summit where his every move will be scrutinised for clues on how he will position Britain between the European Union and the United States after leaving the EU on Oct. 31.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:30:01 -0400
  • U.K.’s Johnson Plays Down Hopes of Quick Brexit Deal With EU

    (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson dropped his trademark optimism over his ability to negotiate a new Brexit deal with the European Union, warning people not to “hold their breath” over the prospect of a quick breakthrough.“I want to caution everybody, OK? Because this is not going to be a cinch, this is not going to be easy. We will have to work very hard to get this thing done,” Johnson said in televised comments in Devon, southwest England on Friday.The clear shift in tone follows meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week. Both expressed skepticism a breakthrough could be found, with Johnson calling for the EU to reopen the Brexit deal negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, which took 19 months to agree but was rejected three times by Parliament.Johnson is already looking to the U.K.’s post-Brexit future -- he and U.S. President Donald Trump are due to discuss a free-trade deal over breakfast at the Group of Seven summit on Sunday. He has promised to leave the EU “do or die” on Oct. 31 and without a deal unless the bloc agrees to change it.ImpasseThe sticking point remains the same as it was for so many months between May and the EU: what to do about the Irish border, which will become the U.K.’s new land frontier with the bloc after it leaves.Johnson is demanding the EU scrap the so-called backstop, a fallback mechanism designed to keep the Irish border free of checks. That’s seen as crucial for ensuring that the peace process in Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., is not jeopardized. But the provision is hated by Brexiteers because it would keep the U.K. tied to many of the EU’s customs and trading rules.The problem for Johnson is the EU doesn’t believe his technology-based solutions to avoid customs and border checks offer a realistic alternative to the backstop. And while Merkel and Macron were both polite and offered Johnson some encouraging words, they were also clear they were not prepared to change the fundamentals of the Brexit deal.On Friday, the U.K. leader repeated his view that there were “lots of ways” to achieve a frictionless border. “But to persuade our EU friends and partners, who are very, very, very hard over against it, will take some time,” he said.No-Deal RiskThe EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said in a tweet Friday the bloc was ready to analyze U.K. proposals “that are realistic, operational & compatible with our principles.”Officials on both sides have said that unless the impasse is broken, a no-deal Brexit -- without a transition period to shield the economy and businesses from the potential turmoil that could follow -- is the most likely scenario.Johnson said he was “very confident” the U.K. “will be OK” in the event of a no-deal Brexit because of the preparations the government is making. Even so, he said he’s not giving up on negotiations, calling the “mood music” during his European trip “very good,” and reiterated his expectation that any compromise would be last-minute, or “on the steps of the court.”“They could see that we want a deal, they can see the problems with the backstop,” he said.Johnson will have another chance to persuade both Macron and Merkel at the Group of Seven meeting in Biarritz, France, which starts Saturday. He’ll also meet European Council President Donald Tusk.Split FocusBut the British prime minister’s focus will be divided in France. Though he needs a revised Brexit agreement from European leaders, he’ll also try to demonstrate to the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Japan that his post-Brexit vision is an outward-looking U.K. eager to strike new trade deals.The government holds a U.S. free-trade agreement in particular as one of the great prizes of Brexit. It won’t be straightforward; the U.K. is protective of British standards on things like animal welfare and hygiene, and doesn’t want to open up the National Health Service to U.S. companies -- a likely demand.Both Johnson and Trump are committed “to starting negotiations as soon as possible,” the prime minister’s office said Friday. “Of course, we want to move quickly, but we want to get the right deal that works for both sides.”At the summit, Johnson’s core message will be to show that despite his resolve to take the U.K. out of the union with its closest trading partners, the U.K. won’t become inward-looking, according to his office.“We will be an energetic partner on the world stage,” Johnson said ahead of his trip to France.To contact the reporters on this story: Jessica Shankleman in London at;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Stuart Biggs, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:30:00 -0400
  • Macron spearheads pressure on Bolsonaro over Amazon fires news

    France's Emmanuel Macron led a growing wave of international pressure on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest Friday, telling him Paris would block efforts to seal a major trade deal. The issue will be high on the agenda when global leaders meet for the G7 summit Saturday in the French resort of Biarritz, where they are also set to tackle global trade wars and the Iran nuclear standoff. Just days before hosting the summit, Macron called for urgent talks on the "international crisis" in the world's largest rainforest, saying leaders would hammer out "concrete measures" to tackle it.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:04:04 -0400
  • Macron Rips Up the Script for His G-7 in a Fit of Climate Fury

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Emmanuel Macron has gone off script.It took the French president less than 24 hours to wrong foot his closest partners and toss a curve ball into the buildup to the Group of Seven summit. His fellow leaders hadn’t even landed. And all this when Macron was supposed to be shoring up the European alliance for another confrontation with Donald Trump.When the summit begins Saturday in the French beach resort of Biarritz, the European contingent is supposed to be holding the line over Brexit, pushing for tougher action on climate change and addressing the trade tensions threatening global growth without provoking the U.S. leader. Now they are going to be distracted by a rift between Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel over how to tackle the environmental threat posed by Brazil.For Macron, for the European Union, and for the transatlantic relationship, the consequences could be far-reaching.Preparations for the summit began to unravel on Thursday evening as Biarritz was about to go into lockdown. The strip of sand that will provide the backdrop for the family photo was still crammed with bathers taking their last swim. Even Macron’s close advisers had no idea about the bombshell the president (who is not a regular tweeter like Trump) was about to drop.Alarmed by the record number of fires ravaging the Amazon jungle, Macron announced that the “emergency” would be a central focus of his summit, abandoning months of careful choreography that even involves France’s most celebrated chef preparing meat for Trump and vegetarian fare for special guest Narendra Modi.Problem was he didn’t seem to have let key players in on his decision. Within two hours, his call to arms was met with a furious response from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who accused Macron of colonial posturing. Affairs relating to Brazil should not be discussed without Brazil at the table, Bolsonaro said.Read more: The Amazon Rainforest Is on Fire, and It’s Getting WorseMacron’s critics on social media pointed out that he’d used an outdated picture of an older blaze.Officials in the G-7 clan were waking up to the news along with the rest of the world. Concern about the environment is something shared by many Europeans, and the sense from officials was that they were willing to accept having the burning of the rainforest thrust onto the agenda at the last moment.A slow drip of benign responses began to come in. A spokesman for the U.K.’s Boris Johnson said the British leader would echo his call for action on the Amazon. Merkel’s spokesman backed Macron’s decision to involve the international community, siding with him against Bolsonaro.Trump, meanwhile, exchanged attacks with Beijing over trade. Markets tumbled as the president said he’d “ordered” the U.S. to disengage from China. But rather than seeking to capitalize, the French leader upped the ante.Another ShockerMaybe he took offense at the colonialist jibe, maybe it was headlines from Brazilian officials bringing up forest fires in Portugal and Siberia. Whatever it was, Macron had another shocker up his sleeve.In a terse statement from the Elysee palace, he branded Bolsonaro a liar and vowed to block the EU’s trade deal with South America’s biggest economies unless Brazil takes its environmental obligations seriously.Tearing up a summit agenda is one thing. But this was a whole other order of magnitude.The EU’s trade accord with Mercosur has been 20 years in the making, will ease tariffs on some $90 billion of annual commerce, and was Europe’s biggest riposte to Trump’s assault on the multilateral trading order. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, invited to the summit as Macron’s special guest, is set to be one of the biggest winners from the deal and invested time and political capital to get it over the line just eight weeks ago. Sanchez had no warning the announcement was coming, according to an official.In The OpenThe public slapdown in the end came from Merkel.Her spokesman told Bloomberg that the chancellor doesn’t believe shooting down the trade deal will achieve Macron’s aim of slowing deforestation in Brazil and actually contains binding commitments on climate protection. She doesn’t think threatening to block the accord is an appropriate response to what is happening in Brazil, he added.After Macron’s political maneuvering over talks with Washington, Merkel had already concluded that she couldn’t rely on France when it comes to trade. Now their split is out in the open.Johnson is seeking to divide them over Brexit. Trump is cranking up the pressure on a host of issues from trade to Iran and economic policy.If they were looking for clues to how robust the EU’s essential alliance is ahead of their latest assault, Macron just handed it to them on a plate.To contact the reporters on this story: Arne Delfs in Biarritz, France at;Helene Fouquet in Biarritz, France at hfouquet1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at, ;Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:47:15 -0400
  • UN threatens sanctions over C.Africa peace pact violations news

    The United Nations special envoy for the Central African Republic on Friday threatened sanctions for violations of a peace agreement signed by the government and rebel groups to end a war that has ravaged the country since 2013. The CAR is experiencing relative calm since the accord was signed in February between the government and 14 military groups -- the eighth deal since the conflict erupted -- but clashes are still regular in the landlocked country.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:47:03 -0400
  • US-China Business Council urges talks to end damaging trade tensions

    The US-China Business Council on Friday said millions of U.S. citizens will be harmed by the increased trade tensions between the United States and China, the world's largest economies, following the latest salvos in the U.S.-China trade war. The group, which represents American companies doing business in China, urged President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to end the downward cycle of tit-for-tat tariffs and focus on resolving their trade differences. "A trade deal that addresses the legitimate concerns articulated by the (U.S. Trade Representative's office) in its Section 301 Report would be in the mutual interest of both China and the United States.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:10:20 -0400
  • UN expert: No peace in Myanmar if no military prosecutions

    A member of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar warned Friday that there will be no long-term peace in the country and no return of Rohingya refugees unless there is accountability for the "brutality" of Myanmar's military forces. Radhika Coomaraswamy, a Sri Lankan lawyer who is one of the mission's three international experts, told an informal Security Council meeting on accountability in Myanmar that the commission believes a domestic judicial process is not possible at this time. "Pressure by military and political forces will not only frighten away witnesses, but they will not allow a domestic, and we think even at this time, a hybrid form of accountability to take place," she said.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:53:52 -0400
  • Putin orders Russia to respond after US missile test news

    President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military on Friday to work out a quid pro quo response after the test of a new U.S. missile banned under a now-defunct arms treaty. In Sunday's test, a modified ground-launched version of a U.S. Navy Tomahawk cruise missile accurately struck its target more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) away. The test came after Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:53:06 -0400
  • N. Korea says it will remain 'threat' to US, slams Pompeo news

    North Korea on Friday launched a scathing attack on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling him a "diehard toxin" and saying it was "sceptical" whether it can negotiate with him. Pyongyang also vowed to remain the United States's "biggest 'threat'" and said annual US-South Korea joint military drills had "complicated" nuclear talks between the two countries. "We are ready for both dialogue and stand-off," North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said in a statement.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:22:31 -0400
  • After Beating and Hernia, American Prisoner Paul Whelan Refused Hospitalization by FSB Doctors news

    KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEVMOSCOW–Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen held in Russia on suspicion of spying, looked pale and sick when his prison guards brought him to Lefortovo court on Friday. He said he had been beaten and is suffering from a hernia, but his condition is hardly a surprise after eight months in Moscow’s Lefortovo, a prison run but the Russian Federal Security Service, FSB, and it looks like Whelan has learned only too well how incarceration there operates.Whelan is facing 20 years in Russian prison for spying, after accepting a flashcard that allegedly contains some sensitive information. His family is far away, he does not speak the Russian language, and on top of everything the 49-year-old security manager for a Michigan-based auto parts company is suffering from a painful inguinal hernia, with part of his intestine having ruptured the abdominal wall.Paul Whelan, Accused U.S. Spy Held in Moscow, Says a Russian Investigator Threatened His LifeWhen the judge suggested calling an ambulance in the middle of the hearing on Friday morning, Whelan rejected the idea, as a useless waste of time: “The nurses won’t take me to a hospital, they will only check my blood pressure, temperature, and say, ‘You are fine,’” he told the court.By now Whelan must have learned the rules and brutal methods in Russian prisons. “No ordinary ambulance can take a prisoner who is under FSB investigation to the hospital,” Alexander Cherkasov, chair of the Memorial Human Rights Center told The Daily Beast. “There is a specialized hospital 20 where they normally take sick prisoners, after a certain bureaucratic procedure.”Also, no Russian nurse working for an ambulance carries strong painkillers. (Russian doctors are not allowed to prescribe strong drugs even for people dying in agonizing pain, so Russians suffer from pain all over the country, many committing suicide.)Whelan looked and sounded doomed. He said that his health condition worsened after his prison guard beat him. The incident happened earlier this month, when Whelan was being moved from one cell to another. Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told The Daily Beast, “I have checked: prison guards did not know that my client had a hernia, they made him carry all his stuff himself to a different cell. The treatment in Lefortovo is inhuman.”  On Friday, Whelan told the judge, “If you call for a doctor who would hospitalize me, I don’t mind calling for the ambulance.” But just as he predicted, the nurses on call checked him right at Lefortovo Court and decided against his hospitalization.Whelan, who holds U.S., Canadian, British, and Irish passports, was arrested on December 28 in his hotel room a few steps away from the Kremlin. His lawyer Zherebenkov predicted early on the way the case was likely to develop: “They will pickle Paul for a year or more, as he is clearly just a pawn; and then they will swap him for some important Russian kept in American prison,” the lawyer told The Daily Beast in January.Almost eight months later Zherebenkov still has not seen any solid evidence establishing his client’s guilt. “The FSB  investigation has not presented us with a single solid piece of material, so our truth in this case is even stronger than half a year ago–that’s why FSB want more time,” the lawyer said.Meet Putin’s American Prisoner, Paul WhelanAccording to Media Zona, a group of journalists reporting on news about Russian prisons and court cases, at least 99 detainees died in detention centers and prisons used by investigators in 2016. Many more died in prison camps. “It is hard for us to find out what causes the deaths of prisoners—when prison guards crack somebody’s head open, they say that the detainee fell down and died in an accident,” Dmitry Shvets, a Media Zona reporter told The Daily Beast. But the problem is not just physical violence. “Lefortovo prison is famous for psychological torture by isolation. The inmates cannot communicate with each other, no prisoner has a chance to use a phone.”Whelan’s family was aware that the FSB wanted to extend the time for investigation for two more months. ”This morning's hearing was more theatrical than his previous hearings—ejecting the media, calling an ambulance—but we were not surprised by the result,” Whelan’s twin brother, David, told The Daily Beast.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:42:12 -0400
  • Putin promises 'symmetrical response' to US missile test after end of nuclear treaty news

    Vladimir Putin has promised a “symmetrical response” to the US test of a missile banned under a nuclear weapons treaty rubbished this month by the Trump administration amid fears of a new arms race. A new land-based version of the navy's Tomahawk cruise missile fired from an island in California struck a target more than 310 miles away on Sunday, according to the Pentagon. The recently defunct 1987 US-Russian intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty banned land-based missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,410 miles. On Friday, Mr Putin told his security council that the test just 16 days after the treaty's demise proved that the United States had long been developing weapons in violation of the agreement, while accusing Russia of the same as part of a “propaganda campaign”. He argued that the use of an Mk41 launcher on Sunday confirmed Russia's longstanding complaints that US missile defence installations in Romania and Poland could be repurposed to fire offensive weapons. By leaving the agreement, Washington wanted to “untie its hands for the deployment to different regions of the world of missiles that were previously banned,” Mr Putin said. “American politicians at a high level are saying that the deployment of new systems could start in the Asia Pacific region, but that also touches on our vital interests, since this is all close to Russia's borders,” he said.  He ordered the defence and foreign ministries to “analyse the level of the threat to our country created by the aforementioned actions of the United States and take exhaustive steps to prepare a symmetrical response”.  The US defence department on Sunday tests a land-based cruise missile that would previously have been banned  Credit: Scott Howe/Department of Defence/UPI/Barcroft While he did not say exactly what that would be be, it was reported in February that Russia could begin producing a land-based version of its Kalibr cruise missile with a range of 1,600 miles by the end of the year.  “For a symmetrical response, it would be enough to take Kalibr and put it on land and conduct a launch,” defence analyst Alexander Golts told The Telegraph. “That wouldn't take a huge effort.” Donald Trump's announcement in February that he would withdraw from the INF treaty, which ended the deployment of US ballistic missiles to Europe and of Soviet nukes targeting them, raised fears of a new arms race. European leaders persuaded Mr Trump to give Russia six months to end its 9M729 missile programme, which the United States had said was in violation of the treaty. Moscow denied this and accused Washington of undermining the agreement with its missile defence plans.  The Pentagon has claimed that the Mk41 launcher used in Sunday's test was not the same as the Aegis Ashore missile defence system in Romania, which is also being deployed to Poland. In his statement, Mr Putin insisted Russia would not be drawn into an “arms race that is destructive for our economy”. But he also noted that Russia was developing weapons “with no equivalent,” a reference to prospective arms announced last year including a hypersonic glider warhead, underwater nuclear drone and nuclear-powered cruise missile.  The tit-for-tat “response” announced by the president could also include tests of these weapons, according to Mr Golts. “We can assume that everything Russia has to demonstrate its power will be moved out under the guise of symmetrical measures,” he sad.  While the Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missile is already in deployment, the United States has claimed that tests of the nuclear-powered cruise missile ended in crashes.  The mysterious engine test explosion that killed at least five and caused a radiation spike in northern Russia this month was believed by some to be related to this programme.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:23:36 -0400
  • As G7 leaders gather in Biarritz, the group is more divided than at any time in its 45 year history news

    This weekend's G7 summit is unlikely to produce a joint communique amid deepening divisions between the world's seven richest nations over everything from Brexit to trade, climate change, and how to deal with China, Iran, and Russia.  It will be the first time the forum of leading economies has failed to produce a statement of common intention and agreement since it began as the Group of Five in 1975, in the latest blow to the post-Cold War consensus of free trade, democracy, and globalisation that it once represented.  Emmanuel Macron will host Boris Johnson,  Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Canada's Justin Trudeau, and Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte for the 45th summit of the world's leading industrialized nations in the surfing resort of Biaritz this weekend.  An early sign of trouble came last week, when Donald Trump repeated his call for Russia to be readmitted to the group. Vladimir Putin has been persona-non-grata at G7 meetings since he annexed Crimea and sent troops to support a separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine in 2014.  Mr Macron immediately shot that down, warning it would be “strategic error” to let Russia back into the club while it continued to fuel the war in east Ukraine.    Vladimir Putin's banishment from the G7 has become a point of contention between Mr Trump and the other leaders Credit: Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin/ REUTERS “I think to say that without any conditions Russia can return to the table would be signing off the weakness of the G7,” he said.     Boris Johnson, widely seen as a rare European ally of Mr Trump, was equally lukewarm on Russia returning: “Given what happened in Salisbury,” he noted after meeting Mrs Merkel this week,  “the case has yet to be made.”   But differences over how to handle Mr Putin are only the tip of the iceberg.  On Friday night a series of tweets by Mr Trump raised fears that the escalating trade war between the US and China will tip the global economy into recession. He said he had "ordered" American companies to leave China after Beijing announced tariffs on $75 billion worth of US goods. Mr Macron has made the forest fires in Brazil the top priority for the summit, and has also said he wants to use the summit to push for an overhaul a “crazy” global tax system that sees tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook get away with paying minimal taxes no matter where they operate.  Winning over Mr Trump, who leads by far the biggest economy in the room and enjoys considerable influence with other populists, including Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, is key to achieving those goals.  But Mr Trump has a much more sceptical attitude to climate change than his G7 colleagues, and sees the notion of a “digital tax” as an attack on US flagship businesses. He has threatened to slap tariffs on French wine in retaliation. The seven are also divided over rising strategic challenges.  U.S. President Donald Trump meets French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in 2018 Credit: CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS In 2018 Mr Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and adopted a policy of maximum economic pressure intended to force Tehran to accept tighter nuclear restrictions and end its ballistic missile program and backing for armed groups across the Middle East.  The European members of the club, including Britain, remain committed to the agreement and have attempted to continue to trade with Iran in a bid to keep the deal alive, despite US pressure.  Ironically, Mr Macron may be relying on that French wine - among other delicacies - to raise the mood at what are expected to be contentious talks.  The Elysee palace has hired five Michelin-starred local chefs to prepare Basque specialties for the lunches and dinners where the most serious talking will be done.  The G7, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, began in the 1970s as an annual meeting of the leaders of the world's largest developed economies.   Russia joined as a full member in 1998, making it the G8. It was suspended following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and left permanently in 2017.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:15:06 -0400
  • Jair Bolsonaro blamed for turning a blind eye to degradation in the name of 'progress' news

    During a recent visit to the Amazon where he proposed opening up mining in an ecological reserve the size of Denmark, the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro summarised his approach to the rainforest. “Let’s use the riches that God gave us for the well-being of our population,” Mr Bolsonaro said, before adding to any would-be prospectors: “You won’t get any trouble…” Ever since he took office in January this evangelism, populism, and total disregard for the vital ecological role the Amazon serves have been the hallmarks of Mr Bolsonaro’s tenure. The apocalyptic wildfires of recent days – more than 9,000 individual blazes have been recorded across the Amazon in the past week alone – are being blamed largely on the approach taken to the world’s largest rainforest by the man nicknamed ‘Captain Chainsaw’. To put the destruction into context: this year there have been more than 70,000 wildfires recorded in Brazil, an 84 per cent increase on the same period last year. In the past month alone some 1,000 square kilometres (386 square miles) of the rainforest has been engulfed by wildfire.  Mr Bolsonaro has decried the fact that 15 per cent of Brazil’s territory is reserved for indigenous tribes Credit: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters During the dry season in Brazil – the largest country in Latin America which contains 60 per cent of the Amazon – it is common for wildfires to occur in the rainforest but experts say the current rate is unprecedented and the direct result of demons unleashed by Mr Bolsonaro in his pledges to turn a blind eye to environmental degradation in the name of economic progress. “It is absolutely clear those who are starting these fires are doing so because they feel empowered by the rhetoric they have heard from the Brazilian president,” says Mike Barrett, WWF-UK’s executive director of science and conservation. Mr Bolsonaro, a 64-year-old former army captain, was elected on the back of the country’s worst recession in history. During his controversial campaign he successfully courted the support of Brazil’s powerful evangelical churches - who were attracted by his ultra-conservative messages - and ran on a ticket of removing environmental red tape and attracting development to previously protected parts of the country.  Official data has shown an 84 per cent increase in wildfires in the Amazon this year Credit: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters Lands belonging to Brazil’s indigenous tribes have in particular provoked his ire. Mr Bolsonaro has decried the fact that 15 per cent of Brazil’s territory is reserved for indigenous tribes despite their numbers adding up to fewer than 1m people. “Let us together integrate these citizens and bring value to all Brazilians" he tweeted in January.  The previous month he had bluntly told reporters: “Why in Brazil do we have to keep them as inmates in reserves, as if they were animals in a zoo?” Since taking office Mr Bolsonaro has handed control of the country’s indigenous affairs to its Ministry of Agriculture and slashed the budget of Brazil’s environmental protection agency by 24 percent.  There have been numerous accounts of unpermitted development and land grabs on indigenous reserves, while the environmental regulatory issued fewer fines than at any point since 1995 during the the first two months of his presidency. The president has suggested Brazilian tribes should be taken out of reserves and "integrated" into society Credit: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters In a statement released on Friday, the Coordination of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) expressed its “extreme concern” about the rapid destruction of the Amazon rainforest, adding: “Loggers are taking our land and irresponsible landlords are taking advantage of the weakening of environmental surveillance to advance into our homes.” In July a tribal chief from the Amapa region was murdered. According to media reports, witnesses saw a number of gold miners enter the protected reserve of the Wajãpi community, then stab their leader to death. In response to the incident the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, decried the killing and characterised it as part of a larger issue of “encroachment on indigenous land".  Mr Bolsonaro’s response was typical, suggesting the victim may not have been murdered at all.  Mr Bolsonaro has claimed NGOs may be responsible for setting the fires in order to tarnish Brazil's image, but has provided no evidence when pressed Credit: Rio Branco Firefighters/REX Such pugnaciousness is a hallmark of a president determined to face down any perceived criticism. Earlier this month the director of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) – which has provided the data showing the rise in deforestation – was fired by Mr Bolsonaro who dismissed its findings as “lies” designed to harm Brazil.  Striking a similarly aggressive tone, this week he has sought to blame the wildfires on NGOs operating in the Amazon whom he has previously accused of “sticking their noses into Brazil”. When pressed he admitted he could not provide any evidence to confirm his claims. As the forest burns, and miners, loggers and cattle ranchers move in to exploit the land, Mr Bolsonaro has also reopened the door to a series of new hydroelectric dam projects in the Amazon, reversing a decision taken by the previous administration due to the feared ecological impact on the forest. Yet it is wrong to blame all the Amazon’s current woes on Mr Bolsonaro. Certainly the recent deforestation is a problem is far from confined to Brazil.  After a decade or so of gradual progress, deforestation has suddenly exploded across the Amazon, which spans nine countries containing 40 per cent of earth’s rainforest and 10-15 per cent of all its terrestrial species. Weather satellites have shown the extent of the wildfires from space Credit: NASA/NOAA/Reuters Cattle ranchers are believed to account for roughly 80 per cent of deforestation in the region, with Brazil's Amazon one of the world's largest exporters of beef. Experts warn a tipping point could soon be reached where the deforestation becomes irreversible and much of the Amazon turns into dry savannah, transforming from a vital sink for global emissions to releasing an estimated tens of billions of tonnes of carbon into the air. Last week the Telegraph reported from the Colombian Amazon where deforestation has rapidly increased from 124,000 hectares in 2015 to 197,000 hectares in 2018, 66 per cent of which is concentrated in the Amazon region. There, as in Brazil, starting fires is deemed the quickest way of levelling swathes of land to turn into cattle pastures. The animals are left to graze among charred stumps standing as headstones to the pristine forest that once stood there. Despite rising international condemnation of the destruction, Mr Bolsonaro’s approach remains resolute. “Brazil does not owe the world anything when it comes to environmental protection”, he said in March. The Amazon, Captain Chainsaw insists, is his to do with as he pleases.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:48:22 -0400
  • Israeli teen dies of wounds in West Bank attack, 2 wounded news

    An explosion Friday near a West Bank settlement that Israel said was a Palestinian attack killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl and wounded her brother and father, Israeli authorities said. Initially, three Israelis were reported wounded in the blast on Friday near the Dolev settlement, northwest of Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered condolences to the family and vowed to pursue the perpetrators and "strengthen" Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:44:09 -0400
  • Revealed: Felix Sater Did Extensive Work for U.S. Intelligence news

    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty/APBefore appearing in the Trump-Russia probe, Felix Sater traveled throughout Central Asia gathering intelligence on the Taliban for the U.S. government, according to a decade-old court filing unsealed Friday. In 1998, the Russian-American businessman began cooperating with the U.S. government after pleading guilty to participating in a $40 million stock-fraud case involving New York mafia figures. After entering his plea, Sater spent years working hand-in-hand with the CIA and the FBI to target New York organized crime families and Al Qaeda, according to a 2009 letter filed by prosecutors requesting a reduced sentence for Sater due to his cooperation. The judge obliged, assigning him a $25,000 fine and no prison time. “[T]he agents who worked with Sater found him to be dependable, insightful, and hard-working,” the letter said.Sater drew immense public interest during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of links between the Trump campaign and Russia because Sater helped President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen negotiate a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Those talks unfolded secretly in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, even as Trump publicly claimed he had “nothing to do with Russia.” In an eye-popping email, Sater even told Cohen that Russian President Vladimir Putin could help Trump win the election if the deal went through.Sater, unsurprisingly, drew scorching criticism for this activity. But he has defended himself by claiming to be a patriot who worked closely with American spies at great personal risk. The filing by federal prosecutors, known as a 5K1 letter, indicates there is some truth to those claims.Benton Campbell, the then-U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, sent the letter on August 27, 2009 to Judge Leo Glasser, who presided over Sater’s case. Felix Sater: The Crook Behind the Trump-Russia ‘Peace’ PlanU.S. officials have alluded in the past to Sater’s cooperation. In her Senate confirmation hearing to be attorney general in 2015, for instance, Loretta Lynch praised his work with the Justice Department. But the newly unsealed letter is the most detailed statement from the feds on Sater’s work for Uncle Sam.  The letter begins by describing a serendipitous find: In an abandoned storage unit that police seized in January 1998, someone had left loaded guns and documents detailing the criminal enterprise that Sater was involved in. Sater was overseas at the time. When he learned law enforcement were looking for him, he immediately contacted American intelligence officers, and, in an effort to shore up goodwill, offered information about Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, which was fighting the Taliban. U.S. intelligence officials took him up on the offer, and he spent the spring and summer of 1998 traveling through Central Asia and gathering information about the Northern Alliance, including details on their interest in selling Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the U.S. (including those missiles’ serial numbers), as well as information about the Taliban and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.That year, he got in touch with an ex-KGB officer-turned-arms dealer who had information about threats to the U.S. emanating from Central Asia and Afghanistan. Sater shared the arms dealer’s information with the CIA and the FBI. The contact told Sater about the missiles, as well as what was believed to be bin Laden’s satellite phone number and information about the people who supplied the terrorist leader with weapons.Sater also worked with a precious stones dealer who had Taliban contacts. The FBI paid for a phone that Sater sent to the dealer, according to the letter. The two used it to stay “in constant contact.” That individual shared ample information with Sater that he passed on to the U.S. government, including details on bin Laden’s location after the September 11 attacks, information on Al Qaeda’s structure and finances, the purported location of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, details on the casualties of U.S. airstrikes, details on a plot to assassinate President George W. Bush, and information on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.The letter notes that Sater traveled to dangerous parts of Central Asia to gather much of this information.  In December 1998, Sater returned to the U.S., surrendered, entered a guilty plea, and explained to prosecutors the significance of the storage unit’s contents. And he kept cooperating. Sater shared detailed information with the prosecutors about organized crime in New York. Most importantly, prosecutors said he helped them secure the conviction of Frank Coppa Jr., a member of the Bonanno crime family. A footnote in the letter notes that Coppa then began cooperating, which led to the conviction and cooperation of Joe Massino, the boss of the Bonanno crime family. Massino’s subsequent cooperation with the feds was historic: one federal judge said he “may be the most important cooperator in the modern history of law enforcement efforts to prosecute the American Mafia.”Sater also helped the feds investigate access device fraud and money-laundering schemes that started in Russia, according to the letter. The letter concludes with a full-throated endorsement of Sater’s work. “Felix went above and beyond what is expected of most cooperators and placed himself in great jeopardy by so doing,” it said.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:42:03 -0400
  • At the G7, Trump Is One of the Popular Ones news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Donald Trump is an unpopular president. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average as of Friday afternoon, only 43.3% of Americans approve of his performance. FiveThirtyEight, which weights polls by quality, sample size and partisan lean, puts the average at 41.6%.But as the president meets with leaders of the other G7 countries in the French resort city of Biarritz this weekend, he can take solace in the fact that he’s more popular than almost all of his peers. The lone exception seems to be Japanese premier Shinzo Abe, whose cabinet’s approval rating is 48.8% (to only 35% disapproval) in the Japan Political Pulse poll aggregator maintained by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA.Only 32% of Germans polled for broadcaster ARD a few weeks ago said they were satisfied with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating was 41% in one recent poll and 39% in another (and in the second poll, by Ipsos, only 33% agreed that he “has done a good job and deserves to be re-elected”). In the U.K., only 31% have a positive opinion of brand-new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to YouGov. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte just resigned, so while he remains in office until a new government is formed and the current governing coalition still has a majority in polls, I don’t think he can really be counted as riding on a wave of approval.Then there is French President Emmanuel Macron, the one other more or less directly elected head of state (as opposed to leader of a parliamentary government) coming to Biarritz. In so many ways, he’s the diametric opposite of Trump: young, cosmopolitan, well-spoken, technocratic. He’s the least popular of the lot, with a 28% approval rating in the most recent poll listed by the diligent editors of the “Opinion polling on the Emmanuel Macron presidency” Wikipedia page and 22% percent in the one before that.Trump’s approval rating has of course been remarkably stable, stuck since early 2018 in a narrow band between 40% and 45%. This may be the result of extreme partisan polarization — Trump remains very popular, if not quite as popular as he says he is, among Republicans — or of the personalization of the presidency. Or maybe it’s just that a reasonably healthy economy and a chaotic presidential performance have so far mostly canceled each other out. In any case, approval ratings seem to be less stable in other countries, and with the world and Europe in particular in the midst of an economic slowdown, their common direction at the moment seems to be down. Macroeconomic fluctuations aside, there also seems to be a more general dissatisfaction afoot in many rich, Western democracies that makes it tough for incumbents to remain popular.In the U.S., Trump has enjoyed both economic good times and a seemingly inalienable base of about 25% of Americans — that is, the people who say in polls that they “strongly approve” of his performance. There’s another 40% or so who “strongly disapprove” of him, though, and recent signs of economic sputtering seem be dragging Trump’s overall approval rating down at least a little. By all appearances, this is rattling the president. While in Biarritz he might want to consider chilling out and enjoying the fact that, relative to that crowd, he still counts as quite beloved.To contact the author of this story: Justin Fox at justinfox@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Green Carmichael at sgreencarmic@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Justin Fox is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He was the editorial director of Harvard Business Review and wrote for Time, Fortune and American Banker. He is the author of “The Myth of the Rational Market.”For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:25:05 -0400
  • At the G7, Trump Is One of the Popular Ones news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Donald Trump is an unpopular president. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average as of Friday afternoon, only 43.3% of Americans approve of his performance. FiveThirtyEight, which weights polls by quality, sample size and partisan lean, puts the average at 41.6%.But as the president meets with leaders of the other G7 countries in the French resort city of Biarritz this weekend, he can take solace in the fact that he’s more popular than almost all of his peers. The lone exception seems to be Japanese premier Shinzo Abe, whose cabinet’s approval rating is 48.8% (to only 35% disapproval) in the Japan Political Pulse poll aggregator maintained by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA.Only 32% of Germans polled for broadcaster ARD a few weeks ago said they were satisfied with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating was 41% in one recent poll and 39% in another (and in the second poll, by Ipsos, only 33% agreed that he “has done a good job and deserves to be re-elected”). In the U.K., only 31% have a positive opinion of brand-new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to YouGov. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte just resigned, so while he remains in office until a new government is formed and the current governing coalition still has a majority in polls, I don’t think he can really be counted as riding on a wave of approval.Then there is French President Emmanuel Macron, the one other more or less directly elected head of state (as opposed to leader of a parliamentary government) coming to Biarritz. In so many ways, he’s the diametric opposite of Trump: young, cosmopolitan, well-spoken, technocratic. He’s the least popular of the lot, with a 28% approval rating in the most recent poll listed by the diligent editors of the “Opinion polling on the Emmanuel Macron presidency” Wikipedia page and 22% percent in the one before that.Trump’s approval rating has of course been remarkably stable, stuck since early 2018 in a narrow band between 40% and 45%. This may be the result of extreme partisan polarization — Trump remains very popular, if not quite as popular as he says he is, among Republicans — or of the personalization of the presidency. Or maybe it’s just that a reasonably healthy economy and a chaotic presidential performance have so far mostly canceled each other out. In any case, approval ratings seem to be less stable in other countries, and with the world and Europe in particular in the midst of an economic slowdown, their common direction at the moment seems to be down. Macroeconomic fluctuations aside, there also seems to be a more general dissatisfaction afoot in many rich, Western democracies that makes it tough for incumbents to remain popular.In the U.S., Trump has enjoyed both economic good times and a seemingly inalienable base of about 25% of Americans — that is, the people who say in polls that they “strongly approve” of his performance. There’s another 40% or so who “strongly disapprove” of him, though, and recent signs of economic sputtering seem be dragging Trump’s overall approval rating down at least a little. By all appearances, this is rattling the president. While in Biarritz he might want to consider chilling out and enjoying the fact that, relative to that crowd, he still counts as quite beloved.To contact the author of this story: Justin Fox at justinfox@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Green Carmichael at sgreencarmic@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Justin Fox is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He was the editorial director of Harvard Business Review and wrote for Time, Fortune and American Banker. He is the author of “The Myth of the Rational Market.”For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:25:05 -0400
  • Boris Johnson prepares to take his place on world stage news

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has endeavored to lead his country since he was a boy, will get his first moment on the world stage in his new role at the Group of Seven summit in France this weekend. The man who has said his life's ambition as a child was to be "world king" could be the shortest-serving prime minister in British history if he fails in his high-stakes gambit to force the European Union to reopen Brexit talks. As Johnson prepares to meet with world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, at the seaside resort of Biarritz, opponents at home are plotting to bring him down with a no-confidence vote after Parliament returns from its summer recess next month.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:20:17 -0400
  • Pompeo says Huawei CEO is not a bargaining chip in Trump-China trade war news

    Mike Pompeo has rejected claims that detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is being used for leverage in the US-China trade war. Speaking with his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland, in Ottawa on Thursday, the US secretary of state appeared to rule out dropping the extradition request for Ms Meng to ease tensions with Beijing, insisting it is a legal matter. In December, US president Donald Trump implied he might intervene in the case to help secure a trade deal with China. “Whatever’s good for this country, I would do,” he said at the time. The US alleges Ms Meng – the Chinese technology company’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its chief executive – helped  Huawei circumvent sanctions on Iran. According to Vancouver court documents released this week, she told a Canadian border official that the company has an office in Iran. The US has charged Ms Meng, 47, with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit both. She is currently on bail living under house arrest in one of her Vancouver mansions while her lawyers fight her extradition to the US. Asked on Thursday if she is a “bargaining chip” in US-China trade talks, Mr Pompeo replied simply: “No.” Since Ms Meng’s arrest in Vancouver airport on a US arrest warrant in December, ties between Ottawa and Beijing have fallen to a historically low ebb. Two Canadians, businessman Michael Svapor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, were arrested and charged with espionage shortly afterwards in what is widely viewed as a reprisal by Beijing. “Our team is focussed on helping those two Canadians be released,” Mr Pompeo said later ahead of a meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Mr Trump spoke directly to Chinese president Xi Jinping about their “arbitrary detention” in June, he told journalists. Mr Pompeo, 55, also slapped down a question comparing their confinement with that of Ms Meng, accusing the journalist of taking “the Chinese line”. Mr Pompeo was visiting Canada ahead of the G7 meeting in France, where relations with China will be discussed. On Friday, Beijing escalated the trade dispute, announcing fresh tariffs on US imports worth $75 billion (£61 billion).

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:45:02 -0400
  • Syria retakes territory in NW held by rebels since 2012 news

    Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops seized control of a string of villages in the northern countryside of Hama province, completing their takeover of the formerly rebel-held region just south of Idlib province for the first time since 2012, the Syrian army and a war monitoring group said Friday. The army said troops seized the villages of Latamneh, Latmeen, Kfar Zeita and Lahaya, as well as the village of Morek, where Turkey maintains an observation post, pressing ahead its offensive toward Idlib. The army advance represents the latest in a series of losses for rebels who have, for eight years, fought to topple Assad.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:38:07 -0400
  • Iran's Zarif praises Macron nuclear crisis suggestions news

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday that suggestions by French President Emmanuel Macron about defusing the crisis over Iran's nuclear drive went in the right direction, but that more work needed to be done. "President Macron made some suggestions last week to President (Hassan) Rouhani and we believe they are moving in the right direction, although we are not definitely there yet," Zarif told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an interview after meeting Macron for rare talks in Paris. "We had a good discussion today," Zarif said.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:29:37 -0400
  • Enraged Trump likens U.S. Fed chief to "enemy" China

    President Donald Trump reacted furiously on Friday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell linked the trade war with China to risks to the U.S. economy, asking whether the man he handpicked to run the U.S. central bank was a greater "enemy" than Chinese leader Xi Jinping. "As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can 'speak' without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly," Trump wrote on Twitter. It was unclear what Trump meant when he said he would work "brilliantly" with both, and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:19:39 -0400
  • Strikes on Iran-backed militias threaten to destabilize Iraq news

    An Israeli airstrike on an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq, confirmed by U.S. officials, is threatening to destabilize security in the volatile country that has struggled to remain neutral in the conflict between Washington and Tehran. It would be the first known Israeli airstrike in Iraq since 1981, when Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor being built by Saddam Hussein, and significantly expands Israel's campaign against Iranian military involvement in the region. The July 19 attack targeted a base belonging to Iranian-backed paramilitary forces in Amirli in the northern Salaheddin province, and killed two Iranians.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:01:02 -0400
  • German Chancellery Also Sees Mild Recession, Spiegel Reports

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. The German Chancellery now also expects Europe’s largest economy to slip into a mild recession in the third quarter, news magazine Der Spiegel reports on Friday.Gross domestic product contracted by 0.1% in the second quarter, and Angela Merkel’s economic advisers expect a similar result in the period between July and September.Economists at the German central bank had been making the same prediction, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday. A raft of data recently pointed to a slump in German manufacturing that risks spreading to the services sector.Read more...German Suspicion of Stimulus Risks Too-Late Recession ResponseGerman Industry Hit by Perfect Storm of Trade Woes, Tech ShiftsBundesbank Sees No Need for Fiscal Stimulus in Germany Right NowConventionally, two consecutive quarters of economic contraction would be considered a technical recession.The chancellery declined to comment but referred to a news conference earlier on Friday when an economy ministry spokeswoman said Germany is not in a recession.While contingency measures are being prepared, central bankers and government officials agree that it’s premature to launch a stimulus package now. Berlin still expects a recovery toward the end of the year.Germany is prepared to defend its adherence to a balanced budget policy if it were challenged at a leaders meeting at the Group of Seven major economies in Biarritz, France, a senior government official in Berlin said on Friday.The economic slowdown from over 2% in 2016 and 2017 has prompted calls by business leaders and politicians for the Merkel administration to open the purse strings.\--With assistance from Arne Delfs and Birgit Jennen.To contact the reporter on this story: Raymond Colitt in Berlin at rcolitt@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at, Paul GordonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:00:00 -0400
  • Russia's Su-57 Stealth Fighter Has One Target In Its Sights: The U.S. Navy news

    The Su-57 is Russia’s equivalent of the U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters. A Mach 2 aircraft capable of air superiority and ground-strike missions, it is Russia’s first stealth plane, and probably the most sophisticated aircraft in the Russian arsenal.​Russia is designing an anti-ship missile for its Su-57 stealth fighter.But is hunting ships the best mission for such an advanced aircraft?Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko made the announcement while visiting the Detal Design Bureau, which is developing a new anti-ship missile, according to Russian news agency TASS.(This first appeared in June 2019.)“Today the enterprise is working on developing an active homing warhead for the promising anti-ship missile that is planned to be carried by the Su-57 fighter as well," Krivoruchko said.“A working meeting was held on the premises of the Detal Design Bureau to discuss the issue of signing a contract with Tactical Missiles Corporation on acquiring the entire range of air-launched weapons for the Su-57 fighter jets,” TASS said.The Su-57 is Russia’s equivalent of the U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters. A Mach 2 aircraft capable of air superiority and ground-strike missions, it is Russia’s first stealth plane, and probably the most sophisticated aircraft in the Russian arsenal. It also has a long and troubled history stretching back more than a decade, due to technical issues and even more because of financial considerations.  Estimates have ranged from $40 million to $156 million per plane—a figure that earlier made the Russian Air Force cancel mass production and buy just a handful of aircraft. Russia now has about a dozen Su-57s, which have flown a few missions over Syria.But last month, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that seventy-six Su-57s would be delivered by 2028. Though Russian defense plans previously called for buying just sixteen aircraft, Putin said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had told him that the Su-57’s manufacturer had cut the price of the plane by 20 percent, which was a deal that the government couldn’t pass up. "We have agreed to purchase 76 such fighters without the increase in prices in the same period of time," Putin said.Nonetheless, whether it is sixteen or seventy-six jets, that’s not a huge fleet. America has just 186 F-22 fighters, a number that many consider too small for sustained combat operations. The U.S. military also plans to acquire more than 2,400 F-35s.Of course, Russia may choose to buy more than seventy-six Su-57s, depending on the country’s strained economy, and how well the aircraft performs once in regular service. But the size of the initial order suggests that the Russian Air Force could end up with just seventy-six aircraft—assuming that figure isn’t cut in future budgets over the next decade—and perhaps no more than a couple of hundred aircraft.In which case, what is the best use of a cutting-edge stealth fighter? The capabilities of such a plane would be needed against an opponent possessing sophisticated aircraft and air defenses: America, NATO, Japan, Israel (or conceivably even China). To intercept hostile stealth aircraft, Russia will be tempted to send up its own stealth fighters. A fleet of just seventy-six Su-57s, minus the inevitable losses from combat, accidents and required maintenance, might be severely taxed by air defense and escort missions.So how many would be left for anti-ship work? Against most naval targets, older planes such as Su-30 fighter and Tu-22M3 bomber—armed with hypersonic missiles would suffice. There may be situations where stealth is desired, perhaps against a heavily defended U.S. carrier battlegroup. But employing a limited number of Su-57s to attack ships is similar to assigning F-22s on anti-shipping missions—a move that would leave U.S. Air Force commanders aghast.Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.Image: Wikimedia Commons.(This article was originally published earlier this year and is being republished due to reader interest.)

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:00:00 -0400
  • European Integration is in America’s Interests; Brexit Isn’t news

    One of several specters hanging over this week’s G7 meeting is the prospect that in a little more than two months the United Kingdom will crash out of the European Union. Such a “no-deal Brexit” will help no one (other than perhaps leaders in Russia or China who welcome any division and weakness in the West) and hurt many, especially in Britain itself, where government experts recognize in private what a calamity such an exit would be for the British economy. British prime minister and lead Brexiteer Boris Johnson is facing two impossible tasks that are in large part of his own making. One is to persuade European leaders to renegotiate the deal they reached with Johnson’s predecessor—a renegotiation those leaders have little or no incentive to undertake. The other will be to make good on the Brexiteers’ promises about benefits to the British public, promises that were far-fetched even with a negotiated exit and will be all the more so under the no-deal scenario.Johnson’s one prominent source of outside support is President Donald Trump, who has been cheering on Johnson all the way to the miserable dead end of Brexit.For those most interested in U.S. foreign policy, now is a good time to recall what the whole project of European integration means for broader peace and prosperity—and for U.S. interests. As multiple U.S. administrations of both parties, before Trump, have repeatedly made clear, that project is very much in U.S. interests, as is Britain’s participation in it.U.S. recognition of the value of the European integration project goes back to the project’s earliest days, when the question of British membership already was a key issue. In 1950, as negotiations to accomplish the first step in the project—creation of the European Coal and Steel Community—were about to begin, Britain’s Labour government stood aloof. President Harry Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, later wrote in his memoir that this “was not the last clear chance for Britain to enter Europe, but it was the first wrong choice—as wrong as General de Gaulle’s tragic rejection of the penitent in 1963.” (The latter part of Acheson’s comment referred to French president Charles de Gaulle’s vetoing of a later British application to join what was then the European Economic Community. After de Gaulle left office, Britain finally did join in 1972.)When Dwight Eisenhower succeeded Truman in 1953, U.S. support for the European project remained strong. By late 1953 a focus of discussion was the European Defense Community (EDC), a proposed integrated military force that would be shelved the following year when a newly installed French government withdrew its support for the proposal—with the French decision heavily influenced by an earlier British decision not to participate. In December 1953, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, to emphasize how much importance the United States placed on the proposed EDC, sternly warned the North Atlantic Council that if this part of the European project did not materialize, the United States would have to conduct an “agonizing reappraisal” of its security commitment to Western Europe.The first and greatest objective of the integration project, as envisioned by its founding fathers such as the French statesmen Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, was to banish to the past anything like the two world wars of the first half of the twentieth century. In this, the project has succeeded magnificently. War between the likes of France and Germany is now unthinkable, marking an amazing transformation from the carnage and hatred of the immediately preceding decades. The United States, which twice had to enter the carnage, as the New World coming to the rescue of the Old World, ought to be as appreciative of this achievement as anyone else.The prevention of another European war is by no means the only achievement of the integration project that assists the United States. As a bastion of liberal democracy, a unified Europe is a more beneficial player on the larger world stage than members of a disunited Europe would be. And in a globalized world economy, the benefits of integration in Europe have spillover effects that benefit others, including in the United States.British participation in the project has consistently been in U.S. interests. It is a force multiplier to, rather than a replacement for, a U.S.-UK special relationship. Britain is more useful and important to the United States when it has a foot on both sides of the Atlantic and is a major player in European affairs than if it is just a post-imperial island off the coast of Normandy. Obviously Trump sees the relationship differently. Perhaps some thinking in the White House, and in the mind of John Bolton when he recently visited London, sees a weakened and isolated post-Brexit Britain, more dependent on U.S. goodwill as a result, as more easily bent to the Trump administration’s wishes on issues in the Middle East and elsewhere. But all of this is just a variant on the Trumpian notions that multilateral is always worse than bilateral, and that international relationships are mostly zero-sum with a winner and a loser. Experience already has shown how mistaken and ineffective those notions are when applied to, for example, trade and economic issues involving China.To the extent Johnson becomes Trump’s poodle and is seen to have become that, he will be all the more ineffective in relieving what otherwise is division within the West or isolation of the United States for following policies that are controversial or simply bad. There already are some hints of this regarding maritime security in the Persian Gulf.Trump’s posture toward Brexit is one more manifestation of his basing U.S. policy not on careful calculation of U.S. interests but instead on transnational identification with other leaders who share xenophobic and populist or faux-populist tendencies. His kinship with Johnson extends to these qualities as well as to demagogic success, disregard for truth, and strange hair. It is not just a campaign slogan for Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn to describe Johnson as “Britain’s Trump”.Americans and their government cannot and should not now try to interfere in the political and constitutional mess that the Brexit issue has become for Britain. They can only hope that the mess plays out in the weeks ahead in a way that irreparable breaks do not occur before better thinking prevails, perhaps in the form of a second referendum.Paul R. Pillar is a contributing editor at the National Interest and the author of Why America Misunderstands the World.Image: Reuters

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:42:00 -0400
  • Macron Opposes Mercosur Trade, Saying Brazil ‘Lied’ on Climate news

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Outraged over the Amazon fires, Emmanuel Macron branded Brazil’s president a liar and threatened to block the European Union’s trade deal with the Mercosur countries as he prepares to whip the Group of Seven leaders into climate action.The French president’s office said that it has become clear that Jair Bolsonaro wasn’t serious about his commitments on tackling climate change when he spoke to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka earlier this year."The president can only conclude that President Bolsonaro lied to him in Osaka," at the G-20, the statement said. "Under these conditions, France is opposed to the Mercosur deal."A day before he’s due to welcome G-7 leaders to Biarritz, Macron said he would make the burning of the Amazon jungle a priority at the summit. That provoked an angry response from Bolsonaro, who accused him of acting like a colonialist."The news is really worrisome, but we need to lower the temperature, there are fires in Brazil every year," Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias told reporters in Brasilia. "There were fires in Portugal, in Siberia, there were fires all over the world and Brazil wasn’t questioning them."Trade, ClimateThe way that an environmental dispute escalated so quickly into a new front in the global trade tensions shows the growing importance of climate as a fundamental plank of geopolitics. Even before Macron’s announcement, Ireland said it could not vote for the Mercosur agreement and Finland wants the EU to consider a ban on Brazilian beef.The EU has sought to leverage the size of its market to pressure trading partners into doing more to reduce emissions and is also concerned that its companies will be undercut by rivals operating in places with looser restrictions.But the configuration of the G-7 right now will make it difficult for Macron to make a lot headway beyond some token words. Donald Trump famously ripped up last year’s communique and does not want to be cornered. U.K.’s Boris Johnson is eager to tighten his bond with the U.S. president and at odds with European allies over Brexit. Italy is mired in a messy political crisis at home and has no prime minister. Japan is unlikely to stick its neck out -- it is more concerned about the potential fallout from the U.S. trade war with China.In fact, the run-up to the G-7 was overshadowed by China whacking the U.S. with higher tariffs on soybeans, cars and oil in retaliation for Trump’s latest planned levies.And Trump himself has signaled where his priorities lie. On waking up he began tweeting against the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and China’s Xi Jinping -- not on the Amazon fires. A U.S. official said that the U.S. are deeply concerned about the impact of the fires while indicating the administration did not see it as part of the broader climate issue.The EU wrapped up 20 years of negotiations to seal an accord with South America’s leading customs union just weeks ago, in what was then seen as a major retort toTrump’s attacks on the global system of free trade. The deal could affect almost 90 billion euros ($100 billion) of goods and Brazil expects to see its economy increased by about $90 billion over the next 15 years.Officials on both sides are still fine-tuning the agreement and it still needs to be approved by EU governments before it can enter into force. A Brazilian official, with direct knowledge of the government’s position, said that the EU-Mercosur deal is not ready to be signed yet, and that while the deal could be rejected or put to one side, it could not be changed.The official added that France stood to lose a lot if the agreement didn’t go through, citing the presence of supermarket chain Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA and carmakers such as Renault SA and Peugeot SA.Another senior government official however said that France’s position is a cause of concern and that the Bolsonaro administration needed to change the narrative. There are signs that the president is already poised to do that.Speaking on Friday morning in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said the government is considering declaring a state of emergency in the region, allowing the president to deploy armed forces and extra funding to the region: “We discussed a lot of things and whatever is within our reach we will do. The problem is resources.”(Adds Johnson’s tweet.)\--With assistance from Arne Delfs, Alex Morales, Kati Pohjanpalo, Peter Flanagan, Rachel Gamarski, Mario Sergio Lima and Josh Wingrove.To contact the reporters on this story: Helene Fouquet in Bairritz, France at;Simone Iglesias in Brasília at spiglesias@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Ben SillsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:26:52 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Trump asks who is bigger enemy, Fed Chair Powell or China's Xi?

    President Donald Trump reacted furiously on Friday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell spoke about the trade war with China and economic risks to the United States, asking whether his appointee to the U.S. central bank was a greater "enemy" than China's leader Xi Jinping. "As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can 'speak' without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly," Trump wrote on Twitter.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:14:06 -0400
  • Report: West, Central Africa violence closes 9,000 schools

    Then people fired guns, shooting at and killing at least one of his teachers in his northern Burkina Faso village. "I used to love school, to read, to count and to play during recess," the boy, identified only by his first name, told the United Nations Children's Agency. More than 9,000 schools have closed and more than 1.9 million children in West and Central Africa have been forced out of school because of increasing violence in the region and attacks specifically targeting education facilities, UNICEF said Friday, saying it's triple the amount closed in 2017.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:47:47 -0400
  • Russia says isotope in doctor's tissue caused by diet, not accident

    Russian authorities said on Friday that a doctor who treated those injured in a mysterious accident this month had the radioactive isotope Caesium-137 in his body, but said it was probably put there by his diet. The deadly accident at a military site in northern Russia took place on Aug. 8 and caused a brief spurt of radiation. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said it occurred during testing of what he called promising new weapons systems.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:43:07 -0400
  • The Latest: Cleric issues edict forbidding US troops in Iraq

    A leading Shiite Muslim cleric followed by some Iraqi militants has issued a public religious edict forbidding the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. The fatwa issued Friday by Iran-based Grand Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri comes after Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq accused the United States of being behind recent attacks on their bases and weapons depots in Iraq.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:42:57 -0400
  • Trump news: President explodes in astonishing attack on Federal Reserve and orders US companies to cease trading with China 'immediately' news

    Donald Trump has launched an extraordinary attack on the Federal Reserve and its chairman Jerome Powell while seemingly demanding US companies cease trading with China “immediately” as the rival superpower upped the ante in their ongoing trade war by hiking tariffs on $75bn (£61bn) of American goods.After Mr Powell addressed a central bank symposium in Wyoming and declined to say he would cut interest rates in accordance with the president’s wishes, the commander-in-chief exploded on Twitter and asked who is the “the bigger enemy” of the US, Mr Powell or Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:41:00 -0400
  • Turkey vows to tackle violence after woman's brutal killing

    Turkey's ruling party has vowed to tackle violence against women and children after the brutal killing of a woman in front of her 10-year-old daughter appalled the country. Emine Bulut, 38, was stabbed in the neck by her former husband at a restaurant in Kirikkale, in central Turkey, on Aug. 18. Bulut's final words "I don't want to die" have been trending on social media, with users calling for harsher measures to tackle domestic violence.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:38:23 -0400
  • The EU Can Push Bolsonaro to Save the Amazon

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- French President Emmanuel Macron dropped a bombshell on Friday: His office said France is opposed to the ratification of the European Union’s latest big trade deal, with the Mercosur group of South American countries, because one of the group’s members, Brazil, has shown a lack of commitment to preserving the Amazon rain forest.The deal, reached in June by the European Commission after 20 years of negotiations, still needs to be approved by each EU member state and the European Parliament. It’s a key part of the legacy of the outgoing commission, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, the biggest deal the EU has ever struck in terms of tariffs eliminated (4 billion euros, or $4.4 billion, a year), the first major trade agreement struck by Mercosur since it was formed in 1991. It also sends a political message to a world rocked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China: That the EU is still the major force behind free trade. But, if all of this is weighed against out-of-control deforestation in the Amazon, Macron is right and the agreement needs to be revised in a few specific ways that would make it work for, not against, climate goals.Macron is outraged about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s contemptuous attitude toward rain forest conservation, thrust into focus by reports of wildfires raging in the Amazon as deforestation has accelerated under Bolsonaro and the country’s environmental agencies have become markedly less active in trying to safeguard the jungle from illegal logging. The far-right Brazilian leader has made no secret of prioritizing agriculture over forest protection. His policies have led Germany to suspend the funding of conservation projects in Brazil; in response, Bolsonaro told German Chancellor Angela Merkel to “take your dough and reforest Germany,  OK?”That makes Merkel Macron’s potential ally in blocking the Mercosur deal as it stands. The increasingly powerful Greens are the strongest rivals of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party (and also potential coalition partners), and though the chancellor is strongly pro-trade, the optics of pushing for the deal’s approval now would be politically unfavorable.The deal has other potential opponents, too. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has threatened to nix it because of Bolsonaro’s attitude – and in any case, he’d rather not allow cheap Brazilian beef on the European market, where it’ll be a threat to Irish farmers.Even though European officials have defended the deal, saying it already imposed a commitment on the South Americans to follow their climate goals laid out in the 2016 Paris agreement and to avoid deforestation, it has been shown that more openness to trade increases deforestation rates in Brazil. So it’s appropriate for Macron and other European leaders to reconsider the Mercosur trade agreement in response to Bolsonaro’s behavior.There’s no need, however, to bury the deal altogether. There is a way to revise it so that it’s still beneficial for the parties without hurting the Amazon.In 2017, the  U.S. Department of Agriculture put out a report on international trade and deforestation. The main idea of the study behind it was to figure out which products are the most deleterious to forests in different countries. In Mercosur members Brazil and Argentina, according to the report, beef and soybeans contribute the most to deforestation. As things stand, the deal’s sustainability chapter relies on private initiatives to limit these commodities’ impact; it mentions the so-called soy moratorium in Brazil – a voluntary pledge not to buy soy grown on recently deforested land in the Amazon (which led to increased deforestation in Brazil’s savanna, not covered by the moratorium). But under Bolsonaro, such initiatives aren’t likely to be effective.The final edition of the trade deal should explicitly link trade quotas on forest-risk commodities, such as beef and soybeans, to keeping the forested area constant or even increasing it. It also should set up a reliable monitoring mechanism: Earlier this month, the head of the Brazilian institute that tracks deforestation was fired after Bolsonara called the institute’s data “lies.”“You have to understand that the Amazon is Brazil’s, not yours," Bolsonaro told European journalists last month. Well, he needs to understand that the European market is the EU’s to regulate as it sees fit. Increased sales to this lucrative market should only be possible against firm environmental guarantees. And if the Mercosur deal could wait for 20 years, it can certain wait some more while this matter is cleared up.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Gray at philipgray@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 more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:28:14 -0400
  • This Old Tank was Israel's Secret Weapon to Win War After War news

    On the Jordanian front, the Sherman-equipped units had a harder time against Jordan’s M47 and M48 Pattons. In one engagement, the Jordanians claimed 17 Shermans, destroyed around Jenin and Ya’Abad. In another fight, the Shermans came out on top, however. As a column of Jordanian M48s was retreating, it ran into a patrol of Israeli Shermans. A sharp fight broke out at point-blank range, and the Jordanians left behind 15 tanks on the field. From its inception, Zahal, the Israeli Army, has been forced to use ingenuity and improvisation to arm itself against its Arab enemies. In the first years of its life, the tiny nation of Israel, surrounded by enemies pledged to its destruction, found modern weapons few and hard to come by. Such armaments were desperately needed, and the Israelis became adept at filling the gaps in their inventory by acquiring whatever weapons they could from a variety of unusual sources. Once in hand, these weapons often had to be rebuilt or modified to remain effective. Many of them would have been considered obsolete on a European battlefield, but the Israelis made them work. They had no choice—defeat meant the annihilation of their state.One of the best examples of Israeli ingenuity is their long use of the American-built M4 Sherman tank, that ubiquitous Allied workhorse of World War II. Often decried as inferior to its German opposites because of its relatively thin armor and less effective armament, the Sherman was nonetheless rugged, reliable, and capable of being modified and improved. It was this last quality that enabled the Israelis to use it so effectively.At its birth, Israel’s military possessed a limited number of armored vehicles, mostly scout cars and truck chassis hastily converted into armored cars with the addition of armor plating and a machine gun or two. Israel’s initial tank force consisted entirely of old French Hotchkiss tanks, obsolete even in the beginning of World War II. Desperate for better tanks, the Israelis literally went to the scrap heap: junkyards in Palestine, Europe, and as far away as the Philippines together contained hundreds of tanks left over and abandoned during the recent global war.A British scrap yard in Palestine contained the salvageable hulks of one or two Shermans (sources differ). At least one more came from an Italian junkyard. These tanks were smuggled back to Israel, at times disguised or mislabeled as “tractors,” to become parts of the motley collection of weapons that could be used to preserve Israel’s newfound existence. Since these tanks came from junkyards, they were generally unserviceable and required extensive work to get them into shape for combat. Some of the tanks had been “demilitarized” specifically to prevent anyone from reusing them. Often, this was done by drilling holes in the cannon tube or other mechanisms needed for the main weapon. Repairs were made, and the Shermans returned to action with the Israeli Army.The polyglot nature of the Israeli Army meant troops often were grouped into units based on their native languages. One Sherman tank and two ex-British Cromwell tanks were grouped together in an “English Company,” so named because its members all spoke English. This company was part of the 82nd Tank Battalion that helped capture Lydda Airport during the 1948 war. It also fought at Latrun, where some of its tanks were lost to an Arab Legion 6-pounder antitank gun. Fortunately for the Israelis, the Arab forces operating against them were not particularly well-mechanized for the most part.The Improvised Sherman Tanks of IsraelAfter the United Nations cease-fire took hold in mid-1948, Israel used the breathing room to increase the size of its armored and mechanized forces. Although unable to purchase new vehicles, the Israelis had plenty of leftover World War II materiél to choose from, and this formed the backbone of Zahal’s strength. Quickly, a force of some 300 half-tracks and 50 tanks was assembled. Most of the tanks were Shermans, still being gathered from scrap yards throughout Europe and elsewhere. The collection was a varied one, including M4A1 and M4A2 models with diesel engines. Their armament was a cross-section of guns the Shermans had carried into battle in Europe a few years before: 75mm and 76mm cannon and 105mm howitzers; a few of the tanks even sported World War I-era German-built 77mm field guns made by Krupp. These were installed to replace damaged guns or demilitarized weapons Zahal ordnance workers had been unable to restore to firing condition.Recommended: Forget the F-35: The Tempest Could Be the FutureRecommended: Why No Commander Wants to Take On a Spike MissileRecommended: What Will the Sixth-Generation Jet Fighter Look Like?While the haphazard nature of the Zahal tank force meant a varied assortment of M4s was gathered, these followed the basic proportions of the Sherman tank. An M4A1 weighed in at 66,500 pounds. It was 19 feet, four inches long and eight feet, seven inches wide, and sat nine feet high. The crew of five included a commander, gunner, loader, driver, and assistant driver-hull machine gunner. The tank could achieve 24 mph on roads and 15-20 mph cross-country. Range varied from 100 to 150 miles, depending on engine type. The Shermans normally carried one coaxial and one hull-mounted .30-caliber belt-fed machine gun. While a .50-caliber M2 machine gun was usually fitted atop the turret, Zahal was at first short of these potent weapons and often fitted old German and Czech machine guns in their place. Later, when the French began to supply M2s, they were mounted in their original place. The Israelis gave the collective designation of M1 to its entire Sherman force.During the 1948 war, Zahal had used its few tanks primarily in an infantry-support role, and initially that doctrinal role was retained. However, by the early 1950s this was changing. The original 82nd Tank Battalion had merged with the 9th Commando and 79th Mechanized Battalions to form the 7th Armored Brigade. Under the leadership of Uri-Ben Ari, a more offensive mind-set and tactics were practiced. In its 1952 and 1953 war games, Israeli infantry found themselves in mock retreat from attacking Shermans. This so impressed one observer of the maneuvers, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, that he ordered more Shermans acquired at once.By fortuitous coincidence, Israel found France a willing seller of surplus Shermans at this point. At the time, the French were fighting a guerrilla war in Algeria, and Egypt was giving the rebels support. In retaliation, France approved military assistance to Israel. Besides training Zahal officers at French military schools, the French also sold them 100 new AMX-13 light tanks and 60 surplus Shermans. With this fresh infusion of equipment, the Israelis were able to form two more armored brigades.Shermans in the SuezIn 1956, Israel began to cooperate with France and Great Britain, which had plans to seize the Suez Canal after Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized it. Israel, for its part, was upset over Egyptian border raids. With renewed fighting impending, Israel asked France to supply 100 improved Shermans known as the M50. This tank mounted a long-barreled 75mm high-velocity cannon used in the AMX-13. To accommodate the new gun, an extension was built on the turret rear and a new gun mantlet was designed. Some models used a gasoline motor for propulsion, while others employed Cummins diesel engines. These improved tanks were referred to as “Super Shermans” and had a marked increase in firepower to offset the newer Soviet T34/85s the Arab nations were then starting to receive. Only a few of the Shermans were available in time for the 1956 war. Ironically, many of the Egyptian armored vehicles initially placed in the Sinai peninsula were also Shermans, including one company of M4/FL10s, a Sherman hull that mounted an AMX-13 turret. Equivalent to the Israeli M50s, they were also French-built, although by a different company.During Operation Kadesh, as the Israelis labeled their part in the 1956 fighting, one battalion each of the 7th, 27th, and 37th Brigades were equipped with Shermans, including the few Super Shermans. The 7th fought at Abu Ageila and sent a detachment to aid Zahal paratroopers at Mitla Pass. Both the 7th and 37th Brigades fought at Um Katef, where the commonality of tanks on the two sides caused a tragic friendly-fire incident. On November 1, as Israeli units advanced against Egyptian positions from different directions, they mistook each other for the enemy. The 7th knocked out eight of the 37th’s tanks before the situation was brought under control. (The Arab troops had quietly withdrawn before the Israeli arrival.) Overall, however, the Israelis fought well, skillfully using their old Shermans.The M51 Isherman: A Fearsome Sherman Upgrade:After the war Israel, now recognizing the utility and power of its armored formations, decided to increase the number of armored brigades from three to nine and organized these units into ugdas, division-sized groups that combined brigades for specific operations. As the nations opposing Israel began to shift into the Soviet bloc, Egypt and Syria in particular started receiving more advanced tanks, including T34/85s and T54s. This caused the Western nations to agree, in turn, to supply Israel, clandestinely in some cases but later openly. American M47 and M48 Pattons and British Centurions began to trickle into Zahal’s inventory. Until enough were on hand,  Israel had to make do with its force of now-outgunned Shermans and AMX-13s. Something was needed to plug the gaps.That something was the M51, also called the Isherman. This was the ultimate evolution in Sherman battle tanks. Atelier de Bourges, the French company that developed the M50 Super Sherman, developed a 105mm cannon with lower recoil that the Sherman hull and a modified turret could withstand. These T23 turrets also had new mantlets and a rear turret extension. This potent modification made the tank heavier, and to compensate for the added weight, a new Cummins 460hp diesel engine, wider tracks and a new hydraulic system were also installed. Some 200 of Israel’s Shermans were altered, breathing new life into the old design.From Six-Day to Yom Kippur: The Sherman’s Waning UseThe tanks went into combat alongside Zahal’s newer ones in 1967’s Six-Day War. Israel, convinced that its neighbors were coordinating an all-out attack, decided to strike first, concentrating against Egypt before turning to Syria. Jordan also became involved. Shermans were used on all three fronts. A battalion of Ishermans took part in the attack on Abu Ageila, diverting the defenders’ attention while a combined infantry-airborne assault took the position.On the Jordanian front, the Sherman-equipped units had a harder time against Jordan’s M47 and M48 Pattons. In one engagement, the Jordanians claimed 17 Shermans, destroyed around Jenin and Ya’Abad. In another fight, the Shermans came out on top, however. As a column of Jordanian M48s was retreating, it ran into a patrol of Israeli Shermans. A sharp fight broke out at point-blank range, and the Jordanians left behind 15 tanks on the field. Against the Syrians, Israeli tank losses were heavy because of the intense fighting. Ironically, the Syrian Army was equipped with refurbished World War II-era Panzer IV and Sturmgeschutz IV assault guns purchased from France—the same tanks the Shermans had faced two decades earlier.Although the Shermans had done their part in the Israeli victory of 1967, after the war more modern tanks began entering the service, and the old workhorses were showing their age. The M51 models were kept, but many of the M50s were retired, a few being sold and others having their chassis converted into different types of vehicles. A few  remained operational, and during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Sherman tanks still served, although they had been largely supplanted by newer designs.Sherman Conversions:  Stretching the Service Life of the PlatformThe Shermans’ service was not yet over, however. The chassis of the venerable workhorses were used to create new vehicles and fill other roles in the Israeli arsenal. The first was the Model 50 self-propelled howitzer. Zahal had a large number of French-built Mle50 155mm howitzers on hand; these were mated to a Sherman chassis. The engine was moved to the front of the hull and the gun mounted in an open-topped compartment in the rear. Batteries of the guns served in both the 1967 and 1973 wars before passing into reserve use. The Mle50 howitzer had a range of 11 miles. An interesting variant of the vehicle was a fully tracked ambulance for evacuating wounded soldiers under fire. The Israelis have always been protective of casualties, and make every effort to evacuate wounded troops. The ambulance could carry four wounded soldiers and a medic in a fully enclosed rear compartment. When evacuating under fire, the vehicle had the advantage of being able to park its front end toward the incoming fire. This placed its thickest armor and entire engine compartment between the enemy and the evacuees, as long as the incoming fire was not of sufficient caliber to disable the engine with penetrating fire.A second self-propelled gun also was built. The L33 conversion of the Sherman chassis mounted a Soltam M68 155mm howitzer in a large, fully enclosed armored superstructure, giving the crew protection from overhead shell bursts and fragments. The Soltam cannon had a range of 141/2 miles. They first entered service in the Yom Kippur War and also served in the 1982 war in Lebanon.Another ingenious conversion was the Makmat 160mm mortar carrier. This vehicle has an open-topped compartment forward (the engine is retained in the rear) that holds a Soltam 160mm mortar. The high-angle fire of a mortar requires an open top. The front and side panels of the compartment can be folded down to provide easier access and more room for the crew, although at the sacrifice of some protection. The mortar carrier entered service in 1968. Two further Sherman variants included a multiple rocket launcher carrying four 290mm rockets and an observation vehicle with an extendable platform in place of the turret. The platform could be raised up to 90 feet and was used along the Suez Canal as a mobile observation post.The Sherman in its various configurations filled gaps in the Zahal order of battle over the course of several decades, until the Israelis gradually were able to purchase more modern tanks. With French assistance, these Shermans were kept viable with upgrades to their weapons, engines, and hydraulic systems. When their usefulness as tanks ended, the chassis found new life as artillery and mortar carriers and a variety of battlefield support vehicles. If necessity is the mother of invention, then the Israeli Shermans are a testament to both the need and the ingenuity of the Israeli Army.This first appeared in Warfare History Network here. Image: Wikimedia Commons.(This article was originally posted last year.)

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:07:00 -0400
  • Trump orders US companies to leave China ‘immediately’ in extraordinary attack on Fed chief news

    Donald Trump has issued an “order” to US companies to withdraw from China, as he suggested his own appointment as Federal Reserve chairman was a greater threat to the economy than Chinese leader Xi Jinping.The president told firms “to immediately start looking for an alternative” or make their products in America instead as he lashed out at the central bank’s chair Jerome Powell.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:00:00 -0400
  • Trump weighs in on Hong Kong to gain leverage in China trade talks news

    Donald Trump has shifted his stance on the unrest in Hong Kong in recent days to show greater solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters after coming to view the issue as a point of leverage in trade negotiations with China.For months, Trump administration officials described the Hong Kong uprising as an internal matter for China, aware of how delicate the issue is for president Xi Jinping and other Communist Party officials.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:54:36 -0400
  • UN: Ebola outbreak in Congo has killed nearly 2,000 people

    The World Health Organization's emergencies chief said the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo is approaching a "stark" milestone with nearly 2,000 people killed by the virus in the year-long epidemic. In a press briefing on Friday, Dr. Mike Ryan said that although the U.N. health agency has the vaccines and drugs that could potentially change the course of the outbreak, delivering those to the people who need them is still proving problematic.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:45:03 -0400
  • Kamikaze: Japan's World War II Terror Weapon That Terrified the Allies news

    Deliberately crashing into an enemy target was not limited to shipping; it was used successfully against enemy planes as well. A Japanese flight sergeant rammed his fighter into a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on May 8, 1943. He was protecting a convoy off the coast of New Guinea and made the decision to kill himself and take the American bomber and its crew with him.The deliberate crashing into enemy targets by Japanese aviators did not begin at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands. The first suicide attack against American shipping took place at Pearl Harbor, over eight months earlier, when a bomber crashed into the seaplane tender Curtiss and set her on fire. Attacks of this kind, including the crashes into Hornet and the destroyer Smith, were known as kesshi, “dare to die tactics.”Skip-bombing and ramming were also adopted. Skip-bombing involved fitting a Zero fighter with a 550-pound bomb, which was to be released 200 to 300 yards from an enemy ship. These were not exactly suicide tactics, although they were extremely hazardous. The bomb might bounce up and hit the Zero, or the explosion of the bomb could destroy the plane. A training program for skip-bombing was carried out in the Bohol Strait, near Cebu, but all training was stopped in September 1944, when American aircraft destroyed 50 percent of the air group.Recommended: 1.2 Million Casualties: If North Korea Attacked Los Angeles with a Nuclear WeaponRecommended: Uzi: The Israeli Machine Gun That Conquered the WorldRecommended: The M4: The Gun U.S. Army Loves to Go to War WithMost Suicide Attacks Were Spontaneous ActionsDeliberately crashing into an enemy target was not limited to shipping; it was used successfully against enemy planes as well. A Japanese flight sergeant rammed his fighter into a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on May 8, 1943. He was protecting a convoy off the coast of New Guinea and made the decision to kill himself and take the American bomber and its crew with him. Over a year later, the pilot of a two-man Nakajima Gekko night fighter (codenamed “Irving” by the Allies) used the same tactics to bring down a B-24 Liberator bomber.Most of these suicide attacks were spontaneous actions—a pilot making a heat-of-battle decision to end his own life by destroying an enemy ship or airplane. But as Japan’s chances of winning the war became less and less likely, the strategy of suicide grew in direct proportion. Informal discussions of organized suicide attack began in 1943. In March of that year, the chief of the Army Aeronautical Department, Takeo Yasuda, secretly established a Special Attack Corps training program—a forerunner of the kamikaze corps.We Must be Superhuman in Order to Win the WarThe commander of the First Air Fleet, Kimpei Teraoka, made these telling observations: “Ordinary tactics are ineffective. We must be superhuman in order to win the war.” On the subject of suicide units, he commented, “If all air units do it, surface units will also be inclined to take part.”Teraoka was right—the idea of the suicide attack unit spread. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, commander in chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was won over by what has been called the “vanity of heroism” and officially consented to the creation of the Special Attack Corps, or the kamikaze. The Special Attack Corp’s slogan was “One plane, one warship.”Pilots did not have to be highly trained to undertake suicide missions. In fact, suicide pilots usually received only the minimum of flight training. Kamikaze pilots sank or damaged hundreds of ships during the latter part of the war.This article is from the May 2009 issue of WWII History Magazine. If you would like to read the rest of this and other articles, visit our order page to see which digital editions we have on offer.This article by David Alan Johnson ran in Warfare History Network. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:39:00 -0400
  • As G7 leaders arrive, barricaded Biarritz leaves swimmers out in the cold

    Come rain or shine, every morning of the year Biarritz's White Urchin swimmers' club take a one kilometre swim around the Bay of Biscay. The scene comes less than 24 hours before world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, arrive for a G7 summit in France's southwest surfing capital to navigate their differences on issues ranging from climate change to Iran and tariffs. "I find the G7 an aberration.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:37:09 -0400
  • G-7 Is Well Timed to Fight a Recession, But Its Leaders Are Unlikely to Act news

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. It ought to be good news that leaders from the Group of Seven are gathering for a retreat on the Bay of Biscay as the global economy slows, trade wars escalate and major economies like Germany slide toward recession.But the allies are so divided that they may squander the chance to find a solution. Any hope for progress was complicated Friday with China’s new tariffs on U.S. goods, a central banker pushing for a rate cut and France threatening a regional trade deal over climate. At any other time in history, the expectation from such a summit would be for a coordinated response to loosen fiscal purse strings and walk away from protectionism -- an approach that came out of similar meetings called to respond to the far more dire global financial crisis a decade ago. This weekend, as France’s Emmanuel Macron hosts leaders including the U.K.’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, along with U.S. President Donald Trump, disagreements over everything from Brexit to the future of the global trading system likely will stand in the way of unified solutions. China on Friday roiled the summit by imposing additional tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. goods in retaliation for Trump’s planned levies on Chinese imports.The best economic hope for the meetings in the Atlantic port city of Biarritz may be that divisions don’t get any worse, and that central bankers conducting their own retreat some 5,000 miles away in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, save the day.Driving that reality is Trump’s world view, which isn’t showing any signs of changing.Read More: G-7 Wonders Which Boris Johnson Will Show Up: Balance of PowerThe broad consensus from economists and other G-7 leaders is that the global economy would benefit most from an end to Trump’s trade wars. But the U.S. president has dismissed accusations that his tariff assault on China and threats to impose duties on Europe’s auto industry are contributing to any slowdown.Currency WarsMoreover, rather than seeking harmony, Trump is threatening to turn his trade wars into currency wars.“Fight or go home!” Trump told the Federal Reserve in a tweet Thursday bemoaning negative yields on German bonds and a strong dollar that he views increasingly as a threat to U.S. growth.Ahead of this weekend’s meeting, Trump administration officials insisted the U.S. economy and the president’s agenda of tax cuts, deregulation and cracking down on unfair trade ought to be envied rather than scorned, particularly in Europe where growth has slowed.And they are traveling to Biarritz with an ask for Germany’s Angela Merkel: to boost spending to head off a recession. Germany has taken tentative steps toward fiscal stimulus but so far the government is sticking to its zero-deficit principle.Read More: Johnson’s G-7 Goal: Be Serious and Get Something From EveryoneSome Trump aides argue concerns over the global economy are overblown thanks to the policy responses from the European Central Bank and others that are already underway, especially if those are paired with German fiscal action.“A stronger Europe will mean stronger demand for U.S. exports and more rapid U.S. growth,” said Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s closest advisers on trade and economic policy.“Such bullish help appears to be on the way with near certain ECB rate cuts, an increasing likelihood of a German fiscal stimulus, and a possible resolution of Brexit, which will both remove Brexit uncertainty now suppressing some investment and clear the way for a possible U.K.-U.S. trade agreement,” he said.Rate CutBold action by the Federal Reserve, such as a 100-basis-point cut in the target rate sought by Trump, would bolster the U.S. economy and the world’s too, Navarro said. Such a move is intended to shift the U.S. from “good growth in the 2% range to great growth in the 3% range,” he said, rather than reflect any fears of recession.Navarro, who is a longstanding critic of Germany’s economic policies, is far from alone in viewing German fiscal stimulus as one of the keys to a global turnaround. Yet the push also highlights that the biggest division inside the G-7 over how to respond to a slowing world economy lies between Trump and Merkel.Read More: Terms of Trade: Europe’s Shaky Union Faces Trump G-7 Stress TestWhile the Trump administration would like to see a bold German move to abandon its obsession with balanced budgets, in Berlin there isn’t much appetite to cough up cash to help prevent a global slowdown they attribute in part to Trump’s trade wars.The German government isn’t ready to commit to meaningful stimulus at home or at the G-7. Nor is it in much of a hurry. Spending money now when factory utilization is still rather high, would simply stimulate imports or savings rather than domestic output, the argument goes.Contingency plans are being drawn up and Merkel has talked about “clouds” darkening the economic outlook, however. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said in principle Germany could muster some 50 billion euros ($55 billion) in times of a crisis and the German government is aware that the ECB has limited room to respond and that a hard Brexit could tip the balance toward more rather than less action.Recession RiskThe U.K., like Germany, is at risk of slipping into a recession after recent data showed a second-quarter 0.2% decline in gross domestic product. But Johnson’s month-old government echoes the U.S. view that delivering Brexit come Oct. 31 will end the uncertainty that has shadowed the U.K.’s economy and boost growth.In Japan, preparations are underway for an increase in government spending to counteract an October sales tax increase. Finance Minister Taro Aso also signaled Tokyo’s readiness to deploy further fiscal stimulus if it’s warranted after a G-7 ministers meeting in July.“Along with Germany, Japan is likely to add momentum toward fiscal policy in the global economy,” said Kyohei Morita, chief Japan economist at Credit Agricole Securities Asia.But there are still questions over whether Japanese households can withstand the tax hike. A similar increase in 2014 triggered a sharp contraction and this time foreign demand is unlikely to provide a buffer. Japan’s exports have fallen for eight straight months thanks to the Trump trade wars and reduced demand from China.Read More: Donald Trump Is Coming for Europe’s Most Important AllianceThat’s one reason the U.S. position and the damage being done by its trade battles is what worries some economists most. With the International Monetary Fund predicting global growth of 3.2% this year, a downgrade that nonetheless remains broadly in line with trend, and unemployment at record lows in many G-7 economies, there are reasons to be hopeful. That doesn’t reduce the risks, however.‘What’s the Panic?’“You do ask the question, ‘What’s the panic?’ Why are central banks looking to lower interest rates?” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank. “The answer to that question is that the trade war continues to linger and continues to be a huge cloud hanging over the global economy.”Years ago, leaders were able to find consensus to boost the economy. As the global financial crisis grew in 2008, then President George W. Bush called an emergency G-20 meeting at which leaders agreed to a roadmap to combat the slowdown.That November 2008 summit was followed by others at which the world’s leading economies agreed to avoid protectionism and to other coordinated actions widely seen as having helped avoid a deeper downturn.Some attending this weekend’s G-7 summit appear determined to press their case for Trump to at least modify his tactics in his bid to rebalance global trade.European Union officials say Donald Tusk, who will be the bloc’s chief representative at the meeting, will argue trade tensions are the single most important factor impeding global growth.So too will Canada’s Justin Trudeau, who is intent on selling himself as a vocal advocate of pluralism and multilateralism, with an election just weeks away.“Our government has responded to this new world by rejecting populism,” Trudeau said in a speech this week. “My message will be clear” at the G-7, he added. “We need to build a future where everyone can benefit from economic growth and where we invest to help the middle class.”(Updates with China tariffs, Fed comments, France threat in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Theophilos Argitis, Alex Morales and Rich Miller.To contact the reporters on this story: Shawn Donnan in Washington at;Raymond Colitt in Berlin at;Toru Fujioka in Tokyo at tfujioka1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Kennedy at, Justin Blum, Sarah McGregorFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:25:50 -0400
  • Security in Kashmir tightened following call for march news

    Authorities intensified patrols Friday in Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city after posters appeared calling for a public march to a United Nations office to protest New Delhi's tightened grip on the disputed region. Police and paramilitary soldiers re-imposed restrictions on traffic in areas where they had been eased, putting steel barricades back up and laying razor wire across roads, bridges and intersections. On Aug. 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir's decades-old special status guaranteed under Article 370 of India's Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region, which is split between archrivals Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:24:58 -0400
  • How U.S. Sanctions Drive America's Enemies Together news

    There is perhaps no tool in Washington’s foreign-policy toolbox used as consistently as economic sanctions. Banning an individual from entering the United States, freezing a company’s assets in U.S. jurisdiction or preventing a foreign firm from accessing the U.S. financial system is a simple and relatively easy thing for policymakers to do. Barely a week goes by when an entity isn’t put on the Treasury Department’s blacklist of designated companies. President Donald Trump is a particular fan of sanctions; the law firm Gibson Dunn reported designations increasing by close to 30 percent during his first year in office.But there are times when sanctions are not only ineffective in forcing a change in a target’s behavior, but counterproductive to U.S. strategic aims. The restrictions on Iran and Venezuela, two of the administration’s favorite targets, are actually having an adverse impact on what Trump says is his most important foreign-policy objective: competing with Russia and China at a time when both nations are flexing their muscles on the international stage.Washington’s decision this May to revoke oil import waivers for Iran’s consumers and its recent announcement this month of an embargo on the Maduro regime is tanking the economies of both. The formula is logical enough: with less Iranian and Venezuelan oil going into the market, the less money both regimes will be able to collect. This part of the equation is working according to plan. Tehran’s oil exports have winnowed down from 2.5 million barrels a day in April 2018 to what could be as low as one hundred thousand barrels per day last month. China National Petroleum Corp’s cancellation of five million barrels of Venezuelan crude, likely over concerns of exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions, will contribute to an already catastrophic economic and humanitarian situation for a country that has seen four million people flee to other parts of South America.The long-term benefits of squeezing Tehran and Caracas’s finances, however, could be sunk by the costs. And the costs are quite significant; the sanctions are not only making life harder for the average Iranians and Venezuelans, but creating more opportunities for the Russians to fill a void in the market and further cementing its ties to the Chinese.Although the Chinese economy has slowed down compared to its peak double-digit growth rate in years past, Beijing still requires large and consistent energy resources to empower industry across the board. While China is still purchasing crude from Iran and Venezuela, the Trump administration’s dual sanctions campaign is forcing the Asian superpower to depend far more on its large neighbor to the north for alternative supplies. Russia was China’s top crude supplier last year, with Russian sales increasing by 40 percent at a time when Beijing’s crude imports from Iran and Venezuela declined. Worldwide Demand for Moscow’s oil has gone up as supplies from the Iranians and Venezuelans have gone down; data from Bloomberg shows that between November and July—a period when the most onerous Trump administration sanctions were levied on Tehran and Caracas—Russia made $900 million more in revenue. For Russia, a country that suffers from anemic social services, horrible public infrastructure and an economy that may enter into a recession this year, any extra cash is a godsend.National Security Adviser John Bolton may blast out tweets taunting Nicolás Maduro as a dead man walking, and State Department official Brian Hook may do the same on Iran, reminding anyone who will listen that Washington’s maximum pressure campaign is depriving the Iranian regime of billions of dollars in lost oil revenue. But if the dual pressure strategies on these two insignificant powers are freeing up buyers for Russia and solidifying a bond between Moscow and Beijing that both are becoming more comfortable in publicizing, one has to ask the obvious question: is penny-pinching the ayatollahs and bankrupting Maduro more important than preventing Washington’s two primary state adversaries from forming a unified anti-U.S. bloc? Given the principles outlined in the White House’s own national-security strategy about great-power competition in the twenty-first century and how critical it is for the United States to survive and prosper in this environment, the answer would appear to be “no.”Daniel DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities, a foreign-policy organization focused on promoting a realistic grand strategy to ensure American security and prosperity.Image: Reuters

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:37:00 -0400
  • Bavarian couple sue German government over reunification tax news

    A couple in Bavaria are suing Angela Merkel’s government over their tax bill — on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The couple, who have not been named, are challenging a decision by Mrs Merkel’s government to retain a tax that was supposed to be a short-term measure to pay the costs of German reunification. Almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germans still face a 5.5 per cent surcharge on their annual income tax bills to pay the cost of raising living standards in the former communist East to match the rest of the country. The Solidarity Surcharge, or “Soli” as it is popularly known, amounts to an extra €487 (£441) on the tax bill of some one earning €50,000 (£45,000) a year. It was originally introduced for a year in 1991 to pay the unexpected costs of reunification and the Gulf War, and was reintroduced in 1995 to pay the ongoing costs of reunification. Olaf Scholz, the German finance minister, has announced plans to keep the tax for the top 10 per cent of earners Credit: CLEMENS BILAN/EPA-EFE/REX  The legal challenge is expected to be the first of many after Mrs Merkel’s government dropped plans to scrap the controversial tax next year. Olaf Scholz, the finance minister, announced that the government will instead raise the minimum threshold for the tax so that it only applies to the top 10 per cent of earners from 2021. The Bavarian couple behind the legal challenge argue the move is unconstitutional because the tax was only approved as a temporary measure and its mandate expires this year. They are being represented in court by Michael Sell, a lawyer who was head of the finance ministry’s tax department until last year. The lawsuit is also backed by the the Federation of German Taxpayers (BdST), which says it is ready to take the case to Germany's highest court if necessary. “Because the mandate expires at the end of the year, the Soli no longer has any legitimacy,” Reiner Holznagel, the BdST president said.  “We want the politicians to live up to the promises they have been making for decades and abolish the Soli completely and for everyone by 2020.”

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:32:45 -0400
  • Yemeni government forces rout separatists from southern city news

    Forces loyal to Yemen's internationally recognized government have taken full control of a key southern city after overnight clashes with separatists there, Yemeni security officials said Friday. Clashes over Ataq, the capital of oil-rich Shabwa province erupted late Thursday night and lasted until Friday morning, said the security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because there were not authorized to talk to the media. The city of Ataq was previously divided between the government forces of Saudi-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and a separatist militia, trained and armed by the United Arab Emirates.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:29:50 -0400
  • Iran's Zarif says nuclear talks with Macron were "productive" -ILNA agency

    Iran's foreign minister said talks he held on Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron about a landmark 2015 nuclear deal were "productive", according to the ILNA news agency. "France had presented some suggestions and we presented some suggestions about how to carry out (the nuclear deal) and the steps that both sides need to take," the minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:23:32 -0400
  • The G7 Should Pressure China but Find a Solution with Russia news

    Another G7 summit impends, in Biarritz, France, with few achievements likely. Although the gathering might avoid last year’s dramatic photo of President Donald Trump staring down the other attendees, expectations are low. No effort will be made to draft a final statement, a first for the group, which began in 1975. Given the members’ divisions, the attempt would be “pointless,” observed French President Emmanuel Macron, who blamed “a very deep crisis of democracy.” The G7 no longer has the heft it once had. Its members still dominate the world’s economy, but not to the same degree. During the 1980s, G7 members accounted for about 70 percent of the world’s GDP. That number now is below half. Moreover, the members have only about a tenth of the world’s population. And turning the G8 into the G7 by expelling Russia meant losing a member that was more important than its economic role alone would suggest.Attendees this weekend also might have trouble making their decisions stick. The newly-installed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson might be out of a job in weeks. So could Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who trails in polls for elections in October. Meanwhile, Italy’s ruling coalition just collapsed and Germany’s long-serving Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is a lame duck. Finally, Macron endures even lower poll ratings than Trump, who faces an election next year. Only Japanese leader Shinzo Abe seems secure politically.However, the G7 meeting offers the most important leaders of the most important Western nations an opportunity for serious discussions of important issues, conducted privately though not secretly. Indeed, this grouping has the advantage of being more personal, about the leaders, than institutional, about the countries. Members can more easily focus the meeting on what they want, irrespective of the formal agenda.Even before the summit’s start, Trump roiled the proceedings as is his want by proposing that Moscow be invited next year to the meeting hosted by the United States. Trump apparently offered this without much diplomatic preparation and—rather like his off-the-cuff comment about buying Greenland before his aborted trip to Denmark—it sparked European opposition. However, Macron commented favorably on the idea, though adding that it would be a “strategic error” to do so before resolving the Russo-Ukraine conflict.In fact, adding Russia is a surprisingly good idea. President Vladimir Putin, suspended in 2014, has not transformed himself into a liberal Western democrat. However, keeping him outside the club isn’t going to cause him to become one either. And Moscow’s permanent estrangement only serves the interest of China, an even more authoritarian, powerful, and dangerous opponent of Western liberalism to which Russia has moved closer.Inviting Putin back into the club should be part of a process to achieve peace and stability in Eastern Europe and pull Moscow back from its embrace of China. Only compromise can prevent the divide from becoming permanent. This weekend, G7 participants should chat about options to simultaneously secure Ukraine and accommodate Russia.For instance, the allies could drop plans for North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion, limit military aid to Kyiv, and end economic sanctions. In return, Russia could abandon support for Donbas rebels in Ukraine, grant Kyiv full navigational access in contested waters, and stop using natural gas as a weapon. Both sides could eschew political interference in the other’s affairs—after all, America and Ukraine are not blame-free in this regard. Kyiv would be left to forge whatever economic ties it desired east and west. If the allies left Biarritz with a determination to reach such an agreement, its fulfillment could be celebrated with Russia attending next year’s newly-reinstated G8 enclave.Moreover, G7 members should use their forum to develop a common policy to press Xi and the People’s Republic of China to respect human rights and international norms. The back-drop of mass protests in Hong Kong makes the issue particularly pressing. Even so, it is important not to inflate the threat posed by China. The People’s Republic of China faces significant economic, social, and political challenges, and poses no direct military danger to America or Europe. The problem for Japan is greater, but still limited mostly to a handful of contested islands.However, Beijing’s widespread, sometimes brutal crackdown at home, increasingly threatening approach to both Hong Kong and Taiwan, and more aggressive stance toward territorial disputes challenge common Western interests and values. Members of the European Union and NATO, as well as the United States, have expressed concern over Beijing’s course. A united diplomatic stand by leading Western states would be more likely to temper the People’s Republic of China’s international behavior. This would especially be true if accompanied by a message of accommodation to Moscow which helped the latter see its interests better served by leaning West. Brexit is likely to be decided one way or another by next year’s meeting anyway. But, the G7 summit provides an opportunity for informal meetings on how the United Kingdom, assuming it leaves, with or without an exit agreement, relates to both America and Europe. The fabled Special Relationship may be near the end of its life, but Washington and London still have reason to cooperate closely. Nevertheless, the UK’s positions on many issues remain closer to those of Europe. Constructing a new, positive, enduring relationship with London requires that the Trump administration not squeeze the potentially fragile Johnson government too hard. Irrespective of the UK’s looming departure from the EU, Trump has made the U.S.-European relationship unnecessarily hostile. Although he is right to criticize the continent’s military dependence on America, the relationship remains important. It is in Washington’s interest to retain positive ties with Europe as well as the UK.The forum also offers an opportunity to bring together many of the combatants in President Trump’s multiple trade wars. That could allow him to set priorities. For instance, the administration continues to threaten to sanction European automobile-makers and Japanese products as part of ongoing trade talks. Yet the economic battle with China, which reflects so much more than pure commercial concerns, deserves the most attention. Furthermore, joint action by America, EU, and Japan—toward Huawei, for instance—would have a greater impact on the People’s Republic of China. Thus, summit attendees should discuss a common position on economic ties with Beijing. More broadly, these democratic and market-friendly nations should pursue a common trade agenda. Finally, a good place to start would be Trump’s idea of triple zero: no tariffs, non-tariff barriers, or subsidies. The G7 could encourage his rare pro-free trade moment. Finally, Trump should use the meeting to advance his America-first foreign policy—a particularly useful effort with an election approaching—but without trashing the allies. Instead of publicly berating the Europeans for their anemic military efforts, he should privately prepare them for upcoming U.S. force withdrawals. How they responded would be left up to them. While beginning to shed—rather than share—defense burdens, Trump should emphasize that the U.S. plans to maintain a good relationship with its international friends. The change in approach would be subtle but critical: Washington would simply decide its own policies rather than attempt to control what its allies do. If past is prologue, nothing much should be expected from Biarritz. However, it isn’t too late to use the time productively. Substantive talks would be more critical than sanitized communiques which even Macron admits that no one reads.Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.Image: Reuters

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:09:00 -0400
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