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Khamenei says enemy 'repelled' in protest-hit Iran

Khamenei says enemy 'repelled' in protest-hit IranIran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the enemy had been "repelled" in the country where dozens are thought to have died in violent protests sparked by a petrol price hike. State television, which rarely shows any signs of dissent in Iran, has aired footage of masked young men appearing to clash with security forces. London-based rights group Amnesty International said more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed across Iran since security forces were ordered to "crush" the protests.


Israel faces likely third election amid Bibi-Gantz standoff

Israel faces likely third election amid Bibi-Gantz standoffIsrael faces the increasing likelihood of a third election after another fruitless meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief challenger Benny Gantz. Neither Netanyahu nor Gantz have the required majority to build a coalition government. Kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman has refused to give either the nudge for the required majority in Israel’s 120-seat parliament and has urged them to join in a unity government as a way out of the stalemate.


Diehards hold out at Hong Kong campus as foreign pressure grows

Diehards hold out at Hong Kong campus as foreign pressure growsDozens of pro-democracy protesters remained holed up inside a besieged Hong Kong university campus for a fourth straight day on Wednesday as supporters took up online calls to disrupt the city’s train network in a bid to distract police. The violent standoff between demonstrators and police at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) rippled overseas, with the United Nations calling for a peaceful resolution to the siege, while the US senate passed new legislation supporting protesters' demands. The epicentre of nearly six months of increasingly savage anti-China protests has shifted to the PolyU campus, a stone's throw from the city's harbour, where hardcore protesters have repelled riot police with Molotov cocktails, bricks and arrows.


NATO Shoots for the Moon Amid Earthly Tensions: Brussels Edition

NATO Shoots for the Moon Amid Earthly Tensions: Brussels Edition(Bloomberg) -- Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every weekday morning.It’s not every day NATO becomes a microcosm of geopolitics, but that’ll be the case this afternoon when the alliance’s foreign ministers meet in Brussels. The agenda includes Russian threats, terrorist risks, Middle East stability, Europe’s military capabilities, arms control and even the rise of China. Hanging over the gathering will be fresh internal splits after France’s Emmanuel Macron said the alliance faced “brain death” as a result of Donald Trump’s decision to green-light a Turkish incursion into Syria without consulting European allies. Still, such divisions won’t prevent the ministers from venturing to the final frontier: outer space will be added to the alliance’s operational domains. What’s HappeningBudget Opinions | The European Commission will today publish its verdict on the budget plans of euro area economies, and while the usual suspects such as France and Italy are expected to get a warning, the scrutiny will have none of the fireworks last year’s tussle with Rome did. Look out for the latest report on Greece’s post-bailout progress, that’s set to unlock further debt relief funds. Embattled Envoy | Gordon Sondland, Donald Trump’s “point man for Europe,” is likely to take fire from all sides when he testifies to the U.S. Congress today. The ambassador to the EU is under attack for inconsistencies in statements he’s offered under oath about efforts to influence Ukraine. If he goes down, he won’t be missed by officials in Brussels.China Block | The EU is poised to say potential 5G suppliers will be evaluated based on their home country’s laws, a stance that could exclude Chinese businesses from lucrative contracts for the advanced telecoms networks. Such a move would come after U.S. and EU officials have repeatedly flagged concerns about partnering with Chinese equipment makers such as Huawei for 5G networks. Conservative Crisis | The breakdown of discipline in Angela Merkel’s once-dominant party is symptomatic of a deeper crisis gripping conservatives across Europe. As the continent’s center-right leaders gather in Zagreb for their congress, here’s why things don’t seem to be going well for the movement. In Case You Missed ItU.K. Debate | Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn  defied his negative ratings to draw level with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a crucial television debate ahead of the U.K.’s general election. The opposition leader, who’s been lagging behind Johnson in personal approval scores, effectively tied with the premier in a snap poll on which candidate won the clash last night.Polish Ruling | Poland’s government suffered another blow to its sweeping judicial reforms after the EU’s highest court raised fresh concerns over the independence of judges. But that didn’t deter the country’s premier, who vowed to return “normalcy” to his nation by building an even greater patriotic welfare state and win a “culture war” to defend traditional Catholic values.Coal Shutdown | Discussions about how to shut down Germany’s coal industry are faltering as company executives and government ministers struggle to agree over the politically charged issue of compensation. A timely agreement on winding down coal plants is a crucial link in the government’s effort to get climate policies back on track.Green Search | As awareness increases around the impact of climate change — from floods wiping out harvests to droughts forcing water restrictions — a small German search engine tries to counteract the devastation. Here’s how you can help save the planet with the push of a button.Spanish Deal | Catalan separatists are preparing for the possibility of a deal that would put Pedro Sanchez back in power. While support from Esquerra Republicana leaders isn’t a done deal, they’re meeting local groups to minimize potential backlash. The price for Sanchez: engage directly in talks over the future of Catalonia.Chart of the DayMost people in Group of Seven nations are uneasy about female leadership, a study published yesterday shows. On average, 46% of G-7 residents are “very comfortable” with a woman as head of government and 48% with a female CEO of a major national firm, according to a survey by Kantar and the Women Political Leaders group. Today’s AgendaAll times CET.4 p.m. NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels 7 p.m. European Council President-Elect Charles Michel meets Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Hague; gives speech at the University of Amsterdam at 2 p.m. Commission to release formal opinion on budgets of member states, Greece enhanced surveillance report EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom participates in a panel discussion at event hosted by the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels EU center-right leaders hold European People’s Party Congress in ZagrebLike the Brussels Edition?Don’t keep it to yourself. Colleagues and friends can sign up here. We also publish the Brexit Bulletin, a daily briefing on the latest on the U.K.’s departure from the EU. For even more: Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access for full global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.How are we doing? We want to hear what you think about this newsletter. Let our Brussels bureau chief know.\--With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss and Nikos Chrysoloras.To contact the authors of this story: Viktoria Dendrinou in Brussels at vdendrinou@bloomberg.netJonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Exiled vice-president blames ‘racist backlash’ for Evo Morales's forced exit

Exiled vice-president blames ‘racist backlash’ for Evo Morales's forced exitÁlvaro García Linera concedes mistakes pair made but branded the toppling of Morales as an anti-indigenous, rightwing ‘coup’Bolivia’s former president Evo Morales, left, with former vice-president Álvaro García Linera during a rally in La Paz, on 5 November. They fled to Mexico on 11 November. Photograph: Reynaldo Zaconeta/AFP via Getty ImagesEvo Morales’s closest political adviser has admitted that the Bolivian leader’s failure to groom a successor contributed to the political crisis engulfing the South American nation but slammed the “racist backlash” he blamed for the toppling of its first indigenous president.embedIn an interview with the Guardian, former vice-president, Álvaro García Linera, branded Morales’s forced exit an anti-indigenous, rightwing “coup” but conceded it had been aided by mistakes the pair made during their nearly 14 years in government.“A revolution is like a cup, it has to be unbreakable when stones are thrown,” García Linera said, tapping his cappuccino during a wide-ranging interview in Mexico City where both men have been granted political asylum.“Our cup wasn’t made of glass, but it wasn’t made of steel either. It was made of something in between – and it had cracks.”García Linera, a white urban intellectual, fled Bolivia with Morales on 11 November on a Mexican air force jet, a day after they resigned following three weeks of protests sparked by an election shrouded in allegations of fraud. The final straw was a police mutiny and the head of army calling on Morales to go.Since then, unrest has continued to rock the country after a rightwing senator called Jeanine Áñez declared herself interim president. At least 23 people have died, many at the hands of soldiers cracking down on pro-Morales protests.“I am concerned that the situation in Bolivia could spin out of control,” the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, warned on Saturday.García Linera said he and Morales had not anticipated being driven from power but did identify “weaknesses” in their ability to continue advancing Morales’s project, praised by many for slashing poverty, and creating a new indigenous middle class.Above all, he highlighted the failure to prepare a political heir for the former coca growers’ union leader, known universally as Evo, who spent a decade building the radical support base that swept him to power in 2005.“There are new leaders who are more intelligent than us. There are leaders who are more tactically able than us. But they lack those deeps roots in the social movements,” García Linera said. “We didn’t do enough to bring up a new generation.”García Linera said a 2016 referendum to allow Evo to seek another term reflected his irreplaceability, rather than any personal obsession with power.He said this was also the reason why – despite losing the vote – a way was still found to include his name on this year’s presidential ballot.“Everybody thought that without Evo, the whole thing would fall apart,” he said.García Linera said other mistakes included recruiting prominent intellectuals to positions in government – removing their voices from the wider public debate.This, he argued, made it easier for a far-right opposition against Morales to hide its true nature, by attracting private university students who gave an air of democratic activism, although they were actually representing the interests of the traditional pale-skinned middle class that has seen its privileges slip away.But the self-criticism only went so far, and García Linera attacked critics on the left as “Starbucks feminists and folkloric environmentalists”.“Their attitude in the face of what has been happening has been shameful,” he said. “They have not understood that the traditional middle class has gone fascist. They have not understood the class element or the racist element.”As he spoke, García Linera seemed every ounce the university professor, who won fame in Bolivia for reframing Marxist analysis for a majority indigenous context.But he has never been a traditional academic: although he studied for a maths degree in Mexico in the 1980s, he never actually graduated, and when he returned to Bolivia he joined a guerrilla group, before being arrested and spending several years in jail.As vice-president he insisted that he would never run for president because he is not indigenous, but he has often appeared to enjoy the limelight, whether giving lengthy interviews about class consciousness or commenting on his 2012 wedding to a TV presenter which was broadcast live.Even in exile – and wearing, he said, the same trousers in which he arrived – the 57-year-old looked remarkably well-groomed as he pondered Bolivia’s possible futures.“If the dictatorship represses harder it could force the resistance to step down,” he said. “It could also trigger the opposite reaction.”He highlighted the protests of the indigenous poor in the city of El Alto, which are already causing shortages of fuel and other basic goods in La Paz, though he insisted Morales was not fanning the flames.“These people have no leaders beyond their barrios. They don’t respond to phone calls, still less to tweets,” he claimed.Even so, such protests strengthen Morales’s efforts to secure a place in any talks that might come out of the efforts of the United Nations envoy Jean Arnault, who arrived in Bolivia at the weekend. Some believe they could even help him secure a place as a candidate in the fresh election – and a return to Bolivia.For the moment, however, García Linera was unwilling to make predictions.“Everything is still moving,” he said. “The correlation of forces is still not defined.”


The Latest: Syria says 2 civilians killed in Israeli strikes

The Latest: Syria says 2 civilians killed in Israeli strikesSyrian state media say two civilians have been killed and several others wounded in a series of Israeli airstrikes near the capital, Damascus. The state SANA news agency is reporting that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the missiles before they reached their targets in Wednesday’s attack. The report adds that however, two people were killed by shrapnel from an Israeli missile that hit a house in the town of Saasaa, southwest of Damascus.


U.S. Senate Passes Hong Kong Democracy Bill, Drawing China’s Ire

U.S. Senate Passes Hong Kong Democracy Bill, Drawing China’s Ire(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday aimed at supporting protesters in Hong Kong and warning China against a violent suppression of the demonstrations -- drawing a rebuke from Beijing.China reiterated Wednesday a threat to impose unspecified retaliation if the bill became law and urged the U.S. to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs. Ma Zhaoxu, vice minister of foreign affairs in Beijing, later summoned William Klein, a U.S. embassy official, and raised strong objections about the bill. Separately, Hong Kong’s government expressed “extreme regret” and the legislation would negatively impact relations with the U.S.The vote marks a challenge to the government in Beijing just as the U.S. and China, the world’s largest economies, seek to close a preliminary agreement to end their trade war. The Senate measure would require the State Department to certify annually whether Hong Kong remains sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify special trade privileges, as well as protect U.S. citizens from rendition to China through measures including sanctions on mainland officials.The bill’s passage, as well as China’s threat of retaliation, hit stocks around the globe. The Hang Seng Index lost as much as 1.1% Wednesday after surging 2.9% in two days, while U.S. stock index futures fell. Japan’s Topix index extended losses.The legislation comes at a difficult time for President Donald Trump as his administration is trying to complete the first phase of a long-awaited trade deal with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that it would be tough for the U.S. to sign a trade agreement with China if the demonstrations in Hong Kong are met with violence.“China is likely to take offense and with that there will be negative effects for the ongoing trade war negotiations,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners. “China is already fighting fires on both fronts and the Senate’s decision is unlikely to be well received. The market won’t receive this well either, given the uncertainly it creates.”Hong Kong’s position as a global financial hub has already been shaken by months of protests and police responses that have grown increasingly violent. U.S. lawmakers have voiced strong support for the demonstrators and warned China against responding with violence, while Hong Kong authorities have said they are simply trying to enforce the law.The likelihood of the U.S. government using the power in the near future to revoke Hong Kong’s special trading status -- like similar anti-China legislation requiring high-level diplomatic and military visits to Taiwan -- is very low. That’s not least because many Americans stand to lose money if some $38 billion in two-way trade is thrown into doubt.In its statement, Hong Kong’s government noted the U.S. had a larger trade surplus with the city than any other jurisdiction, and mentioned that many American companies and citizens live there.“Any unilateral change of U.S. economic and trade policy towards Hong Kong will create a negative impact on the relations between the two sides as well as the U.S.’s own interests,” it said.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, on Monday urged Trump to personally voice support for the protesters, which he hasn’t yet done. Nor has Trump indicated whether he would sign the legislation if it got to his desk.The House unanimously passed a similar bill last month, but slight differences mean both chambers still have to pass the same version before sending it to the president.‘Strong Countermeasures’The time line for completing the trade agreement could collide with this legislation landing on Trump’s desk. A congressional aide said the Senate measure was drafted with help from Treasury and State Department officials, but a senior administration official on Monday cautioned that Trump’s seal of approval is the only one that matters.China has repeatedly warned that there would be “strong countermeasures” for passing legislation supporting the Hong Kong protesters.“President Trump may very well use this as a bargaining chip,” Teresa Kong, a portfolio manager at Matthews Asia in San Francisco, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “If he doesn’t sign the bill, it would very much be seen as an olive branch.”The Senate measure passed by unanimous consent, which means there was no roll call vote because no senators objected to it. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the bill’s lead sponsor, said on Twitter before the vote Tuesday that the bill, S. 1838, would “head over to the U.S. House & then hopefully swiftly to the President.”The Senate on Tuesday also unanimously passed a bill to ban the export of munitions such as tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to the Hong Kong police force. The House would still have to pass the same version of this measure as well for it to go to Trump to be signed into law.“The United States has treated commerce and trade with Hong Kong differently than it has commercial and trade activity with the mainland of China,” Rubio said on the Senate floor. “But what’s happened over the last few years is the steady effort on the part of Chinese authorities to erode that autonomy and those freedoms.”That is one option: The House could simply take up the Senate bill. The other option would be to reconcile the differences between the two versions and have both chambers vote on the compromise bill.Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, the lead Republican sponsor of the House bill, said he expected the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees to choose the latter option and work out the differences. He said the compromise could be included in a defense bill slated for a vote later this year.“It tells Xi Jinping that there’s a price,” Smith said. “There’s one provision after another that says: We’re not kidding.”(Updates with China summoning U.S. official)\--With assistance from Naoreen Chowdhury, Jenny Leonard, Jordan Fabian, Livia Yap and Jodi Schneider.To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Flatley in Washington at dflatley1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Brendan Scott, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


After 6 years, refugee writer tastes freedom in New Zealand

After 6 years, refugee writer tastes freedom in New ZealandWhen he arrived in New Zealand last week, he simply wanted to smoke a cigarette and take a long walk down the street. A refugee from Iran, Boochani was held against his will at Australia’s notorious offshore immigration camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea from 2013 until he was recently moved to the capital, Port Moresby. In an interview with The Associated Press, Boochani said he had no interest in returning to Papua New Guinea, but wouldn’t be drawn on whether he’d seek asylum in New Zealand, pursue a claim to U.S. asylum or do something else.


The UN Should Give Refugees Passports

The UN Should Give Refugees Passports(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The United Nations’ recent report that 200,000 Syrians have been displaced as a result of the Turkish-led military operation in the country’s northeast highlighted what many of us already knew: Syria is the worst human-rights catastrophe of the 21st century. In just the past two weeks, we have learned about more executions, beatings, and war crimes against civilians committed by Turkish-backed forces.These atrocities will likely add to the estimated 6.5 million displaced Syrians. Most refugees lack basic identification documents, and even those who manage to escape the country — to Turkey, say — are at risk of being deported back to Syria. In all this back and forth, human lives are being lost as horrific crimes are committed.The UN is uniquely positioned to address the identity component of the statelessness epidemic: It can provide all refugees with laissez-passer passports.Issued by the UN’s New York and Geneva offices, a laissez-passer passport — known in the diplomatic community as a “blue passport” — is a travel document and a form of valid identification that allows the holder visa-free access to many countries. While these passports are usually given to staff members at the World Bank and other international organizations, the privilege should be extended to those who really need it: every man, woman and child fleeing violence.Having a basic form of ID would allow many refugees to travel to havens and escape human traffickers; they would be able to open bank accounts, apply for visas and find employment. Registering refugees prior to arrival at designated hotspots would improve the efficiency of the administrative processing which currently leaves migrants in a legal limbo for months, even years, before a legal status is determined. Reception centers and UN-managed refugee camps would be able to better manage the influx of asylum-seekers, and improve planning for food and aid distribution.Laissez-passer passports would also make it easier for host countries to determine whether to process refugees without identification as minors. This problem has resulted in immigration officials subjecting child migrants of mature physical appearance to cruel conditions and injustices.The rollout of a blue-passport program can be done in conjunction with ongoing identification programs, like the ones led by the World Bank’s ID4D initiative, which I helped establish in 2014. Originally envisioned to provide guidance and funding to governments willing to modernize their existing identification systems, the ID4D initiative — now a $1 billion program — can step up and support refugees who have no accountable government to work with.The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is already working to assist these communities and alleviate the consequences of forced displacements, but without a broader coordination of all the stakeholders involved, managing the ever-expanding influx of refugees is likely to become chaotic. The international development community, including organizations like the World Bank, should advocate for UNHCR to receive the mandate of issuing blue passports to those arriving at borders and designated hotspots, while ensuring safe-passage corridors and negotiating transit agreements with neighboring countries. Providing identification at borders would allow refugees to travel from war-torn regions to safe countries.As a former World Bank official, I benefited from a laissez-passer passport when I was on assignment in the Horn of Africa. But the privilege should have really covered thousands of Eritrean refugees seeking life-saving support at the borders of Ethiopia or Djibouti — many of whom still have not escaped all these years later.Critics may object that de facto identification would imply an open-borders policy, validating fears of miserable migrants invading wealthy Europe. But studies show that orderly and well-managed immigration can actually help host countries increase their wealth, by harnessing the productivity gains from the new workforce. Issuing blue passports to distressed refugees will help migrants better integrate with the host community by following legal pathways.We can no longer wait for the bureaucratic processes to catch up with the realities of the world we live in. In the absence of proper documentation, millions of refugees will remain displaced with no path forward. Many will turn to criminals for forged documents, putting themselves at further risk of exploitation by traffickers. With an ever-growing number of people in stateless limbo, the refugee crisis will exacerbate, and make finding solutions even more challenging in the future.The displacement of people is likely to continue, amid protracted violence and climate-induced cataclysms; by 2030, it is estimated that half the world’s extreme poor will find themselves in fragile and conflict-affected countries. For the global community, this crisis will require consensus, coordination, and long-term problem-solving. Laissez-passer passports are not a solution to the larger problem, but they give displaced people some dignity — and the chance to start rebuilding their lives and contributing to their host countries.To contact the author of this story: Mariana Dahan atTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mariana Dahan is the founder and CEO of the World Identity Network, a nonprofit organization advocating for universal identity. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Germany’s Cities Aren’t Ready for the Future

Germany’s Cities Aren’t Ready for the Future(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Now that Germany has dodged a recession, political decisions on fiscal stimulus have been postponed. Yet the country’s employers and labor unions are still demanding an infrastructure investment program worth at least 450 billion euros ($498 billion) over 10 years, not to give an immediate boost to growth but to keep the country competitive in the future.The 450 billion euro figure comes from a new report jointly drafted by the German Economic Institute in Cologne, which is close to two big employers’ lobby groups, and the Macroeconomic Policy Institute, part of a labor union-linked foundation. Presenting the study on Monday, Dieter Kempf, president of the Federation of German Industries, the country’s main industrial lobby, said Germany had turned into “snoreland” in a stupor of self-satisfaction; it’s time to wake up.The World Economic Forum ranks Germany as the world’s seventh-most-competitive economy this year, down from third in 2018. According to WEF, its greatest weakness is in information and communication technology adoption, where it’s ranked 36th in the world; only one German out of 100 has a fiber optic broadband subscription, compared with one out of 32 in South Korea. In an embarrassing episode on Monday, a state TV broadcast about a special government session on improving mobile coverage was broken off because of a bad connection. But, surprisingly for outsiders, the authors of the report suggest only that the government spend about 20 billion euros over the next decade on improving the telecommunications infrastructure, mainly to plug coverage holes where private investment can’t pay off. The rest of the money is needed elsewhere.The WEF describes physical infrastructure as one of Germany’s strengths, but Germans love to complain about it, mentioning, for example, that the average age of railroad bridges in their country is 60 years and that some 10,000 of them were built before World War I. Yet it’s not roads and public transport that require the most investment, either: The two institutes put those needs at 100 billion euros between 2020 and 2030.The biggest single investment need comes from Germany’s municipalities. As the federal government and the states have consolidated their finances under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, introducing debt brakes and deficit-free budgets, not enough money has trickled down to the local level. Even though the federal government has recognized the problem and taken over the full funding of some social programs, such as old-age pensions and unemployment insurance, municipalities’ current social obligations have been increasing, forcing them to put off investment in the maintenance of schools, streets and water-supply systems. They — especially the industrial towns that lost out from globalization — built up a combined investment gap of 138.4 billion euros, according to a nationwide survey of communities cited in the two institutes’ report.Even when the money is there in town and district budgets, many municipalities don’t have the staff and expertise to plan investment projects properly, and businesses that could take on the jobs have been wary of expanding lest municipal orders be cut back again. A big federal program to close the investment gap would fix that.Germany isn’t exactly in a state of disrepair. It doesn’t feel as though it is, even though potholed streets aren’t a rarity, trains often don’t run on time and cellular reception is spotty outside cities. Nor, however, does it feel future-proofed enough, even after a decade and a half of Merkel’s generally successful rule. The WEF touts unshakable financial stability (the country got 100 points out of 100 for it in the competitiveness ranking) as one of Germany’s biggest advantages, but that stability has been achieved, in part, by shifting problems to the local level. The authors of the institutes’ report point out that it’s not impossible to launch the investment program they propose even under Germany’s stringent debt-brake rule, enshrined in the constitution since 2009. The government, they suggest, could form a special foundation for the purpose. As long as it’s set up not as a funding vehicle for budgetary needs but as a structure tasked with specific new projects, its borrowing wouldn’t violate the constitutional restriction. Such borrowing, of course, would still count as government debt under European Union’s fiscal rules. But Germany likely still wouldn’t be in serious violation of them: Thanks to negative interest rates, the country’s debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio is expected to drop below 60% soon, which would allow Germany to run a bigger structural deficit than today.The investment program proposed by the employers and the unions would cost about 1.3% of GDP a year at today’s economic output level. That’s not an impossible price for future-proofing while the interest rates are extremely favorable. If Merkel wants her Christian Democratic Union to win the 2021 election, and if Finance Minister Olaf Scholz wants his Social Democratic Party to have a fighting chance, both should give the proposal serious consideration: Voters may want to rise and shine from snoreland.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria; 2 reported killed

Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria; 2 reported killedThe Israeli military said it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria on Wednesday, carrying out a “wide-scale” strike in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before. Syrian state media reported that two civilians were killed. The military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases.


Britain is country worst affected by terrorism in EU, study reveals

Britain is country worst affected by terrorism in EU, study revealsBritain is the country worst affected by terrorism in the EU, according to an authoritative study of the its impact worldwide. The Global Terrorism Index puts the UK in the top 30 of the world’s 168 nations, ahead of France, Germany, Belgium and Spain as well as Sri Lanka, Iran, Russia and Israel. Afghanistan has overtaken Iraq as the nation worst affected by terrorism followed by Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan, according to the analysis of a database logging 170,000 terrorist incidents worldwide. Turkey is 16th and the USA 22nd. The UK - at 28th - is the highest placed in the EU, based on the analysis of the data by the think tank Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It cites the rising threat from the new IRA as a key contributor to Britain’s high ranking as well as Islamic terrorism although it also warns of a significant rise in right-wing terrorism and a growing threat from women radicalised by Isil. “There has been a growing trend of increased female participation in terrorism, although still a small percentage of all attacks,” says the report.  terror text The IEP calculates the rating on a scale of 0 to 10 weighted according to the number of deaths and incidents tapered over five years, with 2018/19 accounting for 52 per cent of the score, down to seven per cent in the first year. The UK’s score of 5.405 includes the 34 killed in four high-profile attacks in 2017 while France at 5.008 has fallen six places to 36th despite the 2017 Paris attacks which saw 130 killed including 90 at the Bataclan theatre. By contrast, Afghanistan scores Iraq scores 9.6 and Iraq 9.24. As with other European nations, the UK has seen a decline with the terror threat level reduced from severe to substantial, which means an attack is “likely.” The number of deaths from terrorism in Europe fell for the second successive year, from more than 200 in 2017 to 62 in 2018, of which 40 were in Turkey.  However, terrorist groups were increasingly using women for suicide attacks as they were more lethal due to their ability to evade detection by security forces more easily than male suicide bombers. Worldwide there was a 450 per cent increase in the number of female suicide attacks between 2013 and 2018, from four to 22. Between 1985 and 2018 there were 300 suicide attacks involving at least one female, claiming the lives of some 3070 people. “Terror groups may choose to include female suicide bombers due to their potential to conduct deadlier attacks,” said the IEP. Al-Qaeda v Islamic State | Breakdown of terror groups Writing in its report, Michele Conninsx, the UN’s director of counter-terrorism, said groups like Isil understood the importance of appealing to women and had been “very skilful” in doing so by tailoring their messages to them. These included “messages of female empowerment and agency” to entice Western women to the conflict zone with almost 7,000 travelling to Iraq and Syria. “Women were not simply portrayed as mothers and wives, but as agents of change in creating and shaping the global caliphate,” she said. 2018 was also the year when Taliban overtook Isil as the world’s deadliest terrorist group. The number of deaths attributed to the Taliban rose by 70 per cent, to 6,103. Deaths attributed to ISIL fell globally by just under 70 per cent, from 4,350 in 2017, to 1,328 in 2018. IEP highlighted a “worrying surge” in far-right political terrorism over the past five years with a 320 per cent rise in attacks, largely by individuals rather than terrorist groups. The number of deaths linked to far right terrorism has risen from 11 in 2017 to 77 so far in 2019, largely in Europe and the US. Richard Walton, former head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said the terrorist threat had reduced but warned: “We have still got a serious problem around extremism and are not close to preventing radicalisation effectively, particularly within parts of some of our Muslim communities. “Until we achieve this, a reduction in overseas threats will not be matched by a lowering of the threat from within the UK.”   Countries worst affected by terrorism 1. Afghanistan (9.6) 2. Iraq (9.2) 3. Nigeria (8.6) 4. Syria (8) 5. Pakistan (7.9) 16. Turkey (6.5) 22. USA (5.7) 28. UK (5.4) 36. France (5) 37. Russia (4.9) 44. Germany (4.2) 45. Greece (4.2) 53. Belgium (3.6) 56. Sweden (3.5) 59. Spain (3.4) 63. Italy (3.1) 69. Ireland (2.7) 77. Netherlands (2.3) 81. Finland (2) 84. Austria (1.7) Source: Global Terrorism Index, Institute for Economics and Peace, 2019


Amnesty International: At least 106 people killed in Iran protests

Amnesty International: At least 106 people killed in Iran protestsAt least 106 protesters are feared dead in Iran after the government gave security forces authority to use firearms, water cannons, tear gas, and batons against demonstrators, Amnesty International reports.The protests began on Nov. 15 in response to the government's decision to raise fuel prices, and they spread to 100 cities. Amnesty International says it has reviewed video and spoken with eyewitnesses and activists who say Iranian security forces are using excessive and lethal force against protesters. The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, although there are reports of fires being set at banks and seminaries.Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has called the protesters "villains," and the government has severely limited internet access to the public. State media has reported that only a few protesters and four members of the security forces have died, but Amnesty International believes the actual death toll could be close to 200. "The authorities must end this brutal and deadly crackdown immediately and show respect for human life," Amnesty International's Philip Luther said in a statement.More stories from theweek.com The potential lie that could actually destroy Trump The coming death of just about every rock legend Everyone will eventually turn on Trump. Even Steve Doocy.


Afghan woman ambassador forms group to help Afghan women

Afghan woman ambassador forms group to help Afghan womenAfghanistan’s first female ambassador to the United Nations has started a U.N. group to protect the rights Afghan women gained after the Taliban was ousted from power 18 years ago, amid fresh efforts to rekindle talks with the fundamentalist group to end the country’s long-running war. Adela Raz told reporters Tuesday she is “not totally certain” women’s rights will be included in future talks with the Taliban, which is a key reason she spearheaded formation of the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan.


Corbyn Catches Up With Johnson in Dramatic U.K. Election Debate

Corbyn Catches Up With Johnson in Dramatic U.K. Election Debate(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn defied his negative ratings to draw level with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a crucial television debate ahead of the U.K.’s general election.The opposition leader, who’s been lagging behind Johnson in personal approval scores, effectively tied with the premier in a snap poll on which candidate won the clash Tuesday night. The pound remained lower after the survey.The YouGov/Sky News poll of 1,600 people gave Johnson a narrow victory, with 51% saying he won the ITV debate, against 49% saying Corbyn performed best.That was a significant turnaround for Corbyn, 70, who has struggled to persuade the public that he is prime minister material.He went into the election campaign with a net satisfaction rating of minus 60. That was by far the lowest such score since IpsosMORI started tracking the ratings in 1979. Johnson’s score stood at plus 2 when the figures were compiled at the end of October.While Corbyn fared better than expected this time, his party remains stuck behind the Conservatives in the polls. It was only one debate, and more are planned, including another head-to-head between the two leaders on Dec. 6.The YouGov verdict followed an hour of clashes between the two men vying to lead the U.K. in what is one of the highest stakes elections in recent British history.When voters cast their ballots on Dec. 12, they will face a choice between Johnson’s promise to deliver a speedy Brexit and Corbyn’s pledge to call another referendum on European Union membership that could ultimately allow the divorce to be canceled.Corbyn received applause and landed verbal punches on Johnson, 55, who struggled to win over an audience that laughed and groaned as he tried to steer the topic back to Brexit.In his most successful moments, Corbyn said he would give the prime minister a festive present of Charles Dickens’s classic short story, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ so he could learn how “nasty” the miserly Scrooge was. Corbyn also attacked the royal family over its handling of Prince Andrew’s friendship with the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, saying the monarchy needed “improvement.”Corbyn struggled to shake off allegations that antisemitism is rife inside the Labour Party, and was mocked by some audience members for claiming his policy on Brexit was clear, when he could not say whether he would vote to remain or leave the bloc in a referendum he’s promising to hold. But he won a cheer for promising to end the privatization of the National Health Service.Johnson had one big message: That he could get Brexit done – and quickly. It served him well in the opening 20 minutes, but then his repeated attempts to make it all about Brexit began to look forced. For example, when trying to think of a Christmas gift for Corbyn, he said he’d send him a copy of “my brilliant Brexit deal.”There were other awkward moments for the Tory leader. Some audience members laughed when Johnson said he believed trust was important in politics.The theme of trustworthiness also featured in the spin battle between the rival parties afterward. Tory Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab appeared among reporters backstage in Salford, northwestern England, to say “there is a real issue of trust” with Corbyn’s Brexit stance. Labour’s trade spokesman accused Johnson of telling “lie after lie after lie.” YouGov’s pollsters found Corbyn beat Johnson 45% to 40% on trustworthiness.“The choice is very simple: we can get Brexit done or we can spend another year with another referendum,” Johnson said in his closing remarks. “If we have a working majority Conservative government, I pledge we will have a Parliament that works for you, that focuses on the NHS and the cost of living, because when we get Brexit done by Jan. 31 we will go forward.”Corbyn used his final message of the night to promise to protect the NHS and invest in “good jobs” across the country. “Vote for hope and vote for Labour on the 12th of December,” he said.According to the YouGove poll, Corbyn beat Johnson 59% to 25% on being in touch with ordinary people. But Johnson beat Corbyn 54% to 29% on appearing prime ministerial and 54% to 37% on being likeable.Although the headline result was a draw, 67% of respondents thought Corbyn performed well, against 59% for Johnson. That suggested the Labour leader had done better than people thought he would.(Adds pound, quotes, context.)\--With assistance from Greg Ritchie.To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in Salford, England at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


British PM and Labour leader spar over Brexit in first election debate

British PM and Labour leader spar over Brexit in first election debateBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn traded blows Tuesday over Brexit and the health system as they vied for votes during the first ever head-to-head TV debate. The prime-time event, held in Manchester and broadcast on ITV, presented an opportunity for a potentially game-changing moment in an election campaign so far characterised as lacklustre.


Tories Attacked Over Fact-Checking Twitter Stunt: U.K. Votes

Tories Attacked Over Fact-Checking Twitter Stunt: U.K. Votes(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn ended their first head-to-head election debate on Tuesday as the Labour leader seeks to reverse the prime minister’s double-digit lead in the polls. The prime minister kept trying to steer the conversation to Brexit, and drew laughter at different points. Meanwhile, his rival took a shot against the monarchy and got cheered for his defense of the state-owned National Health Service.Key developments:A snap YouGov poll of 1,600 people gave Johnson the narrowest victory, with 51% saying he won, against 49% saying Corbyn performed bestICM/Reuters poll puts Conservatives on 42% (+3), Labour 32% (+1), Liberal Democrats 13% (-2), Brexit Party 5% (-3).ssssConservatives Masqueraded as Fact Checkers (10:21 p.m.)The Conservative Press Office changed its Twitter account’s name and appearance during the debate to “factcheckUK”, which described itself as an organization “Fact-checking Labour from CCHQ.” It then tweeted messages including “FACT: Jeremy Corbyn has failed to say what his own Brexit position is on Brexit nine times so far in this debate.” They culminated with a “factcheckUK verdict: Winner, Boris Johnson.”The move outraged genuine fact-checking sites, with FullFact calling it “inappropriate and misleading.” But Conservative Chairman James Cleverly defended it. “We are calling out the stuff that Labour is putting into the public domain that is demonstrably wrong,” he said.Swinson Makes Pitch for Middle Ground (10:15 p.m.)Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said her party represents the views of most British people better than Labour and the Conservatives. Swinson was upset about not to be invited to the earlier debate and instead was only featured in a later interview with the leaders of other small parties.“You have very extreme candidates leading those parties at the moment taking them to the fringes of politics,” she said. “Those parties are not in a space where most people in Britain are.”Swinson also reiterated how she would not give either Corbyn or Johnson the support to become prime minister, even if it meant the country would need another election to find a working government.Closing Remarks Wrap Up the Hour of Debate (9:04 p.m.)In his closing remarks, Corbyn called on the public to focus on his party’s strong areas of NHS, the environment and higher investment. “This is a once-in-a-generation election: to end privatization and give the NHS the funding it needs, to give the people a final say on Brexit, to tackle the climate emergency which threatens our futures, and to invest in good jobs in every region and nation of our country,” he said.“Vote for hope and vote for Labour on the 12th of December.”As he did throughout the debate, Johnson used his closing remarks to return to familiar territory: his promise to get Brexit done by the end of January. “The choice is very simple: we can get Brexit done or we can spend another year with another referendum,” he said.“If we have a working majority Conservative government, I pledge we will have a Parliament that works for you, that focuses on the NHS and the cost of living, because when we get Brexit done by Jan. 31 we will go forward.”Christmas Presents to Each Other (8:53 p.m.)The candidates are asked what they would leave under the Christmas tree to each other.Corbyn draws applause for his answer: “I know Mr Johnson likes a good read. So what I’d probably leave for him is ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens so he could then understand how nasty Scrooge was.”Johnson tried yet again to shift the conversation to Brexit by suggestion Corbyn read his EU deal.Corbyn Says Monarchy Needs to ‘Improvement’ (8:45 p.m.)Asked by the host, Julie Etchingham, if the royal family is fit for purpose following revelations over Prince Andrew’s friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Corbyn managed a pithy response that drew laughter. “It needs a bit of improvement,” Corbyn said. Johnson, by contrast, said “the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach.” He said Epstein’s victims should be “the focus of everyone’s sympathies.” That sounded like another veiled criticism of Prince Andrew but didn’t pack the same punch as Corbyn’s answer.Audience Laughed at the Candidates (8:34 p.m.)The audience of voters in the studio laughed ironically when Johnson said that the truth matters in the election. Johnson hit back, saying he was “open-mouthed” about Corbyn’s denial of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. They also had a giggle at Corbyn’s expense when the question was raised on whether he had a clear position on Brexit.There was more cackling later on when the funding of the NHS returned as a topic. Johnson: “We will continue to fund the NHS massively as we are. We can only do so because we have a strong and dynamic economy.”Is Austerity Over? (8:45 p.m.)Corbyn took a question about how much his government would spend to speak of the austerity years, and committed to reducing corporation tax to 2010 levels. “We’ve had austerity for 9 years in this country, we’ve had a growth of billionaires in this country, we’ve had a growth of extreme poverty in this country,” he said. “This election is a turning point in the way in which going to we’re going to manage our economy in the future. We will end austerity.”Johnson was quick to interrupt and proclaim his own desire to spend more than previous governments. “I believe in investing massively in our public services,” he said.Arms Race of Election Pledges Comes Too Late for Many in U.K.Corbyn Responds to Criticism of Anti-Semitism (8:29 p.m.)Corbyn has been dogged by criticism for allowing the rise of anti-Semitism within Labour. As the debate reached the half-way mark the Labour leader responded by saying that “antisemitism is an absolute evil and scourge within our society” and that “we do take this very seriously indeed because I do not want to live in a society where racism is rife.” Johnson tried to shift the the topic back to Brexit rather than address the moderator’s question about whether the tone in politics had degenerated.Will There Be Another Vote on Scottish Independence? (8:19 p.m.)Johnson repeatedly claimed that a Corbyn government would usher in a second referendum on Scottish independence because Labour would rely on Scottish National Party support to form a government. Corbyn insisted he hadn’t done any deals with the SNP “and there will be no deals,” he said, adding “There would be no deal with the SNP, no support for a referendum in the early years of a Labour government.” Johnson said that didn’t amount to a denial.Johnson and Corbyn Trade Blows on Brexit and NHS (8:13 p.m.)Johnson tries time and time again to draw Corbyn into revealing where he stands on Brexit: “We don’t know on what side Mr Corbyn will campaign. Is he going to campaign for leave or remain?”Corbyn defied the prime minister over his pledge to get Brexit done within a matter of weeks: “When you say you want to get it done, you will have to embark on probably seven years of negotiations with the U.S. to complete a trade deal.”Then the debate shifted to the state-owned National Health Service, much-beloved by voters. Corbyn told Johnson: “You’re going to sell our NHS to the United States and big pharma.”“Our NHS will never be for sale,” Johnson replied.Both Men Began with Short Introductory Remarks (8:06 p.m.)Corbyn and Johnson kicked off the debate with their key messages.“People want to get Brexit done and to unleash the potential of this entire country,” Johnson said, arguing that a vote for Corbyn is a vote for “dither and delay and deadlock.” He later added that his deal could pass Parliament within a “few weeks”“We will build a fairer Britain that cares for where wealth and power are shared,” Corbyn told a live studio audience. “Too many families are without a proper home struggling to make ends meet while tax cuts are handed to the super-rich.”A Brief History of U.K. Election Debates (7:45 p.m.)Unlike in the U.S., televised election debates are still relatively new to U.K. politics, with details on how many candidates are invited to take the stage a point of dispute in each campaign.It started in 2010, with then-prime minister Gordon Brown taking on Conservative leader David Cameron and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats, whose success gave rise to a wave of so-called “Cleggmania” and an immediate poll bounce.In 2015, there was one seven-way debate featuring not only the original three parties but also UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Labour leader Ed Miliband challenged David Cameron to “debate me one-on-one”, but failed to get his wish.In 2017, the BBC eventually hosted a seven-way debate featuring Corbyn, but Theresa May decided to send then-home secretary Amber Rudd in her place.This campaign has proved no less eventful. The Lib Dems and the SNP lost a legal challenge against ITV on Monday over their exclusion from tonight’s event. The broadcaster had warned it would cancel the debate on Tuesday if the politicians had won.Debate Format: All You Need to Know (7:40 p.m.)Tonight’s hour-long TV debate is being held in Salford, north-west England, in front of a studio audience of around 200 people.ITV journalist Julie Etchingham will moderate, having hosted similar debates in the 2015 and 2017 general elections. Etchingham also took charge of the Conservative party leadership debate this summer, featuring Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.Questions will come from viewers, with ITV saying they will reflect a range of political backgrounds. Both leaders will have a minute to make their opening statements, and then 45 seconds for their closing remarks at the end of the debate. Corbyn will speak first in both instances after lots were drawn.The debate will be followed at 10 p.m. by interviews with leaders from the smaller parties. The Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson, the Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon, the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage and co-leader of the Green Party Sian Berry will all feature in the consecutive face-to-face interviews.Corbyn and Johnson Prepare for Battle (5 p.m.)Both the main party leaders are keen to be seen preparing for tonight’s head-to-head TV debate in their own ways. Johnson visited a boxing gym and posted a photo of himself on his Instagram account wearing a pair of boxing gloves, each emblazoned with “Get Brexit Done.”Corbyn, meanwhile, struck a more relaxed pose, posting a video of himself leaning back in a barber’s chair as he received a beard-trim. Time will tell whether the Labour leader’s fresh cut or his opponent’s hard-man impression will help win over voters.“I’m looking forward to it,” Corbyn told Sky News. Asked if he was nervous, he replied “not in the slightest, why would I be?”Earlier:Arms Race of Election Pledges Comes Too Late for Many in U.K.Brexit or Corbyn? U.K. Business Agonizes Over Election ChoiceLeaders on the Attack Before TV Showdown: U.K. Campaign Trail\--With assistance from Tim Ross, Jessica Shankleman, Thomas Penny and Robert Hutton.To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Greg Ritchie in London at gritchie10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Flavia Krause-JacksonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


UN expert corrects claim on kids in US migration detention

UN expert corrects claim on kids in US migration detentionAn outside expert working with the U.N. human rights office has corrected a figure he cited claiming that over 100,000 children are being held in migrant detention in the United States. On Monday, Manfred Nowak, who leads a U.N. Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty that was published this week, told reporters: “We have more than — still more than — 100,000 children in migration-related detention in the United States of America." The Associated Press and other major news organizations reported that figure. Nowak also said the figure of over 100,000 referred to the cumulative number of migrant children held in detention at any point during that year, whether “for two days or eight months or the whole year,” not all simultaneously.


Pentagon says Iran's missiles unrivaled in Middle East

Pentagon says Iran's missiles unrivaled in Middle EastDespite decades of sanctions, Iran has succeeded in developing its missile arsenal, which is larger than that of any other Middle Eastern country including Israel, a Pentagon study said Tuesday. "Iran has an extensive missile development program, and the size and sophistication of its missile force continues to grow despite decades of counterproliferation efforts aimed at curbing its advancement," the Defense Intelligence Agency said. The study said Iran considered missiles to be a strategic necessity due to the limitations of its air force, which still has some US planes ordered by the pro-Western shah, who was toppled in 1979.


US aircraft carrier transits Strait of Hormuz

US aircraft carrier transits Strait of HormuzThe US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the key Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday to show Washington's "commitment" to freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said, amid tensions with Tehran. The group's move through the strategic waterway separating Iran and the United Arab Emirates towards the Gulf was scheduled, and unfolded without incident, the US Navy said in a statement. It was the first time a US aircraft carrier group went through the strait since Iran downed a US drone in June in the same area.


US faces Palestinian, international criticism of Israel settlement move

US faces Palestinian, international criticism of Israel settlement moveThe United States faced stiff international and Palestinian criticism Tuesday over its decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements illegal, while the Jewish state's premier cheered on the "historic" move. The United Nations and European Union stressed the decision would not change the reality that the settlements were illegal, while the Arab League condemned the unilateral move announced Monday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, said he was "very moved" by the announcement.


Tata Steel To Fire 3,000 Workers In Europe Citing Slowdown And Weak Market Demand

Tata Steel To Fire 3,000 Workers In Europe Citing Slowdown And Weak Market DemandTata Steel, the Indian steel manufacturer, has announced that it will be slashing 3,000 jobs across its operations in Europe, citing a global consumption slowdown and the uncertainty surrounding the U.K. general elections and Brexit that is scheduled to follow right after. "Stagnant EU [European Union] steel demand and global overcapacity have been compounded by trade conflicts, which have turned the European market into a dumping ground for the world's excess steel capacity," said Tata Steel in its statement. Macroeconomic trends have been playing spoilsport in Europe, as major economies like Germany and the U.K. were caught in the throes of the deepening U.S.-China trade war and Brexit, dampening their construction, auto and manufacturing industries that consume the bulk of the steel manufactured in the region.


UN 'alarmed' dozens may be dead in Iran protests

UN 'alarmed' dozens may be dead in Iran protestsThe United Nations voiced alarm Tuesday at reports dozens may have been killed in Iranian demonstrations, as the Islamic republic said it would unblock the internet only once calm has been restored. Amnesty International said more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed across Iran in five days since security forces were ordered to "crush" the protests triggered by fuel price rises. Iran's economy has been battered since May last year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.


Iran will seek new fighter jets, tanks as 2020 embargo lifts

Iran will seek new fighter jets, tanks as 2020 embargo liftsIran will likely buy new advanced fighter jets and tanks next year when a U.N. Security Council arms embargo is scheduled to be lifted, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday as the Defense Intelligence Agency released a new assessment of Iran’s military capabilities. The DIA report concludes Tehran is committed to becoming the dominant power in the Middle East, and it warns that the Islamic Republic is making rapid progress developing attack drones and other missile systems. The report comes amid escalating tensions between Iran and the West in the wake of a series of attacks on commercial shipping vehicles and Saudi oil facilities this year that have been blamed on Tehran.


GRAPHIC-Pound, FTSE250 tracking rising chance of Tory majority in Britain's December election

GRAPHIC-Pound, FTSE250 tracking rising chance of Tory majority in Britain's December electionSterling and UK domestic stocks have rallied strongly this month as betting markets sharply increase the chances that Britain's incumbent Conservative Party will secure a parliamentary majority in the country's first Christmas election in nearly a century. Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union. Odds of an overall Conservative majority tumbled to 4/9 on online betting exchange Betfair Exchange earlier this week, the shortest odds for the party in the two years that the market has been open.


Israeli settlements are still illegal despite Trump backing them, says UN

Israeli settlements are still illegal despite Trump backing them, says UNIsraeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory remain illegal despite the US saying it no longer considers them inconsistent with international law, the United Nations human rights office has said.The Trump administration abandoned its four-decade policy on Monday by saying it was “reversing the Obama administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements”.


UPDATE 1-More than 100 protestors killed in Iran during unrest - Amnesty International

UPDATE 1-More than 100 protestors killed in Iran during unrest - Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International said on Tuesday that more than 100 protestors had been killed in 21 cities in Iran during unrest that broke out over a rise in fuel prices last week. Snipers have shot into crowds of protestors from rooftops and, in one case, from a helicopter, Amnesty said. An Iranian official said they had subsided on Tuesday, a day after the Revolutionary Guards warned of "decisive" action if they did not cease.


UPDATE 1-France regrets U.S. decision on Fordow, rebukes Iran

UPDATE 1-France regrets U.S. decision on Fordow, rebukes IranFrance lamented on Tuesday a U.S. decision to end a sanctions waiver related to Iran's Fordow nuclear facility, but also said it feared Tehran's latest violations of a 2015 deal could lead to serious nuclear proliferation. "We regret the decision of the United States, following Iran's resumption of enrichment on the Fordow site, to terminate an exemption that would facilitate the conduct of civilian projects on this site," foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in an online briefing. The Trump administration, which last year pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, had until Monday let the work go forward at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant by issuing waivers to sanctions that bar non-U.S. firms from dealing with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).


EU’s Tusk: Croatia’s EU presidency comes at a critical time

EU’s Tusk: Croatia’s EU presidency comes at a critical timeCroatia’s first-ever presidency in the European Union will come at come at a “critical period” for the 28-nation bloc, outgoing EU leader Donald Tusk said Tuesday. The EU’s newest member could end up in charge of launching the bloc’s post-Brexit negotiations with Britain, the European Council president said after talks with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, takes over the bloc’s six-month rotating chairmanship at the beginning of January while Britain’s departure from the bloc is now set for Jan. 31.


Trump appointee Mina Chang resigns after questions over résumé

Trump appointee Mina Chang resigns after questions over résumé‘Resigning is the only acceptable moral and ethical option,’ says Chang, who allegedly embellished her CV and faked a Time coverMina Chang: ‘The Department of State is experiencing what I … believe is the worst and most profound moral crisis confronting career professionals and political appointees.’ Photograph: EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty ImagesMina Chang, a Trump appointee whose allegedly embellished résumé and fake Time magazine cover were revealed last week, has resigned.Politico obtained a letter sent by Chang, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations at the state department, to the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.appeal“Resigning is the only acceptable moral and ethical option for me at this time,” she wrote.Chang also decried “a character assassination based solely on innuendo” and said the department had not attempted to defend her.The 35-year-old, who claimed to have studied at West Point, was appointed to her post in April. Last week, NBC News reported that among the questionable claims on her résumé, she said she was a Harvard “alumna” and claimed to have participated in a United Nations panel on drones. She had also discussed her fake Time cover on a video promoting her own non-profit, Linking the World.In fact, Chang attended a short course at Harvard Business School that costs $82,000, although it does allow those who take it to call themselves alumni. NBC said no record of her UN work was found. News of the fake Time cover prompted amusement in media circles, given Donald Trump’s own public travails surrounding mocked-up covers on display at his properties.A lengthy rebuttal posted on the Linking the World website said Chang “never claimed to have a degree from Harvard. She has correctly stated that she is an alumnus of the school.”It added: “Mina did not invent a role on a UN panel. The panel in question was the Expert Panel for Humanitarian UAVs convened on 14 November 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. We have at least one geotagged photograph of Linking the World’s participation on that panel, along with its working documents.”The photograph was not appended to the rebuttal, which also said the Time cover had been created and used without Chang’s permission.Written by Ian Dailey, executive director of Linking the World, the rebuttal concluded: “I am not Mina. I am not the radiant light, the forever hopeful and passionate fighter of those who can’t defend themselves.”Chang was considered for a role at the US Agency for International Development which would have involved overseeing a $1bn budget and USAid’s work in Asia. In her resignation letter to Pompeo, Chang decried “a character assassination based solely on innuendo … launched against me attacking my credentials and character”.She added:“My superiors at the department refused to defend me, stand up for the truth or allow me to answer the false charges against me.”Chang also seemed to refer to the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of power relating to Ukraine, in which foreign service officers and political appointees have testified and which has seen Pompeo himself come under pressure.“Today, the politics of division and personal destruction are at their very worst,” she wrote, “and I have found myself in the crosscurrents of that very division. What began as a willingness to serve has sadly turned into self-protection, not because I cannot serve as intended but because I have concluded that I would be unable to do so effectively in the current toxic environment of the state department.“In already difficult times,” Chang added, “the Department of State is experiencing what I and many believe is the worst and most profound moral crisis confronting career professionals and political appointees in the department’s history.”


Brexit Bulletin: What to Watch For in Tonight’s Debate

Brexit Bulletin: What to Watch For in Tonight’s DebateDays to Brexit deadline: 73(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to get the Brexit Bulletin in your inbox every weekday.Today on the campaign trail: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will make political history in tonight’s TV debate.What’s happening? The two men battling for the job of U.K. prime minister will go head-to-head tonight in the first TV debate of the general election campaign — the first ever to include only the two main party leaders.Can Johnson deliver a knock-out punch? The prime minister sparred with a boxing trainer ahead of tonight’s bout, but he may be more vulnerable than his opponent. So far his handlers have carefully controlled his media appearances, and for many voters this will be the first time they’ve seen him so exposed. With a double-digit poll lead, Johnson has the most to lose if he fails to engage with the audience, in the studio and at home.How could Corbyn win? This is a big opportunity for the Labour leader to land some punches in an election that has, so far, been drifting away from his party. Corbyn will need to blend his radical policy platform with attacks on his opponent to turn it around. When Johnson was Mayor of London, Labour demonstrated that he gets rattled when he’s pressed on detail, so Corbyn may go for forensic attacks on his record.Johnson has repeatedly accused Corbyn of “dither and delay” over Brexit and just this morning published an open letter calling for clarity. He will double down tonight, accusing Corbyn of being soft on crime and a threat to prosperity with his socialist vision for the economy. Johnson’s challenge will be to look prime ministerial while keeping control over his desire to make people laugh.Corbyn will highlight the threat to the National Health Service from Johnson’s Brexit deal, which he says makes the state-run health care system vulnerable to takeover by U.S. corporations. He will be able to counter Johnson by pointing out that the Conservatives have been in power for nine years.Johnson has been twice sacked for lying. Corbyn will look to exploit the lack of trust in the prime minister. His challenge is that he’s not the surprise insurgent that he was in 2017, and he will need to convince voters that he offers something new, positive and realistic.Who will win? We wouldn’t like to predict, but bookmaker Paddy Power makes Corbyn the 4/5 favorite to emerge on top. Pollster YouGov will publish a snap poll after the debate.Today’s Must-ReadsElection spending pledges come too late for many parts of the U.K., where a decade of austerity economics has taken a brutal toll, Andrew Atkinson and Lucy Meakin report. Veteran Tory-backing journalist Peter Oborne says in the Guardian that he has “never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.” “An inflexible Brussels is damaging its own interests over Brexit,” Anand Menon, director of UK in a Changing Europe, writes in the Financial Times.Brexit in BriefOn the Markets | The pound was slightly down at $1.2930 at 4 p.m. in London, with traders treading water ahead of the debate. Meanwhile, HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange strategy said sterling could swing either way depending on the result fo the election.Subdued Optimism | British manufacturing improved slightly in November, according to the Confederation of British Industry, though the sector remains subdued amid ongoing political uncertainty at home and slowing global growth.Bare Bones | The EU’s trade chief Sabine Weyand — previously number two on the Brexit negotiating team — sees a “bare bones” trade agreement, at best, if the U.K. sticks to its plan to seek a deal by the end of 2020, according to the Sun. We reported in October on how the next Brexit deadline is a major threat for Boris Johnson.Fly on the Wall | The BBC will air a behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling Boris Johnson’s first months as prime minister, his battles over Brexit and the election campaign, Press Gazette reports. Presented by political editor Laura Kuenssberg, it will be the BBC’s second Brexit-themed documentary of 2019.Data Probe | The Brexit Party is being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office following complaints it failed to hand over personal data it holds on voters, Sky News reports. The Brexit Party told Sky there was a “coordinated attempt” by campaigners to flood it with requests for data during the European Parliament elections earlier this year.Rebels on the Ground | Two high-profile ex-Conservative MPs are on the campaign trail bidding for re-election as anti-Brexit independents.Meltdown | One million commemorative Brexit coins minted with the old Oct. 31 exit date will be melted down.  Bloomberg first reported the meltdown at the mint in October.Want to keep up with Brexit?You can follow us @Brexit on Twitter, and listen to Bloomberg Westminster every weekday. It’s live at midday on Bloomberg Radio and is available as a podcast too. Share the Brexit Bulletin: Colleagues, friends and family can sign up here. For full EU coverage, try the Brussels Edition.For even more: Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access for our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.To contact the author of this story: Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Adam Blenford at ablenford@bloomberg.net, Lisa FleisherFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


The Latest: Rights group: Over 100 killed in Iran protests

The Latest: Rights group: Over 100 killed in Iran protestsAmnesty International, citing “credible reports,” says it believes at least 106 people have been killed during protests in Iran over government-set gasoline prices rising. Amnesty made the allegation in a report released Tuesday. Iran’s government, which has not made nationwide numbers available for the toll of the unrest that began Sunday, did not immediately respond to the report.


As US weighs in on Iran protests, critics highlight American culpability for economic crisis

As US weighs in on Iran protests, critics highlight American culpability for economic crisisAs deadly anti-government protests continue across Iran, Washington has weighed in on the crisis that was ignited by a sudden hike in fuel prices – but come under criticism for the US' part in contributing to the economic crisis.Although Donald Trump himself has not yet reacted to the events on Twitter, some American officials have commented on the demonstrations.


Why Iranians Are Setting Their Own Banks on Fire

Why Iranians Are Setting Their Own Banks on FireSince Friday, massive protests have spread to more than 100 cities across Iran, in response to a sudden rise in gas prices. Iranian security forces have arrested more than 1,000 people and killed at least 12, though activists put the number as high as 40, and over the weekend the government shut down internet access to thwart demonstrators from organizing on social media. The usual explanation for such disaffection is to blame Iran’s financial distress on the economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.


Trump Gives Netanyahu a Free Hand in the West Bank

Trump Gives Netanyahu a Free Hand in the West Bank(Bloomberg Opinion) -- In 12 simple words, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has dramatically changed the shape of the U.S. policy toward the West Bank. “The Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements.” Some Israeli right-wingers are cheering this approach as big step toward the annexation of the West Bank, where Israel has rejected UN rulings that it is an occupier. It is not quite that, but it marks an historic change in U.S. policy that has favored a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 1978, the administration of President Jimmy Carter adopted this solution. It declared Israeli settlements there to be illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. While successive U.S. governments used different language to couch their opposition to settlements, the Trump administration has retracted these basic principles. “There will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict” Pompeo said. “Arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.” Only a deal between the two parties can do that.    QuicktakeIsraeli SettlementsThis shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s adviser on Israel, made a similar statement at a UN Security Council meeting in May. It was a trial balloon that elicited the usual dissent by European Union ambassadors and other pro-Palestinian diplomats. Pompeo, having watched the relatively minor international fallout, has now made it official.  This more or less ratifies reality. Despite U.S. objections, hundreds of thousands of Jews already live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In the absence of American pushback, these settlements will grow quickly and spread widely. They could reach areas marked as “Palestinian” under the now defunct Oslo Accords. If that happens, it could well lead to a violent reaction.   The Palestinian Authority is naturally distraught by this prospect. It has maintained a boycott on talks with Israel and relied on the support of the international community. Palestinian Authority leaders have long rested their case on what they regard as the self-evident legality and justice of the demand for an independent state in the West Bank. The United Nations regards the settlements to be illegal, but both Israel and the U.S., with good reason, view UN institutions as biased on Israel. The U.S. now openly rejects the Palestinian premise. “International law does not compel a particular outcome,” says Pompeo. Not only that, he argues, the Palestinians do not have better claim than Israel to the territory. Its presence in the West Bank (which the U.S. now calls Judea and Samaria) is justified by “unique facts, history and circumstances.”  This is a repudiation of 50 years of Palestinian diplomacy.  Once, the Palestinians had allies on the Israeli center-left, liberals who wanted to stop settlement and prevent annexation. This was Labor Party doctrine under Shimon Peres. The West Bank, he argued, would threaten Israel’s Jewish majority.  But the theoretical dangers of demography have not withstood the trauma of the Arafat-led intifada of the early 21st century, or the ongoing terrorism that has followed the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. These days, domestic Israeli support for a Palestinian state in the West Bank has been reduced to the fringe Jewish left and a majority of the Arab community. You don’t have to be a Likudnik to oppose a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Benny Gantz, the leader of the center-left Blue and White Party, issued a clear amen to Pompeo’s announcement. It is widely believed that the Pompeo announcement, which comes during tense coalition talks in Israel, is aimed at helping Prime Minister Netanyahu stay in power. Trump has made similar interventions in two previous elections. But Netanyahu is expecting criminal indictments in the next few weeks, and it is possible that no amount of help from his friends in Washington will do him any good. But no matter what happens to Netanyahu, the next Israeli government will engage in settlement as a means of frustrating a second state west of the Jordan River. And it will do so with the blessing of the United States. Secretary Pompeo says that his newly announced change of policy does not mean that the U.S. will prejudge the final status of the West Bank. In fact, it does just that. Trump’s Deal of the Century may never be formally presented but its essence is in the Pompeo announcement. “We encourage both sides to find a solution that promotes, protects the security and welfare of Palestinians and Israelis alike,” the Secretary says. In other words, the Palestinian Authority is now on its own. Its interests won’t be protected by international tribunals -- legal authority, as far as Washington is concerned, is vested in Israeli courts. UN declarations and EU condemnations will bounce off Israel as they always have. There is an obvious danger, however, that Palestinian frustration could bubble over; if that happens, Israel is well-prepared. Indeed, the U.S. has issued a travel warning to American citizens, similar to the ones issued after the Golan annexation decision and the move of the embassy to Jerusalem.  Under the circumstances, Palestinian leaders have a hard choice to make. They can wait and pray for the demise of the Trump administration and hope Pompeo’s stance will be reversed. Or they can end their diplomatic boycott, come to the table and extract substantial American economic aid, influence over the settlement map and limited autonomy. They may not like it, but for now, U.S. policy gives Israel the right to choose what parts of the West Bank it wants to keep. To contact the author of this story: Zev Chafets at zchafets@gmail.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Zev Chafets is a journalist and author of 14 books. He was a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the founding managing editor of the Jerusalem Report Magazine.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Trump is systematically ending the viability of a future Palestinian state

Trump is systematically ending the viability of a future Palestinian stateThe Trump administration’s announcement on Monday about Israeli settlements was just the latest draconian measure targeting Palestinians‘This is yet more proof, not that more was needed, that the Trump administration is actively pursuing a post-two-state-solution agenda.’ Photograph: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty ImagesSecretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Monday – that the US will no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories a violation of international law – is, in many ways, a near-perfect encapsulation of the Trump administration’s approach to Israel-Palestine.Couched in grotesque doublespeak, it claims to advance “the cause of peace” while signaling US approval of Israel’s brutal, perpetual military rule over the roughly 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. It is part and parcel of the Trump administration’s ongoing, concerted efforts to undermine international legal frameworks for addressing human rights violations (and not just in Israel-Palestine). And it is yet more proof, not that more was needed, that the Trump administration is actively pursuing a post-two-state-solution agenda.appealIndeed, for an administration marked by erratic decision-making and sudden reversals, Trump’s has been thoroughly systematic when it comes to ending the viability of a future Palestinian state. This, of course, is no surprise. In a clear harbinger of what was to come, rightwing pro-Israel operatives close to Donald Trump – among them David Friedman, now US ambassador to Israel, and Jason Greenblatt, former special envoy to the Middle East – successfully removed support for a two-state solution from the 2016 Republican party’s platform.Since its inauguration, the Trump administration has taken draconian measures against key Palestinian institutions, from shuttering the PLO office in Washington to slashing funding to UNRWA, the UN body that distributes vital aid to over 5 million Palestinian refugees across the Arab world. In 2018, the Trump administration moved the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (East Jerusalem, which Israel unilaterally annexed in 1967 and which the international community considers unlawfully occupied, was once intended as the capital of a future Palestinian state.) Last March, President Trump formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights – occupied by Israel in 1967 and, in violation of international law, unilaterally annexed in 1981.These steps are meant to prepare the ground for Israel’s eventual annexation of parts of the West Bank, something that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – currently fighting for his political survival and facing possible indictment in multiple criminal cases – has pledged to undertake if re-elected. In step with the Israeli right’s annexationist policies, the Trump peace plan – “the Deal of the Century” – is all but guaranteed to be a gift to the territorial-maximalist right. To say that it is unlikely to include a Palestinian state would be an understatement.But as is typical of Trump administration decisions, this is not simply a matter of ideology. It is also a matter of personal expediency – for Trump and Netanyahu alike – as well as a blatant instance of US intervention in a foreign country’s political system. Both Trump and Netanyahu are bogged down by investigations into their almost certainly criminal conduct. Pompeo’s announcement is a bone thrown to Trump’s anxious base of Christian Zionists and the Jewish religious right, and it is another gift – much like Trump’s Golan Heights recognition – to Netanyahu who, floundering in electoral limbo, can now claim a foreign policy victory just one day before Israel’s attorney general is expected to announce his indictment.It would, however, be a mistake to view Pompeo’s announcement as a complete break with US policy precedent. Again, as with so much of what the Trump administration has done over the past several years, this, too, marks less a rupture with the status quo than its unmasking. While the US government has long considered Israeli construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories a violation of international law on paper, it has done little to hold Israel’s government meaningfully accountable in practice.In the past decade, perhaps the closest the US government came was the Obama administration’s abstention from a 2016 United Nations security council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law. Just five years earlier, the Obama administration actually vetoed a similar resolution condemning Israeli settlement building – with a justification quite similar to the one offered by Pompeo in Monday’s announcement. Condemning Israel for violating international law, the then US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, claimed, was unlikely to “move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement”.Not a novelty of the Trump era, this kind of refusal to enforce the overwhelming international legal consensus on Israeli settlements has been a hallmark of US policy on Israel-Palestine. Pompeo’s announcement is, without doubt, a step beyond what previous administrations were willing to consider. But the difference between this decision and previous US decisions to disregard international law is a difference of degree, not kind.Which should be a warning to those who would like to see a just and equitable final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Even when Trump is gone, the forces that have doggedly worked to prevent the US from holding Israel accountable for its actions will remain. The views expressed in Pompeo’s announcement are roughly shared, for instance, by the powerful pro-Israel lobby Aipac – which, though perhaps hard for some to believe, is facing criticism from the messianic-Zionist right for not endorsing outright Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. (In fact, the positions of some of the Trump officials currently driving U.S policy on Israel-Palestine are also to the right of Aipac’s stated positions: Ambassador Friedman, a prominent pro-settlement activist, is an adamant opponent of a two-state solution, which Aipac nominally supports, at least for now.)Nor will the prospect of de jure annexation disappear, even if Netanyahu falls victim to a palace coup within his Likud party, resigns over indictments or loses a potential third round of elections. De facto annexation will proceed apace, regardless of who ends up the next prime minister. But Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main political rival, also thanked Pompeo for the “important announcement”, which he called “a demonstration of the US’s strong support for Israel and commitment to its security”. Members of Gantz’s Blue and White party, which could possibly lead a future Israeli government, support annexing parts of the West Bank.Thanks not only to the Trump administration, but also to the consistent inaction on the part of previous US administrations and the empty, ineffectual statements of the European Union, Israeli leaders can be confident that – whatever steps they decide to take towards making an independent Palestine impossible – they will not face serious international consequences. Pompeo’s announcement is simply confirmation of what has long been clear to those paying attention.The possibility of de jure annexation, alongside creeping de facto annexation, will remain part of the political calculus of Israel-Palestine for the foreseeable future: the two-state solution, less so. * Joshua Leifer is an associate editor at Dissent. Previously, he worked at +972 Magazine and was based in Jerusalem


EU Poised to Send Warning to China on 5G

EU Poised to Send Warning to China on 5G(Bloomberg) -- The European Union is poised to say potential 5G suppliers will be evaluated based on their home country’s laws, a stance that could exclude Chinese businesses from some lucrative contracts for the advanced telecommunications networks.“Factors, such as the legal and policy framework to which suppliers may be subject to in third countries, should be considered,” according to a draft of a joint statement obtained by Bloomberg and planned for release next month. The document is due to be approved on an informal basis this week by government envoys with formal sign off by ministers due in December, and the wording is subject to changes.The EU statement outlines the bloc’s position following a risk assessment that described a nightmare scenario where hackers or hostile states could take control of everything from electricity grids to police communications. It warned against reliance on suppliers from countries with non-democratic systems of government.U.S. and European officials have repeatedly flagged concerns about partnering with Chinese equipment makers, such as Huawei Technologies Co., for 5G networks. Chinese companies are obliged to assist the country’s national intelligence organization in their investigations, though Chinese officials and Huawei have said there are exceptions to those rules and the company wouldn’t necessarily be forced to do so.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Tuesday that the EU’s risk assessment report highlights how nations should install 5G equipment and software only from companies that won’t threaten their security, privacy, intellectual property, or human rights.Key parts of the next-generation infrastructure “such as components critical for national security, will only be sourced from trustworthy parties,” according to the draft statement of EU governments. The 5G build out should be “firmly grounded in the core values of the EU, such as human rights and fundamental freedoms, rule of law, protection of privacy, personal data and intellectual property, in the commitment to transparency.”A spokesman for the EU’s Council declined to comment on the content of the draft communique.German StanceEuropean countries have the ultimate say whether or not to ban a supplier from their national networks for security reasons. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to let Huawei supply some gear as long as the company fulfills certain security standards, despite intense pressure from her own party for an outright ban.The draft also stresses “the need to diversify suppliers in order to avoid or limit the creation of a major dependency on a single supplier” as well as “the importance of European technological sovereignty and promoting globally the EU approach to cyber security.”Besides Huawei, Europe’s Nokia Oyj and Ericsson AB supply 5G equipment.(Updates with U.S. Secretary of State’s tweet in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.net;Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, ;Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Amy Thomson, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Just 46% Are Wholly Comfortable With Female Political Leaders

Just 46% Are Wholly Comfortable With Female Political Leaders(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Discomfort with female leadership in politics and business remains widespread, with less than half of people in Group of Seven nations fully at ease with a woman running their government or a major company, a study published Tuesday shows.On average in the G-7, just 46% of society is “very comfortable” with a woman as head of government and 48% with a female CEO of a major national firm, according to a survey by Kantar and the Women Political Leaders group. That indicates some level of discomfort among the rest of respondents, they said.The data, based on a survey of 22,000 people across 11 countries, suggest that there’s not necessarily a correlation between public attitudes and women’s ascension to power. Canada, which ranked top, has only had one female head of government. In the U.S., which was third most comfortable with a woman in charge, some polls have indicated that potential Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren’s gender could be a concern for voters ahead of the 2020 election.Conversely, with Angela Merkel just days from completing her 14th year as German chancellor, less than one-third of those surveyed in her country said they were fully at ease with a woman in the role.In the U.K., the proportion who said men and women are equally suited to both business and political leadership dropped in the past year -- a period that saw Prime Minister Theresa May step down. That change was entirely due to a drop in the number of male respondents who agreed with the view.To contact the reporter on this story: Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at pgordon6@bloomberg.net, David Goodman, Zoe SchneeweissFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


U.S. Big Tech Could Learn From Russia's Yandex

U.S. Big Tech Could Learn From Russia's Yandex(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Yandex NV, Russia’s biggest technology company, has figured out how to avoid nationalization or a foreign ownership ban. Big Tech in the U.S. should pay attention: The governance scheme Yandex appears to have worked out in consultation with the Russian government could be a good solution for companies that are de facto public utilities under private control.Yandex, set up in 2000 to monetize a search engine developed in the 1990s by the team of co-founder Arkady Volozh, is as close as it gets in Russia to a Silicon Valley-style internet giant. For a long time, it mainly aped Google’s services for the Russian market, but it has grown into a conglomerate that developed or bought up other businesses, from marketplaces to delivery projects. It’s not just Russia’s Google but Russia’s Amazon and Russia’s Uber, too (it first outcompeted Uber’s Russian operation, then swallowed it up). In fact, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a “sovereign internet” law earlier this year, officially meant to keep web services functioning inside Russia should the U.S. cut the country off from the worldwide computer network, many said Yandex would be that “sovereign internet.”Yandex’s size and its ability to match the tech giants have made the company strategic for the Russian government. As early as 2009, Volozh had to protect Yandex from nationalization or from being taken over by one of Putin’s billionaire friends by issuing a “golden share,” which could block the sale of more than 25% of the company’s stock, to state-controlled Sberbank.But the government also could be helpful when Yandex needed it. In 2015, the Russian tech giant filed an antitrust complaint against Google, which had been eating into its market share on mobile, and in 2017 Google had to settle with the Russian antitrust authority, allowing Android smartphone vendors to install Yandex apps. Now, the Russian parliament is considering a bill that would ban the sale of phones and computers without pre-installed Russian software. Yandex would be the  main beneficiary.In Putin’s mind, that kind of protection comes at a price: Yandex must guarantee that it will never fall under foreign control. The previous “golden share” arrangement didn’t quite rule that out. Volozh and top employees control the company’s Class B stock, which gives them 57% of the voting power. If those shares are sold or their owners die, Class B shares will automatically convert to Class A ones, which are traded on stock exchanges, and foreign shareholders will end up with the most voting power.In July, legislator Anton Gorelkin introduced a bill that would limit the foreign ownership of strategically important internet companies to 20%. Yandex opposed it, but the government approved it, and it became clear that the bill would be passed. So Volozh began working feverishly on a solution, which was finally announced on Monday “after many months of discussion,” as Volozh wrote in a letter to employees. The company has set up a special body called the Public Interests Foundation, made up of representatives of Russia’s top math, engineering and business schools (most of them owned by the state) and Russia’s big-business lobby, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The foundation will have two seats out of 12 on Yandex’s board of directors, and it will have a veto on all deals involving 10% or more of Yandex stock, big intellectual property sales and any transfer of Russian citizens’ personal data.Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, denied that the Kremlin had taken part in the discussions mentioned in Volozh’s letter, but praised Yandex for appreciating the company’s “special responsibility” and the “special attention” on the part of the state that it enjoys. Immediately after the Yandex announcement, Gorelkin called the solution “elegant” and pulled his bill. All this was immediately reflected in a share price spike.This may read like a distinctively Russian story, in which a group of business founders is trying to avoid a state takeover and the Kremlin prefers not to establish formal control over the national tech champion while keeping a close eye on it. The schools provide a convenient smokescreen both for the government and for investors. But what Yandex has done isn’t only relevant within the context of Putin’s Russia. It could be seen as a template for Big Tech, even though Yandex’s market capitalization, at $13.2 billion, is only a fraction of Alphabet Inc.’s ($910.6 billion) or Facebook Inc.’s ($562.9 billion).These two companies that make up the internet’s advertising duopoly, are often discussed along with Amazon.com Inc. as public services rather than mere businesses by politicians on both the right and the left of the U.S. political spectrum. Last year, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa proposed treating Google and Facebook as public utilities. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, would break up some of the Big Tech companies and designate some as “platform utilities” that would be banned from sharing user data with third parties and required to treat all users equally.Obviously, the tech firms are opposed to such heavy-handed regulation, but what they do on their own only brings them closer to a confrontation with governments, both in the U.S. and in Europe. Facebook’s refusal to police misleading political advertising and Google’s data-sharing practices scream for some kind of state interference. Like Yandex, the companies could act preemptively to set up governance structures that would veto business ideas viewed as damaging to society’s interests. Vesting veto powers in councils made up of the representatives of top universities and nongovernmental organizations could accomplish that purpose. If such a structure can win approval even from an authoritarian regime such as the Russian one (with the caveat that academic institutions in Russia aren’t as independent as those in the West), it could probably satisfy most Big Tech critics in democracies, too.  The alternative, as in Yandex’s case, could be far more restrictive.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


U.S. Big Tech Could Learn From Russia's Yandex

U.S. Big Tech Could Learn From Russia's Yandex(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Yandex NV, Russia’s biggest technology company, has figured out how to avoid nationalization or a foreign ownership ban. Big Tech in the U.S. should pay attention: The governance scheme Yandex appears to have worked out in consultation with the Russian government could be a good solution for companies that are de facto public utilities under private control.Yandex, set up in 2000 to monetize a search engine developed in the 1990s by the team of co-founder Arkady Volozh, is as close as it gets in Russia to a Silicon Valley-style internet giant. For a long time, it mainly aped Google’s services for the Russian market, but it has grown into a conglomerate that developed or bought up other businesses, from marketplaces to delivery projects. It’s not just Russia’s Google but Russia’s Amazon and Russia’s Uber, too (it first outcompeted Uber’s Russian operation, then swallowed it up). In fact, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a “sovereign internet” law earlier this year, officially meant to keep web services functioning inside Russia should the U.S. cut the country off from the worldwide computer network, many said Yandex would be that “sovereign internet.”Yandex’s size and its ability to match the tech giants have made the company strategic for the Russian government. As early as 2009, Volozh had to protect Yandex from nationalization or from being taken over by one of Putin’s billionaire friends by issuing a “golden share,” which could block the sale of more than 25% of the company’s stock, to state-controlled Sberbank.But the government also could be helpful when Yandex needed it. In 2015, the Russian tech giant filed an antitrust complaint against Google, which had been eating into its market share on mobile, and in 2017 Google had to settle with the Russian antitrust authority, allowing Android smartphone vendors to install Yandex apps. Now, the Russian parliament is considering a bill that would ban the sale of phones and computers without pre-installed Russian software. Yandex would be the  main beneficiary.In Putin’s mind, that kind of protection comes at a price: Yandex must guarantee that it will never fall under foreign control. The previous “golden share” arrangement didn’t quite rule that out. Volozh and top employees control the company’s Class B stock, which gives them 57% of the voting power. If those shares are sold or their owners die, Class B shares will automatically convert to Class A ones, which are traded on stock exchanges, and foreign shareholders will end up with the most voting power.In July, legislator Anton Gorelkin introduced a bill that would limit the foreign ownership of strategically important internet companies to 20%. Yandex opposed it, but the government approved it, and it became clear that the bill would be passed. So Volozh began working feverishly on a solution, which was finally announced on Monday “after many months of discussion,” as Volozh wrote in a letter to employees. The company has set up a special body called the Public Interests Foundation, made up of representatives of Russia’s top math, engineering and business schools (most of them owned by the state) and Russia’s big-business lobby, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The foundation will have two seats out of 12 on Yandex’s board of directors, and it will have a veto on all deals involving 10% or more of Yandex stock, big intellectual property sales and any transfer of Russian citizens’ personal data.Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, denied that the Kremlin had taken part in the discussions mentioned in Volozh’s letter, but praised Yandex for appreciating the company’s “special responsibility” and the “special attention” on the part of the state that it enjoys. Immediately after the Yandex announcement, Gorelkin called the solution “elegant” and pulled his bill. All this was immediately reflected in a share price spike.This may read like a distinctively Russian story, in which a group of business founders is trying to avoid a state takeover and the Kremlin prefers not to establish formal control over the national tech champion while keeping a close eye on it. The schools provide a convenient smokescreen both for the government and for investors. But what Yandex has done isn’t only relevant within the context of Putin’s Russia. It could be seen as a template for Big Tech, even though Yandex’s market capitalization, at $13.2 billion, is only a fraction of Alphabet Inc.’s ($910.6 billion) or Facebook Inc.’s ($562.9 billion).These two companies that make up the internet’s advertising duopoly, are often discussed along with Amazon.com Inc. as public services rather than mere businesses by politicians on both the right and the left of the U.S. political spectrum. Last year, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa proposed treating Google and Facebook as public utilities. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, would break up some of the Big Tech companies and designate some as “platform utilities” that would be banned from sharing user data with third parties and required to treat all users equally.Obviously, the tech firms are opposed to such heavy-handed regulation, but what they do on their own only brings them closer to a confrontation with governments, both in the U.S. and in Europe. Facebook’s refusal to police misleading political advertising and Google’s data-sharing practices scream for some kind of state interference. Like Yandex, the companies could act preemptively to set up governance structures that would veto business ideas viewed as damaging to society’s interests. Vesting veto powers in councils made up of the representatives of top universities and nongovernmental organizations could accomplish that purpose. If such a structure can win approval even from an authoritarian regime such as the Russian one (with the caveat that academic institutions in Russia aren’t as independent as those in the West), it could probably satisfy most Big Tech critics in democracies, too.  The alternative, as in Yandex’s case, could be far more restrictive.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital

Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capitalAnti-government protesters blocked access to a second major commercial port in southern Iraq on Tuesday, as bridge closures effectively split the capital in half, causing citizens to rely on boats for transport to reach the other side of the city. Since anti-government protests began Oct. 1, at least 320 people have been killed and thousands wounded in Baghdad and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas and stun guns to repel protesters, tactics that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday would be punished with sanctions.


UPDATE 1-No one needs to be a billionaire, Britain's Labour Party says

UPDATE 1-No one needs to be a billionaire, Britain's Labour Party saysBritain's opposition Labour Party on Tuesday took aim at "obscene" billionaires, pledging a radical redistribution of wealth to cut the power of the super rich and to introduce policies including a pay cap at some companies. The Conservatives are promising to deliver Brexit while Labour says it wants to be the most radical socialist government in British history. John McDonnell, the party's finance spokesman, said in a speech he wants to "rewrite the rules of our economy", casting the election as a chance to overthrow a system which profits by exploiting workers and where billionaires can buy access to power.


Commerce Gives Rural Telecoms More Time With Huawei

Commerce Gives Rural Telecoms More Time With HuaweiThe U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on Nov. 18 extended a temporary general license 90 days to give mostly rural telecommunication services providers more time to continue their existing business deals with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. "The temporary general license extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark," said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement. In May, the Commerce Department added Huawei, along with numerous overseas affiliates, to its restrictive Entity List, stating that the Chinese company operates contrary to U.S. national security interests through its continued business dealings with Iran.


Walgreens Helps Provide 50 Million Lifesaving Vaccines in Collaboration with the United Nations Foundation

Walgreens Helps Provide 50 Million Lifesaving Vaccines in Collaboration with the United Nations FoundationOver Next 5 Years, Walgreens Hopes to Provide 50 Million More Vaccines Through Get a Shot. Give a Shot. Campaign DEERFIELD, Ill.-(BUSINESS WIRE)-Walgreens and the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign announced today that the Walgreens Get a Shot. Give a Shot. program has helped provide 50 million lifesaving vaccines to children around the world since […]


Trump and North Korea: Why 2020 Could Look Like 2017

Trump and North Korea: Why 2020 Could Look Like 2017The key thing for Trump and his senior advisors to recognize is that peace with North Korea is possible and a reduction of the threat from Kim is attainable. Here is how to achieve it.


How Not to Plot Secret Foreign Policy: On a Cellphone and WhatsApp

How Not to Plot Secret Foreign Policy: On a Cellphone and WhatsAppRudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor at the center of the impeachment investigation into the conduct of Ukraine policy, makes a living selling cybersecurity advice through his companies. President Donald Trump even named him the administration's first informal "cybersecurity adviser."But inside the National Security Council, officials expressed wonderment that Giuliani was running his "irregular channel" of Ukraine diplomacy over open cell lines and communications apps in Ukraine that the Russians have deeply penetrated.In his testimony to the House impeachment inquiry, Tim Morrison, who is leaving as the National Security Council's head of Europe and Russia, recalled expressing astonishment to William B. Taylor Jr., who was sitting in as the chief U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, that the leaders of the "irregular channel" seemed to have little concern about revealing their conversations to Moscow."He and I discussed a lack of, shall we say, OPSEC, that much of Rudy's discussions were happening over an unclassified cellphone or, perhaps as bad, WhatsApp messages, and therefore you can only imagine who else knew about them," Morrison testified. OPSEC is the government's shorthand for operational security.He added: "I remember being focused on the fact that there were text messages, the fact that Rudy was having all of these phone calls over unclassified media," he added. "And I found that to be highly problematic and indicative of someone who didn't really understand how national security processes are run."WhatsApp notes that its traffic is encrypted, meaning that even if it is intercepted in transit, it is of little use -- which is why intelligence agencies, including the Russians, are working diligently to get inside phones to read the messages after they are deciphered.But far less challenging is figuring out the message of Giuliani's partner, Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who held an open cellphone conversation with Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine, apparently loud enough for his table mates to overhear. And Trump's own cellphone use has led U.S. intelligence officials to conclude that the Chinese -- with whom he is negotiating a huge trade deal, among other sensitive topics -- are doubtless privy to the president's conversations.But Ukraine is a particularly acute case. It is the country where the Russians have so deeply compromised the communications network that in 2014 they posted on the internet conversations between a top Obama administration diplomat, Victoria Nuland, and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Geoffrey R. Pyatt. Their intent was to portray the Americans -- not entirely inaccurately -- as trying to manage the ouster of a corrupt, pro-Russian president of Ukraine.The incident made Nuland, who left the State Department soon after Trump's election, "Patient Zero" in the Russian information-warfare campaign against the United States, before Moscow's interference in the U.S. presidential election.But it also served as a warning that if you go to Ukraine, stay off communications networks that Moscow wired.That advice would seem to apply especially to Giuliani, who speaks around the world on cybersecurity issues. Ukraine was the petri dish for President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the place where he practiced the art of trying to change vote counts, initiating information warfare and, in two celebrated incidents, turning out the lights in parts of the country.Giuliani, impeachment investigators were told, was Trump's interlocutor with the new Ukrainian government about opening investigations into the president's political opponents. The simultaneous suspension of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, which some have testified was on Trump's orders, fulfilled Moscow's deepest wish at a moment of ground war in eastern Ukraine and a daily, grinding cyberwar in the capital.It remains unknown why the Russians have not made any of these conversations public, assuming they possess them. But inside the intelligence agencies, the motives of Russian intelligence officers is a subject of heated speculation.A former senior U.S. intelligence official speculated that one explanation is that Giuliani and Sondland were essentially doing the Russians' work for them. Holding up military aid -- for whatever reason -- assists the Russian "gray war" in eastern Ukraine and sows doubts in Kyiv that the United States is wholly supportive of Ukraine, a fear that many State Department and National Security Council officials have expressed in testimony.But Giuliani also was stoking an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Putin has engaged in, suggesting that someone besides Russia -- in this telling, Ukrainian hackers who now supposedly possess a server that once belonged to the Democratic National Committee -- was responsible for the hacking that ran from 2015 to 2016.Trump raised this possibility in his July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. It was not the first time he had cast doubt on Russia's involvement: In a call to a New York Times reporter moments after meeting Putin for the first time in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017, Trump endorsed Putin's view that Russia is so good at cyberoperations that it would have never been caught. "That makes sense, doesn't it?" he asked.He expressed doubts again in 2018, in a news conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. That was only days after the Justice Department indicted a dozen Russian intelligence officers for their role in the hack; the administration will not say if it now believes that indictment was flawed because there is evidence that Ukranians were responsible.Whether or not he believes Ukraine was involved, Giuliani certainly understood the risks of talking on open lines, particularly in a country with an active cyberwar.As a former prosecutor, he knows what the United States and its adversaries can intercept. In more recent years, he has spoken around the world on cybersecurity challenges. And as the president's lawyer, he was a clear target.Giuliani said in a phone interview Monday that nothing he talked about on the phone or in texts was classified. "All of my conversations, I can say uniformly, were on an unclassified basis," he said.His findings about what happened in Ukraine were "generated from my own investigations" and had nothing to do with the U.S. government, he said, until he was asked to talk with Kurt D. Volker, then the special envoy for Ukraine, in a conversation that is now part of the impeachment investigation. Volker will testify in public Tuesday.Giuliani said that he never "conducted a shadow foreign policy, I conducted a defense of my client," Trump. "The State Department apparatchiks are all upset that I intervened at all," he said, adding that he was the victim of "wild accusations."Sondland is almost as complex a case. While he is new to diplomacy, he is the owner of a boutique set of hotels and certainly is not unaware of cybersecurity threats because the hotel industry is a major target, as Marriott learned a year ago.But Sondland held a conversation with Trump last summer in a busy restaurant in Kyiv, surrounded by other U.S. officials. Testimony indicates Trump's voice was loud enough for others at the table to hear.But in testimony released Monday night, David Holmes, a veteran Foreign Service officer who is posted to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, and who witnessed the phone call between the president and Sondland, suggested that the Russians heard it even if they were not out on the town that night.Asked if there was a risk of the Russians listening in, Holmes said, "I believe at least two of the three, if not all three of the mobile networks are owned by Russian companies, or have significant stakes in those.""We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


Mothers of Russian prisoners demand justice from Putin

Mothers of Russian prisoners demand justice from PutinMothers of Russian prisoners denounced the prosecution of protesters as a "travesty of justice" as they gathered outside the offices of the presidential administration on Tuesday. Members of a new campaigning group, Mothers against Political Repression, appealed to President Vladimir Putin to intervene in an open letter read out to journalists. The informal movement, the first of its kind, brings together families of protesters accused of violence against police, suspected extremists and others.


The daily business briefing: November 19, 2019

The daily business briefing: November 19, 20191.California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday that the state had filed a lawsuit accusing JUUL Labs of illegally targeting minors with advertising and flavored e-cigarettes to get them to buy vaping products, creating a "public health epidemic." "We will go after anyone who uses deceptive business practices to harm our people," Becerra said in a news conference where he announced the litigation. California says JUUL delivered e-cigarettes to underage customers without checking their ages. Youth vaping has doubled since JUUL made its debut in 2015. The company's sales now account for more than 64 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [The Sacramento Bee] 2.Chick-fil-A's charitable arm said Monday that it was halting donations to two charities widely seen as anti-LGBTQ. The fast-food chain had faced boycotts and protests for years over its ties to the groups, the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The Chick-fil-A Foundation said in a statement that the change came as it cut the number of charities it worked with to focus on education, homelessness, and hunger. It did not acknowledge the groups' allegedly anti-LGBTQ records. The Salvation Army has denied claims that it is discriminatory. The FCA received $2.4 million for sports camps for underserved youths, and the Salvation Army got $165,000 to buy Christmas gifts for needy children in 2018, but neither is on the Chick-fil-A Foundation's donation list this year. [The Washington Post] 3.U.S. stock index futures rose early Tuesday despite continuing mixed signals on efforts to end the U.S.-China trade war. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were up by 0.2 percent or more, after all three of the main U.S. indexes edged higher on Monday. China is concerned that differences over the lifting of new tariffs could get in the way of a "phase one" trade deal, CNBC reported, citing a government source. Former White House Chief Economic Edviser Gary Cohn told CNBC that he expected President Trump to go ahead with a plan to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods on Dec. 15 if the two sides haven't reached a trade agreement. [CNBC] 4.President Trump met with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Monday after criticizing him for months, saying the central bank was keeping interest rates too high and holding back the economy. The two discussed the economy for the first time since Trump said Powell and other Fed policy makers were "boneheads" and that the Fed was hurting America's ability to compete with other nations whose central banks were setting interest rates lower. Trump also once said it was unclear whether Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping was a "bigger" U.S. enemy. Despite the friction going in, Trump tweeted that the meeting was "very good & cordial." Trump wrote that "everything was discussed including interest rates, negative interest, low inflation, easing, Dollar strength," and other topics. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also attended. [The New York Times, USA Today] 5.California said Monday that it would stop buying vehicles for state government fleets from automakers that back President Trump's effort to strip the state's authority to set its own tailpipe emission standards. Last month, GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and members of the Global Automakers trade association got behind Trump's move to bar California from setting tougher emission standards than the federal government. Between 2016 and 2018, California bought $58.6 million worth of vehicles from GM, $55.8 million from Fiat Chrysler, $10.6 million from Toyota, and $9 million from Nissan. Starting in January, it will only buy from automakers that recognize its authority to set separate emission standards, as Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen have done. [Reuters]More stories from theweek.com The potential lie that could actually destroy Trump The coming death of just about every rock legend Everyone will eventually turn on Trump. Even Steve Doocy.


Netanyahu celebrates US settlement decision in West Bank

Netanyahu celebrates US settlement decision in West BankIsrael’s prime minister traveled to the West Bank on Tuesday to celebrate the U.S.’s announcement that it does not consider Israeli settlements to violate international law. “I think it is a great day for the state of Israel and an achievement that will remain for decades,” he said. Israeli right-wing leaders welcomed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement.


British PM Johnson will probably win this uninspiring election, Farage says

British PM Johnson will probably win this uninspiring election, Farage saysBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson will probably win the Dec. 12 election with a small majority but the campaign has so far been uninspiring with a host of unrealistic promises on both sides, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said on Tuesday. "The one prediction I am going to make is that it is going to be a low turnout unless parties like us can inspire people to go out and vote for change," Farage told supporters in Peterborough, a cathedral city in eastern England. "Everyday we get promises, 100 billion for this, 200 billion for that," Farage said.