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         News And Events
 
Thu, 21 Nov 2019 21:26:39 -0500
Trump rebukes 'unstable' Iran over internet shutdown

Trump rebukes 'unstable' Iran over internet shutdownPresident Donald Trump on Thursday accused Iran of blocking the internet to cover up "death and tragedy" while the powerful Revolutionary Guards suggested that a wave of street protests is now over. Trump's intervention on Twitter further raised the temperature over the turmoil in Iran, which is already reeling from US-led economic and diplomatic pressure. "Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country," Trump tweeted.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 20:56:07 -0500
US says will sanction Iran 'abuses' against protesters

US says will sanction Iran 'abuses' against protestersUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iranians on Thursday to send photos and other information documenting repression amid ongoing protests, while vowing to sanction "abuses" by the Islamic republic. Demonstrations erupted in sanctions-hit Iran last Friday, hours after the price of gasoline spiked by as much as 200 percent. Unrest spread to scores of urban centers, during which protesters attacked police stations, torched petrol pumps and looted shops.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 19:57:48 -0500
Trump Seeks Fairness in Senate, Aide Says: Impeachment Update

Trump Seeks Fairness in Senate, Aide Says: Impeachment Update(Bloomberg) -- The House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump heard Thursday from Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council director for Europe and Russia, and David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.Here are the latest developments:Senate Will Be Fair to Trump, Aide Says (7:55 p.m.)A White House spokesman said that a Senate trial is “clearly the only chamber where he can expect fairness and receive due process under the Constitution.” The spokesman, Hogan Gidley, released a statement on Thursday night, hours after the testimony of Hill and Holmes before the House Intelligence Committee had concluded. “There’s no basis for these disgraceful proceedings and the Democrats should stop these illegitimate sham hearings immediately,” Gidley said, adding that “if they don’t, President Trump wants to have a trial in the Senate,” which is in the hands of Trump’s Republican Party. Gidley said that witnesses before Senate should include the “so-called whistle-blower” who filed the complaint over Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukraine’s president, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and Adam Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman who’s leading the impeachment inquiry. -- Justin Sink Mulvaney Lawyer Faults Hill’s Testimony (5:32 p.m.)The lawyer for acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Hill’s testimony is “riddled with speculation and guesses” about any role he had in Ukraine policy.“We have no idea why Ms. Hill believes Mr. Mulvaney was so heavily involved, especially in light of Ambassador Sondland’s contrary testimony that he only spoke very infrequently to Mr. Mulvaney and had zero substantive conversations with him about Ukraine,” said attorney Robert Driscoll in an emailed statement.Hill testified Thursday that Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told her he had an agreement with Mulvaney that “in return for investigations,” a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president would be scheduled. Sondland said the investigation would be of Burisma Holdings, she said.White House, GOP Senators Mull Trial Tactics (4:47 p.m.)White House officials met with a group of Senate Republicans about the timing and strategy for a possible impeachment trial, but Trump’s team didn’t favor any particular scenario, according to two people familiar with the talks.White House officials attending included acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, senior advisers Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.The officials and lawmakers discussed whether the Senate should limit its inquiry or seek a longer process, which would let Republicans air their claims about Hunter Biden’s business interests in Ukraine, and avoid claims they’re not taking the process seriously.Senators at the meeting included Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, according to the Washington Post.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he expects the Senate to hold a trial and that Trump will be acquitted. He hasn’t said how long it might take.Under Senate rules, a majority vote would be required to end a trial early, and a number of Republicans have said they don’t want to short-circuit the process before evidence is presented.Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has asked majority Republicans to work out a process for the trial with Democrats, as has been done in the past.Trump Thinks He’s Above the Law, Schiff Says (4:27 p.m.)Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff closed Thursday’s hearing without immediately saying whether his panel will hold more hearings or receive more witness statements before reporting its findings to the House Judiciary panel.Schiff said he had resisted an impeachment inquiry but ultimately decided to back it because the day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified about his report on Trump welcoming election meddling by Russia, “Donald Trump is back on the phone asking another nation to involve itself in another U.S. election.”“That says to me this president believes he is above the law, beyond accountability,” Schiff said.Top committee Republican Devin Nunes called the inquiry a “show trial” and an extension of three years of efforts by Democrats to take down Trump.Democrats have suggested that Trump is “a Russian agent and a threat to democracy,” Nunes said. In the end, he said, “The American people’s vote actually means something.”Hill Skeptical of Sondland Claim on Burisma (3:57 p.m.)Hill testified that she found it hard to believe that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland didn’t see a link between the Burisma Holding energy company and Joe Biden and his son Hunter until a few months ago. Hunter Biden was a member of its board.Hill said it was “obvious” to her that the words were being used interchangeably by Giuliani and others when talking about wanting a Ukraine investigation of Burisma.Sondland testified Wednesday that he didn’t realize the connection with the Bidens until the White House released a memo in September on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president.“It is not credible to me at all that he was oblivious to this,” she said.GOP Moderate Sees No Evidence of Bribery (3:38 p.m.)Moderate Republican Will Hurd said that while it was “inappropriate, misguided” policy for Trump to mention military aid and Joe Biden in his call with Ukraine’s president, he doesn’t see sufficient evidence of an impeachable offense.“An impeachable offense should be compelling, overwhelmingly clear and unambiguous,” said Hurd of Texas. ”I have not heard evidence that the president has committed bribery or extortion.”Hurd, the House’s lone black Republican, has announced he won’t seek re-election next year. His Texas district runs along the border with Mexico, and he has broken with Trump on border issues. Earlier this year, he was one of four Republicans who voted to condemn some of Trump’s comments about four female minority freshmen lawmakers as racist.Hurd said Thursday, “I disagree with this sort of bungling foreign policy” by the Trump administration toward Ukraine. But he said the hearings themselves have undermined Ukraine’s leaders.Ukraine Singled Out for Disfavor, Hill Says (2:41 p.m.)Officials from many U.S. allies including Ukraine “bet on the wrong horse” and criticized Trump while thinking Hillary Clinton would win the presidency in 2016, said Hill, who added, “I can’t blame him for feeling aggrieved about them.”But those other allies didn’t lose U.S. aid and other benefits the way Ukraine did, the former National Security Council official said.“An awful lot of senior officials in allied governments said some pretty hurtful things“ about Trump when he was a candidate, she said. But Hill said that while Trump has said “Ukraine tried to take me down” in 2016, she hasn’t seen him fault the other countries.“And it did not affect security assistance, having meetings with them,“ Hill said. “If it had, there would have been a lot of people he would not have met.”Hill also said prior GOP questioning prompted her to look back at a news report in early 2017 that stated that while some Ukrainian officials expressed opposition to Trump in 2016, there was little evidence of a “top-down” effort similar to the one in Russia directed by Vladimir Putin and the country’s military and foreign intelligence.Republican Brad Wenstrup of Ohio said it would be incorrect to say that some lawmakers believe Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 election.“At the same time, certain Ukrainians did work against candidate Trump, some with the Democratic National Committee,” Wenstrup said.Hill Says Envoy Was on ‘Political Errand’ (1:52 p.m.)Hill said she has realized that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was on a “domestic political errand” on Ukraine while National Security Council personnel were carrying out foreign policy -- and that’s why Sondland wasn’t coordinating with them.She said she met with Sondland and a few other officials shortly before she left the NSC on July 19, and that she became angry because he wasn’t coordinating with the NSC. He told her he was briefing the president, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and others and that he said, “Who else do I have to deal with?”She said she has since realized that “he was absolutely right because he was being involved in a domestic political errand and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy and those two things had just diverged.”“Ambassador Sondland is not wrong that he had been given a different remit than we had been,” Hill said.Hill said that at the time she told Sondland, “I fear this is all going to blow up.”“And here we are,” she told the committee members Thursday.Burisma Was Code for Bidens, Witnesses Say (11:13 a.m.)Hill and Holmes testified there was no doubt that when Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other people referred to investigations of the energy company Burisma Holdings, what they really meant was Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on its board.“It was very apparent to me that was what Rudy Giuliani intended, yes, intended to convey that Burisma was linked to the Bidens and he said this publicly, repeatedly,” Hill said.Under questioning from Democratic counsel Dan Goldman, Holmes said he agreed that Burisma was “code” for the Bidens.Two other key witnesses, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, both testified that they never made any such connection until after the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president was made public.Hill Agrees Giuliani Was a ‘Hand Grenade’ (11:04 a.m.)Hill described discussing with National Security Adviser John Bolton their shared concern about Rudy Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine and also about how then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was being smeared.Bolton called Giuliani “a hand grenade that was going to blow everybody up,” Hill said. She said she agrees with Bolton’s assessment, and that the impeachment inquiry underscores that he was correct.Giuliani “was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would probably come back to haunt us, and in fact I think that’s where we are today,” she said.Holmes Recalls Loud Trump Call With Sondland (10:43 a.m.)Holmes said he could hear the call between diplomat Gordon Sondland and Trump at an outdoor restaurant terrace in Kyiv because the president spoke so loudly that Sondland “winced” at least twice and pulled the phone away from his ear.Holmes reiterated that Sondland said the “Biden investigation” was what Trump was interested in, contradicting Sondland’s testimony a day earlier that he didn’t recall bringing Biden’s name into their conversation.Holmes also discussed his general disbelief over the call.“I’ve never seen anything like this in my foreign service career,” he said of Sondland’s call with the president over a non-secure phone that even he could overhear, as well as the colorful language over a highly sensitive subject.Russia’s Goal Is Chaos in U.S., Hill Says (10:34 a.m.)Hill said the current division and chaos in U.S. politics “is exactly what the Russian government was hoping for” in meddling and trying to pit one side of the American electorate against another.Russia sought to ensure that if Hillary Clinton became president instead of Trump, she also would have faced “major questions about her legitimacy,” Hill said.During questioning by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, she said the Russians are trying to deflect blame for election-meddling onto Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.“The Russians like to put a lot of blame on U.S. allies for incidents they themselves have perpetrated,” Hill said. Russians have a “vested interest” in putting Ukraine officials “in a very bad light.”Holmes testified that U.S. anti-corruption efforts were undermined by the request to Ukraine to conduct investigations sought by Trump. And even though the freeze on security aid to Ukraine was lifted, the country still didn’t get the White House meeting and other things officials needed, Holmes said.“I think they’re being very careful. They still need us now,” Holmes said.Giuliani Role Frustrated Bolton, Holmes Says (10:16 a.m.)Holmes also said that during an Aug. 27 meeting when then-National Security Adviser John Bolton was visiting Ukraine, he heard Bolton express frustration about Giuliani’s influence with Trump and also about diplomat Gordon Sondland’s “expansive” view of his mandate.Bolton made clear that he couldn’t do anything about Giuliani’s role. The national security adviser recommended that Ukraine’s new prosecutor general open a channel with U.S. Attorney General William Barr instead of the informal channel that involved Giuliani.Holmes Describes Confusion on Giuliani Role (10:03 a.m.)Holmes said that last April, as Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani began taking a direct role in Ukrainian diplomacy, at least one close aide to the incoming Ukrainian president thought Giuliani worked for Vice President Mike Pence.Holmes said Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s campaign chairman, Ivan Bakanov, said he had been contacted by “someone named Giuliani who said he was an adviser to the vice president.”The U.S. embassy aide also quoted diplomat Gordon Sondland as saying about Giuliani months later, “Dammit Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and f---s everything up.”Holmes Describes Demands for Biden Probe (9:46 a.m.)Holmes said a “barrage” of allegations against then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch by Rudy Giuliani and others including Ukrainian officials “is unlike anything I have seen in my professional career.”Holmes said envoy William Taylor described a June 28 call with Ukraine’s president on which it was “made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting.”The embassy aide’s opening statement also described a June 26 phone call he overheard between Trump and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Afterward, Holmes said Sondland told him “that the President did not ‘give a s--tabout Ukraine.’”Sondland said Trump cared about “‘big stuff’ that benefits the president,like the ‘Biden investigation’ that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.“ Sondland on Wednesday confirmed the broad outlines of the conversations, but said he didn’t remember mentioning Biden.Hill Says Falsehoods Serve Russian Interests (8:49 a.m.)In her advance testimony, Hill said, “Right now, Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election.”“President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a Super PAC,” Hill said. “They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives.”“We are running out of time to stop them,” she said. “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”Ukraine “plays an important role” in U.S. national security, she said. “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016.”Hill Slams ‘Fictional Narrative’ on Ukraine (8:12 a.m.)Hill, in advanced testimony Thursday, warned lawmakers against believing a “fictional narrative” that it was Ukraine and not Russia that interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” Hill said in prepared remarks. “The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan Congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified.”Hill emphasized that she is a nonpartisan foreign policy expert, who has served under three different Republican and Democratic presidents and that she has “no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction, except toward the truth.”She warned that U.S. national security has been harmed by the politicization of support for Ukraine. “The Russian government’s goal is to weaken our country -- to diminish America’s global role and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests,” she said. “President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter U.S. foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance.”Hill added, “I respect the work that this Congress does in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities, including in this inquiry, and I am here to help you to the best of my ability. If the President, or anyone else, impedes or subverts the national security of the United States in order to further domestic political or personal interests, that is more than worthy of your attention. But we must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm.”Inquiry to Hear From Ex-Russia Adviser Hill (7 a.m.)Hill, Trump’s former Russia adviser, said during her sworn deposition in October that then-National Security Adviser John Bolton called Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani a “hand grenade that is going to blow everyone up.”Hill also said regarding U.S. diplomat Gordon Sondland’s activities on Ukraine policy, “Some of it was comical, but it was also, for me and for others, deeply concerning.” She said Sondland “was often meeting with people he had no information about.”Holmes is the Kyiv embassy staff member who said he overheard Sondland’s phone call with Trump on July 26, the day after the president spoke with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.Holmes said he heard Trump ask Sondland about “the investigations” -- a reference to probes regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election. According to Holmes, Sondland also told Trump over the phone that Zelenskiy “loves your ass.”Catch Up on Impeachment CoverageKey EventsSenior diplomat Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday that Trump demanded a “quid pro quo” from Ukraine’s new president as a condition of a coveted White House meeting. He said Trump told him to work with Giuliani on Ukraine policy. “Everyone was in the loop” on the demand for investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election, he said, referring to a Ukrainian company that had Biden’s son on its board.The Sondland transcript is here and here; Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of Holmes, a Foreign Service officer in Kyiv, is here. The transcript of Hale is here. The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here.Taylor’s opening statement is here; Kent’s statement is here. Yovanovitch’s opening statement is here. Kurt Volker’s opening statement is here; Tim Morrison’s statement is here. Alexander Vindman’s statement is here. Jennifer Williams’s opening statement is here. Gordon Sondland’s opening statement is here. Laura Cooper’s opening statement is here. Fiona Hill’s statement is here.\--With assistance from Nick Wadhams, Steven T. Dennis, Josh Wingrove and Justin Sink.To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net;Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Kathleen Hunter, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 19:01:05 -0500
PM Johnson's Conservatives to raise property purchase tax for non-UK residents

PM Johnson's Conservatives to raise property purchase tax for non-UK residentsForeign buyers of English properties will have to pay a levy of 3% of the purchase value under plans put forward by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives on Friday, aimed at deterring wealthy investors from driving up house prices. The plans form part of the Conservative Party's campaign to win a Dec. 12 election, which is heavily based around Johnson's promise to deliver Brexit within months and move on to domestic issues like education, healthcare and policing. Successive British governments, including the last nine years of Conservative rule, have failed to alleviate a long-term housing shortage which has driven up property values and priced many working Britons out of buying their own home.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 18:10:28 -0500
Fiona Hill’s Testimony Is a Warning for Democrats, Too

Fiona Hill’s Testimony Is a Warning for Democrats, Too(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Fiona Hill was in some ways an ideal witness for the Democrats in Thursday’s impeachment hearings.In her opening statement, the former Russia director of the National Security Council warned Republicans: “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016.” She explained that she had come to learn that Gordon Sondland, the hotelier turned ambassador to the European Union, was “involved in domestic political errands” on behalf of President Donald Trump when it came to his Ukrainian diplomacy. She affirmed that her boss, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, described the schemes of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani with regard to Ukraine as a “drug deal.”But Hill also had a warning for Democrats. In response to questions from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Hill said: “The Russians’ interest is frankly to delegitimize our entire presidency,” noting that her point would likely resonate with Republicans. “The goal of the Russians was really to put whoever became president, by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale, under a cloud,” she said. “We need to be very careful as we discuss all of these issues not to give them more fodder than they can use in 2020.” Democrats have been ignoring this admonishment since 2016. To this day, Hillary Clinton says Trump is an “illegitimate president.” Meanwhile, during the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday, Andrew Yang was asked what he would say, if elected, to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He responded: “Sorry I beat your guy.” For the Resistance, it is accepted wisdom that Trump is a Russian asset.The genesis of the Trump-Russia theory is the so-called Steele dossier, a collection of opposition research compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy who oversaw counterintelligence against Russia. It was commissioned by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, and one of its most important claims is that Russia fed damaging information about Clinton to the Trump campaign through a low-level aide named Carter Page. No evidence has ever come forward to support this allegation, yet it was echoed and repeated throughout 2017.Not only did the Steele dossier help the FBI obtain a surveillance warrant against Page. It also helped shape the initial media narrative of the Trump presidency. Schiff himself read some of the dossier into the Congressional Record in 2017.Fast forward to Thursday. In her testimony, Hill said that she believed the Steele dossier was a “rabbit hole” and that Steele had been “played.” She was more specific in her closed-door deposition in October, when she said she believed the dossier was likely Russian disinformation. “The Russians would have an ax to grind against (Steele) given the job that he had previously,” she said. “If he started going back through his old contacts,” she said, it “would be a perfect opportunity for people to feed some kind of misinformation.”To be clear, this is speculation — though very well informed speculation. Hill is one of the world’s foremost experts on Russian disinformation. And she came to these judgments before rejoining the government.That said, if Hill is correct, it’s damning. It would show that, in their zeal to prove a Russian plot to install a stooge as an American president, leading Democrats themselves succumbed to Russian disinformation.To contact the author of this story: Eli Lake at elake1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Eli Lake is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering national security and foreign policy. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 18:10:28 -0500
Fiona Hill’s Testimony Is a Warning for Democrats, Too

Fiona Hill’s Testimony Is a Warning for Democrats, Too(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Fiona Hill was in some ways an ideal witness for the Democrats in Thursday’s impeachment hearings.In her opening statement, the former Russia director of the National Security Council warned Republicans: “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016.” She explained that she had come to learn that Gordon Sondland, the hotelier turned ambassador to the European Union, was “involved in domestic political errands” on behalf of President Donald Trump when it came to his Ukrainian diplomacy. She affirmed that her boss, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, described the schemes of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani with regard to Ukraine as a “drug deal.”But Hill also had a warning for Democrats. In response to questions from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Hill said: “The Russians’ interest is frankly to delegitimize our entire presidency,” noting that her point would likely resonate with Republicans. “The goal of the Russians was really to put whoever became president, by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale, under a cloud,” she said. “We need to be very careful as we discuss all of these issues not to give them more fodder than they can use in 2020.” Democrats have been ignoring this admonishment since 2016. To this day, Hillary Clinton says Trump is an “illegitimate president.” Meanwhile, during the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday, Andrew Yang was asked what he would say, if elected, to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He responded: “Sorry I beat your guy.” For the Resistance, it is accepted wisdom that Trump is a Russian asset.The genesis of the Trump-Russia theory is the so-called Steele dossier, a collection of opposition research compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy who oversaw counterintelligence against Russia. It was commissioned by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, and one of its most important claims is that Russia fed damaging information about Clinton to the Trump campaign through a low-level aide named Carter Page. No evidence has ever come forward to support this allegation, yet it was echoed and repeated throughout 2017.Not only did the Steele dossier help the FBI obtain a surveillance warrant against Page. It also helped shape the initial media narrative of the Trump presidency. Schiff himself read some of the dossier into the Congressional Record in 2017.Fast forward to Thursday. In her testimony, Hill said that she believed the Steele dossier was a “rabbit hole” and that Steele had been “played.” She was more specific in her closed-door deposition in October, when she said she believed the dossier was likely Russian disinformation. “The Russians would have an ax to grind against (Steele) given the job that he had previously,” she said. “If he started going back through his old contacts,” she said, it “would be a perfect opportunity for people to feed some kind of misinformation.”To be clear, this is speculation — though very well informed speculation. Hill is one of the world’s foremost experts on Russian disinformation. And she came to these judgments before rejoining the government.That said, if Hill is correct, it’s damning. It would show that, in their zeal to prove a Russian plot to install a stooge as an American president, leading Democrats themselves succumbed to Russian disinformation.To contact the author of this story: Eli Lake at elake1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Eli Lake is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering national security and foreign policy. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 17:49:52 -0500
Fiona Hill rebukes conspiracy theory – and emerges as a heroine for our times

Fiona Hill rebukes conspiracy theory – and emerges as a heroine for our timesThe Russia expert’s opening statement, delivered in her north-east England accent, stood out for its bluntnessLong before Fiona Hill arrived to testify on Capitol Hill, there was a long line for public seats and a crackling sense of anticipation for one of the most important moments so far in the impeachment of Donald Trump.The occasion did not disappoint. It was an epic encounter about public service, loyalty, the founding ideals of the United States, foreign policy and the treatment of women. Hill, formerly the top Russia expert in the White House, emerged as a national heroine, for her mastery of facts and argument, and her coolness under pressure.The six hours of speeches and interrogation were far from over when Republicans on the intelligence committee stopped trying to outwit her and poke holes in her testimony. They resorted to making statements rather than asking questions. Meanwhile, Twitter had fallen into a collective swoon.She was deemed a “national treasure” by Politico’s congressional bureau chief, John Bresnahan. Nicolle Wallace, who worked in George W Bush’s White House declared: “I spent much of my career in politics. I’ve never seen anyone like Fiona Hill.”George Conway – lawyer, leading Trump critic and husband of one of the president’s top advisers – declared he was starting a Fiona Hill fan club.When Hill was senior director of the national security council (NSC), the president seems to have been only vaguely aware of her importance, mistaking her early on for a secretary. But that was not necessarily unusual. As Hill testified on Thursday, Trump also had no idea who his Ukraine adviser was.Now the 54-year-old Hill, born in northern England, who had gone to work for Trump in the spirit of non-partisan public service, was emerging – unwillingly but inexorably – as his nemesis.Even before she appeared at her first public hearing on Thursday, she was cast as a central figure in the impeachment saga, and not just because she was a witness to key events at the White House.Many people saw in Hill an antithesis, if not a cure, to some of the toxins corroding her adopted nation. She walked into the committee room in the Longworth building of the House of Representatives, a woman before an almost all-male panel, cool and forensic at a time of partisan vitriol, an emissary from the world of scholarship cast into the midst of a battle in which facts are in danger of being defeated by manipulated opinion.In her testimony on Thursday, Hill confirmed a story that had appeared in the press that when she was 11, a schoolboy set fire to her pigtails when she was sitting an exam. She doused the burning hair and finished the test. She joked that it led to a bowl haircut from her mother that left her looking like Richard III in her school photo. It also sounded like a metaphor for Thursday’s hearings.Hill took her seat and the witness table alongside David Holmes, a US diplomat sucked into the maelstrom because he had been witness to a raucous phone conversation between Trump and one of his politically appointed ambassadors in a Kyiv restaurant.David Holmes and Fiona Hill on Capitol Hill. Photograph: Susan Walsh/APBoth gave opening statements, but Hill’s immediately stood out for its bluntness, and for the personal history underlying it. She began by pointing out that she had become an American by choice and had come from the same part of north-east England as George Washington’s forefathers.She grew up in County Durham in a family that “always struggled with poverty” and whose men had been coalminers through generations. Her own father, Alfred Hill, first went down the pit at the age of 14, to join his father, brother, uncles and cousins, digging Durham coal. Her mother, a midwife, still lives in Hill’s home town.When coalmining died in Durham, Hill’s father wanted to immigrate to the US, but could not leave because his mother had been debilitated by a life of hard labour and he had to stay to care for her.Alfred Hill lived long enough to see his daughter escape poverty, cross the Atlantic and rise to become one of the foremost experts on the Soviet Union and Russia in Washington.Hill’s opening message to the two ranks of members of Congress arranged in front and above her was that she had come before them as the very embodiment of the American dream. Because of Britain’s enduring social rigidity, she had to emigrate for her talent and expertise to be valued properly.“I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent,” she told the House intelligence committee in that same accent, somewhat softened now by her years in the US. “In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.”She had served under three presidents, including in the role of national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. She co-wrote a book on the Russian president called Mr Putin: Operative in Kremlin, which focuses on how his KGB mindset influences how he rules and how he conducts Russian foreign policy.It was because of her mastery of her subject that she was asked to work in the White House in 2017. She decided to take the NSC job, despite the trepidation of some friends and colleagues, because she thought she could help with the official policy of the Trump administration, mend relations with Moscow as much as possible while deterring Russia’s most menacing behaviour.The other half of Hill’s underlying message to Congress was that the country’s political leadership was in danger of destroying the very ideals that had drawn her and generations of immigrants to the United States in the first place. And it was even worse than that: politicians were taking an axe to their own country at Putin’s bidding.Her opening statement was a blunt rebuttal of a conspiracy theory adopted by Trump’s supporters in Congress that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had meddled in the 2016 US elections, in favour of the Democrats, rather than Trump.Fiona Hill testifies before the House intelligence committee. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/APHill called it “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves”.The previous day, Putin, unable to contain his glee, had told an economic forum in the Russian capital: “Thank God, no one is accusing us of interfering in the US elections any more; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”Hill appealed to her inquisitors: “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the committee, bridled at her remarks – unsurprisingly, as his role throughout the proceedings has been to propagate the conspiracy theory that Hill was talking about. Nunes insisted that Republicans had produced their own report about Russian interference and it was quite possible that two foreign governments had meddled.In her answers to the initial round of questions, Hill took that argument apart. The judgment that Russia had successfully intervened in the election was underpinned by the consensus of the US intelligence agencies, and was based on facts, many of them in the public domain. The Ukraine story was built on falsehoods, many of them propagated through social media by the Kremlin.It is a distinction that has been in danger of being washed away. Hill was there to re-establish clear lines, and it was not clear how Trump and his camp would respond. Trump, normally quick to launch attacks on perceived threats, especially women, had restrained his Twitter thumbs for the whole morning.Republicans on the committee, even Jim Jordan, the most aggressive among them, veered away from taking her on directly.Hill walked out of the committee room as she had walked in, unflappable and serious, apart from a single smile reserved for the uniformed policeman at the door as she left the chamber.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 17:01:00 -0500
Fiona Hill's gender critique during public impeachment testimony gets applause online

Fiona Hill's gender critique during public impeachment testimony gets applause onlineFiona Hill had the high-profile experience of publicly testifying in the impeachment proceedings of a sitting U.S. president – but in doing so, she was also faced with a situation that hit close to home with many women in everyday circumstances. Hill, an accomplished scholar, was asked to explain an instance when she was "upset" with former U.N. Ambassador Gordon Sondland regarding the way things were going in Ukraine in June 2018.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 16:37:00 -0500
Fiona Hill was the Democrats' best impeachment witness yet

Fiona Hill was the Democrats' best impeachment witness yetAs far as I am aware, not a single important piece of new information emerged out of Thursday's fourth day of impeachment testimony before the House intelligence committee. What began at a remove of several persons from both the infamous July 25 phone call and the persons of Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky moved closer to relevant events and individuals and passed them by again.That does not mean that this (so far anyway) final round was free of either substance or interest. Whether Chairman Adam Schiff realized it or not, he saved his best witness for last. Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman was a self-important stooge. George Kent was a minor character from a Booth Tarkington novel. Gordon Sondland was a cornered weasel. What a relief it was to hear from Fiona Hill, the former director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, easily the cleverest person to appear on Capitol Hill this week.What Hill managed to do was to bring into focus the increasingly blurry outline of the events discussed by all the previous witnesses. With grace, quiet intelligence, and more than occasional humor, she gave a detailed account of the emergence of a private side-channel meant to operate outside the official limits of American diplomatic efforts in Ukraine. Out of the trees she finally gave us a view of the forest.Hill was able to do this for the not-so-complicated reason that, unlike her predecessors, she seemed to be totally in command of her facts, her chronology, and her opinions concerning them. She anticipated lines of questioning -- especially when they were skeptical -- and was not afraid to give substantive answers that went beyond the narrow limits of the queries posed to her, but without pompous editorializing. At one point she was asked for her opinion on, of all things, negative coverage of fracking in the online publication formerly known as Russia Today. She responded with an interesting anecdote about how at a conference she once heard Vladimir Putin lamenting America's resurgence in the global oil industry. For the first time in these proceedings I felt certain that the witness was someone who was actually qualified for her former position.Even more striking was the total absence in Hill's testimony of slavish deference toward the Democratic majority and its agenda shown by all of the other witnesses, including David Holmes, the former Ukrainian embassy staffer who appeared alongside her. When Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) asked whether she had been the target of a conspiracy theory launched by the "convicted felon Roger Stone," she rather politely observed that at the time that he made the allegations in question -- on Infowars, naturally -- Mr. Stone was not yet a felon. When she went out of her way to praise Rick Perry, the former energy secretary whom she herself asked to travel to Ukraine in order to promote American interests, I could not but smile at the thought of the former Texas governor being considered an ace diplomat by such a stolid professional. Her refusal to play along did not, I think, betray any special fondness for the GOP. Indeed, I suspect that if she had been asked which candidate she would have preferred to come out on top in November 2016, no one would be surprised by the answer.But, astonishing as it might seem in 2019, there are certain persons for whom there are more important things than partisanship. Not only large abstract concerns like honor and duty, but simple human ones, like courtesy and decency. I was especially struck by Hill's story about a meeting in which she was forced to ask her Ukrainian counterparts to step out into the hallway, an unfortunately necessary bit of rudeness that clearly pains her even now.One thing that came up late in the afternoon that had nothing to do with Ukraine or impeachment confirms these impressions of he character. When Hill was 11 years old, a boy lit her pigtails on fire while she was taking a test. She calmly extinguished the flames and continued taking the test. The unfortunate result was that she was given a bowl cut, which left her bearing, as she put it, more than a slight resemblance to Richard III. It was difficult for me not to see in some of Hill's interlocutors the sort of ratlike face you would expect to find on a pigtail arsonist. No matter how many times they repeated their antics, she kept going with her test.This is why by the end of the day Republicans had nothing to ask Hill, or at least nothing that they would have been happy to have her answer. Instead, Ohio Reps. Michael Turner and Brad Wenstrup made speeches that touched upon everything from Saddam Hussein to the shooting attack on members of the congressional baseball team that nearly killed their colleague Steve Scalise. She responded to this by telling them that their stories were all very moving. Jim Jordan repeated nearly word-for-word a speech he had given on Tuesday about Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation and Nancy Pelosi. She said nothing in response.Was all of this this enough to close the feedback loop that the Democrats' case for impeachment has become in the last two weeks? I doubt it. On the fourth afternoon of these hearings it might well have been too late for Hill or any other witness to make any impression on the voters Democrats would like most to reach.Oh well. I have made no secret of my own contempt for these proceedings and my view that Trump's apparent actions were, if not justifiable, of very little consequence. That doesn't mean you should let Devin Nunes set your pigtails on fire.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com Republicans are throwing Rudy Giuliani under the bus Several protesters arrested outside of Ann Coulter speech in Berkeley Outed CIA agent Valerie Plame is running for Congress, and her launch video looks like a spy movie trailer


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 15:53:47 -0500
Fiona Hill: The blunt-speaking British miner's daughter who tried to steady Trump

Fiona Hill: The blunt-speaking British miner's daughter who tried to steady TrumpThe road to the impeachment inquiry witness desk for Fiona Hill was a long and unlikely one, starting in northern England and winding its way through the Soviet Union and the halls of Harvard.  The soft County Durham accent on display as she testified about Donald J Trump gave away Ms Hill's British roots, a heritage she touted at length before the House Intelligence Committee.  Ms Hill, 54, was born to a coal mining family, with her father Alfred, sent down the pits aged just 14 to join his father, brother, uncles and cousins trying to "put food on the table", in her words.  When the mines closed in the 1960s, Alfred, born in Bishop Auckland, dreamed of relocating to West Virginia or Pennsylvania to work in coal mining there, but the move never came about.  Instead the family stayed in the North East. Ms Hill's studies did not always go smoothly - once, aged 11, her pigtails were set alight while taking a test by a boy in class.  She put out the flames with her hands and completed the work.   Donald Trump impeachment | Five things we learned from the public hearings Ms Hill tried for Oxford University, but described the trip for her interview as "like a scene from Billy Elliot", with her accent a point of ridicule. She studied at St Andrews University in Fife instead.  It was on an academic exchange to the Soviet Union, where she saw US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, that convinced her to head to America.  A stint at Harvard, where she secured a PhD, was followed by a career as a Russian policy expert. She has served three US presidents, acting as a national intelligence officer focussing on Russia under George W Bush and Barack Obama.  Seeing Russia's nefarious activities in stark detail made her deeply suspicious of the country's new leader, Vladimir Putin, and his motives. "Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin" was the title of a 500-page book she co-wrote during a break from government in 2013.  Ms Hill returned to the White House's National Security Council in 2017, handed the senior role of overseeing not just Russia but the whole of Europe. She was willing, she said, to help Mr Trump improve relations with the Kremlin.  Yet things did not start well. In one of her first encounters with the US president, in the Oval Office, Mr Trump reportedly handed her a marked up memo and asked her to rewrite it. He appeared to think she was a secretary.  Despite the turbulent episodes she witnessed while in the White House before her July departure, not least her alarm as the Ukraine scandal began to unfold, Ms Hill remains upbeat about her move across the Atlantic.  "I grew up poor with a very distinctive working-class accent," she told the impeachment inquiry on Thursday.  "In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America."


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 15:00:57 -0500
Impeachment hearing takeaways: A ‘domestic political errand’

Impeachment hearing takeaways: A ‘domestic political errand’The final testimony of an extraordinary week of impeachment hearings came from a former White House national security adviser who wrote the book on Vladimir Putin — literally — and a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine who overheard a pivotal conversation between President Donald Trump and European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 14:35:37 -0500
Report: 7 killed in shelling in Syrian government held city

Report: 7 killed in shelling in Syrian government held cityAt least seven civilians were killed Thursday in the Syrian government-controlled city of Aleppo in intense shelling from rebel-held areas in the country’s northwest. The shelling comes a day after Syrian government troops bombed a displaced people’s camp in the nearby rebel-held areas, killing at least 15 people, including six children. The violence has effectively shattered a fragile three-month truce in the area, sponsored by Turkey and Russia.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 14:22:43 -0500
From Bardot to Diana, iconic Paris Match photos to go under hammer

From Bardot to Diana, iconic Paris Match photos to go under hammerThe pictures include powerful images from nature and conflict zones and also of politicians ranging from the deposed shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to Charles de Gaulle and late French president Jacques Chirac.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 14:09:42 -0500
Benjamin Netanyahu to Face Trial on Charges of Bribery and Fraud

Benjamin Netanyahu to Face Trial on Charges of Bribery and Fraud(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, an unprecedented development that could doom his career and shape the political crisis that’s gripped Israel this past year.The 70-year-old Netanyahu was indicted in each of the three cases in which he was entangled, the Justice Ministry said in a statement, painting the picture of a leader who abused his position to take gifts from wealthy friends and sacrificed the integrity of his office to win favorable media coverage.“It is a difficult and sad day for the Israeli public and for me, personally,” Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit said in a statement to the press from the Justice Ministry. “But while I did this with a heavy heart, I did it with a whole heart.”Netanyahu accused law enforcement of trying to “stage a putsch against me” and vowed to “continue to lead the country.”“The tainted investigation didn’t pursue the truth, it pursued me,” he said in a televised address. “It’s a case of selective enforcement on steroids.”While Israel is no stranger to seeing its leading officials under indictment, it’s the first time a sitting prime minister will be put in the dock.“This has been a long time coming and people stake their ground out long in advance so I don’t think we’re going to see a mass defection in the Likud” party that Netanyahu leads, said Shalom Lipner, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who has served seven Israeli prime ministers. “But it clearly does move him further away from retaining power.”Netanyahu won’t have to step down now that he’s been charged, only if he’s convicted and has exhausted all avenues of appeal. He’s said he has no intention to resign, and maintains he’s the victim of a conspiracy of left-wing opponents and media figures who deplore his nationalist agenda and are frustrated by their inability to vote him out of power.The indictment rejects Netanyahu’s protestations of innocence and comes at a tumultuous time in Israeli politics. Twice Netanyahu has been unable to put together a governing coalition after back-to-back elections this year. Challenger Benny Gantz also was given a chance but failed, and the prospect of a third vote early next year looms large.The shekel was little changed and the stock market was closed.Netanyahu is accused of receiving about 1 million shekels ($254,000) worth of cigars, champagne and jewelry from wealthy businessmen, including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, in exchange for tax breaks. He’s also accused of reshaping the country’s communications landscape and discussing an offer to weaken a leading newspaper in order to win sympathetic coverage from the media moguls that would benefit.Netanyahu’s legal woes stoked his desire to stay in power. He’s hoping to push through legislation shielding a sitting leader from prosecution, though that’s been complicated by the failed coalition-building. Critics have alleged that he engineered this year’s two elections hoping to build a government that would deliver the protection.While the prime minister’s Likud party remains publicly supportive of him, pressure on Netanyahu to resign could mount. At least one leading Likud member, Gideon Saar, has said he’s prepared to challenge him for the party leadership.Mandelblit had served notice in February that he intended to prosecute Netanyahu, but it’s practice in Israel to give senior officials a hearing to plead their case to try to avert charges. The prime minister had his hearing in October, but his lawyers failed to dispel the attorney general’s concerns about the accusations that have clouded Netanyahu’s record 13 years in office.Invincibility ChallengedThe allegations punctured the aura of invincibility that had enveloped the prime minister for years and allowed Gantz, a political newcomer and former military chief, to launch a formidable challenge in April and September elections. On both occasions, their parties were nearly tied as a large portion of the Israeli electorate despaired of the taint of corruption on their body politic and lined up behind Gantz’s Blue and White bloc.But efforts to bring together Likud and Blue and White in a power-sharing agreement collapsed, in part because Gantz’s bloc balked at sitting in a government led by Netanyahu while corruption allegations dogged him.The political turmoil has held up the Trump administration’s release of its blueprint for Middle East peacemaking and delayed efforts to narrow Israel’s widening budget deficit. Iran and its proxies in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, continue to pose challenges to Israel’s security.If Netanyahu ultimately manages to put together a coalition, the distraction of criminal charges could badly compromise his ability to govern. His predecessor, Ehud Olmert, quit to battle the corruption allegations that had engulfed his tenure, but was convicted and went to jail.Mandelblit’s decision “could taint Netanyahu’s entire legacy,” according to Ofer Zalzberg, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group research center. “It means that people will more easily question the wisdom of his past decisions.”(Updates with Netanyahu comments from fourth paragraph)\--With assistance from Ivan Levingston.To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Teibel in Jerusalem at ateibel@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Gwen AckermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 14:09:01 -0500
Jeremy Corbyn Has a Radical Labour Message. Can He Sell It to Britain?

Jeremy Corbyn Has a Radical Labour Message. Can He Sell It to Britain?(Bloomberg) -- Jeremy Corbyn pulled no punches as he presented the country with his plan for a Labour government, the most radical proposed since 1983, when the party suffered its worst post-war defeat.Railways, water supply and broadband infrastructure would be brought into state ownership. The government’s total tax revenue would rise by around 10%. That would fund pay rises for public sector workers, free university tuition, free care for the elderly, among a long list of other goodies.He also had a full list of enemies: “The billionaires and the super-rich, the tax-dodgers, the bad bosses and the big polluters.” These, he said, were the people “who profit from a rigged system.”To activists in Birmingham, central England, for the launch, it was a dream come true. Britain’s Labour Party has a long tradition of accusing its leaders of betraying the beliefs of the party, stretching through Tony Blair back to the first Labour prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald. But on Thursday, no one was telling Labour members that they had to trim their ambitions to match the timidity of the electorate.There wasn’t much focus on Brexit. Like the Conservatives, Corbyn feels the nation is weary of hearing about it. Though Prime Minister Boris Johnson accuses Corbyn of having an unrealistic plan, his proposal to negotiate a close relationship with the European Union in three months is no more implausible than Johnson’s own promise to negotiate and sign an advanced free trade arrangement by the end of 2020.Reading the ElectorateCorbyn’s analysis is that voters are sick of the current debate, and also tired of the country’s creaking infrastructure, tired of stepping over homeless people, tired waiting for hospital treatment and tired of schools being underfunded, and are ready to pay for things to get better. Or rather, ready for someone else to pay for things to get better -- the tax rises he proposes are carefully aimed at companies and the wealthy.Is he right? Labour’s 1983 manifesto is given more prominence in history than it deserves, partly because of the magnificently pithy label attached to it by one of the party’s members of Parliament, Gerald Kaufman: “The longest suicide note in history.” That election result was more to do with public perceptions of the relative merits of the Labour leader, Michael Foot, and the Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. She was glorying in Britain’s recent victory in the Falklands War; he was struggling to shrug off the memory of strikes under the previous Labour government.Domestic SpotlightLabour is offering plenty of things that will look attractive to plenty of people. Whether they decide to vote for it will depend on whether those people look at Corbyn and see a prime minister who could plausibly do any of these things. And there, polls have him struggling. After the first head-to-head with Johnson, only 29% said Corbyn came over as the more prime ministerial of the pair.Does the manifesto help to sell Corbyn? It certainly doesn’t lumber him with the problem of trying to sell something he doesn’t believe in, something that has made him look uncomfortable in the past, particularly on Brexit. It’s a reminder that he is a party leader quite outside the British political consensus of the past three decades. But its domestic focus takes the spotlight off areas where he is most radical, especially on foreign affairs, where his historic views are hostile to the U.S. and to NATO.It is also worth remembering that Corbyn’s path to power doesn’t necessarily go via gaining seats in Parliament. If he can simply hold all the seats Labour currently has, and the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party can take some off the Conservatives, it will become very hard for Johnson to stay in office. So the question is whether this package can keep existing Labour voters on board.In 2017, the Conservatives helped in that effort by announcing unpopular plans to use the value of people’s homes to pay for their care in old age. The party won’t repeat that error when it publishes its own manifesto, but it’s perfectly capable of making new mistakes. All eyes swing back to Johnson.To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 14:04:41 -0500
Somali official: 2020 could see first election in 50 years

Somali official: 2020 could see first election in 50 yearsThe head of Somalia’s electoral commission told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that 2020 is “a pivotal year” for the country whose citizens have been denied the right to political participation for 50 years and are hoping for an election with universal voting. Halima Ismail Ibrahim said the country’s political leaders must follow through on agreements since 2011 to holding a one-person, one-vote election as a replacement for “clan-based power-sharing.” In presidential elections most recently in 2017, lawmakers were chosen by about 14,000 clan delegates and they in turn elected a president.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 13:25:04 -0500
Prosecutors file new charge in Houston ‘honor killings’ case

Prosecutors file new charge in Houston ‘honor killings’ caseSpecial prosecutors are accusing a woman of conspiring with relatives in the so-called honor killings of her estranged sister’s American husband and her sister’s friend who was an Iranian women’s rights activist. Nadia Irsan, 35, was charged on Wednesday with conspiring with her father, stepmother and brother in a plan that led to the 2012 fatal shootings in the Houston area, the Houston Chronicle reported. It is not the first charge against Irsan related to the killings of Nesreen Irsan’s 28-year-old husband, Coty Beavers, and her friend Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 13:20:14 -0500
UPDATE 1-Senior Christian Democrats rally behind would-be successor to Germany's Merkel

UPDATE 1-Senior Christian Democrats rally behind would-be successor to Germany's MerkelSenior members of Germany's ruling party are rallying around their leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, before a weekend congress at which she hopes to show she is the right person to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor. Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also defence minister, took over as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) last December after Merkel stepped aside.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 13:13:46 -0500
Israel's Netanyahu: security hawk who has served record term

Israel's Netanyahu: security hawk who has served record termBenjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, is a right-wing politician and former elite soldier nicknamed "Mr Security" and a close ally of US President Donald Trump. As of Thursday, the 70-year-old is also the first premier in Israeli history to be indicted in office, accused of corruption charges that could end the veteran leader's political career. The Likud party leader has stayed in power with a mix of divisive populism and attempts to portray himself as a world statesman, stressing his ties with Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other foreign leaders.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 13:06:29 -0500
Forget Brexit. The U.K. Election Is About the Fate of the NHS

Forget Brexit. The U.K. Election Is About the Fate of the NHS(Bloomberg) -- When Britons go to the polls Dec. 12, the rest of the world will view the tally as a plebiscite on the U.K.’s departure from the European Union. In the streets of London and throughout the country of 66 million, there’s something quite different on many voters’ minds: the fate of the National Health Service.The NHS is a symbol of the U.K.’s responsibility toward citizens, most of whom have never seen a hospital bill in their lives. As threats to its mission, staffing levels, non-profit ethos and roughly $200 billion annual budget grow, major parties are pledging fealty to the 71-year-old program.Candidates for prime minister are trying to one-up each other with commitments to shore up the NHS -- and looking for new ways to foot the bill. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn opened his first campaign speech vowing “a health service people can be proud of,” offering to add 26 billion pounds ($34 billion) in health spending. Meanwhile, he has edged away from the Brexit morass, saying his party would “let the people decide whether to leave with a sensible deal or remain.”Incumbent Boris Johnson is touting the Conservative Party’s planned 20.5 billion-pound investment in the health service over the next five years, along with a promise of 40 “new” hospitals -- which turns out to mainly involve renovations. He said he’d postpone a planned cut in business taxes in part to fund priorities such as the NHS.Health care has overtaken Brexit as the most important issue on voters’ minds, according to a campaign tracker from polling service Ipsos MORI. And that may be good news for Corbyn, who has sought to use the issue to claw back Johnson’s double-digit lead in the polls. Two-thirds of the U.K. public think Johnson’s government is handling the NHS badly, according to polling by YouGov, and Labour repeatedly returns to the subject.‘Comfort Zones’“It’s one of Labour’s comfort zones where they’ll always try to trigger a sympathetic hearing,” said Andrew Russell, head of the University of Liverpool’s politics department. “Conservatives try to neutralize it by talking about how efficiently they can run services like the NHS.”The debates over Brexit and the NHS are linked. Britons collectively shuddered when U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this year that the agency would be “on the table” in trade negotiations after the U.K.’s departure from the EU.The hope had been that the special trans-Atlantic relationship would cushion some of the Brexit blow, so the hint of more infiltration by private insurers, hospital operators and consultants led to an outpouring of indignation. Even Johnson, who has played up prospects of a favorable deal with the U.S., recoiled.While Trump has walked back his comments, fear of the real-estate developer’s influence sent a chill across the U.K. At the first debate between the two men on Tuesday, Corbyn brandished redacted documents that he claimed showed secret plans to allow “full market access” for U.S. companies. “You’re going to sell our NHS out to the United States and big pharma,” he told Johnson.“Our NHS will never be for sale,” the prime minister replied, before warning that Corbyn’s plans for a four-day week would damage the institution.Drug PricesOne thing the country doesn’t want to import is U.S. prices of branded drugs, which are about 400% above the international median for representative products in industrialized countries, according to a study by digital health-care start-up Medbelle. British prices are roughly in line with the benchmark.While Brexit is the country’s most polarizing issue -- separating voters over their views on immigration, trade, the economy and the Northern Irish border -- the NHS is an easier political card to play, and in the past it’s been an ace for Johnson.In the runup to the 2016 referendum, he campaigned for a vote to leave the EU in a red “battle bus” painted with the claim, disputed by supporters of continued membership, that the U.K. sends 350 million pounds a week to Brussels. “Let’s fund our NHS instead,” it said.Meanwhile, Corbyn has proposed ambitious goals aimed at improving Britons’ wellbeing and social supports, including heftier mental health services, child care and maternity leave. He’s also proposed the creation of a state-funded pharmaceutical company aimed at improved drug affordability. That hasn’t held back shares of AstraZeneca Plc and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the country’s two biggest drugmakers.Conceived in the wake of World War II, the NHS grew out of the idea that returning wounded and infirm soldiers should be cared for no matter their financial position. The notion of free, universal health care was extended to the general population and the NHS was born in 1948 under Labour Health Minister Aneurin Bevan.Life ExpectancyIt’s mostly been good medicine for the U.K.: average life expectancy is 10th among comparable nations at about 81 years, and the country ranks in the middle of its fellow Western nations in per capita health spending, with costs less than half those in the U.S.Yet concerns about the system’s future are real. Funding is a perennial issue, and public approval has been falling. Last year, overall satisfaction was 53%, a 3 percentage-point drop from the previous year and the lowest level since 2007. Brexit may compound those problems, deterring staff from the European Union who have helped to keep it running.Many divisions, called trusts, are groaning under the burden of complicated, hard-to-exit borrowing agreements that were entered to enable expansion, and half are expected to end the year in deficit. Patient out-of-pocket costs have increased since the 2008 financial crisis, and although the system is one of Europe’s most comprehensive, about 1 million British patients a year feel financial hardship stemming from outlays on care, according to a World Health Organization study.While the NHS may need reform, anything that’s perceived to weaken the institution, by either party, could result in lasting rancor.“The NHS occupies this elevated status which I think is unique in British politics, kind of a sacred cow,” Liverpool’s Russell said. “Whenever parties have tried to reform it, they’ve found it politically poisonous.”\--With assistance from Thomas Penny.To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in London at jlauerman@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 12:14:31 -0500
Merkel pledges bigger European share of German 5G network: CDU sources

Merkel pledges bigger European share of German 5G network: CDU sourcesChancellor Angela Merkel has promised leading members of her Christian Democratic party (CDU) that Germany will use more European components in the rollout of its 5G network than is the case in the existing infrastructure, top party officials said. Merkel told a meeting of the CDU's executive committee in Leipzig on Thursday that Huawei [HWT.UL] components accounted for about 70% of the existing mobile network and that Ericsson's and Nokia's share would rise in future. The CDU executive committee also passed a proposal for the party's congress in Leipzig this weekend that calls for the government to include a provision in draft legislation "that clarifies which requirements for security and trustworthiness telecommunication equipment suppliers have to meet...to be allowed to participate in the 5G network expansion in Germany".


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 12:11:15 -0500
Merkel pledges bigger European share of German 5G network - CDU sources

Merkel pledges bigger European share of German 5G network - CDU sourcesChancellor Angela Merkel has promised leading members of her Christian Democratic party (CDU) that Germany will use more European components in the rollout of its 5G network than is the case in the existing infrastructure, top party officials said. Merkel told a meeting of the CDU's executive committee in Leipzig on Thursday that Huawei components accounted for about 70% of the existing mobile network and that Ericsson's and Nokia's share would rise in future. The CDU executive committee also passed a proposal for the party's congress in Leipzig this weekend that calls for the government to include a provision in draft legislation "that clarifies which requirements for security and trustworthiness telecommunication equipment suppliers have to meet...to be allowed to participate in the 5G network expansion in Germany".


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 11:38:05 -0500
Brexit Bulletin: Can Corbyn Win?

Brexit Bulletin: Can Corbyn Win?Days to General Election: 21(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to get the Brexit Bulletin in your inbox every weekday.Today on the campaign trail: Labour takes aim at bankers and billionaires — and keeps mostly quiet on Brexit.What’s happening? Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pulled no punches as he presented the U.K. with the most radical plan for government since 1983, when the party suffered its worst post-war election defeat.Labour plans to nationalize Britain’s railways, water supply and broadband infrastructure. The government’s total tax revenue would increase by around 10%, funding pay hikes for public-sector workers, free university tuition, free care for the elderly and many other goodies.Sensing that the nation is weary of Brexit, Corbyn kept mentions of it to a minimum. He insists he could negotiate a close relationship with the European Union within three months, a plan Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls unrealistic. But Corbyn’s proposal is no more implausible than Johnson’s promise to negotiate and sign an advanced free-trade arrangement by the end of 2020.Labour believes voters are ready to pay for things to get better. Corbyn reckons Britons are tired of creaking infrastructure, of stepping over homeless people, of waiting for hospital treatment, and of underfunded schools. Or, rather, ready for someone else to pay for things to get better: The tax increases are carefully aimed at companies and the wealthy.Is he right? Labour’s 1983 manifesto was dubbed “the longest suicide note in history” by one of the party’s own lawmakers. Nevertheless, public perception mattered more that year: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was riding high on victory in the Falklands War; Labour’s Michael Foot struggled to shrug off the memory of strikes under the previous Labour government.Today was a dream come true for activists in the room. Labour has a long tradition of accusing its leaders of betraying the beliefs of the party. But today no one was telling members to rein in their ambitions.Labour is offering plenty of things that will look attractive to plenty of people. Ultimately Corbyn’s success or failure will depend on whether voters look at him and see a potential prime minister who could plausibly get any of them done. And there, polls have him struggling.Today’s Must-ReadsBloomberg’s Greg Ritchie runs through the key proposals in Labour’s manifesto, from Brexit to billionaires, transport, taxation, the NHS, climate and more. Boris Johnson is getting a free pass on Brexit during this election campaign — and if he wins, his deal will sail through Parliament with minimal serious scrutiny, Therese Raphael writes for Bloomberg Opinion. Everyone in the U.K. needs to pay more tax. There can be no relying simply on others to pay a larger share, argues Chris Giles in the Financial Times.Brexit in BriefHitting the Ceiling | Bets on a strong pound are getting in the way of a strong pound. Sterling’s recent good run may have reached a ceiling because traders are already positioned for a boost in the months to come.In Debt | U.K. government borrowing is on the rise even before the spending taps open post-election. The budget deficit in the first seven months of the fiscal year came to £46.3 billion ($60 billion), 10% higher than a year earlier. The shortfall in October alone widened to a larger-than-forecast £11.2 billion, the most for the month since 2014.War Chest | Johnson’s Conservative Party brought in almost £5.7 million in donations larger than £7,500 during the first week of the election campaign, the Electoral Commission said. That’s much more its key rivals: The Liberal Democrats received donations worth £275,000, the Brexit Party £250,000 and Labour a total of £218,500 in the week of Nov. 6 to Nov. 12.Immobile | Britain has become much less socially mobile in recent decades, especially in areas that voted for Brexit in 2016, according to a new report by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.Changing Times | Labour has held the northern English seat of Great Grimsby for 74 years, yet could be on the brink of defeat there. The Economist visited the historic fishing port and concluded that if the Conservatives win, it will signify a realignment of British politics.Embattled Bus | The Conservative Party banned a reporter from the Daily Mirror, a tabloid newspaper that backs Labour, from its campaign “battle bus.” Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, called the move an “appalling” decision.Finally, an Answer | Corbyn is the cover star on this week’s edition of the Evening Standard’s ES magazine. Teasing their big interview, the Standard posted a video of Corbyn answering rapid-fire questions. And he gave a definitive answer on Brexit. “Leave or Remain?” asked the Standard. “Both,” came the answer. Glad that’s sorted.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: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@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.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 11:15:10 -0500
Brazil Admits It Has a Deforestation Problem and Vows to Fix It

Brazil Admits It Has a Deforestation Problem and Vows to Fix It(Bloomberg) -- Brazil is drawing up plans to curtail a surge in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest that’s provoked an international outcry, the country’s top security official said.“We are already preparing a stronger policy to contain fires,” General Augusto Heleno Pereira, the country’s Institutional Security Minister, said in an interview in Brasilia, in a rare acknowledgment of the problem. “Everybody is convinced we must tighten enforcement,” he added, referring to farmers who set fires on agricultural lands to improve productivity.The government of President Jair Bolsonaro needs to raise awareness among farmers of the damage caused by deforestation, and find alternatives to their illegal -- but profitable -- activities, he added.Brazil’s policy toward the Amazon was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after a sharp increase in fires prompted international concern that the Bolsonaro administration was failing to protect the rainforest. Heleno’s comments came two days after the National Institute of Space Research, known as INPE, reported a key gauge of Amazon deforestation jumped the most in over a decade. Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed such data.Read more: Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Forest Surges Most in a DecadeJust under 10,000 square kilometers (6,200 square miles) of the so-called Amazonia legal were cut down between August 2018 and July 2019, according to the institute. That’s a jump of almost 30% from the previous 12-month period, and it marks the third-highest advance of deforestation since the series began in 1988.“Of course numbers can and must improve,” said Heleno, who oversees the government’s military and intelligence decisions, as well as the personal security detail for Bolsonaro and his family.Cultural PracticeHeleno’s comments echoed those of Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, who on Wednesday vowed to reduce deforestation, though without providing concrete targets. On the same day, Bolsonaro said that setting fires in the region is a cultural practice, and that not much can be done about it.Bolsonaro has repeatedly emphasized that the Amazon belongs to Brazil and that it requires economic development. In August, he fired INPE Director Ricardo Galvao over the institute’s preliminary figures showing an increase in logging in the region. The president also supports freeing up indigenous and environmental reserves for mining.To be sure, it is impossible to completely eliminate deforestation, Heleno said in the interview, arguing the Amazon is so big that any fire can easily burn out of control. The four-star general, who was once the head of United Nations troops in Haiti, pointed to challenges in other countries including the U.S., where officials are unable to prevent yearly fires in California.“We can create measures, tighten rules, but just by the size of the Amazon, everything is complicated, expensive,” Heleno said.Images of the forest fires burning drew global attention in August, with world leaders and celebrities weighing in on the need to protect the Amazon. The number of fires jumped amid especially dry weather, though critics also said a lax environmental policy was to blame.Read more: As Fires Rage in Amazon, Brazil Pushes Back Against Global ScornDeforestation carries a direct economic cost for Brazil. The 1.8 billion reais ($427 million) Amazon Fund, created to raise donations to combat deforestation, uses the INPE figures as a reference to determine the disbursement of cash to projects in the region.Both Norway and Germany, the two main backers of the fund, suspended their contributions over the Brazilian government’s environmental policies.“I’m not concerned the Amazon will burn down,” Heleno said. “I have big aspirations about the Amazon and the Northeast -- they’re the future of Brazil. We need to focus on those two regions, they’re fundamental in getting Brazil to grow.”To contact the reporters on this story: Samy Adghirni in Brasilia Newsroom at sadghirni@bloomberg.net;Julia Leite in Sao Paulo at jleite3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at jspinetto@bloomberg.net, Matthew Malinowski, Bruce DouglasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 11:00:19 -0500
Fiona Hill Ties Trump’s Ukraine Pressure Back to Russiagate

Fiona Hill Ties Trump’s Ukraine Pressure Back to RussiagateThroughout the first week of the House of Representatives’ impeachment hearings, the witnesses, most of them serving career U.S. diplomats, have attempted agnosticism on the merits of impeaching President Trump and sidestep often rancorous Republican questioning. But the White House’s former top Russia official made it clear on Thursday that she wasn’t going to follow the same script. Fiona Hill was the National Security Council senior director for Russia and Eurasia until days before the now-infamous July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Zelensky for the “favor” of investigating Trump’s domestic political rivals. After describing her “pride in being a nonpartisan” expert, Hill, now out of government, tacitly warned Republicans that their descent into conspiracy theory to save Trump’s presidency is damaging the country. Fiona Hill Wrote the Book on Putin’s ‘Protection Racket.’ Now She’s Testifying About Trump.Hill tied the Ukraine pressure campaign back to the 2016 Russian interference that the pressure campaign was supposed to render murky. “The Russian interest is to delegitimize the entire presidency,” Hill testified, saying that whomever was elected in 2016 would be “under a cloud.” It aided Russian interests, she said, to “pit one side of the electorate against the other.”Always an awkward fit within the Trump administration—Hill has been as distrustful of Vladmir Putin as Trump has been solicitous—Hill told the inquiry on Thursday that a “fictional narrative” about Ukranian electoral interference in 2016, repeatedly voiced during the hearings by ranking Republican Devin Nunes (R-CA), was an invention of the Russian security services. Even before Hill spoke, Nunes, who has tethered himself to Trump, attempted to preempt her criticism. Later, Hill’s statement drew anger from committee Republican Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH) and John Ratcliffe (R-TX). Hill also suggested that the impeachment inquiry into her former boss was legitimate—going far further than any previous witness before the sharply divided committee, and contradicting Trump, who rejects all accusations of wrongdoing. “If the President, or anyone else, impedes or subverts the national security of the United States in order to further domestic political or personal interests, that is more than worthy of your attention,” Hill said.  The witness sitting next to Hill on Thursday morning—David Holmes, the political director at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv—shored up key reasons why Democrats consider the inquiry necessary. Holmes overheard a July 26 phone call between Trump and U.S. Amb. to the European Union Gordon Sondland in which the president asked about the status of Ukraine’s investigations into his political rivals. Holmes also raised serious questions regarding what Sondland knew and when. He testified that by late June, he had understood that the “investigations” that Sondland had been talking to his boss, Amb. Bill Taylor, were about investigating Burisma and the Bidens. Holmes quoted Sondland telling him on July 26 that Trump only cares about “big stuff” like “the Biden investigation Mr. Giuliani was pushing.” That significantly undercuts Sondland, who testified on Wednesday that he had not made that connection until September. While Hill did not call out Nunes by name, her opening statement tacitly connected the Trump administration’s pressure on Ukraine to the fallout from Russia’s 2016 electoral interference. Hill said the agnosticism or skepticism about that interference, confirmed by U.S. intelligence and grudgingly supported by committee Republicans in a 2018 report that absolved Trump of collusion, was tearing the United States apart. Nunes, in his own opening statement, accused Democrats of doing that instead. “Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill said. Nunes, appearing incensed by Hill’s shot across his bow in her prepared remarks, prebutted them in his opening statement by pointing to the March 2018 report published by committee Republicans to serve as a counter narrative during Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling continued. Nunes had a staff member put a copy of the document next to both Hill and Holmes “so they can have a recollection of their memory.” Democrats dismissed the report as a “whitewash” that focused more on aiding Trump politically than wrongdoing in the election.  Emphasizing her working-class English immigrant background, Hill implored the committee to “please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.” More harshly, she said she “refuse[d] to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative” exonerating Russia of culpability. Despite raising questions about the credibility of Hill’s testimony, GOP lawmakers seemed to run out of questions for her—or were unwilling to ask them. During his five minutes, Turner, who is considered one of his side’s most effective inquisitors, ranted for several minutes about how Hill’s testimony was based on hearsay. “No matter how much we believe we know,” said Turner, “it is still just what we’ve heard.”Turner then directed his attention to Holmes without posing a question to Hill or allowing her to respond. “Is there a question for Dr. Hill?” quipped her attorney. Turner ignored him. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) decided to try the same tactic, embarking on a lengthy monologue about the damage the impeachment process is doing to the country and repeatedly referred to the process as a coup. Like Turner, he had no question for Hill.“Can I actually say something?” asked Hill. Schiff allowed her time to respond after Wenstrup objected. After calling Wenstrup’s speech “elegant” and “eloquent,” she defended herself—and those who also came forward to testify. "All of us who came here under a legal obligation also felt we had a moral obligation to do so. We came here as fact witnesses,” she said. “I know this has put a huge cloud over this presidency and over our whole democratic system… that’s why, as a nonpartisan person, an expert on Russia, I wanted to try to see if I could help.”In the middle of her response, Hill couldn’t help but note that Turner had left the room. “I think it’s unfortunate,” she said—because his comments were eloquent, too. By contrast, Hill poked holes in other aspects of the Republican narrative on Ukraine. In contrast to Nunes’ portrayal of Ukrainian election interference, Hill brought up his cited evidence of Ukrainian disparagement of Trump during the campaign. She said that was “ill-advised,” but nothing like the multifaceted campaign Putin directed, involving social-media-borne propaganda and theft of internal Democratic documents. Hill noted it understandable that Trump would be mad at other nations that “bet on the wrong horse” in the 2016 election – though she pointed out that in those cases, “it did not affect security assistance or other things.”While Hill left the administration early in the fateful summer of 2019, she attended the July 10 White House meeting in which Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, pressed two senior Ukranian officials for assurances of the investigations if Zelensky wanted a coveted White House meeting. The Daily Beast reported that the Ukrainians turned to Hill, an internationally respected figure, for clarification about whether that was indeed an official U.S. precondition. Hill also has implicated the White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, in the scheme. In her October closed-door deposition, Hill said her boss, former national security adviser John Bolton, opposed what she memorably said Bolton wanted no part of “whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.” Bolton, according to Hill, told her to report Sondland’s pressure on the Ukrainians to NSC attorney John Eisenberg. Bolton, of course, has notably declined to testify in front of investigators either in public or private, citing the need for a resolution to a lawsuit in federal court challenging the White House’s blanket claims of executive privilege; the timeline for the suit is not clear. During her deposition, Hill confirmed that Trumpworld’s suspicions had already manifested as a smear campaign that raised baseless allegations against her, like a supposed connection to billionaire George Soros. “My entire first year of my tenure at the National Security Council was filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories, which has started again, frankly,” she testified in October, “as it’s been announced that I’ve been giving this deposition, accusing me of being a Soros mole in the White House, of colluding with all kinds of enemies of the president, and, you know, of various improprieties.”Throughout the televised Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday, the White House’s rapid-response operation blasted out numerous emails of talking points and brief memos advising Trump surrogates and media allies, including several messages knocking key portions of Hill’s testimony in real-time, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast. “[Fiona] Hill testified that she has absolutely no direct knowledge of both the [Zelensky] call and why the aid was withheld,” reads one of the emails the Trump White House sent out on Thursday morning. Another memo heavily references and links out to a 2017 Politico article about how “Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire,” to counter Hill’s insistence that Ukraine did not meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and that Republican assertions to the contrary were bunk conspiracy theories favored by the Kremlin.Holmes, who had a front-row seat to Trumpworld’s designs on Ukraine from his vantage point in Kyiv, made it clear in his testimony Thursday he believed the president personally sought investigations. The diplomat suggested he felt compelled to come forward after seeing some float the idea that senior officials were “freelancing” on Ukraine and somehow working outside the knowledge or direction of the president.“My clear impression was that the security assistance hold was likely intended by the president either as an expression of dissatisfaction that the Ukrainians had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigation or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so,” Holmes testified.Beyond that, Holmes also raised an implicit rebuttal of Trump defenders’ claims that the president released the hold on U.S. security assistance after he became convinced of Zelensky’s trustworthiness. “The hold was finally lifted,” said Holmes, “after significant press coverage and bipartisan congressional expressions of concern about the withholding of security assistance.”Additional reporting: Asawin SuebsaengRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:57:31 -0500
How the West Can Protect Iran’s Brave Protesters

How the West Can Protect Iran’s Brave Protesters(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The Iranian regime is claiming that the latest spasm of street protests is dying down, with President Hassan Rouhani declaring a “victory” for the Islamic Republic. Skepticism is in order: The regime has not yet fully lifted its near-total clampdown on the internet, suggesting it still fears that news of the protests — along with images and video — will spread at home, and attract more attention abroad.Other signs of nervousness in Tehran abound. Officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Rouhani himself, have been blaming the protests on “mercenaries” and “enemies” — the regime’s shorthand for the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia — and the government is releasing videos of pro-regime rallies. The protests are being portrayed in the official media as riots. Even the scant information that has escaped the internet blackout shows that the government has unleashed its security apparatus upon the protesters; scores have been killed, hundreds have been jailed.Another tell of the regime’s sense of panic: It has rounded up dual-nationals, in part to underline the narrative of a foreign hand in the protests, but also to stock up on hostages for future bargaining with Western governments.These are the regime’s standard deflection tactics when challenged. We’ve seen them before: In the late 1980s, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini needed a distraction from the humiliation of the Iran-Iraq war; in 1999, when Khamenei was spooked by nationwide student protests; and again in 2009, when election fraud by the regime brought the Green Movement to the streets.Add the revolution of 1979 and it is impossible to escape the metronomic frequency of upheaval every 10 years.The regime’s history of suppression and dissimulation is well known to the Iranians participating in the protests — indeed, the government has assiduously cultivated the perception of cruelty to cow its citizenry. Iranians who are not gunned down in the street face years of inhuman treatment by the regime’s well-practiced cadres of torturers and rapists.After the 1999 protests were quelled, senior regime figures pronounced that the students would receive no mercy. One cleric stood out for the relish he took in threatening that they would be “tried and punished for fighting God and sowing corruption on earth” — offenses that, under Iranian law, carry the death penalty.That cleric was Hassan Rouhani.So the Iranians protesting against Rouhani and his boss, Khamenei, are showing extraordinary courage against long odds. Having come this far, and knowing the consequences of failure, many will feel they have little to lose from staying the course — better to die in the street than endure the horrors of the regime’s prisons.What can the world do to protect them? So far, the crackdown on protests has received only bromides from the United Nations, and mealy-mouthed pronouncements of solidarity from the Trump administration.Expecting more may seem unrealistic, given the regime’s disregard for international opinion. Remember, Western governments have been unable to prevent the torture, rape and murder of their own nationals by Khamenei’s thugs.But the U.S. and European governments can and should impose sanctions on regime officials who encourage, endorse or inflict harm on the protesters, making it clear that they will not be allowed to whitewash their crimes, as Rouhani has.They should also open their doors, offering sanctuary to any protesters who are able to escape the country, and encourage Iran’s neighbors — Turkey, Iraq, the Gulf Arab states, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia — to offer them safe passage.If the regime is simply lying about its “victory,” it won’t hurt the protesters to know that world has their back, even if to a limited extent. If Rouhani is right, and the regime is indeed prevailing, these incredibly brave women and men must have the opportunity to live and fight another day. Hopefully, they won’t have to wait another 10 years for the next opportunity.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:57:31 -0500
How the West Can Protect Iran’s Brave Protesters

How the West Can Protect Iran’s Brave Protesters(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The Iranian regime is claiming that the latest spasm of street protests is dying down, with President Hassan Rouhani declaring a “victory” for the Islamic Republic. Skepticism is in order: The regime has not yet fully lifted its near-total clampdown on the internet, suggesting it still fears that news of the protests — along with images and video — will spread at home, and attract more attention abroad.Other signs of nervousness in Tehran abound. Officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Rouhani himself, have been blaming the protests on “mercenaries” and “enemies” — the regime’s shorthand for the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia — and the government is releasing videos of pro-regime rallies. The protests are being portrayed in the official media as riots. Even the scant information that has escaped the internet blackout shows that the government has unleashed its security apparatus upon the protesters; scores have been killed, hundreds have been jailed.Another tell of the regime’s sense of panic: It has rounded up dual-nationals, in part to underline the narrative of a foreign hand in the protests, but also to stock up on hostages for future bargaining with Western governments.These are the regime’s standard deflection tactics when challenged. We’ve seen them before: In the late 1980s, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini needed a distraction from the humiliation of the Iran-Iraq war; in 1999, when Khamenei was spooked by nationwide student protests; and again in 2009, when election fraud by the regime brought the Green Movement to the streets.Add the revolution of 1979 and it is impossible to escape the metronomic frequency of upheaval every 10 years.The regime’s history of suppression and dissimulation is well known to the Iranians participating in the protests — indeed, the government has assiduously cultivated the perception of cruelty to cow its citizenry. Iranians who are not gunned down in the street face years of inhuman treatment by the regime’s well-practiced cadres of torturers and rapists.After the 1999 protests were quelled, senior regime figures pronounced that the students would receive no mercy. One cleric stood out for the relish he took in threatening that they would be “tried and punished for fighting God and sowing corruption on earth” — offenses that, under Iranian law, carry the death penalty.That cleric was Hassan Rouhani.So the Iranians protesting against Rouhani and his boss, Khamenei, are showing extraordinary courage against long odds. Having come this far, and knowing the consequences of failure, many will feel they have little to lose from staying the course — better to die in the street than endure the horrors of the regime’s prisons.What can the world do to protect them? So far, the crackdown on protests has received only bromides from the United Nations, and mealy-mouthed pronouncements of solidarity from the Trump administration.Expecting more may seem unrealistic, given the regime’s disregard for international opinion. Remember, Western governments have been unable to prevent the torture, rape and murder of their own nationals by Khamenei’s thugs.But the U.S. and European governments can and should impose sanctions on regime officials who encourage, endorse or inflict harm on the protesters, making it clear that they will not be allowed to whitewash their crimes, as Rouhani has.They should also open their doors, offering sanctuary to any protesters who are able to escape the country, and encourage Iran’s neighbors — Turkey, Iraq, the Gulf Arab states, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia — to offer them safe passage.If the regime is simply lying about its “victory,” it won’t hurt the protesters to know that world has their back, even if to a limited extent. If Rouhani is right, and the regime is indeed prevailing, these incredibly brave women and men must have the opportunity to live and fight another day. Hopefully, they won’t have to wait another 10 years for the next opportunity.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:46:56 -0500
A look at the corruption scandals facing Israel's Netanyahu

A look at the corruption scandals facing Israel's NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust stems from three long-running cases that have divided Israelis and cast a long shadow across the political scene. Israel’s political parties have been gridlocked and unable to form a new government following two elections in less than a year, in part because of Netanyahu’s legal woes. The scandals have engulfed Netanyahu's family and his inner circle, with at least three former close confidants turning state's witnesses and testifying against him.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:41:28 -0500
Russia 'ruined' Ukrainian naval vessels before handing them back, says Ukrainian navy

Russia 'ruined' Ukrainian naval vessels before handing them back, says Ukrainian navyThree Ukrainian navy boats seized by Russia a year ago were vandalised before being handed back to Ukraine, the country's navy said.  The fast gunboats Nikopol and Berdyansk and the tugboat Tany Kapu were welcomed by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and onlookers waving national flags arrived in Ochakiv, a Ukrainian naval port on the Black Sea on Wednesday evening.  But Ukraine's navy said the vessels had been stripped bare and left so badly damaged that they had to be towed home by tug. "The Russians ruined them," said Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, the head of the Ukrainian Navy.   "They even took the ceiling lights, plug sockets, and lavatories," he said.  Mr Zelenskiy, who reviewed the vessels as they returned on Thursday morning, said: "I am very happy that our navy vessels are back where they belong. As promised, we have brought back our sailors and our ships.   "Some of the equipment is missing, as well as some weapons. There will be an investigation. We will see all of the details."   Russia blocked the Kerch strait with a tanker and deployed fighter jets to stop the three vessels entering the Azov Sea last year Credit: Pavel Rebrov/Reuters Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), which oversees the border service that seized the vessels, denied tampering with the ships and said they had been "handed over to the Ukrainian side in normal condition."   The three vessels were boarded by Russian forces after they tried to pass through the Strait of Kerch in November last year.  Russia says they illegally violated the Russian border, then impounded the vessels and jailed 24 crew members pending trial.  Ukraine described the move as an act of war and a flagrant breach of the treaty that gives the countries joint sovereignty of the only channel between the Black and Azov seas.  Mr Zelenskiy said the return of the boats as the latest in a series of small steps "towards peace" ahead of a key summit with Vladimir Putin next month.  Mr Zelenskiy inspects the artillery boat Nikopol Credit: Arkhip Vereshchagin/TASS The two presidents will meet in person for the first time in Paris on December 9, at talks brokered by France and Germany that are designed to end the conflict in east Ukraine, which has killed 13,000 people since 2014.     In September the ships' crews were released in a prisoner swap that also saw Russia free Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker and activist who had been held on trumped-up charges since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.    The sides have also agreed to pull back troops from key points on the line of contact in eastern Ukraine. The narrow sea way between Crimea and Russia's Taman peninsula is the only passage for ships sailing to and from Ukraine's industrial port of Mariupol, to which the flotilla was bound when it was seized.  Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and opened a bridge across the strait in 2017 in defiance of Ukrainian objections. Mariupol is a few miles from the frontline where Ukrainian and Russian-directed separatist forces have been fighting a static war for five years.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:25:21 -0500
Pro-regime missile attack on refugee camp in Syria leaves 15 civilians dead

Pro-regime missile attack on refugee camp in Syria leaves 15 civilians deadMore than 15 civilians, including six children, seeking shelter in a Syrian refugee camp near the Turkish border were killed on Wednesday after it was hit by ballistic missiles fired by pro-government forces. Two missiles hit the camp close to a maternity hospital shortly after 8.20pm local time in the town of Qah in the last remaining rebel-held province of Idlib in northwest Syria. Footage from the scene showed tents engulfed in fire and people screaming. The youngest of the victims was in nappies and appeared to be under one year old. Another of the missiles, which had been filled with cluster bombs, had failed to explode and was seen lying close to the site. “The camp is the oldest in this area and is considered one of the oldest on the Turkish-Syrian border so everyone knows where it is,” Obeida Dandoosh, an activist who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack, told the Telegraph. A woman holds an injured girl by last night's Syrian regime bombardment on a makeshift camp in the village of Qah Credit: AFP “There is nothing else here but the camp and one hospital for the regime to target,” he said. “The hospital is for newborn babies.” He said he thought the camp was hit “with the aim of killing the biggest number of civilians and forcing them to flee.” Another witness said he saw "lots of dead bodies, mostly children” and people running in a panic away from the camp. Qah camp is just one of dozens across in Idlib, which are sheltering hundreds of thousands of people who fled to the border to escape fighting deeper in Syria. Aid agencies have warned that conditions, which are already tough, will become dire as winter sets in. Idlib is home to more than 3.5 million people, many who have been displaced from elsewhere in the country. President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been trying to retake the area from the Islamist rebels groups who control it. An injured boy rests after receiving treatment at Aqrabat hospital following pro-Syrian regime bombardment Credit: AFP Russia, which supports Assad, and Turkey, a backer of the opposition, had cosponsored a ceasefire for Idlib earlier this year that has since faltered. The Syrian regime and its Russian backers have repeatedly hit hospitals in rebel-held areas over the course of the civil war. It was not immediately clear which was responsible for Wednesday night’s attack. The maternity hospital in Qah was the 65th attack on 47 health facilities in northwest Syria since the end of April, according to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) which supports medical facilities in the province. The attack is also the sixth time a maternity hospital being targeted. SAMS confirmed the location of the hospital had been shared with the United Nations, which would have passed the information on to Russia as part of its deconfliction mechanism.  Aid organisations like SAMS had hoped by sharing coordinates of their medical facilities there would be some accountability if and when they were bombed. Earlier this year, UN officials alleged Russian forces may be deliberately targeting hospitals and schools as a tactic to "terrorise" civilians - accusations denied by both Damascus and Moscow. The body has established a board of inquiry to investigate the bombing of UN-supported medical facilities in the northwest of the country. “Today as we celebrate World Children’s Day, innocent children in Idlib have been subjected to this unlawful, inhumane bombardment,” said Dr Mufaddal Hamadeh, SAMS president. “We are appalled by this egregious disregard for human life, especially on the day we are supposed to celebrate our future generations.”  Mark Cutts, the UN”s deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, said. “I find it sickening that missiles hit vulnerable civilians, including elderly people, women and children sheltering in tents and makeshift shelters in a camp for internally displaced people. This horrific incident needs to be fully investigated.”


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:23:39 -0500
Rights group: Islamist leader’s daughter tortured in prison

Rights group: Islamist leader’s daughter tortured in prisonAmnesty International alleges the daughter of a senior leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group has been tortured and denied medical treatment in an Egyptian prison. The London-based rights group released a statement Thursday deploring “inhumane” and “abusive” conditions under which Aisha el-Shater has been detained since her arrest in November 2018. Aisha is daughter of Khairat el-Shater, long seen as the Brotherhood’s most powerful leader.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:21:57 -0500
Nuclear agency urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared site

Nuclear agency urges Iran to explain uranium particles at undeclared siteThe UN nuclear watchdog on Thursday urged Iran to explain the presence of uranium particles at an undeclared site, as a landmark deal aimed at curbing Tehran's atomic activities threatens to collapse. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report seen by AFP last week that its inspectors had "detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency". The agency's acting head Cornel Feruta told a press conference that an IAEA team of experts would meet Iranian officials in Tehran next week to discuss the matter, which Iran had so far failed to address "in the proper way".


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:18:03 -0500
The Latest: Israeli PM Netanyahu rejects indictment

The Latest: Israeli PM Netanyahu rejects indictmentIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected his indictment on an array of corruption charges, saying the country is witnessing an “attempted coup” against him. Netanyahu was unable to form a government following unprecedented back-to-back elections this year, in part because of his legal woes, and a third vote could be held within months. Israel’s attorney general says the indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a “heavy-hearted decision” based solely on professional considerations.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:17:57 -0500
Russian parliament backs law to label individuals foreign agents

Russian parliament backs law to label individuals foreign agentsRussia's lower house of parliament passed legislation on Thursday that will allow individual journalists to be labelled foreign agents, a move that critics say will tighten curbs on the media. Russia adopted an initial foreign agent law in 2012 which gave the authorities the power to label non-governmental organisations and human rights groups foreign agents. The legislation that was approved on Thursday, and which now goes to the upper house and then President Vladimir Putin for approval, extends the legislation to cover individuals.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:11:47 -0500
Jeremy Corbyn Hits Rich With Tax Hike in Radical Pitch for Power

Jeremy Corbyn Hits Rich With Tax Hike in Radical Pitch for Power(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn set out the most radical election policy platform from a major U.K. political party in nearly four decades, promising to increase tax revenues by close to 10% per year, fund free university education and care for the elderly.At the launch of Labour’s manifesto in Birmingham, central England, Corbyn opened his speech with a long attack on his critics, whom he described as “billionaires and vested interests” who are the enemies of ordinary voters.“They don’t want real change,” Corbyn said. “The system is working just fine for them. It’s rigged in their favor. But it’s not working for you.”Labour Pledges $108 Billion Boost if it Wins U.K. ElectionCorbyn has spent much of the four years he has been Labour leader fighting for control of the party from those who advocate more moderate programs. At the launch, it was clear he had won that internal struggle.His calculation is that he can triumph in the Dec. 12 election by cashing in on public fatigue with almost a decade of austerity imposed by the Conservatives since the financial crisis. Two years ago, at the 2017 election, Corbyn put forward a policy package that was initially seen as a left-wing socialist agenda that would never be taken seriously.But his plans, including scrapping university tuition fees and nationalizing the railways, proved hugely popular with the electorate, and brought Labour to within striking distance of taking power. He has gone even further this time, with proposals to tax the rich and rip up conventional wisdom in many areas of British industry.Labour’s key proposals include:Industries including rail, water, energy production and Royal Mail to be brought under public control, as well as nationalization of BT Group Plc’s Openreach unit to deliver free full-fiber broadband across the country by 2030Taxing multinational corporations based on the proportion of their sales, workforce and operations in the U.K.The top 5% of earners -- those earning more than 80,000 pounds ($104,000) a year -- will pay more taxA windfall tax on oil companies. The manifesto contained no further details, but Labour said it’s expected to raise 11 billion poundsA sweeping new financial transactions tax: Expanding stamp duty reserve tax to foreign-exchange transactions, interest-rate derivatives and commodities trades at 50% of transaction costsWorkers’ rights reforms, including moving to a four-day week within 10 years and raising the minimum wage to 10 pounds per hourCorbyn’s speech was received with delight by supporters in the room. They greeted his arrival with song, interrupted him for standing ovations, and scoffed at questions from the press that they disagreed with.When he claimed Boris Johnson’s Conservatives would hand the state-funded National Health Service over to private buyers, they leaped to their feet and chanted “Not for sale!”When it came to questions, the Labour leader was asked why he expected people to vote for a more radical platform than he had offered in the 2017 election, when that saw Labour defeated.Corbyn was unapologetic. “It is a radical manifesto,” he said. “But when you travel around the country and talk to people, radical answers are what’s necessary.”The Conservatives pointed out that Labour did not have a clear position on whether to remain in or leave the European Union.(Updates with reaction.)\--With assistance from Kitty Donaldson, Greg Ritchie, Jessica Shankleman and Andrew Atkinson.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in Birmingham, England at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 09:53:25 -0500
Labour Taxes the Rich to Fund 83 Billion-Pound Spree: U.K. Votes

Labour Taxes the Rich to Fund 83 Billion-Pound Spree: U.K. Votes(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn announced a radical package of new taxes on business and the wealthy, as he published his plans for government ahead of the British general election. These include a financial transaction tax; a hike in corporation tax; a windfall tax on oil companies; and higher taxes for the top 5% of earners.As part of Corbyn’s mission to end the era of austerity, Labour set out 83 billion pounds ($107.5 billion) of extra public spending, saying the plans will be paid for in full by the same amount in new tax-raising measures (see 12:30 p.m.). It’s a key moment in the campaign for the Dec. 12 election, as the opposition leader tries to make up ground in the opinion polls, where he’s lagging 13 points behind Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.For more on the election visit ELEC.Key Developments:Corbyn launches Labour manifesto in Birmingham, calling it “the most radical and ambitious plan to transform our country for decades”Labour’s Election Manifesto Launch: The Key ProposalsLabour’s education spokeswoman Angela Rayner says Corbyn is a problem among some votersJohnson visits east of England to promote Conservative plan for long-term, fixed-rate mortgages to help first-time home buyersChancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid says Tory manifesto will be published next weekTory Campaign Donations Eclipse Other Parties (2:40 p.m.)Donations to Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party eclipsed those made to other parties during the first week of the campaign, data released by the Electoral Commission show.The Tories reaped almost 5.7 million pounds ($7.4 million) in donations exceeding 7,500 pounds from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, the commission said in an email. That’s much more than the 275,000 pounds received by the Liberal Democrats, the 250,000 pounds donated to the Brexit Party and the main opposition Labour Party’s 218,500 pounds in donations in the same period.The biggest donor to the Tories was the theater producer John Gore, who gave the party 1 million pounds. Other large-scale donors include Trailfinders Ltd., Shore Capital Group and IM Group Ltd.Labour Plan Not Credible, Johnson Says (2:20 p.m.)Boris Johnson said Labour’s proposals are not credible until Jeremy Corbyn has clarified his plans for Brexit.“What we want to know is what is his plan to deliver Brexit and what’s the deal he wants to do -- and we still don’t know,” Johnson told Sky News. “Until we have answers to those questions, until we get Brexit done, none of this carries any credibility whatsoever.”Contrasting his party’s position with Corbyn’s re-distributive socialist agenda, Johnson added: “We believe in a thriving business-led market economy that delivers the tax revenue we need to pay for the biggest ever boost for the NHS in living memory.”Radical Platform Delights Corbyn Fans in Room (12:42 p.m.)Corbyn’s pledges went down well with supporters in the room, unsurprisingly. They greeted his arrival with song, interrupted him for standing ovations, and scoffed at questions from the press that they disagreed with. When it came to those questions, the Labour leader was asked why he expected people to vote for a much more radical platform than he had offered in the 2017 election, when that saw Labour defeated.Corbyn was unapologetic. “It is a radical manifesto,” he said. “But when you travel around the country and talk to people, radical answers are what’s necessary.” He defended the proposals to take companies into state ownership as only covering natural monopolies.Asked whether he was a patriot, the Labour leader insisted he was. “Patriotism is about supporting each other, not attacking somebody else,” he said.Tories Attack Corbyn’s Brexit Stance (12:39 p.m.)The Tories accused Corbyn of not having a plan for Brexit. “The publication of Labour’s manifesto has just confirmed what we already knew,” Security Minister Brandon Lewis said in an e-mailed statement. “Jeremy Corbyn simply doesn’t have a plan for Brexit.”Labour’s 83 Billion-Pound Spending Spree (12:30 p.m.)Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell sought to eclipse his Tory rival, Chancellor Sajid Javid, with plans for an 83 billion-pound spending increase financed by higher taxes on companies, banks and high earners.The figures, which are contained in a document accompanying the manifesto, are neutral for borrowing as all spending commitments are fully funded. In fact, Labour reckons the current budget will be in surplus by 6 billion pounds by 2023-24, whereas its fiscal target requires only that government revenue and non-investment spending are in balance by that point.The projections are a step up from the commitments the party made before the 2017 election, when Labour planned increases of less than 50 billion pounds. They come on top of the extra 12 billion pounds or so of day-to-day spending promised by the Tory government in September.However, there will inevitably be doubts over whether a Labour government could in reality raise as much as it thinks. Its projections include 6.2 billion pounds from cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion, a commitment that has historically delivered less than promised. It also includes 5.4 billion pounds from the top 5% of taxpayers, above the amount the Institute for Fiscal Studies deems likely.Businesses Calls For More Carrot and Less Stick (12.20 p.m.)Corbyn anticipated businesses would complain about his plans and he was right. The Institute of Directors said the manifesto contained too many penalties for companies and not enough incentives to drive investment.“Many directors will have reservations that Labour’s state-first plans for the economy could crowd out rather than crowd in private enterprise,” said Edwin Morgan, Director of Policy.He said Labour should also recognize that the U.K.‘s current corporate governance regime “is an asset to the economy, and is admired and imitated throughout the world”.Corbyn Refuses to Commit to Remain or Leave (12:05 p.m.)Pressed by several journalists after his speech, Corbyn refused to commit to whether he personally would rather the U.K. remains in the EU or leaves with a new deal. He is promising a second referendum to settle the Brexit question, if Labour wins the election.Corbyn said politicians had spent “a lot of time discussing Brexit” and revealed that he got a cheer from his colleagues at a meeting of his senior team, when Brexit wasn’t on the agenda.Both remain and leave voters want to see a government challenge the “injustice and inequality they face in their lives,” he said. “Let’s get together on this. The British people will have the final say and our government will carry it out, whatever the result of that vote is.”Labour to Bring in Financial Transactions Tax (12 p.m.)Labour plans to expand on its 2017 financial transaction tax proposals by extending stamp duty reserve tax to forex, interest rate derivatives and commodities trades. The tax will come in at 50% of transaction costs.An exemption will apply to interest rate derivatives under three months’ maturity and for the first 1,000 pounds of forex transactions per day by a market participant. Labour hopes the new taxes will help stop volatile short-term trading and bring in 8.8 billion pounds in 2023-24.Corbyn to Tax Businesses and Rich (11:30 a.m.)The Labour leader said he is ready for a wave of hostility from the rich over his tax plans. Corbyn’s manifesto contains a package of measures to hike taxes on businesses, including a windfall tax on the oil industry and a financial transactions tax which would raise an estimated 8.8 billion pounds in 2023-24.There are also plans to make the rich pay more. Corbyn’s blueprint proposes higher taxes for the top 5% of earners -- a tax on earnings over 80,000 pounds ($103,500) a year -- and another tax rate on those earning more than 125,000 pounds a year.For businesses, the manifesto includes a 1% increase in the corporation tax rate from April, and a windfall tax on oil companies. The manifesto said: “Whenever public money is invested in an energy generation project, the public sector will take a stake and return profits to the public.”Corporation tax would rise in increments to 21% in 2020, 24% in 2021 and 26% in 2022, the manifesto said.Corbyn Promises Raft of Nationalizations (11:25 a.m.)Corbyn committed to bringing key industries back into public ownership. Labour will also give local councils the chance to take back control of bus services. Where councils choose to take control, Labour will introduce free bus travel for under-25s, the party said.“I accept the hostility of the privatized utility companies, because we will stop their great rip-off by bring rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership and running them for the people,” he said. “That is real change.”He then repeated last week’s announcement that the party would nationalize BT Group Plc’s broadband unit to fulfill their pledge to provide free full fiber Internet access to all by 2030.Corbyn Opens With Call Against Elite (11:20 a.m.)Jeremy Corbyn launched his Labour Party’s election manifesto with an attack on the rich and big business, pitching himself as being on the side of ordinary voters, against wealthy people who he said exploit them.At a university in Birmingham, central England, Corbyn said powerful “vested interests” in the country opposed him, because “they know we mean what we say. They know we will go after the tax dodgers, the bad bosses, the big polluters.”“Labour’s manifesto is a manifesto for hope,” he said. “It’s a manifesto full of real change, a manifesto that will bring popular policies which the political establishment have blocked for a generation.”SNP’s Salmond Denies Sexual Assaults (10.25 a.m.)Former leader of the Scottish National Party Alex Salmond insisted he’s innocent of a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape, a further ten charges of sexual assault and two of indecent assault between 2008-2014, while he was Scotland’s first minister.“I’m innocent and I will defend my position vigorously,” Salmond told reporters outside Edinburgh’s high court where a preliminary hearing was held Thursday. The trial begins on March 9, 2020. The SNP are hoping to win big on Dec. 12 to give their independence campaign a boost.Javid Hints at Continued Freeze on Fuel Duty (9 a.m.)Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid indicated a freeze on fuel duty will be extended if the Conservatives win a majority majority on Dec. 12.In an interview with Sky News, Javid cited the freeze over the Tories’ nine years in government as a key measure to help working families. “To help people with the cost of living there’s action that’s needed on a number of fronts, and tax cuts is one of them,” Javid said. “We need action on many fronts, that’s why we’ve frozen fuel duty for nine years.”During his media round on Thursday, Javid also defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s inaccurate use of numbers to describe his Tory party’s biggest election tax-cut pledge so far: raising the earnings threshold at which workers are required to start paying National Insurance contributions.“The prime minister was asked a question, he’s given an answer and then we’ve set out the detail,” Javid told the BBC.Rayner: Corbyn a Problem With Some Voters (Earlier)Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a problem for some voters, but not as big an issue as the leaders on the right wing of politics, Labour’s education spokeswoman Angela Rayner said.“There have been some reservations about Jeremy on the doorstep because every leader of every political party is not everyone’s taste,” Rayner told Sky News. “I don’t think it’s anywhere near as big a problem as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump are for the right.”Corbyn’s personal ratings are stubbornly low, and Labour activists and lawmakers have warned that he could cost them votes -- particularly in battleground areas of northern England. Rayner said the party’s manifesto will win support.“Our manifesto is radical and it’s what Labour do when we’re in power, we rebuild our country,” she said. “It’s a policy platform that we’re really proud to present for Britain.”Earlier:Corbyn Unveils Manifesto to Rile U.K.’s Bankers and BillionairesA Tory Election Win Is All the Market Can See: Trading BrexitBoris Johnson Is Getting a Free Pass on Brexit: Therese Raphael\--With assistance from Jessica Shankleman, Kitty Donaldson, Thomas Penny and Tiago Ramos Alfaro.To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Greg Ritchie in London at gritchie10@bloomberg.net;Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 09:41:08 -0500
UPDATE 2-U.N. nuclear watchdog presses Iran for answers on uranium traces

UPDATE 2-U.N. nuclear watchdog presses Iran for answers on uranium tracesThe U.N. nuclear watchdog's top inspector will travel to Tehran next week to press Iran to finally explain the origin of uranium traces found at an undeclared site, the agency's acting chief said on Thursday. Reuters first reported in September that the International Atomic Energy Agency found the uranium traces at the site that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew attention to in a speech last year, calling it a "secret atomic warehouse". Tehran has said the site is a carpet-cleaning facility.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 09:32:52 -0500
The Latest: 1 killed in renewed clashes in central Baghdad

The Latest: 1 killed in renewed clashes in central BaghdadIraqi security and hospital officials say one protester has died after clashes with security forces on a strategic bridge in central Baghdad, bringing the death toll following a day of violence to 8. The officials say security forces hurled smoke bombs at demonstrators late Thursday on Sinak bridge, which leads to the fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 09:26:00 -0500
Iran's Speedboat Navy: A Desperate Ploy Or A Serious Threat To The Navy?

Iran's Speedboat Navy: A Desperate Ploy Or A Serious Threat To The Navy?Iran plans to battle in the Persian Gulf's shallow waters.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 09:24:43 -0500
UK Labour makes radical election pitch

UK Labour makes radical election pitchBritain's main opposition Labour party on Thursday unveiled its general election manifesto, promising a radical agenda for social change, including nationalising key industries and a controversial second referendum on Brexit. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called it "the most radical and ambitious plan to transform our country in decades" and a "once-in-a-generation chance of real change". Labour has promised a "green industrial revolution" to tackle what Corbyn called "the climate emergency", by focusing new jobs and industries on efforts to tackle global warming.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 09:16:51 -0500
Session of Lebanese-American who dealt with Israel postponed

Session of Lebanese-American who dealt with Israel postponedLebanon’s state-run National News Agency says a court session in the case of a Lebanese American accused of dealing with Israel has been postponed because of his illness. NNA says Thursday’s session of Amer Fakhoury in the southern market town of Nabatiyeh was postponed until Dec. 5. Lebanon and Israel have been officially at war since Israel's creation in 1948.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 08:49:14 -0500
Fiona Hill Blasts GOP ‘Alternate Narrative’ on Ukraine

Fiona Hill Blasts GOP ‘Alternate Narrative’ on UkraineChip Somodevilla/GettyFiona Hill, formerly the top White House official handling Russia policy, is set to needle congressional Republicans in her impeachment testimony.In her opening statement, obtained by The Daily Beast, Hill will criticize unnamed members for pushing the allegations that the Ukrainian government meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections. Only Republicans have pushed that notion. “Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” her statement says. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.” She continued that Russian intelligence services are now preparing to meddle in the 2020 campaign, and that the U.S. is “running out of time to stop them.”“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” the statement says. Fiona Hill Wrote the Book on Putin’s ‘Protection Racket.’ Now She’s Testifying About Trump.She also pointed to Russian interference as a major contributor to the crisis now facing U.S.-Ukraine relations: “U.S. support for Ukraine—which continues to face armed Russian aggression—has been politicized,” the statement says. She called the allegations against Kyiv “an alternate narrative,” and said she would refuse to participate in efforts to legitimize it. Hill’s statement also has a line that appears directed at her former National Security Council colleagues John Bolton and Charlie Kupperman. Anyone with information that Congress believes is relevant, she said, has “a legal and moral obligation to provide it.” Her statement is a strong invective against Republicans—especially notable coming from a former member of the Trump administration. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 08:43:09 -0500
Politicians Are Getting in Trouble Over Fake Qualifications

Politicians Are Getting in Trouble Over Fake Qualifications(Bloomberg) -- Politicians in eastern Europe are having a harder time getting away with a bad habit: inflating credentials by cheating to obtain fancy qualifications.The latest to face judgment is Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali. A Belgrade University ethics committee ruled Thursday that he had engaged in “non academic behavior” and called for his doctorate thesis to be annulled because he copied from other authors without citing their work.Similar cases prompted Hungarian President Pal Schmitt to resign in 2012 and two Czech ministers to quit last year. In Ukraine, former President Viktor Yanukovych -- toppled by protesters in 2014 -- struggled to convince voters he held a PhD in economics. He didn’t help himself by misspelling ‘professor’ on his application to run in an election.The phenomenon is global too: just this week, a senior adviser in U.S. President Donald Trump’s State Department stepped down over accusations she fabricated a qualification, made up a role at the United Nations that didn’t exist and created a fake Time Magazine cover with her image. She denies wrongdoing.But there’s a greater eagerness to over-egg scholarly achievements in Europe’s east that dates back to communist times, when having an academic title attached to one’s name was a must to scale the ladders of politics and powerful state institutions.“It meant you distinguished yourself from the crowd where everyone was meant to be equal,” said Bohumil Kartouz from the EDUin think tank in Prague. “We still use academic titles in everyday communications, where people frequently overuse them.”The difference is that nowadays officials face more scrutiny than their communist-era predecessors, who were shielded by tight censorship rules. Transparency has increased dramatically, with mandatory wealth reporting and constant media attention.Fake DiplomaKlavdija Markez became Slovenia’s shortest-serving education minister when she stepped down five days into the job in 2015. Reporters had discovered she plagiarized more than two-thirds of her masters thesis.In Bulgaria, the former head of an agricultural fund was handed a suspended prison sentence in 2012 after admitting to having faked her diploma.Despite landing in hot water, however, some officials battle on.Andrej Danko remains Slovakia’s parliament speaker and still leads the country’s main nationalist party, even after his former university confirmed media reports that he plagiarized his doctorate thesis.While former Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta lost his PhD after allegations surfaced that he plagiarized parts of his thesis, he refused to resign. Eventually forced out by a separate scandal, he’s now made a political comeback, recently helping to topple the government.Back in Serbia, students called for Mali to step down after the ruling. He still enjoys the support of President Aleksandar Vucic, however, and is expected to keep his job.He said before the hearing that he’d be “delighted” to tear up and rewrite his thesis, although after the ruling he said he hadn’t plagiarized.“I know that I didn’t do it,” Mali told state news wire Tanjug. “I will address this issue in the next few days separately and, for now, what I care about is the Serbian budget and things that I am being paid for.”(Updates with Serbian finance minister’s comment in last paragraph.)\--With assistance from Michael Winfrey, Slav Okov, Andra Timu, Daryna Krasnolutska, Jan Bratanic and Radoslav Tomek.To contact the reporters on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net;Lenka Ponikelska in Prague at lponikelska1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 08:39:39 -0500
Germany’s Coalition on the Cusp of Collapse: What’s Next?

Germany’s Coalition on the Cusp of Collapse: What’s Next?(Bloomberg) -- For the better part of this year, Germany’s coalition seemed to have been hanging by a thread. Now its existential debates are coming to a head and that could mean an early end to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last term in office.Policy disagreements over climate and pensions exacerbated poor election and poll results for the centrist parties. Leadership struggles ensued. Now, at the halfway point of Merkel’s last four-year term, Christian Democrats meet to discuss their future at a party conference Nov. 22-23. The Social Democrats, the junior coalition partner, elect a new leader Nov. 30 and decide whether to abandon the government at a convention a week later.Here’s a guide that explains if, why, and how Merkel’s government could fall apart.Why is the coalition so fragile?To begin with the coalition was born out of necessity to avoid a prolonged political stalemate. Many of the SPD members didn’t want to enter another coalition with the conservative CDU, which is often credited for their policies. The centrist coalition partners are losing support as voters turn toward the far-right Alternative for Germany and the environmentalist Greens, which are vying with the SPD as Germany’s center-left political force. That push and pull on both sides heightens tensions among the allies.What are the chances the SPD jumps ship?Government critics within the SPD say that poor approval ratings are the result of abandoning its working-class principles and that it should “renew” itself in opposition.In a first round vote for party chair in October the majority of members voted for candidates favoring an exit from government. The pro-alliance Finance Minister Olaf Scholz now faces one of them in a run-off vote. If Scholz were to lose, the chances of an SPD exit and end of the government would rise considerably.Yet there are good reasons why the SPD would stay in government, mostly because the alternatives after leaving aren’t particularly attractive either. If, for instance, Merkel decides to carry on a minority government, it would look awkward for the SPD to withdraw its support for policies it helped put on the drawing board. And if it chooses to continue its support in parliament, then it might as well stay in power by hanging on to its current cabinet posts. If snap elections were to be held, the SPD would lose further power in parliament. In the last election in September 2017 it won 20.5%, now it has around 15%.Snap election or minority government under Merkel?If the SPD were to exit government and withdraw its parliamentary support, Merkel could in theory remain in office for some time, though few people think she would be able or willing to head a minority government for long. Snap elections in Germany don’t happen frequently or easily. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who would have to dissolve parliament, is not a big friend of snap elections. Any path to a new election would have to involve a confidence vote in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.What would post-Merkel Germany look like?The succession to Merkel is wide open. Her party remains the number one political force in the country, with 25%-27% in opinion polls. But the CDU chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has struggled to garner support in her party and beyond, and even faced a failed revolt. If the Social Democrats were to drop out of government, they may not even put up a candidate. If they stay, Scholz is widely expected to bid for the country’s top job. The Greens, who are the second-strongest force and temporarily rivaled the CDU for the number one spot, have said they are open to govern with either SPD or CDU.Read More:Merkel Successor Faces Party Revolt Over Bid to Be ChancellorGermany’s Finance Minister Advances to Run-Off for Party ChiefMerkel Coalition Battered as Germans Turn on Mainstream PartiesAngela Merkel’s Wounded Party Doesn’t Know Where to Lead GermanyMerkel’s Own Party Wants Outright Huawei Ban From 5G Networks\--With assistance from Patrick Donahue and Arne Delfs.To contact the reporter on this story: Raymond Colitt in Berlin at rcolitt@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 08:23:34 -0500
Soldier who shot Lebanese protester dead charged with murder

Soldier who shot Lebanese protester dead charged with murderA Lebanese soldier who shot and killed a protester in Beirut last week was charged Thursday by a military prosecutor with murder, state-run National News Agency said. Alaa Abu Fakhr, 38, was shot dead Nov. 12 by the soldier, who was trying to open a road closed by protesters in southern Beirut, marking the first death since widespread protests against Lebanon’s ruling elite began Oct. 17. Protesters demand all those politicians go, blaming them for decades of systematic corruption that has left the Mediterranean country on the brink of economic and financial disaster.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 07:04:00 -0500
The daily business briefing: November 21, 2019

The daily business briefing: November 21, 20191.Gary Jones resigned as president of the United Auto Workers on Wednesday after the union moved to oust him and another official under the cloud of a broadening federal corruption investigation. The resignation came two months after The Detroit News linked Jones to a federal investigation into an alleged conspiracy to embezzle more than $1 million in union dues to spend on personal luxuries. Jones has not been charged with any crime. Jones' lawyer, Bruce Maffeo, said Jones made the decision to step down after "much discussion with family and friends," because he believed that staying "will only distract the union from its core mission to improve the lives of its members and their families." Maffeo said Jones decided to go before learning the union had filed internal charges accusing him of falsifying expense records. [The Detroit News] 2.The House on Wednesday passed a bill seeking to support anti-government protesters in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong. The House also passed a measure to block sales of some munitions to police in the semi-autonomous city, a former British colony. The Senate unanimously passed both bills, sending them to President Trump's desk at an awkward time, as his administration tries to negotiate a deal to end a trade war with China in time to tout the accomplishment on the 2020 campaign trail. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing "condemns and firmly opposes" the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which supports the protesters. The House vote fueled concerns about the prospects of a trade deal, weighing on stocks. [CNBC] 3.Google announced in a blog post Wednesday that it will make it harder for political advertisers to target specific types of people starting in January. The company said buyers will only be able to tailor political ads based on gender, age, postal code, and other broad categories. Currently, buyers can use political affiliation and other information from public voter data. The policy will take effect next week in the U.K., in time for a December general election called to break a deadlock over Brexit. Google also reiterated that it won't permit ads making "demonstrably false" claims that could damage voter trust, although Google Ads vice president Scott Spencer said in the blog post that "no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation." [The Associated Press] 4.U.S. stock index futures struggled early Thursday as markets continued to focus on U.S.-China trade tensions. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq shifted back and forth between losses and gains of 0.1 percent or less. On Wednesday, all three of the main U.S. indexes closed down by 0.4 percent or more after Congress approved two bills aiming to support anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, a Chinese-ruled semi-autonomous former British colony. Beijing responded by accusing the U.S. of meddling in Hong Kong's affairs, raising concerns about negotiations to end the U.S.-China trade war. On Thursday, China Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said the two sides were continuing to address their differences and "strive for a phase-one trade agreement." [CNBC] 5.General Motors filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing rival Fiat Chrysler of bribing United Auto Workers officials in contract negotiations to get a competitive advantage over other automakers. The lawsuit, filed in Michigan, says Fiat Chrysler gave union officers more than $1.5 million in money and other things of value during negotiations on two collective bargaining agreements in 2011 and 2015. "While a full accounting of the damage inflicted on GM is unknowable at this time without discovering additional details of the scheme, GM estimates that it has incurred massive monetary damage in the form of higher costs that it seeks in relief," the complaint said. The lawsuit came hours before UAW's president, Gary Jones, resigned under a widening corruption investigation. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]More stories from theweek.com Republicans are throwing Rudy Giuliani under the bus Several protesters arrested outside of Ann Coulter speech in Berkeley Outed CIA agent Valerie Plame is running for Congress, and her launch video looks like a spy movie trailer


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 06:58:23 -0500
Israel’s Netanyahu indicted on corruption charges

Israel’s Netanyahu indicted on corruption chargesPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted Thursday in a series of corruption cases, throwing Israel’s paralyzed political system into further disarray and threatening his 10-year grip on power. The first-ever charges against a sitting Israeli prime minister capped a three-year investigation, with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit indicting Netanyahu for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. “A day in which the attorney general decides to serve an indictment against a seated prime minister for serious crimes of corrupt governance is a heavy and sad day, for the Israeli public and for me personally," Mandelblit, who was appointed by Netanyahu, told reporters.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 06:55:04 -0500
European Airlines Hone Plan to Tackle Public Backlash Over Emissions

European Airlines Hone Plan to Tackle Public Backlash Over Emissions(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s airlines are coalescing around a two-pronged response to a public backlash over carbon emissions.Carriers initially plan to extend the use of offsets like tree planting to compensate for greenhouse-gas output while also embracing sustainable biofuels, executives from companies including Deutsche Lufthansa AG, EasyJet Plc and IAG SA’s British Airways arm said at a conference in Berlin.That’s before a longer-term fix from the introduction of hybrid and fully-electric jetliners becomes available, most likely in the 2030s.Airlines are bracing for regulatory interventions aimed at slashing emissions as new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prepares to unveil a package dubbed the “Green New Deal.” So-called flight shaming is also taking root as a concern for carriers as campaigners including Greta Thunberg and groups such as Extinction Rebellion protest against air travel.“Aviation will have to substantially reduce its carbon emissions if it wants to grow,” Filip Cornelis, the European Commission’s director for aviation, said at the International Air Transport Association’s Wings of Change conference in the German capital Wednesday. “That is the political reality in Europe today.”The consensus around mitigation efforts is emerging as a surge in global travel outweighs gains from more-efficient aircraft. The United Nations says aviation is set to overtake power generation as the single biggest CO2 producer within three decades. Right now it emits about 2.5% of the total, while transportation as a whole, including autos, accounts for about 20% and the power sector 40%.Cost BurdenExtra expenses from emissions regulation may initially be marginal but are likely to widen the gap between Europe’s stronger carriers and the weaker majority, S&P Global Ratings said in a report Thursday. Market-based measures to reduce net CO2 output like the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the Carbon-Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or Corsia, should be viewed as interim steps while new technologies are being developed, it said.EasyJet said Tuesday it will spend an estimated 25 million pounds ($32 million) on offset projects including afforestation with the objective of removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as its fleet emits.Lufthansa plans to introduce automatic offsetting for corporate clients and will introduce an optional surcharge for “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” as it extends the use of kerosene alternatives produced from biomass and animal fats.“The solution just has to be the use of synthetic fuels,” Carsten Spohr, the carrier’s chief executive officer, said at the Berlin event. “It’s the only vision I can see right now to really become CO2 neutral in the conceivable future.”Read More: EasyJet to Offset Carbon as Airlines React to Flight Shaming(Updates with S&P report on impact of emissions regulations in seventh paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: William Wilkes in Frankfurt at wwilkes1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net, ;Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net, Christopher Jasper, Andrew NoëlFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 06:48:25 -0500
Former Israeli policewoman charged with shooting Palestinian

Former Israeli policewoman charged with shooting PalestinianA former policewoman in Israel has been charged with assault and reckless use of a weapon for allegedly shooting an unarmed Palestinian man in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet as he walked away from a West Bank checkpoint. The Palestinian, Karam Qawasmi, said on Thursday that other officers also abused him and should have been charged.


Thu, 21 Nov 2019 06:42:02 -0500
UPDATE 5-Iran begins reconnecting internet after shutdown over protests

UPDATE 5-Iran begins reconnecting internet after shutdown over protestsIran on Thursday began restoring internet access in the capital Tehran and a number of provinces, news agencies and residents said, after a five-day-long nationwide shutdown meant to help stifle protests against fuel price hikes. The Revolutionary Guards said calm had returned across Iran, state TV reported. Amnesty International said over 100 demonstrators had been killed by security forces, a figure rejected as "speculative" by the government.


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