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Islamic Jihad continues to fire rockets into Israel following commander's assassination
Islamic Jihad has fired at least 360 rockets into Israel from Gaza since Tuesday, the Israeli army said Wednesday night, in response to the assassination of one of the militant group's senior commanders.On Tuesday, the commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, and his wife were killed when their Gaza home was targeted by an Israeli airstrike. The army says Abu al-Ata was responsible for several rocket attacks against Israel, and was planning a massive operation against the country.After Abu al-Ata's death was reported, Islamic Jihad began firing rockets into Israel, and Israel responded by ramping up airstrikes against Islamic Jihad targets across the Gaza Strip. At least 26 Palestinians have died in the fighting, including a 7-year-old boy. Islamic Jihad is backed by Iran, and calls for the destruction of Israel.The militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, has so far stayed out of the matter. Egyptian mediators are trying to arrange a truce, The Associated Press reports, and U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said the organization is "working to urgently de-escalate the situation." On Tuesday, Syrian officials said an Israeli airstrike targeting an Islamic Jihad militant in Damascus missed him, but killed two of his relatives.More stories from theweek.com The coming death of just about every rock legend The president has already confessed to his crimes Why are 2020 Democrats so weird?
Why Asia’s Longest Serving Leader Is Warning About a Coup
(Bloomberg) -- On his path to becoming Asia’s longest-serving leader, Hun Sen has mastered the art of fighting for power.When he first took charge of Cambodia as a 33-year-old in 1985, he battled remnants of the Khmer Rouge for control of the Southeast Asian nation. After losing the first election following a United Nations-brokered peace in 1993, he threatened to secede unless he was made co-prime minister. Four years later, a de facto coup put him solely in charge, a position he’s kept to this day.Now 67, Hun Sen is suddenly worried that a group of exiled dissidents might overthrow him by force -- a claim that looks hysterical on its face given many of his main political opponents have been locked up or abroad since he won all of the country’s parliamentary seats during a boycotted election last year.But he has lots of reason to worry.Discontent is building among the country’s 16 million people -- most of whom have never been alive under another leader -- over skyrocketing household debt, resentment at an influx of Chinese investment and a lack of jobs. The European Union is threatening to pull preferential tariffs that could upend the garment sector, the economy’s most important industry. And questions over succession are spurring rumors of internal rifts in his ruling Cambodian People’s Party.“There could easily be a popular uprising,” said Ou Virak, director of Phnom Penh-based think-tank Future Forum and former chairman of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.‘Peaceful Uprising’Hun Sen’s opponents see an opportunity to pounce. Long-time opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who has spent the past four years in Paris, has vowed to return to Cambodia to fight for democracy along with others who fled abroad. Hun Sen’s government said the efforts amounted to a coup attempt, and he moved the military to the border while warning he’d use “weapons of all kinds” to stop them.After arriving in Malaysia, Sam Rainsy told reporters this week he and his colleagues would head to Cambodia “when there is a material, physical possibility to do so.” He said the whole word wanted democracy in Cambodia except for China, and called for a “peaceful uprising” among the masses.“I have called on the Cambodian army not to shoot at the people, not to shoot at the civilians, not to shoot at innocent people,” Sam Rainsy said. “And Mr. Hun Sen is very afraid because he is not sure of the loyalty of the army. The army will stand with the people. The army will not stand with dictators.”Phay Siphan, a Cambodian government spokesman, dismissed talk of an uprising, a mutiny in the army or any internal dissent within the ruling party.“Everything is under control,” he said by phone, while also ruling out talks with the opposition. “The government will in no shape or form negotiate with Sam Rainsy.”On Wednesday evening, the government issued a statement appealing to opposition supporters to “stop listening to Sam Rainsy” adding it had fully restored public order after defeating the exiled leader’s attempted coup, the AP reported. Sam Rainsy on Tuesday said he could still return to the country “at any time.”Still, Hun Sen has taken at least one step to ease tensions. On Sunday, the government released Kem Sokha, the founder and co-leader of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, after for more than two years. Another 85 political prisoners are still in custody, according to the UN.One reason for Kem Sokha’s release may be the EU’s looming decision on whether to pull Cambodia’s access to a preferential trading scheme due to its deteriorating human rights record. Such a move could decimate its $5 billion garment industry and threaten the jobs of about 750,000 Cambodians, some of whom stood with Sam Rainsy during mass rallies in 2013 calling for the prime minister’s resignation.We “expect the Cambodian authorities to reinstate the political rights of all opposition members banned from political life and to fully release all opposition members, supporters and activists recently put under detention,” the EU wrote in a statement on Monday.China FactorHun Sen’s move to curtail political and media freedoms over the years has coincided with closer ties with China. As President Xi Jinping’s biggest ally in Southeast Asia, the Cambodian government has garnered $7.9 billion in Chinese investment from 2016 to August 2019, representing more than a third of all foreign investment, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.The slew of Chinese property projects and tourists has led to a growing backlash both in the capital Phnom Penh and the once sleepy coastal resort town of Sihanoukville, where more than a dozen new casinos have driven up crime and prostitution. China’s stake in an investment zone encompassing 20% of Cambodia’s coastline also raised fears in the U.S. that it would become a Chinese naval base, something the government denied.“Cambodians do not feel good about the Chinese influx and it created insecurity inside the country,” said Noan Sereiboth, an influential political blogger and frequent contributor to the youth-centered media group Politikoffee.Another headache for Hun Sen is growing discontent over mounting public and personal debt. With a median of $3,370 per loan, Cambodia now has the highest average for small loans in the world, according to a report published in August by local rights groups.Mostly owed to just nine lenders, the total outstanding amount is equal to roughly a third of the country’s entire GDP for 2018, while seven largest MFIs made more than $130 million in profit in 2017. During last year’s election, Hun Sen disavowed connections to microfinance lenders.Question of SuccessionConfounding the problem is the question of succession as various factions jostle for power.Hun Sen’s three sons are seen as competing for the top spot, with his eldest Hun Manet the odds-on favorite. Educated at West Point and commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Hun Manet was elevated last year to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s Standing Committee, a key decision-making body.Without specifically addressing the opposition’s calls for an uprising, Hun Manet took to Facebook on Tuesday implore citizens to enjoy annual water festival this week.“What the people do not want is chaos, insecurity, instability and the loss of peace,” he wrote. “We must work together to fully protect the peace we have today.”For all the noise, Sam Rainsy’s move is “desperate” and has little chance of success, according to Lee Morgenbesser, author of the book “Beyond the Facade: Elections Under Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia.”“A failure to try re-enter Cambodia would raise significant questions about whether those exiled are the right leaders for Cambodia’s pro-democracy movement,” Morgenbesser said.Still, those outside the country see this as one of their final chances to act. Vanna Hay, 33-year-old CNRP supporter living Tokyo, plans to join other activists in returning to Cambodia.“No matter whether Sam Rainsy was on Cambodian soil on November 9 or later, the people will rise and people power will bring Hun Sen down,” Vanna Hay said. “They will collapse soon by their own sin they made.”(Updates with government comment in 12th paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at firstname.lastname@example.org, Daniel Ten KateFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Probe: State Department Punished Staffer Over Iranian Heritage, Politics
GettyA long-awaited State Department watchdog report will find that the Trump administration’s point man on Iran, among other officials, retaliated against an agency employee in part because of her Iranian-American background, two knowledgeable sources told The Daily Beast.The Daily Beast has previously reported that the State Department inspector general’s office was prepared to suggest disciplinary action for Brian Hook for political retaliation against employees in his policy planning office, including a career department official and Iran expert, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh. But the inspector general’s report, set for release on Thursday in between the first two public hearings in the impeachment of the president, found that top State Department officials, including Hook, retaliated against Nowrouzzadeh in part because she is Iranian. Politico first reported the finding.The allegation derives from a cache of emails that show officials within Hook’s policy planning office and other departments talking about Nowrouzzadeh’s background ahead of the premature end of her detail to the prestigious office. Some of those emails, previously reported by The Daily Beast, described Nowrouzzadeh as being among “Obama/Clinton loyalists not at all supportive of President Trump’s agenda.” And one official falsely suggests that Nowrouzzadeh was born in Iran.He’s Trump’s Point Man on Iran—and Under InvestigationHook has vociferously denied retaliating in 2017 against Nowrouzzadeh based on her heritage. Neither Hook nor the State Department immediately responded to a request for comment.The State Department IG’s office has for months held onto its report for final review before sending it to Capitol Hill. Two individuals with knowledge of the report’s drafting told The Daily Beast that the report was originally due for public release sometime over the summer. The IG’s office picked up the investigation into Hook and other State Department officials for their perceived political retaliations after multiple whistleblowers approached lawmakers on the Hill about their experiences working on the policy planning team under Hook.The release of the report comes at a time when the State Department is under the microscope by investigators on Capitol Hill looking into how officials in Foggy Bottom worked to convince Ukraine to open up specific investigations in exchange for a presidential White House visit and the delivery of U.S. military aid. And multiple impeachment witnesses have criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s treatment of career diplomats. The details provided in the inspector general’s report about Hook can only serve to further undermine the department’s credibility in the way it conducts foreign policy. In a different case, however, the inspector general did not find political retaliation. Ian Moss, a State Department official who served in the office for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility during the Obama administration, began the Trump administration on a detail to the White House’s National Security Council. Moss’ performance evaluations were consistently laudatory. By the time Moss returned to State later in 2017, he entered an atmosphere where chief deputies to then-Secretary Rex Tillerson were assessing the department’s political leanings based in part on officials’ association with Obama administration priorities— such as closing Guantanamo. Moss found himself reassigned to the Freedom-of-Information Act office, from which he launched a retaliation claim first reported by CNN. State IG Set to Recommend Discipline for Trump’s Top Iran HandAmong the evidence the inspector general collected is an email between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the deputy White House chief of staff, discussing Moss with Tillerson’s chief of staff Margaret Peterlin. The email chain concludes with an exhortation to continue the conversation over the phone. Yet the inspector general stopped short of assessing that Moss was the victim of political reprisal. Moss, formerly a U.S. Marine, told The Daily Beast the inspector general’s findings in his case are a “pathetic whitewash.” “While they were targeting experienced career officials on account of their ethnicities and on account of perceived political affiliation, they were hiring C-list YouTubers and wine bloggers,” Moss said. “It is hard to find evidence when you don’t even bother to interview witnesses and deliberately choose not to follow glaring leads. [State Department Inspector General Steve] Linick has no honor.” Moss put the saga of political retaliation at the State Department in the context of Trump’s impeachment. Over a half-dozen witnesses from the State Department, NSC, and elsewhere in the government have told the House impeachment inquiry about a shadow foreign policy to Ukraine run by Rudy Giuliani, Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Those witnesses, typically career or long-experienced diplomats, have said this shadow effort was designed to benefit Trump rather than the United States and routed around those most expert in Ukraine because of their perceived disloyalty. Moss considers his and others’ experience in 2017 to have been a harbinger for the apparently highly parochial shadow initiative. “This is what happens when you let nefarious behavior go unchecked,” he told The Daily Beast. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Germany, France, UK, condemn North Korean missile launches
Germany, France and Britain on Wednesday strongly condemned the dozen sets of ballistic missile launches by North Korea since May and urged Pyongyang to engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the United States on its nuclear and missile programs. The three European countries said the tests, “including what appears to be a medium-range missile launched from underwater,” undermine regional security and violate unanimously adopted Security Council resolutions.
Dazed and confused at the Democrats' impeachment hearing
The best thing that can be said about Wednesday's impeachment hearing is that at least some people got to drink because of it. The bars in Washington were open early, and members of my profession were able to conduct themselves much as they had in happier times.I do wonder what George Kent had inside that water bottle. The bow-tied deputy assistant secretary of state doesn't strike me as the day-drinking type, but you never know. He spent most of the morning sounding like an over-eager president of the George Washington University Model United Nations addressing his peers at an invitation-only conference in Cambridge, but by about 2 p.m. he looked like a broken man.Who can blame him? Wednesday was a confused and confusing slog for everyone involved. On balance, I would say that the Democrats had a slightly worse day, but only because the contest was unequal. This was supposed to be their chance to sell the American people on impeachment, while all the GOP members had to do was The hearing was televised a la Watergate, and Adam Schiff was supposed to be in his element pretending to be a character from The West Wing.The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee reminded us why he never made it as a screenwriter. With a few exceptions -- the miniature speech from counsel about "quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, abuse of power of the office of the presidency" -- he allowed his members to get bogged down in the details of a narrative that almost no one in the room has mastered. The long-winded summaries from both witnesses of the ever-evolving state of relations between the United States, Ukraine, and Russia in the post-Soviet era served mainly to underscore the fact that President Trump has taken Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggressive policies much more seriously than his predecessor ever did. It is difficult to argue that the president is guilty of a hideous crime because he seems to have considered withholding aid that Barack Obama was never willing to offer in the first place.One sentence in the testimony of William Taylor, the interim charge d'affaires in Ukraine, is being called "a significant new development" and even a "bombshell." I would be lying if I said I understood its significance vis-a-vis all the other third-hand conversations upon which the serious charges against the president are supposed to rest. Taylor was apparently told that a certain unnamed "staffer" heard Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, talking to Trump about unspecified "investigations," presumably a reference to the abortive probe of the Biden family's activities in Ukraine. This is supposed to have taken place the day after the president's infamous phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.Phew. That summary is longer than the actual account Taylor himself gave. If it meaningfully alters your understanding of the underlying issue -- whether Trump did anything wrong -- then you probably belong to the small class of dedicated observers who already know that the anonymous staffer is likely a man named Donald Holmes. But the point of these hearings was to present unambiguous evidence of wrongdoing to the American people, not to confuse them with (in this case literal) games of telephone involving an entire phone book's worth of names.Republicans understood all of this perfectly. If you had asked me on Wednesday morning whether it was still worth it for the GOP to bang on about chronology, I would have said no. But Jim Jordan, on loan from the Judiciary Committee, turned the messiness to his advantage: "We have six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding?" he said in response to Taylor's allegedly epoch-making revelation. If there is one exchange from the hearing that could work on its own as a soundbite, it must be this one.This is not to suggest that members of both parties did not find ways to embarrass themselves. When Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) yelled "Fine!" after being procedurally outmaneuvered by the chairman, he sounded like a 15-year-old boy who is totally not mad about being grounded. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) might have been making an interesting formal argument about epistemology when he claimed that "Hearsay can be much better evidence than direct," but for some reason I doubt it. For me the star of the hearing was Rep. Teri Sewell (D-Ala.) who referred to the suddenly all-important Eurasian republic with a definite article. I say this not just because I like old-fashioned place names but because referring to Ukraine in a manner that suggests it is really just Russia's southwest border undercuts the major premise of both parties -- namely, that taking Kyiv's side against Putin is a top priority of American foreign policy. If you want proof that national security is epiphenomenal in relation to partisan bickering, look no further.What about Trump himself, who has insisted that he would not be watching any of the hearings? At his press conference after the end of proceedings, he sounded unusually winded. Is it possible to tweet till you are out of breath? Whatever he was worked up about, it certainly wasn't the prospect of being removed from office by his own party, a never likely possibility that now looks more remote than it has at any point since September.More stories from theweek.com The coming death of just about every rock legend The president has already confessed to his crimes Why are 2020 Democrats so weird?
U.S. Congress panel leader reports slow progress negotiating 2020 Pentagon budget
U.S. legislators are making slow progress negotiating the bill that will set spending policy for the Department of Defense in 2020, the head of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee said on Wednesday. The Democratic-majority House and the Republican-controlled Senate have each passed their own versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets spending policy. Negotiations to reach a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill have been under way since September https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-defense-spending/border-wall-iran-space-force-among-hurdles-for-700-billion-u-s-defense-bill-idUSKBN1W42XL, but have progressed slowly, Smith said, citing several canceled meetings with Republicans.
Electric Cars and Floods Stall Johnson’s U.K. Election Drive
(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson found himself arguing that Britain’s future was in making electric cars, just as Tesla announced they’d chosen Germany to build a factory over the U.K. He’s having that sort of campaign.The prime minister had started the day visiting flood victims in Northern England. They weren’t as pleased to see him as he might have hoped. “What more can we do?” he asked one woman. “It’s a little bit too late now,” she replied.Burned by their disastrous 2017 election under Theresa May, the Conservatives chose Johnson as their leader partly because they felt he was a winner, a superstar politician who enjoyed the campaign trail. But on Wednesday, he didn’t look like he was having much fun.It would be dangerous to read too much into this: It’s still a month until polling day, and every poll has the Conservatives comfortably ahead. Johnson is also ahead of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on questions about who would make the best prime minister.As Britain Votes, Your Enemy’s Enemy Is Your Friend: QuickTakeBut anyone looking for things to worry about in Johnson’s performance could find them. There was the way that he was standing in an electric car factory, making a speech about how Britain was going to lead a technology revolution, on a day when Elon Musk had explained that the uncertainty around Brexit made it “too risky” for Tesla Inc. to build a factory in the U.K.Then there was the speech itself. One of the prime minister’s officials said privately they’d accepted that getting other people to write his speeches is a waste of time – he simply rewrites them afterward.But that is a time-consuming process for a man with a country to run and a campaign to fight.The result can seem confused. For his speech, at an electric taxi factory near Coventry, central England, Johnson had a series of announcements to make about his plans for a revolution in British science. They included:An Advanced Research Projects Agency, modeled on the U.S. Department of Defense’s science wingAn increase in the target for wind-generated electricityInvestment in carbon capture and storage infrastructureInvestment in electric vehicle charging points, so no one in England and Wales is more than 30 miles from a charge pointJohnson failed to mention any of them in his speech. The information was handed out afterward by his staff.None of this may matter. Johnson has long played politics by a different set of rules from the rest of the world, and it’s taken him to the top. His team is counting on that run continuing. They’re also sure that, faced with a choice between Johnson and Corbyn, enough voters will choose the Tory leader.That’s why they’ve agreed to head-to-head televised debates, the first of which takes place Nov. 19.Election debates are a relative novelty in the U.K., introduced in 2010, and repeated in different forms at subsequent elections. The problem arranging them is usually getting the parties to agree to the format. Debates are a zero-sum game, and if one of the two main parties -- Labour and the Conservatives -- thinks it can benefit, the other side usually refuses.The ease with which this year’s debates were agreed stems from the fact that both the Tories and Labour think their candidate will look better for standing next to the other man. It’s likely that one of them is mistaken.To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Flavia Krause-Jackson at email@example.com, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Egypt says looting attempt causes oil pipeline fire; 7 dead
A pipeline for oil products caught fire Wednesday when thieves tried to tap into it to siphon off gasoline in the Nile Delta province of Beheira, and at least seven people were killed, Egyptian officials said. The looters caused a leak when they tapped into the pipeline, spilling gasoline into the nearby area, including down a drain, Egypt’s petroleum ministry said. The fuel then caught fire, it said.
Bill Taylor Reveals New Trump Call on Ukraine: Impeachment Takeaways
(Bloomberg) -- Two State Department officials responsible for U.S. policy in Ukraine testified Wednesday in a House impeachment hearing, giving the public its first live, televised look at the evidence against President Donald Trump.Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent answered questions from Democratic and Republican staff and members of the House Intelligence Committee for several hours.Neither were on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.These are the key takeaways from the hearing so far:Taylor reveals newly disclosed Trump exchange on UkraineTaylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified about a previously undisclosed exchange between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on July 26 — the day after the Trump-Zelenskiy call. Taylor said he learned of Sondland’s conversation with Trump only last week from an embassy staffer.According to Taylor’s account, Sondland called Trump by mobile phone from a Kyiv restaurant where U.S. officials were dining after meeting with Zelenskiy. Trump was speaking so loudly that one of Taylor’s staff members could hear both sides of the call.The staffer said Trump asked Sondland about “the investigations.” Taylor understood that term as referring to Trump’s request that Zelenskiy investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Burisma Holdings, an energy company on whose board Hunter Biden served.Sondland responded that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.Taylor said his staff member asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine.“Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,” Taylor said.Diplomats uncomfortable with Giuliani’s ‘irregular’ channelBoth diplomats were deeply skeptical of the role Rudy Giuliani — the former New York mayor and Trump’s personal lawyer — was playing in Ukraine policy.“In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelenskiy’s desire for a White House meeting,” Kent said.Kent said Giuliani was engaged in an effort to “smear” the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and other U.S. diplomats.Taylor said he realized in July that there was an “irregular policy channel” guided by Giuliani working to condition a White House meeting on Ukrainian investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 U.S. elections.Both men said Giuliani was pushing Trump’s political interests.“I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle,” Kent said.“I agree with Mr. Kent,” Taylor said.Republicans push back on ‘fourth-hand rumors’Republicans defending Trump presented a variety of procedural and substantive arguments against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence committee, said the witnesses’ testimony was “typically based on second-hand, third-hand, and even fourth-hand rumors and innuendo.”Nunes said the diplomats were “remarkably uninformed” about Trump’s theory that it was Ukraine — not Russia — that sought to interfere in the 2016 election. That gave Trump good reason to send Giuliani to Ukraine to investigate, he said.But at times, Republicans resorted to arguing that Trump’s use of his personal lawyer to conduct Ukraine policy was unusual but not impeachable.“In fairness, this irregular channel of diplomacy, it’s not as outlandish as it could be, is that correct?” said Steve Castor, the attorney handling questioning for the Republicans.“It’s not as outlandish as it could be,” Taylor said, laughing. “I agree with that.”Witnesses explain why withholding of aid was ‘alarming’Both witnesses conceded that they hadn’t spoken to Trump — or even Giuliani — and so could not testify directly about Trump’s aims in withholding aid.But they were able to testify from the front lines of diplomacy about the importance that the new Ukrainian government placed on American support. Zelenskiy, who had just formed a government when he spoke to Trump, wanted a meeting in order to convey legitimacy and give him leverage against Russian President Vladimir Putin, they said.“It’s one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the White House,” Taylor said. “It’s another thing, I thought, to leverage security assistance, security assistance to a country at war dependent on both the security assistance and the demonstration of support.“Security assistance was much more alarming,” he said.But Republicans countered that there was no harm because the aid was eventually released.“Two facts,” said Representative Elise Stefanik of New York. “Number one, Ukraine received the aid. Number two, there was no investigation.”(Updates with new item.)To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Korte in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at email@example.com, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
GBP/USD Forecast: Unable To Attract Investors, Neutral Above 1.2800
GBP/USD Current Price: 1.2839 UK inflation came in below the market’s expectations in October. Conservatives keep leading polls, underpinning hopes for a deal Brexit. GBP/USD unable to attract investors, ...
Listen To An Exclusive Excerpt From Greta Thunberg’s New Book
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks to AFP during an interview aboard La Vagabonde, the boat she will be taking to return to Europe, in Hampton, Virginia, on November 12, 2019. – Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg said November 12, 2019 that US President Donald Trump’s climate change denialism was “so extreme” that it had helped galvanize the movement to halt long term planetary warming. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)Greta Thunberg, despite her short career as a climate-change activist, is a masterful speech-maker. During the past year, she has traveled around the world making speeches everywhere from the U.N. to Capitol Hill to various street protests that have made grownups quake in their shoes.With the release of her new book No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference this week, you’ll be able to read a collection of the 16-year-old climate activist’s public addresses in one place. And courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio, we have exclusive audio excerpts from the book so you can hear her speeches in her own voice. In the first one, Thunberg addresses the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, on December 15, 2018. She excoriates the adults in the room: “You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is to pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is.”In the second one, Saskia Maarleveld, an award-winning audiobook narrator (whose voice you may recognize from the whistleblower statement), reads Thunberg’s speech — the famous one she ends with “We are the change, and change is coming” — from the Global Climate Strike in Montreal on September 27, 2019.“They say, ‘Let children be children,'” Thunberg said to a crowd of at least 500,000. “We agree. Let us be children. Do your part. Communicate these kinds of numbers instead of leaving that responsibility to us. Then we can go back to ‘being children.'”Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Here's Why Greta Thunberg Just Rejected An AwardGreta Thunberg & Gen Z's Quest To Save The WorldHow To Join The Fight Against Climate Change
Iraq protests swell as UN presses Baghdad to 'step up'
Iraqi officials must "step up" to respond to mass demonstrations, the UN representative in Baghdad told AFP on Wednesday as anti-government rallies swelled in Iraq's capital and the country's south. Protests demanding an overhaul of the political system have rocked Baghdad and the Shiite-majority south for weeks -- the crowds unmoved by government pledges of reform and undeterred by the deaths of more than 300 demonstrators. Washington and the United Nations have called on the government to respond seriously to the protests, with the world body's representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert saying the country's authorities must "step up to the plate and make things happen".
Esper: US could alter military drills to boost NKorea talks
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that he is open to the possibility of altering American military activities in South Korea if it would help advance a diplomatic deal with North Korea to eliminate its nuclear program. In an interview with reporters flying with him to Seoul, Esper said any changes in military exercises or training would be done in ways that did not jeopardize troops’ combat preparedness. The U.S. and South Korea already scaled back their 2018 and 2019 military exercises in the hope that it would help move North Korea toward agreement to give up its nuclear weapons.
AP Explains: Lebanon’s protests could head into dark turn
For nearly a month, the popular protests engulfing Lebanon have been startlingly peaceful. The protests exploded into the streets on Oct. 17 in response to new proposed taxes and quickly evolved into an unprecedented nationwide uprising against the country’s entire political leadership. 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.
Twitter Users Burn Eric Trump For Calling Impeachment Hearing 'Boring'
One Twitter user suggested the reason the president's son finds the hearing dull is because "extortion and being a traitor for Putin" is an everyday thing for a Trump.
Morales Exit Throws Political Hand Grenade Into Latin America
(Bloomberg) -- The toppling of a socialist icon is creating shock waves from Buenos Aires to Washington and pitting Latin American governments against each other.Mexico, which only recently pledged to stay out of the affairs of other countries, thrust itself into Bolivia’s crisis by granting asylum to former president Evo Morales. Argentina’s president-elect Alberto Fernandez joined Mexico in supporting Morales, saying he’d been the victim of a coup. Predictably, Venezuela and Cuba have both slammed his treatment.But U.S. allies Brazil and Colombia have been guarded, with President Donald Trump saying Morales’s departure strengthened democracy in the region and his government moving to recognize self-appointed successor, Senator Jeanine Anez. Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, said Morales was at fault for trying to hang onto power via electoral fraud.The reactions reflect the broader differences between socialist and conservative leaders in a region where the military has at times played a significant role. That means there’s little inclination to find a unified response for their neighbor, even as Bolivia remains beset by violence and there’s no clear path yet toward fresh elections.Some nations are just simply preoccupied with their own problems. Mass protests have taken a turn for the worse in Chile, where President Sebastian Pinera has faced weeks of unrest.“Every country is basically using the crisis to mobilize its base,” said Oliver Stuenkel, professor of international relations at Fundacao Getulio Vargas in Sao Paulo. “The left-wing governments say it’s a coup, the right wing governments say it’s a victory for democracy, so there’s basically no leadership.”How Evo Morales Fell and Plunged Bolivia Into Chaos: QuickTakeMorales’ exit has allowed Mexico to take a stance that distances the country from Trump. The calculation is that Bolivia is not a top policy issue for the White House right now and that a more assertive foreign policy will elevate Mexico’s status in the region.“Our good relationship with the U.S. shouldn’t be based on submission but on respect and the coexistence of two distinct ideas,” said Marcelo Ebrard, the foreign affairs minister who’s seen as a probable contender for the 2024 presidential election.Mexico has a long tradition of granting asylum to foreign leaders, from Leon Trotsky to the Shah of Iran. It justified the decision on the grounds Morales’ life was at risk. That’s even as Morales used his refugee status as a platform to attack his rivals at home. “As long as I am alive, the fight continues”, Morales said at Mexico City’s airport, minutes after landing.The move also potentially provides a distraction from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s domestic problems and could play well with his base, which includes a strongly left-wing group. While his popularity remains high, he has taken a hit from the inability to control violent drug gangs that run wild in large swathes of the country.“This also helps Ebrard to position himself as regional leader and improves his standing within his party,” said Daniel Kerner, Eurasia Group’s managing director for Latin America.That said, giving Morales refuge has received some criticism domestically. Asylum should have been requested by him, not offered by the government, said Andres Rozental, a former Mexico deputy foreign minister.Asylum is granted “by those being politically persecuted, not politicians that scoff at the constitutional democracy of their country, force a re-election and commit electoral fraud,” Rozental said. Mexico’s foreign ministry didn’t reply to a request for comment.Argentina ChangesMeanwhile, Fernandez, who takes office in Argentina on Dec. 10, criticized Trump’s anti-Morales statement, saying U.S. foreign policy had regressed to supporting military interventions. That could put him on the wrong foot early in a bilateral relationship that is key for Argentina’s economic success.Read More: Senator Brandishing Giant Bible Takes Over Bolivia PresidencyOnce Fernandez takes office he’ll have to negotiate Argentina’s $56 billion credit line with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund. The U.S. government is the IMF’s largest financier.A U.S. State Department spokesperson said while the two nations differ on the characterization of events in Bolivia, all democracies should support fundamental principles throughout the Americas including the rule of law.Fernandez may also face claims that he’s attempting to use Bolivia to distract from questions at home about when he will roll out his economic policies. An official close to him described the incoming leader’s focus on Bolivia as natural given the magnitude of the crisis there.Some analysts noted that Fernandez is part of a longstanding political movement, Peronism, which historically believed that criticizing a nation on one matter shouldn’t affect broader ties.“They don’t realize that what happens on one issue has an affect on the other,” said Juan Negri, a political science professor at Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires. “The U.S. doesn’t work like that -- that power is fungible and all these issues are interconnected, the U.S. sees it as a complete relationship.”Brasilia WatchesThe rapport between Mexico and the incoming Argentine government is being closely watched by the right-wing administration of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, the region’s largest economy. Both Bolsonaro and Fernandez haven’t hidden their ideological differences and Bolivia could become another sticking point in ties. Brazil was swift to recognize Anez as Bolivian president.In Brasilia, officials warn that Fernandez’s foreign policy direction might have economic consequences for a country which has Brazil as its top trading partner. Meanwhile Mexico’s more active role is a “media attention” move amid Lopez Obrador’s domestic problems, said one.Venezuela, the person said, will remain the keystone of political differences in the region.Then there’s the question of Bolivia itself. If the opposition manages to hold power, it could find itself aligning closer to the U.S. and moving away from traditional left-wing friends.And something similar may happen in Uruguay, where some polls put center-right candidate Luis Lacalle Pou ahead on the Nov. 24 runoff, which if confirmed would put an end to 15 years of rule by the left-wing Broad Front.\--With assistance from Nacha Cattan, Samy Adghirni, Patrick Gillespie, Jorgelina do Rosario and Eric Martin.To contact the reporter on this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto in Mexico City at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at email@example.com, Matthew BristowFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Iraqi protesters defiant in face of deadly crackdown
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Switzerland OKs linkup with EU’s emissions trading system
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Johnson Says Brexit Delay Holding Back Economy: U.K. Votes
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson is back in campaign mode following a tricky visit to flood-hit areas of northern England, where his government’s response was criticized by local residents. In a speech at the London Electrical Vehicle Factory in Coventry, the prime minister said getting Brexit done would trigger a wave of investment, and blamed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party for the U.K.’s delayed departure from the European Union.Key Developments:Johnson said a government led by Corbyn would offer “dither, delay, discord, division”Corbyn said a Labour government would not allow a referendum on Scottish independence in its first termFormer Tory minister David Gauke urges voters not to back JohnsonCabinet minister Michael Gove says a majority Conservative government would get a free-trade agreement with the EU done by the end of the Brexit transition period in Dec. 2020Johnson Pledges Investment Boom After Brexit (5:05 p.m.)At a Coventry factory where China’s Geely Automobile Holdings makes London taxis, Boris Johnson promised to boost research and development, including putting more money into electric car charging and offshore wind farms.“We are seeing a new industrial revolution: a green industrial revolution,” Johnson said in a speech. “Creating thousands of environmentally sustainable technologies and thousands of jobs. A glorious rebuttal to the skeptics who said it couldn’t be done.”Johnson said getting Brexit done would trigger a wave of investment into the U.K., and blamed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party for forcing the government to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union. He repeated some familiar attack lines, saying a Corbyn government offered only “dither and delay” and accused Labour of supporting a second referendum on Scottish independence next year -- something Corbyn denied earlier.Voters Quiz Johnson on Tory Funding Cuts (4:15 p.m.)During his visit to flood-hit areas of northern England, Boris Johnson has been meeting local residents -- and there have been some uncomfortable exchanges. In one clip posted by ITV, Johnson was asked about council funding cuts by his Conservative Party since the financial crisis.“Are you going to put it back, what’s been cut over austerity?” a woman asked. When Johnson started to reply about funds for flood relief, another resident interjected: “You’re not answering the question.”“We are increasing funding or councils, I don’t know the exact figures,” Johnson then said.The impact of almost a decade of austerity on local services in England was laid bare in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on Wednesday. With councils concentrating resources on the most needy residents, services including housing, planning, transport and culture have seen their budgets slashed in half since 2009-10.Brutal Cuts to U.K. Local Services Laid Bare as Austerity EndsJudge Blocks Postal Strike During Election (2:40 p.m.)A London judge blocked a potential strike by Royal Mail Plc workers during the peak Christmas holiday season, which this year includes the Dec. 12 general election. The Communication Workers Union members voted 97% in favor of action, but Royal Mail complained of “potential irregularities” in the ballot.The court’s decision removes the risk that large numbers of postal votes could be caught up in strike action ahead of the general election.Brexit Cost U.K. Tesla’s Gigafactory (2:30 p.m.)There was bad news for Boris Johnson’s claim that Brexit will unleash commercial opportunities, as Elon Musk said Tesla Inc. has rejected the U.K. as “too risky” for its European gigafactory.The U.K. was once a candidate for the company’s research and manufacturing facilities, Musk said as he announced he has opted for Germany instead. The uncertainty around the U.K. leaving the European Union made it far too risky a proposition, he told Auto Express.Corbyn: No Scottish Referendum in First Term (12:10 p.m.)Jeremy Corbyn said a Labour government would not allow a referendum on Scottish independence in its first term.“No referendum in the first term for a Labour government because I think we need to concentrate completely on investment across Scotland,” Corbyn said in pooled comments. “I’m very clear that a Labour government’s priority is investment in Scotland.”The issue is a key one because Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have repeatedly said a vote for Corbyn means a vote for two referendums next year -- one on Brexit and one on Scottish independence.Lib Dems See Boost in Farage Pullback (11:45 a.m.)The Liberal Democrats are trying to cash in on Nigel Farage’s decision to pull Brexit Party candidates out of Conservative-held seats.In an interview, party leader Jo Swinson said Farage’s gambit makes it easier for her party to appeal to moderate Tory voters who are appalled by the association with the Brexit Party. She’s also keen to remind voters that U.S. President Donald Trump urged Farage and Johnson to work together.Read more: U.K.’s Liberal Democrats See Opportunity in Brexit Party RetreatVoter to Johnson: Flood Aid ‘Too Late Now’ (10:15 a.m.)Boris Johnson’s visit to flood-stricken areas of northern England has not yet produced the kind of footage the prime minister will have been hoping for.Walking around with reporters and TV cameras in tow, he asked a local woman: “What more can we do?”“It’s a little bit too late now,” she replied, filming the encounter on her smartphone. Another voter declined to discuss the issue with Johnson, turning away when the premier approached.Speaking to Sky News, Johnson said there’s “a lot more still to be done” to help areas affected by flooding, and to prevent recurrences.Labour Pledges ‘Rescue Plan’ for NHS (10 a.m.)The opposition Labour Party pledged to end what it described as a “crisis” in the state-run National Health Service with a funding boost of 26 billion pounds ($33.4 billion). The increase in health spending by an average 4.3% a year will be funded by higher taxes on businesses and the wealthiest taxpayers, Labour said in an emailed statement. The party said it represents 6 billion pounds more in real terms than the government announced last year.“The world-class health service we all need and depend on needs proper funding,” Labour’s economy spokesman John McDonnell will say in a speech in London on Wednesday, according to the party. “Labour’s policies to tax the richest in society and invest for the future through our Social Transformation Fund mean we will be able to improve millions of lives.”Johnson to Vow to End Brexit ‘Groundhoggery’ (9:40 a.m.)In a speech later on Wednesday, Boris Johnson will vow to end the “groundhoggery” of Brexit if he wins a majority in the Dec. 12 election and “unleash Britain’s potential” with a clean energy revolution.“We can get out of the rut,” Johnson will say, according to lines briefed by his office. A coalition formed by Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party lies in wait for the U.K. if the Tories don’t succeed, he’ll say.“The country can either move forwards with policies that will deliver years of growth and prosperity, or it can disappear into an intellectual cul-de-sac of far-left Corbynism,” Johnson will say. “We can honor the wishes of the people, or else we can waste more time, at the cost of a billion pounds per month, and have two more referendums, one on Scotland and one on the EU -- an expense of spirit and a waste of shame, more political self-obsession and onanism.”Gove: Tory Majority Only Way to Get Brexit Done (8:30 a.m.)Cabinet minister Michael Gove disputed David Gauke’s assertion (see 7:30 a.m.) that voting for the Conservatives risked a hard split from the European Union. During his broadcast round, Gove told the BBC that Gauke was “precisely wrong” and said a parliamentary majority for the Tories would allow the government to deliver a free-trade agreement with the EU by the end of 2020.“The only way we can get Brexit done and move on with the people’s priorities, investing in policing and education, is by making sure that we have a functioning majority government,” Gove said. He said politicians’ warnings of a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020 are attempts to “raise bogeys and make people’s flesh creep.”Gove also addressed the flooding in northern England that has rapidly become a key campaign issue. He said the government is releasing extra funds to help affected communities. “It’s certainly an emergency and it deserves a national response.”Gauke: A Vote for Johnson Means ‘Hard Brexit’ (7:30 a.m.)Former Tory Cabinet minister David Gauke urged voters not to support Boris Johnson, warning that “a Conservative majority after the next election will take us in the direction of a very hard Brexit.” Gauke told BBC radio it’s doubtful a free-trade deal with the European Union can be negotiated by Dec. 2020, when the Brexit transition period is due to end.“I think in reality the prime minister is so boxed in that the Conservative Party would not allow him to extend the implementation period even if he wanted to -- and he shows no signs of wanting to do so,” said Gauke, who plans to stand as an independent candidate.Gauke also said he’s “impressed” by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. “I think if I was living in a lot of constituencies, I would lend my vote to the Liberal Democrats.”Earlier:Johnson Asks Troops to Fight Floods as Weather Hits U.K. BallotU.K. Recent Election Polls Summary: Conservative 40%, Labour 29%Brexit Bulletin: Johnson Told He Can’t Avoid EU ResponsibilitiesJohnson Aims Not to Be Swept Away By Floods: U.K. Campaign TrailTo contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Kitty Donaldson in London at email@example.com;Robert Hutton in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at email@example.com, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Iraq officials must 'step up' to enact reforms: UN envoy to AFP
Iraqi officials must ramp up their response to mass demonstrations demanding an overhaul of the political system, the United Nations' representative in Baghdad told AFP in an exclusive interview Wednesday. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who heads the UN's Iraq mission (UNAMI), said the country's authorities must "step up to the plate and make things happen". The UN has put forward a phased roadmap, backed by the country's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, calling for an immediate end to violence, electoral reform and anti-graft measures within two weeks.
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