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GOP. Rep. Ratcliffe suggested Ukraine wasn't worried about its missing aid. This impeachment witness wasn't having it.
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 19:57:45 -0500

GOP. Rep. Ratcliffe suggested Ukraine wasn't worried about its missing aid. This impeachment witness wasn't having it.GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) just blew his attempt to brush off the impeachment hearings' latest bombshell.In the second of Wednesday's hearings, Defense Department official Laura Cooper revised her previous closed-door testimony to say Ukrainian officials noticed their U.S. security aid was held up months earlier than she previously said. Ratcliffe then tried to lead Cooper into saying that was no big deal, but she didn't give in to his loaded question.Cooper recently learned Ukraine had inquired about withheld U.S. security aid as early as July 25, she said Wednesday in a revision from her earlier testimony. That's the same day President Trump asked Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election -- an alleged quid pro quo. Republicans have tried brush off that alleged exchange, saying a quid pro quo couldn't have happened if Ukraine didn't know the aid was being held up.Cooper's statement bucked that notion, so when Ratcliffe got a chance to question her, asked a series of questions in which he tried to get Cooper to claim Ukraine's inquiries about the aid were no big deal. The inquiries from Ukraine about the aid asked about the "assistance," not necessarily the "hold," Ratcliffe asked. "Not necessarily," Cooper agreed after a pause, mirroring his statements as he continued. But when Ratcliffe tried to tie it all together and say it's "not unusual" for countries to ask about aid, Cooper used her "experience with the Ukrainians" to say that's just not the case. Watch that moment below. > GOP Rep. Ratcliffe: "It's not unusual...for foreign countries to inquire about foreign aid?" > > Laura Cooper: "In my experience with the Ukrainians, they typically would call about specific things, not just generally checking in on their assistance package." https://t.co/9xNcgadn90 pic.twitter.com/kmNx7hDcBq> > -- Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) November 21, 2019More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril


Vindman's lawyer requests Fox News issue retraction over guest's espionage allegation
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 19:15:00 -0500

Vindman's lawyer requests Fox News issue retraction over guest's espionage allegationA lawyer for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman sent a letter to Fox News on Wednesday, requesting that the network either retract or correct a "deeply flawed and erroneous" segment that aired during the Oct. 28 episode of The Ingraham Angle.Vindman is the National Security Council's Ukraine expert, and the segment aired prior to his closed-door testimony as part of the House impeachment inquiry. Host Laura Ingraham said it was "kind of an interesting angle" that Vindman "is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president's interest, and usually, they spoke in English." Yoo replied, "I found that astounding. Some people might call that espionage."In his letter, lawyer David Pressman wrote that Vindman "had never in his 20-year career of service to his country been accused of having dual loyalties or committing espionage," which is a felony punishable by death. This falsehood was repeated by others, Pressman said, and Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient who served in Iraq, and his family "have been forced to examine options, including potentially moving onto a military base, in order to ensure their physical security in the face of threats rooted in the falsehood that Fox News originated."In a statement, Fox News said that "as a guest on Fox News, John Yoo was responsible for his own statements, and he has subsequently done interviews to clarify what he meant." Yoo told The New York Times in an email that he "didn't say that Lt. Col. was a spy or that he had committed espionage. I had no reason to question that he was doing his duty as an officer. But I think the Ukrainians are engaged in espionage against us." That argument, Pressman said, is "as legally irrelevant as it is factually incredible."More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril


Impeachment witness says Ukraine knew its security aid was held up on July 25 — the day of the Trump–Zelensky call
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 18:57:00 -0500

Impeachment witness says Ukraine knew its security aid was held up on July 25 — the day of the Trump–Zelensky callImpeachment testimony changes are turning out to be game changers.In the second of Wednesday's back-to-back impeachment hearings, Defense Department official Laura Cooper had something to revise from her closed-door testimony right off the bat. While Cooper originally testified Ukrainian officials started asking about withheld security aid on Sept. 5, she said Wednesday she's since heard from aides that Ukrainians had inquired months earlier.The withholding of aid to Ukraine is a major part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. It's one half of the quid pro quo Trump has denied, allegedly withheld by the Trump administration until the Ukrainian government agreed to announce an investigation into the Bidens. Several officials have testified the aid was held up for this reason, but one major point made by Republicans has been that the aid was eventually released, and that the Ukrainians didn't even know it was missing until after Trump's infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky where he requested the Biden investigation.Cooper's testimony undercuts that narrative. She said Wednesday she'd since seen emails provided by staffers showing Ukrainian officials asked about the aid on July 25, the day of the call where Trump asked Zelensky to "do me a favor." If that's true, it would be much harder to claim the Ukrainians didn't feel pressured by Trump's request.More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril


U.S.-China Trade Deal Inches Ahead, Shadowed by Failure Risk
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 18:54:30 -0500

U.S.-China Trade Deal Inches Ahead, Shadowed by Failure Risk(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. After almost two years of negotiations and escalations -- and plenty of false dawns -- trade negotiators from the U.S. and China are making progress in key areas even as concerns grow that efforts to nail down the first phase of a broader deal are stalling.Some people close to the talks describe them as being in a sensitive, make-or-break stage and caution that what President Donald Trump proclaimed as a done deal a month ago, sending U.S. stocks soaring to records, could still easily fall apart.Hanging over the discussion is the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong -- and a push by the U.S. Congress to send a bill to Trump for his signature that would require annual reviews of the territory’s special status and sanction officials deemed responsible for undermining the city’s autonomy. The House approved the measure Wednesday and Trump said he would sign it, though China has threatened to retaliate.That means less than a year from the 2020 presidential elections, Trump’s push to rewire the world’s most important economic relationship is simultaneously close to yielding its first narrow victory and teetering on the edge of a collapse.The latter outcome would trigger another round of tit-for-tat tariffs, the potential consequences of which were on display Wednesday when the president visited an Apple Inc. factory in Texas.Apple has said producing its high-end Mac Pro laptop at the plant was only possible because of the exemption of key components from existing tariffs and Trump during his visit raised the possibility of further exemptions.But if efforts to reach a “phase one” deal fail before Dec. 15, Trump has threatened to impose 15% tariffs on some $160 billion in imports from China including smartphones and laptop computers -- two key Apple products. Stocks gyrated Wednesday on conflicting reports about the timing of any pact.People close to the discussions insist negotiators so far have been able to avoid having growing areas of friction, like Hong Kong, infect the talks. The looming December tariffs, meanwhile, have replaced a canceled Nov. 16-17 summit in Chile at which Trump and China’s Xi Jinping were expected to sign a deal as a hard deadline.During a video conference late last week between Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s trade representative, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and China’s lead negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, the two sides agreed to accelerate efforts to reach a deal to avoid the new tariffs taking effect, according to people briefed on the discussions.During that call and others in recent days, officials from the two sides have made some progress on issues ranging from the parameters of a Chinese crackdown on intellectual-property theft to how a deal might be enforced, according to officials and other people briefed on the discussions.They have struggled, however, to find agreement over the details of other commitments that Trump wants to be part of an initial agreement including the schedule of agricultural purchases he is demanding and exactly which tariffs to remove, those people say.Trump has sought to maintain pressure on China in public. “China would much rather make a trade deal than I would,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think they’re stepping up to the level that I want.”The Asian country’s media, meanwhile, has continued to take a tough line. “Few Chinese believe that China and the U.S. can reach a deal soon,” Hu Xijin, editor of the state-run Global Times, tweeted on Wednesday. “China wants a deal but is prepared for the worst-case scenario, a prolonged trade war.”One thing that has become increasingly less likely is a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Xi before the year’s end.The Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily, earlier this week described Xi’s recently concluded visit to Brazil as his “final foreign trip this year,” indicating there are no plans now to venture overseas for a signing ceremony in the closing weeks of 2019.In response, officials on both sides have begun to discuss the possibility that ministers sign a deal instead of opting for a more logistically complicated ceremony involving the two leaders.People close to the talks in China say Liu could be given the title “special envoy” to sign the deal, pointing to 2016 and the fact that then-Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli acted as Xi’s special envoy to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change on behalf of China.But the priority before those details are worked out remains overcoming the final sticking points.Farm PurchasesChina’s reluctance to agree to the detailed commitments on agricultural purchases that Trump has said he wants to see double from pre-trade war levels to as much as $50 billion annually within a couple of years is based in part on the difficulty of reaching those heights. Chinese officials continue to insist any purchases would have be market-based and comply with World Trade Organization rules.Officials in Beijing are continuing to push for all additional tariffs to be rolled back, and both sides indicated they would accept an enforcement mechanism that could see duties reimposed if differences can’t be resolved through negotiation, according to people briefed on the talks.China is insisting that tariff moves have to be “reciprocal,” borrowing a key word from Trump’s trade lexicon.How the deal would be enforced was one of the main sticking points when talks fell apart in May, and Beijing faulted the Trump administration for violating its sovereignty by forcing the country to change its laws and sign up to a one-way enforcement regime.The negotiating teams are using their failed May proposal as a benchmark for how much a phase-one deal covers of the once-near agreement and how much tariffs will be removed as part of the initial deal.Observers SkepticalThose difficult issues are just one of the reasons some close observers of the talks remain skeptical that even the once-promising initial deal will surface.Scott Kennedy, an expert on U.S.-China economic relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Trump’s escalation over the summer had been ill-conceived and signs of progress seemed more targeted at calming markets than resolving significant structural problems like China’s vast web of industrial subsidies.“We’re far beyond, ‘The boy who cried wolf,’” Kennedy said. “Someone now could write a new story, ‘The leader who called ‘deal.’”(Updates with President Trump comments in 12th paragraph)\--With assistance from Miao Han, Dandan Li, Zoe Schneeweiss and Jordan Fabian.To contact the reporters on this story: Shawn Donnan in Beijing at sdonnan@bloomberg.net;Jenny Leonard in Washington at jleonard67@bloomberg.net;Steven Yang in Beijing at kyang74@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net, ;Margaret Collins at mcollins45@bloomberg.net, Ana MonteiroFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


China Risks Hurting Itself by Hitting U.S. Over Hong Kong Bill
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 18:37:47 -0500

China Risks Hurting Itself by Hitting U.S. Over Hong Kong Bill(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. China had a swift and forceful response on Wednesday after the U.S. Senate passed legislation supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, with multiple government agencies threatening some sort of unspecified retaliation.“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” said a statement issued by the foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong, using a Chinese phrase that prior to this year was used only in rare cases like before a 1962 war with India.But President Xi Jinping’s government has a problem: Any strong measures against the U.S. also risk backfiring on China. That’s particularly dangerous as he struggles to contain escalating violence in Hong Kong and negotiates a trade pact with the U.S. all while the economy grows at its slowest pace in decades.China’s retaliation since President Donald Trump kicked off a trade war last year has mostly been tit-for-tat tariffs, and always with the caveat that it was left with no other choice. In other areas where it’s been hit by the U.S. -- Taiwan arms sales, sanctions over human-rights abuses in the far west region of Xinjiang, putting Huawei Technologies Co. on a blacklist -- China has held fire despite threats to hit back.“It’s worth noting that the U.S. can do more damage to China than China can do to the U.S.,” said Shi Yinhong, an adviser to China’s cabinet who is a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the State Department to determine each year whether the city remains sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify special trade privileges. It also outlines potential sanctions on mainland officials who suppress human rights.The biggest concern among those in the markets is whether the bill will derail talks on a phase one trade deal that are entering their final stages. Stocks in Europe and Asia fell along with American equity-index futures on Wednesday on concerns it could lead to further delays.“The imminent retaliation from China would be on the on-going trade talks,” said Huiyao Wang, another adviser to China’s cabinet and founder of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing. “The Hong Kong bill will do tremendous damage to the prospect of a trade deal and stall the negotiation process as China’s side won’t engage positively with U.S. counterparts.”Trump DilemmaFor Trump, that presents a dilemma. A major reason he wants a deal now is so China can buy large amounts of agricultural products from swing states he needs to win re-election next year. If that doesn’t happen, his own political future is in doubt.His position is even trickier because Congress would easily be able to override any veto. If he signs the bill, he could torpedo the trade talks, while refusing to sign it would give his political opponents a chance to attack him for being weak on China.As a one-party state, China doesn’t have to worry about that type of electoral pressure. But it also wants to stop the bleeding and avoid more tariff increases, including one still due to take place in December. And Xi may be under pressure within the Communist Party: A rare leak to the New York Times this week of internal documents showing human-rights abuses in Xinjiang signaled some dissent in China’s opaque political system.Beyond delaying trade talks, China has a number of options. It could hit out at U.S. companies, halt cooperation on enforcing sanctions related to North Korea and Iran, recall the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. or downgrade diplomatic relations.China’s Trump Retaliation Options Range From Soybeans to BoeingIn May, after the U.S. blacklisted Huawei, China signaled it would curb exports to the U.S. of rare earths that are critical to everything from smartphones to electronic vehicles to wind turbines. The government also said it will establish a list of so-called “unreliable” entities it says damage the interests of domestic companies, a sweeping order that could potentially affect thousands of foreign firms.Around that time, the flagship People’s Daily even used the same phrase “don’t say I didn’t warn you” that at one time carried enormous weight. Yet China still hasn’t implemented those measures, preferring instead to head back to the negotiating table.‘Cry Foul’When it comes to Hong Kong, Trump already has enormous leverage. Under the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, the U.S. president can issue an order removing the special trading status that underpins its economy, potentially with devastating consequences.Beijing realizes the U.S. is unlikely to do that, so is likely to limit itself to “very high-sounding, rhetorical responses” rather than concrete actions hitting American economic interests, according to Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for China Studies, who has authored numerous books on Chinese politics.“The Chinese will, of course, cry foul, but the real reaction may not be that severe,” Lam said. “They will watch the situation and make a judgment later.”To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Daniel Ten Kate, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Trump Expected to Sign Hong Kong Bill Despite China Threats
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 18:31:38 -0500

Trump Expected to Sign Hong Kong Bill Despite China Threats(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is expected to sign legislation passed by Congress supporting Hong Kong protesters, setting up a confrontation with China that could imperil a long-awaited trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.The bill, approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday, passed the House 417-1 on Wednesday and could go to Trump as soon as Thursday. A person familiar with the matter said Trump plans to sign the bill.“The Congress is sending an unmistakable message to the world that the United States stands in solidarity with freedom-loving people of Hong Kong and that we fully support their fight for freedom,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. “This has been a very unifying issue for us.”The remarkable bipartisan support for a tough U.S. stance with China creates one of the toughest economic and foreign policy challenges of Trump’s presidency. He’d like to sign what he calls “phase one” of a China trade deal in order to resolve economic uncertainly stemming from his trade war with Beijing as he ramps up his campaign for re-election.“After the Senate unanimously passed our Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, I applaud Speaker Pelosi for taking swift action to send this bill directly to President Trump’s desk for signature,” Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and a sponsor of the Senate legislation, said in a statement. “I urge the president to sign this critical bill into law as soon as possible.”QuickTake: Why Hong Kong’s ‘Special Status’ Is Touchy TerritoryThe bill, S. 1838, would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trade status under U.S. law and sanction officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses and undermining the city’s autonomy.‘Ramifications’ for CrackdownTrump has been largely silent on the Hong Kong protests as they escalated into violence in recent weeks, even as lawmakers of both parties demanded action. Chinese officials quickly responded to the bill’s Senate passage Tuesday, saying Beijing “firmly” opposes the congressional action and calling it a grave violation of international law.“We stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong,” said Republican Representative Chris Smith, who has been pushing the legislation since Hong Kong protests in 2014. “There will be strong sanctions, other ramifications for this crackdown.”The House also passed another Senate bill, S. 2710, to ban the export of crowd-control items such as tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong police.The Democratic-led House used an expedited process to quickly act on the Senate bill rather than trying to reconcile it with a slightly different version the House unanimously passed last month. That was the quickest way to approve the legislation before Congress recesses for Thanksgiving next week.Republican senators have been among the loudest voices calling for harsh consequences for China’s crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, wrote to United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft asking for a resolution “to condemn and hold accountable the People’s Republic of China” for human rights violations in Hong Kong.Craft said in an emailed statement that she is “committed to supporting human dignity and advancing the cause of human rights at every available opportunity.”Trade Deal RisksSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Trump to speak out, saying Monday that “the world should hear from him directly that the United States stands with” the protesters.Vice President Mike Pence, however, said it would be difficult for the U.S. to sign a trade agreement with China if demonstrations in Hong Kong are met with violence.“The president’s made it clear it’ll be very hard for us to do a deal with China if there’s any violence or if that matter is not treated properly and humanely,” Pence said Tuesday in a radio interview.Trade negotiators are still making delicate progress on an accord, according to people close to the talks, who describe the negotiation as entering a make-or-break stage.Trump’s central argument to voters is the strength of the U.S. economy under his presidency and his ability to cut deals with other countries. Signing the Hong Kong bill could harden China’s negotiating position as the U.S. asks China to buy more agricultural products and Beijing insists that the U.S. reduce tariffs on Chinese goods.China “condemns and firmly opposes” the legislation that Trump plans to sign, according to a statement from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang after Tuesday’s Senate vote.“The U.S. should immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s other internal affairs, or the negative consequences will boomerang on itself,” the statement said. “China will have to take strong countermeasures to defend our national sovereignty, security and development interests if the U.S. insists on making the wrong decisions.”(Updates with lawmaker comments and trade deal beginning in the 11th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Jordan Fabian, Shawn Donnan, Jenny Leonard and Steven Yang.To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel Flatley in Washington at dflatley1@bloomberg.net;Justin Sink in Washington at jsink1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Alex WayneFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Putin: U.S. political drama diverting attention from Russia
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 18:15:53 -0500

Putin: U.S. political drama diverting attention from RussiaRussian President Vladimir Putin says he’s pleased that the “political battles” in Washington have put on the back-burner accusations that Russia interfered in U.S. elections. Some Republicans have used the public hearings to tout a discredited conspiracy theory that blames Ukraine, not Russia, for interfering in the 2016 presidential election in which Donald Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the impeachment hearings, Democrats in Congress say Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden while withholding U.S. military aid to Kyiv, and argue that may be grounds for removing Trump from office.


Saudi king urges Iran to quit 'harmful' expansionism
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:49:21 -0500

Saudi king urges Iran to quit 'harmful' expansionismSaudi Arabia's King Salman urged arch-rival Iran on Wednesday to abandon an expansionist ideology that has "harmed" its own people, following violent street protests in the Islamic republic. "We hope the Iranian regime chooses the side of wisdom and realises there is no way to overcome the international position that rejects its practises, without abandoning its expansionist and destructive thinking that has harmed its own people," the king told the consultative Shura Council. "The kingdom has suffered from the policies and practises of the Iranian regime and its proxies," King Salman said, quoted by the foreign ministry, reiterating that Riyadh does not seek war but is "ready to defend its people".


Huawei asks Canadian court to stay extradition process for CFO to United States
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:38:33 -0500

Huawei asks Canadian court to stay extradition process for CFO to United StatesHuawei spokesman Benjamin Howes said in an email that the company believes the extradition fails to meet the Canadian standard of double criminality. The standard means the alleged conduct for which Meng was arrested in 2018 has to be illegal in both countries for her to be extradited. Meng, 47, was arrested at the Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading the bank HSBC about Huawei Technologies' business in Iran.


Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God'
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:33:28 -0500

Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God'At least one person is happy about everything that's going on in Washington, D.C.As everything that went down between President Trump and Ukraine comes to the surface, Russian President Vladimir Putin is literally saying "thank God" that eyes aren't on him anymore. "No one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore," he said at a Wednesday economic forum in Moscow, per NBC News. "Now they're accusing Ukraine."Intelligence officials have concluded Russia meddled in the 2016 election and will try to do so again, but Trump has ignored that and instead pushed the idea that Ukraine is somehow even more to blame. He explicitly told Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky that he'd like to see Ukraine investigate the 2016 election and baselessly claimed the country has a physical server holding the hacked Democratic National Committee emails. These unfounded claims have led to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump and apparently left Putin thrilled that he's out of the conversation.Just because Russia is out of the spotlight doesn't mean the country isn't still attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections. Special Counsel Robert Mueller relayed a warning about Russian election interference during his congressional hearing back in April, saying it was likely happening as he testified. Putin himself seemingly joked last month that he's going to get meddling soon, though if we're being honest, that's probably not a joke.More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril White House and Trump campaign officials are reportedly 'freaking out' about Sondland's testimony


Evo Morales backers claim Bolivia's interim government is circulating a fake audio recording of the ousted president
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:19:55 -0500

Evo Morales backers claim Bolivia's interim government is circulating a fake audio recording of the ousted presidentAs Bolivia's political situation intensifies, the country's interim government Wednesday produced audio it says consists of former exiled President Evo Morales ordering a blockade to prevent food from entering Bolivian cities. But Morales' supporters have dismissed the recording as fraudulent."Brother, don't led food into the cities, we are going to do a blockade, a true siege," someone whom the government says is Morales is heard saying in what is allegedly a phone call he made from exile in Mexico. "From now it is going to be fight, fight, fight."The audio was released by Interior Minister Arturo Murillo one day after the military clashed violently with Morales' supporters who were reportedly blocking fuel from reaching the capital, La Paz, which along with several other cities throughout the country has been facing a food and fuel shortage since the standoff between the protesters and interim government began, per The Wall Street Journal. Morales' backers, who have accused the military of orchestrating a right wing coup to remove the socialist Morales from power, argue that the government released the video in an attempt to distract the country as it conducts a crackdown on protesters who are demanding Morales' return.Meanwhile, morales activists have reportedly shared videos showing soldiers firing live rounds at protesters. Morales called upon the interim government Wednesday to "stop this massacre of indigenous brothers who ask for peace, democracy, and respect of life in the streets." Read more at The Wall Street Journal.More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril


Biegun confident on Korea, Japan troops talks, but no 'free ride'
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:17:16 -0500

Biegun confident on Korea, Japan troops talks, but no 'free ride'"I'm confident we can do this through negotiations, but these are going to be tough negotiations," Stephen Biegun, the current special representative for North Korea, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee nomination hearing. Asked if he would continue to advocate for the presence of U.S. military personnel in South Korea if confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, Biegun said he believed the United States should continue to station troops there.


Millie Bobby Brown Speaks Up Against Bullying
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:07:10 -0500

Millie Bobby Brown Speaks Up Against BullyingThe actor recalled her experience being picked on at school during a speech at the United Nations.


Corbyn Unveils Manifesto to Rile U.K.’s Bankers and Billionaires
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:00:00 -0500

Corbyn Unveils Manifesto to Rile U.K.’s Bankers and Billionaires(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will urge voters in the U.K. election to take down bankers and billionaires who “profit from a rigged system.”Corbyn will launch an all-out assault on the wealthiest people in Britain on Thursday, when he unveils an election manifesto promising radical change across the economy.Speaking in Birmingham, central England, Corbyn will say the fury of the “rich and powerful” at Labour’s policies is the best demonstration they are on the side of ordinary voters.“If the bankers, billionaires and the establishment thought we represented politics as usual, that we could be bought off, that nothing was really going to change, they wouldn’t attack us so ferociously,” he will say.Corbyn’s populist pitch for the Dec. 12 election is aimed at voters frustrated and exhausted by a decade of post-financial crisis austerity. At every turn, he’s trying to define himself against his privately educated opponent Boris Johnson whose main pitch is to deliver Brexit.That even extends to Corbyn breaking with protocol Tuesday by criticizing Prince Andrew, following revelations over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. On Wednesday, the prince stepped down from public duties, saying the controversy had disrupted his work and that of the royal family.Branding his plans a “manifesto for hope” that are fully costed, Corbyn will promise tax increases that target only the top 5% of taxpayers, while protecting everyone else.But he will also promise to “go after the tax dodgers, the bad bosses and the big polluters,” with a 10-pound ($13) minimum wage, more power for renters, stronger unions, and a levy on the biggest polluters that will be used to tackle climate change. He’s also promised to take utilities into public ownership, including BT Group Plc’s Openreach unit.“You really can have this plan for real change because you don’t need money to buy it. You just need a vote -- and your vote can be more powerful than all their wealth,” he will say.Corbyn’s rivals in the Conservative Party attacked his efforts to avoid the issue of Brexit. In a debate with Johnson on Tuesday, Corbyn repeatedly refused to say how he would campaign in a second referendum.“He refuses to mention Brexit because he can’t even tell the public if he’d back leave or remain in his second referendum,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.To contact the reporter on this story: Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@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.


Ready for change? Britain's Labour unveils 'radical' manifesto
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:00:00 -0500

Ready for change? Britain's Labour unveils 'radical' manifestoLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn will unveil his opposition party's election manifesto on Thursday, setting out how in government he plans to transform Britain with "the most radical and ambitious plan" in decades. With three weeks before Britain votes in its second election in just over two years, Corbyn will press his message that only Labour can challenge the status quo, fighting for ordinary people against "bankers, billionaires and the establishment". Lagging in the polls, the 70-year-old socialist will hope his message of change will drown out criticism of his Brexit stance, which even some in his party say lacks the clarity of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's vow to "get Brexit done".


White House and Trump campaign officials are reportedly 'freaking out' about Sondland's testimony
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:53:33 -0500

White House and Trump campaign officials are reportedly 'freaking out' about Sondland's testimonyWhite House aides and Trump campaign officials were "freaking out" after being "blindsided" by European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony on Wednesday, which contained allegations of quid pro quo and pointed fingers at the president and other top administration officials, CNN's Jim Acosta reports.The White House had attempted to get an "early peek" at Sondland's remarks during the jittery hours before the impeachment hearing began, due to the perception that he was a "wild card" witness, The Washington Post reports. Sondland's attorney had refused those attempts.It became clear during the testimony, though, that Sondland's confirmation that "everyone was in the loop" was bad news for Republicans, who pivoted to attempting to distance Trump from what Democrats say was an attempt to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on Hunter Biden, the son of his potential 2020 rival. Trump's campaign specifically zeroed in on Sondland saying that Trump "directly told him he wanted nothing from Ukraine," although Sondland did confirm that the requests of Trump's personal lawyer and fixer Rudy Giuliani "were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit" for the Ukrainian president, and that "Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States."Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany maintained that "over and over we've heard from Democrats and the media that the next hearing, the next witness, the next testimony would be the bombshell they've been promising, only to have it fizzle out like all the rest. It has happened yet again." But Ken Starr, the lead prosecutor during the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings, begs to differ: "This obviously has been one of those bombshell days," he told Fox News.More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril


Halkbank seeks to challenge U.S. jurisdiction before entering plea to charges
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:52:59 -0500

Halkbank seeks to challenge U.S. jurisdiction before entering plea to chargesTurkey's state-owned Halkbank , which U.S. prosecutors have criminally charged with helping Iran evade sanctions, said it should be able to challenge whether U.S. courts can hear the case at all before it entered a formal plea, according to a court filing made public on Wednesday. The bank also rejected prosecutors' claim that it was a "fugitive" for refusing to appear in federal court in Manhattan to enter a plea, and said that appearing there might be construed as accepting the court's jurisdiction. "As a corporation, Halkbank cannot be a 'fugitive' since it has no physical body to present," the bank said.


Marie Kondo opens an online store full of stuff that 'sparks joy' for her
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:34:32 -0500

Marie Kondo opens an online store full of stuff that 'sparks joy' for herHave you followed Marie Kondo's advice and thrown out everything in your residence that doesn't spark joy? Great! Now it's time to fill your residence back up again -- and as long as your shelves are bare, why not buy all that stuff directly from Marie Kondo's online store?And if you think it's a little hypocritical for the self-styled de-cluttering guru to sell you a bunch of overpriced junk, we're sure a sip from your $98 gem-infused water bottle will clear those bad vibes right up. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril


Trump tops all 4 leading Democratic candidates in new Wisconsin poll
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:16:00 -0500

Trump tops all 4 leading Democratic candidates in new Wisconsin pollDemocrats might want to shield their eyes from the latest poll from Marquette Law School released Wednesday.President Trump was shown leading all four of the party's top primary contenders -- former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) -- in head-to-head matchups in Wisconsin, which many analysts regard as one of the most important states in the 2020 election. Last month, three of the four, save for Buttigieg (whose deficit increased) had small leads over the president.> Here's the new Marquette Law Wisconsin poll: > > Trump 47% > Biden 44% > > Trump 48% > Sanders 45% > > Trump 48% > Warren 43% > > Trump 47% > Buttigieg 39%https://t.co/zhOQbZ8JL3> > -- Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) November 20, 2019Of course, like all polls there's probably not any reason for Democrats to panic, just as there was no reason for Republicans to worry too much about the October survey. With the exception of Buttigieg again, Trump's leads are all either within in or nearly within the poll's margin of error or 4.1 percentage points.Biden, meanwhile, was leading the Democratic field among Wisconsin voters with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Sanders at 17 percent, Warren at 15 percent, and Buttigieg at 13 percent.The Marquette Law School poll was conducted between Nov. 13-17. The sample consisted of 801 registered Wisconsin voters who were interviewed over the phone. The margin of error was 4.1 percentage points. Read the full poll here.More stories from theweek.com Ken Starr on the Sondland testimony: 'It's over' Putin says the Ukraine scandal has distracted the U.S. from Russian election meddling: 'Thank God' Sondland just obliterated Trump and put the entire White House in peril


European centre-right's new leader vows to fight populism
Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:10:42 -0500

European centre-right's new leader vows to fight populismFormer EU Council president Donald Tusk pledged Wednesday to fight political populism as he was elected leader of Europe's main conservative parties during their group meeting in Croatia. The former Polish prime minister will be tasked with boosting the fortunes of the European People's Party (EPP) -- which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and France's Republicans. The EPP is still the largest group in the European Parliament but is under increasing pressure from far-right, liberal and green blocs, which all made gains at the last elections.



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