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  • South Korean city urges 2.5M people to stay home over virus

    South Korean city urges 2.5M people to stay home over virusThe mayor of the South Korean city of Daegu urged its 2.5 million people on Thursday to refrain from going outside as cases of a new virus spike. Mayor Kwon Young-jin made the request in a televised news conference after the southeastern city and its nearby towns reported 35 additional cases of infection with the new coronavirus on Thursday. South Korea has reported a total of 82 cases of COVID-19, a disease first detected in Wuhan, China, in December.




  • Debate night brawl: Bloomberg, Sanders attacked by rivals

    Debate night brawl: Bloomberg, Sanders attacked by rivalsFrom the opening bell, Democrats savaged New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg and raised pointed questions about Bernie Sanders' take-no-prisoners politics during a contentious debate Wednesday night that threatened to further muddy the party's urgent quest to defeat President Donald Trump. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who was once a Republican, was forced to defend his record and past comments related to race, gender and his personal wealth in an occasionally rocky debate stage debut. Sanders, meanwhile, tried to beat back pointed questions about his embrace of democratic socialism and his health following a heart attack last year.




  • Analysis: Dems' civility gives way to combustible conflict

    Analysis: Dems' civility gives way to combustible conflictThrough a year of campaigning, the Democratic presidential candidates played nice, talking up party unity, disagreeing mostly politely on policy. Wednesday’s debate signaled a sharp turn in the Democratic contest, with civility giving way to a combustible conflict that laid bare both the ideological divisions roiling the party and the personal animosities that have simmered for months. Elizabeth Warren criticized Bernie Sanders for leading a movement that has provided a haven for online harassment.




  • Egypt's once-reviled street dogs get chance at a better life

    Egypt's once-reviled street dogs get chance at a better lifeKarim Hegazi spends his days in a Cairo clinic taking care of animals long considered a menace in Egypt. Stray dogs roam in almost every Cairo neighborhood — lurking in construction sites, scavenging through trash and howling nightly atop parked cars. The government says there's around 15 million of them.




  • Bernie Sanders is cruising towards the Democratic nomination. But can he win?

    Bernie Sanders is cruising towards the Democratic nomination. But can he win?The contest has become Bernie Sanders v a delusional sideshow of centrists bent on mutual annihilation We have officially reached the Hunger Games stage of this Democratic primary season. The stage where you can grab the “horse-faced lesbian” weapon and hurl it at an “arrogant” billionaire within the first minutes of the show starting.It’s the stage where a young midwestern mayor can trash the experience of a midwestern senator, who turns right back at him and says, “Are you trying to say I’m dumb or are you mocking me here?” So much for all that midwestern niceness.There’s a reason why the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday turned into such an epic Donnybrook. It’s called the primary calendar, which is inexorably counting down to the Super Tuesday contests in less than two weeks.At that point, one of the candidates on stage will emerge with a delegate lead that puts an end to all the quadrennial talk of a brokered convention. At this point, that candidate looks like Bernie Sanders.In the meantime, his five rivals on the debate stage have engaged in an entirely delusional sideshow of mutual annihilation.The odds will never be in their favor. They don’t have the time for all the cannon fire before they lose the Nevada caucus and then watch Sanders sweep the majority of California delegates.Instead they engaged in an entirely futile effort to knock each other out of the contest so they could confront the frontrunner alone. This is something that Mike Bloomberg’s advisers acknowledged is the only realistic prospect of stopping Sanders.Which prompted Amy Klobuchar to accuse Bloomberg of telling women like her to wait her turn and step aside. If Elizabeth Warren hadn’t already thrown the horse-faced line at Bloomberg, Klobuchar might have earned a few of the many gasps of shock and awe that rumbled through the audience.Until now, each new frontrunner in this long primary contest has faded under the fire of everyone else. At various points over the last year, Kamala Harris hemmed, Elizabeth Warren wilted and Pete Buttigieg bumbled.By the time it was Bernie Sanders’ turn in the barrel, it was his great good fortune that most of the fire was turned on everyone else.“Mayor Bloomberg, should you exist?” asked NBC’s Chuck Todd, crystallizing in one short question how ludicrous this primary contest has become. Faced with a metaphysical question about his own existence, the Democrats’ favorite billionaire admitted the obvious. “I’ve made a lot of money, and I’m giving it away,” he said, justifying his existence with his munificence.On stage alongside a hostile gang of millionaires, our beleaguered billionaire found his stride by defending the otherwise defenseless figure of the American economy. “We’re not going to throw out capitalism,” he said, sounding unscripted and unplugged for the first time. “We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it doesn’t work.”For the first time during the debate, there were more gasps from the people on stage than from those in the audience.This topical argument about capitalism v communism led to an awesome series of counterpunches. Bernie said Mike was wealthier than the bottom 125 million Americans. Mike said Bernie was a socialist millionaire with three homes. Elizabeth talked about a wealth tax. Mike said he wanted to roll back the tax cuts of the Obama, um, Trump administration.One of the many pitfalls of political analysis is the temptation to treat the next election like the last one. But hindsight is not foresight, even when the names and faces look familiar.This Democratic primary is not the same as it was four years ago; nor is it like the Republican contest of the same cycle. After three years of Trumpian dysfunction and disinformation, nothing is the same.Take Bernie Sanders. Four years ago he was the bitter insurgent, railing against the establishment and capitalism, while trashing the delegate count. Today he is the clear frontrunner, railing against the establishment and capitalism, while loving the delegate count.> The other angry candidates sounded like pale imitations of the angry old socialistWednesday’s debate was meant to be the biggest test for the former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose lavish spending has launched him late into the primary spotlight.But the expectations of Bloomberg were somewhere between subway and sewer levels. He was supposedly so ill-prepared for public gaze, and such a clunky gazillionaire, that his ability to communicate with the great unwashed was limited to him buying the services of professional meme-bots.Somehow Bloomberg was underwhelming at the same time as overperforming. He crossed the bar in the most boring way possible.In substance and style, this is Sanders’ contest. He has skewed the entire field towards his socialized healthcare proposal known as Medicare for All, so that the supposedly centrist candidates are calling for a Sanders-lite plan that Barack Obama never proposed – because he couldn’t pass it through a Senate where Democrats held a filibuster-proof 60 votes.But it is the tone of the debate that Bernie owns, not just the policy frame. Nobody can turn his fire on other candidates like the Vermont senator. When pushed hard on how he would pay for his new public healthcare system, Sanders accused his critics of being owned by healthcare CEOs. When pushed for his long-promised medical records, Sanders challenged his questioners to join him for pushups on the campaign trail.Sanders doesn’t just dodge questions; he destroys the questioner. On those terms, the other angry candidates sounded like pale imitations of the angry old socialist.Joe Biden said he was best equipped to beat Donald Trump. Mike Bloomberg said he would spend his money to beat Donald Trump. Amy Klobuchar said she won in Minnesota so she would obviously beat Donald Trump. Only Bernie Sanders sounded like he would dismember Donald Trump.This would be fine if there weren’t a billion dollars of disinformation headed towards Sanders for his socialism and his medical records. If there weren’t endless examples of successful scare tactics against socialists, Sanders could sail on regardless.Instead we face an election between a Democratic nominee who was pro-Soviet Russia versus a Republican president who is pro-Putin Russia. What a time to be alive.“We shouldn’t have to choose between a candidate who wants to burn this party down and another who wants to buy this party out,” said Mayor Pete in one of the lines his developers hardcoded into his haircut.They shouldn’t. But they will.




  • Iran ends week-long parliamentary election campaign


  • PM says Australians 'devastated' by domestic violence attack

    PM says Australians 'devastated' by domestic violence attackPrime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday that Australians were “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the deaths of five people including three children after a car fire in apparent domestic violence. Hannah Baxter, 31, and her children Aaliyah, 6, Lainah, 4, and Trey, 3, died after their car was set alight on a street in suburban Brisbane on Wednesday morning. Baxter's estranged husband and the children's father, Rowan Baxter, allegedly doused his family with gas before setting the car alight.




  • A Mother’s Pain Bares the Rifts Tearing Iran Apart

    A Mother’s Pain Bares the Rifts Tearing Iran Apart(Bloomberg) -- When Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran in 2013, supporters pinned their hopes on him to revive the country’s fortunes and rehabilitate its relationship with the rest of the world.For retired teacher Manzar Zarabi, that hope crumbled into more insecurity, economic stagnation—and then unspeakable loss with the shooting down of an airplane that killed four close members of her family.As Iranians vote in parliamentary elections this weekend, Zarabi’s story is a tragic reminder of how the country has alienated the very people who swept Rouhani to power seven years ago.Rather than spearheading a new era, the educated, aspirational class that backs reform and global engagement remains caught in conflicts—both geopolitical and between state institutions at home. The destruction of the Ukrainian passenger jet full of Iranians by their own military last month provided the brutal denouement. Zarabi just wanted the best for her children. She and her husband voted for Rouhani hoping for an end to the sanctions and escalating tension with the U.S. that were strangling the country. But the respite was short lived. Last year, in the face of worsening economic conditions, the return of U.S. sanctions and a business environment overrun with cronyism, her 29-year-old son and youngest child, Alvand Sadeghi, gave up trying to start his own company and decided to depart for Canada. Her daughter, Sahand Sadeghi, 38, had already moved there several years earlier and started a family with her husband. Daughter Sophie Emami was born in 2014.“They only left because of the economic pressures, otherwise they loved this country,” Zarabi, 64, said in an interview from Tehran as the 40 day memorial of their deaths approached. “Alvand left with tears in his eyes, he had to tear himself away. The economic situation had a big impact on his life, he just couldn’t sort out a proper life for himself here.”Just like Sahand before him, Alvand sold his small, Iranian-assembled Peugeot 206 car and with some help from his parents started a new life in Toronto with his wife, Negar Borghei, who embarked on a master’s degree at McGill University. He was hired by an engineering firm and earned a good salary, his mother said.The night before the four of them were due to head to the airport in Tehran, Zarabi said she was relieved that they were all leaving Iran. The country appeared to be on the brink of direct conflict with the Americans after they killed General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most revered military commander, in early January in a targeted hit in Iraq.  “When I saw that night that there was an attack and there could be a war, I just wanted them to leave the country sooner, to be safer,” Zarabi said.Alvand, Negar, Sahand and five-year-old Sophie were killed within minutes of taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport when two Iranian missiles hit their plane after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps mistook it for a cruise missile. All 176 people on board lost their lives. Hours earlier, Iran had started its retaliatory operation on U.S. bases in Iraq.   The disaster seemed to crystallize the fortunes of the middle class, the traditional constituency of the reformist and moderate factions of Iran’s tightly controlled political sphere. Many have even less reason to engage now as hundreds of reformist candidates have been barred from standing in Friday’s election.QuicktakeHow Iran’s Hard-Liners Got a Boost From TrumpFor the past two years in particular, as tensions with Washington worsened, educated Iranians feel increasingly adrift from the political institutions that govern their lives and financially crushed by U.S. sanctions and President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy.  “We’ve reached a historic peak in the division between society and the state,” Saeed Laylaz, an economist who was adviser to former reformist president Mohammad Khatami said. “It’s definitely growing, unfortunately, and I haven’t seen it as bad as this in the past 40 years.”   Authorities covered up their culpability for the missile strike for three days. Rouhani said he didn’t know the truth until the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 10, suggesting that the highest level of government had been kept in the dark by its own military.Iran is still investigating the incident, but that’s been fraught. The Ukrainian government has repeatedly called on Tehran to release the plane’s flight recorders to a country that has the technology to decode their data. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif  said this week his country won’t let the black boxes leave Iran and be decoded without the presence of Islamic Republic envoys.“Hate and disgust,” Zarabi described her feelings immediately after learning what happened. “The lies on top of lies and a complete indifference to them having been actual human beings.”U.S. sanctions have left few people in Iran unscathed. The collapse of the currency, the rial, by more than two thirds and the return of double-digit inflation mean only the country’s elites and industries protected by the state have been buffered from the worst effects of the downturn.The impact on the squeezed middle is most keenly felt in a decline in living standards and spending power. The pressure is also hurting the value of their retirement incomes and the ability of their children to find jobs.  About 4 million people who used to be in the middle class according to the standard of $11 purchasing power parity are no longer there, according to calculations by Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, professor of economics at Virginia Tech.Zarabi and her family all voted for Rouhani and they fully supported the Iran nuclear deal. While she sees the U.S. as the primary cause of the regional insecurity that culminated in her children’s deaths, she says the men in charge of Iran’s government and armed forces are directly to blame for what happened, and she wants full accountability.For the first time in the Islamic Republic’s history, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s most powerful institution, appeared before parliament to apologize and express his grief and regret over the incident.But within days, hard-core supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the guards were invited onto panel shows to argue that the plane’s downing wasn’t a big deal and that it was tantamount to a jet flying into a mountain. Clips circulated on Twitter and Instagram caused outrage.Iran’s state media have interviewed or profiled some families who lost loved ones on the Ukrainian International Airlines plane. All of them were either devout or have expressed strong support for Khamenei.The news cycle has continued to be dominated by coverage of Soleimani’s revenge operation and tributes to his military talents and religious devotion. No resignations have so far been announced over the plane tragedy, but the judiciary said last month that an unspecified number of people had been arrested.  A week after the disaster, Rouhani called for national unity, asking the judiciary to establish a special court to investigate. Striking a different tone two days later, Khamenei questioned whether those who protested the attack on the jet were the real people of Iran, or whether those who turned out in their millions to mourn Soleimani were more representative.“The middle class is now between a government that has become increasingly more repressive and a U.S. that has become increasingly more aggressive,” said Ali Vaez, senior analyst and director of the Iran Project at the Washington-based International Crisis Group.Two weeks after the tragedy, Zarabi received a call that four suitcases, belonging to her children, grandchild and daughter-in-law, would be delivered to her. The luggage was intact and unscathed, the neatly organized effects of a family life that no longer exists. The pilot had decided to offload some cargo because the plane was too heavy, Ukraine’s foreign minister said.Zarabi’s days are now about finding reasons to keep going. Her husband speaks of ending his life. She hopes that she can summon the energy to find purpose again. “Our lives ended that day,” she said. “Nothing has any meaning for us anymore.”\--With assistance from Kateryna Choursina.To contact the author of this story: Golnar Motevalli in Dubai at gmotevalli@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rodney Jefferson at r.jefferson@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • Iran’s ‘Hard-Liner in Chief’ Is Only Vote That Counts


  • Iran’s ‘Hard-Liner in Chief’ Is Only Vote That Counts


  • In coronavirus fight, Shanghai river town opts for caution


  • Takeaways from the Democratic debate

    Takeaways from the Democratic debateSix Democratic presidential hopefuls met on the debate stage in Las Vegas, but it was the newcomer, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who received the most attention, and none of it positive. With all candidates flashing heat, a measure of the urgency they feel to survive in what is becoming an increasingly bitter nomination fight, the attacks focused on Bloomberg were a clear measure of his perceived strength. Sen. Bernie Sanders recalled Bloomberg’s support of stop-and-frisk policing targeting minorities.




  • Reuters: UK Google users will lose GDPR protections

    Reuters: UK Google users will lose GDPR protectionsGoogle users in the UK might feel another effect of the Brexit process, and it's one they may not have expected. According to Reuters, the tech giant is planning to place British users' accounts under US jurisdiction, which means they're losing the protections of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. As the news organization notes, the GDPR is known for having one of the world's strictest set of rules for data privacy and gives authorities the power to impose aggressive fines.




  • AP FACT CHECK: Dems' debate flubs; Trump untruths at rally

    AP FACT CHECK: Dems' debate flubs; Trump untruths at rallyThe latest Democratic presidential debate was a raucous one, ripe for exaggerations and distortions as Mike Bloomberg made his debut on the debate stage and rivals went after him and each other. President Donald Trump weighed in on the feisty performance at a rally where he mischaracterized what some Democrats want to do with health care.




  • Trump to reportedly appoint loyalist Richard Grenell to oversee spy agencies

    Trump to reportedly appoint loyalist Richard Grenell to oversee spy agenciesPresident to appoint ambassador to Germany – best known as a Twitter warrior – as acting intelligence chief, according to reportsDonald Trump is planning to appoint the US ambassador to Germany, a combative loyalist, to his administration’s most senior intelligence post, in his continuing effort to wield personal control over the spy agencies, according to multiple US reports.By making Richard Grenell acting director of national intelligence (DNI), rather than nominating him for the permanent position, Trump would sidestep the need for Senate confirmation, a loophole the president has increasingly exploited as he has moved to replace career officials with those chosen for their personal loyalty.The move, first reported by the New York Times, would also mark a radical break from past practice. Since the position was established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to coordinate the 17 intelligence agencies, the office of the director of national intelligence has been viewed as non-partisan, and generally occupied by career professionals. The current acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, is a retired vice-admiral and former head of the National Counterterrorism Center.Grenell, who was spokesman for the US mission at the UN before becoming ambassador to Germany, does not have a background in intelligence or the armed services. He is best known as a Twitter warrior, taking on Trump’s critics with a ferocity that captured the president’s attention.Grenell has also been an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights and would, if given the post, be the first openly gay member of the cabinet.According to some reports, he would remain ambassador to Berlin and special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations while overseeing the US intelligence agencies.The president has been a bitter critic of the intelligence agencies, particularly when their assessments were at odds with his own – about Iran and North Korea, for example. He once derided agency chiefs as “passive and naive”. His denunciations became so acerbic that the agency chiefs have stopped giving public briefings to Congress over national security threats.“The president has selected an individual without any intelligence experience to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity,” Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said, noting that Grenell was the second acting director in the post since the resignation of the last Senate-confirmed DNI, Dan Coats, last summer.Warner said that the acting appointments were an apparent “effort to sidestep the Senate’s constitutional authority to advise and consent on such critical national security positions, and flouting the clear intent of Congress when it established the office of the director of national intelligence in 2004”.“This should frighten you,” the former National Security Agency lawyer Susan Hennessey said on Twitter. “Not just brazen politicization of intelligence, but also someone who is utterly incompetent in an important security role. The guardrails are gone.”After Coats’s resignation in July, Trump attempted to replace him with an outspoken Republican partisan, the congressman John Ratcliffe, but Ratcliffe was forced to stand down in the face of bipartisan scepticism over his qualifications in the Senate and revelations that he had exaggerated his experience in his official biography.




  • Trump’s Choice for Intel Chief Leaves Officials ‘Blindsided’

    Trump’s Choice for Intel Chief Leaves Officials ‘Blindsided’President Donald Trump’s announcement that he had selected a loyalist and political ally as his administration’s next intelligence chief quickly raised eyebrows Wednesday on Capitol Hill among Democrats already concerned about the state of Team Trump’s attitude toward the intelligence community.On Wednesday night, Trump tweeted that Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany with a long history in Trumpworld’s orbit, would be named as the next acting Director of National Intelligence. The term of the current acting director, Joseph Maguire, was slated to expire on March 12. The president’s appointment of another acting official to serve as the chief overseer of 17 U.S. intelligence agencies allows him to effectively bypass the Senate confirmation process—which a full-time nominee would be subjected to—in order to install his preferred person for the post. Grenell has already been confirmed by the Senate for his ambassadorship. “Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well,” tweeted Trump, “and I look forward to working with him.”One former intelligence official told The Daily Beast that career officials in ODNI were “blindsided” by the announcement. Two other senior Trump officials said the news of Grenell’s appointment moved its way through the halls of the White House over the last few days.Grenell, who has been the top U.S. diplomat in Berlin since 2018, was a longtime spokesman for the George W. Bush administration at the United Nations, a foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney’s presidential run, and then later a pro-Trump political commentator and operative. He is close with several senior members in the Trump administration, including National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. Friday Night Massacre’s Just the Beginning for Acquitted TrumpGrenell does not have any direct experience in the intelligence field—a fact that triggered alarm bells for some. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was blunt in his reaction to the appointment: “The President has selected an individual without any intelligence experience to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity. This is the second acting director the President has named to the role since the resignation of Dan Coats, apparently in an effort to sidestep the Senate’s constitutional authority to advise and consent on such critical national security positions, and flouting the clear intent of Congress when it established the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2004,” he said in a statement. “The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges,” he said. “And at a time when the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice has been called into grave question, now more than ever our country needs a Senate-confirmed intelligence director who will provide the best intelligence and analysis, regardless of whether or not it’s expedient for the President who has appointed him.”“Having someone who is a political appointee with little or any background in intelligence come there on an acting basis is really the wrong move,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), “and I hope that the president will appoint a real professional."The move is sure to be popular among Trump’s backers both on and off Capitol Hill, who have increasingly endorsed the president’s mistrust and antipathy toward the intelligence community. It was a CIA official who sparked impeachment proceedings by filing the whistleblower complaint that first described Trump’s fateful call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—a process that Maguire, the current acting DNI, testified before Congress about in September 2019.Grenell would be the official most staunchly loyal to Trump to hold the position atop the  intelligence community: Maguire is a career official, and his predecessor, former Sen. Dan Coats, found himself at odds with Trump on fundamental questions, like the role of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Incidentally, Grenell first got a very public vote of confidence in Trumpworld in the midst of an episode that was at the heart of impeachment proceedings against Trump: the smear campaign against then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that ended with her ouster last year. Donald Trump Jr., referring to Yovanovitch, tweeted in March 2019: “We need more @RichardGrenell’s and less of these jokers as ambassadors.” During his time as Ambassador in Berlin, Grenell worked with European officials on the rise of the 5G network and the threats posed by China’s system. He was also an outspoken advocate for the administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign on Iran.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.




  • China's new virus cases, deaths rise but increase is lower

    China's new virus cases, deaths rise but increase is lowerNew virus cases in China rose by just 394 from the previous day, with a rise in the death toll of 114, the government said Thursday, as health inspectors went door-to-door to find every infected person in the worst-hit city. Mainland China has now reported 2,118 deaths and 74,576 total cases. While the overall spread of the virus has been slowing, the situation remains severe in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first detected in December.




  • On magnets, mugs and matryoshka dolls, Putin's face still sells

    On magnets, mugs and matryoshka dolls, Putin's face still sellsTwenty years after he came to power, President Vladimir Putin is omnipresent, not only across the airwaves of Russia's media but also on the magnets, mugs and matryoshka dolls throughout his hometown. Whether it is commander-in-chief Putin looking through binoculars or mocked-up shirtless Putin riding a bear, the Russian president is on sale everywhere. Painter and businessman Alexei Sergiyenko has been cashing in on Putin for years.




  • EU leaders to face off in 'very tough' budget summit

    EU leaders to face off in 'very tough' budget summitEU leaders are to hold a Brussels summit Thursday to set a seven-year budget despite splits between some stingy rich nations, poorer ones wanting to preserve spending and others wanting to fund grand global ambitions. The "Brexit gap" caused by the loss of the UK's contribution is 75 billion euros ($81 billion) over the 2021-2027 period. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the eve of the summit predicted "very tough and difficult negotiations" around the table.




  • Iranian headscarf campaigner calls for vote boycott

    Iranian headscarf campaigner calls for vote boycottAnti-headscarf campaigner Shaparak Shajarizadeh once believed in the potential for change in Iran but is now so despondent she is calling for a boycott of Friday's parliamentary elections in the Islamic Republic. Shajarizadeh became a dissident in 2018 when she was arrested for repeatedly removing her headscarf in public and waving it on the end of a stick, as part of a women's rights protest that caused a social media storm. Shajarizadeh said the supposed political choice in Iran between reformist and conservative politicians was like picking between "two faces of the same coin".




  • Iran attempting further arms deliveries to Huthi rebels: US military

    Iran attempting further arms deliveries to Huthi rebels: US militaryTehran continues to deliver weapons to Yemen's Huthi rebels, the US military said Wednesday, following a second interception in less than three months of what Washington said were Iranian arms. "The seizure is consistent with a historical pattern of Iranian smuggling of advanced weapons to the Huthis in Yemen," said Captain Bill Urban of US Central Command, which is responsible for US forces in the Middle East, during a briefing at the Pentagon on the latest interdiction. Urban presented photos of the seized cargo and said the weapons came from Iran and were intended for the Huthis.




  • Addiction in paradise: Seychelles battles heroin crisis

    Addiction in paradise: Seychelles battles heroin crisisOn a plain suburban street in Seychelles, far from the idyllic coastline and luxury resorts pampering honeymooners and paradise-seekers, heroin addicts queue anxiously for their daily dose of methadone. In comparison, 0.4 percent of the global population consumed opioids in 2016, half of them in Asia, according to a United Nations report that puts Seychelles among the top consumers alongside producing countries such as Afghanistan. The Seychelles' heroin boom, which took off over the past decade, gripped young and old alike and cut across class lines.




  • Trump picks pardon requests from wealthy pals and GOP donors

    Trump picks pardon requests from wealthy pals and GOP donorsThere's a common thread among the 11 felons who found favor with President Donald Trump this week — all who were pardoned or set free had advocates among the president’s wealthy friends and political allies. In at least some cases, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and ‘80s junk-bond king Michael Milken, Trump has personal relationships with those he granted clemency. In three others he drew on the recommendations of a Tennessee grandmother he’d previously granted clemency at the urging of reality-TV star Kim Kardashian West.




  • Columbus ship replicas sail into Mississippi harbor

    Columbus ship replicas sail into Mississippi harborWith about a dozen spectators lining a pier on Mississippi's Gulf Coast and aiming their phones out to the horizon, the Niña and Pinta sailed Wednesday into a Biloxi harbor. Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic on the Niña on his three voyages of discovery to the New World beginning in 1492. It was built entirely by hand, without the use of power tools, and is considered to be the most historically accurate Columbus ship replica ever built.




  • Donald Trump 'offered Julian Assange a pardon if he denied Russia link to hack'

    Donald Trump 'offered Julian Assange a pardon if he denied Russia link to hack'* WikiLeaks published emails damaging to Hillary Clinton in 2016 * Ex-congressman denies being middleman for US presidentDonald Trump offered Julian Assange a pardon if he would say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic party emails, a court in London has been told.The extraordinary claim was made at Westminster magistrates court before the opening next week of Assange’s legal battle to block attempts to extradite him to the US, where he faces charges for publishing hacked documents. The allegation was denied by the former Republican congressman named by the Assange legal team as a key witness.Assange’s lawyers alleged that during a visit to London in August 2017, congressman Dana Rohrabacher told the WikiLeaks founder that “on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange … said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC [Democratic National Committee] leaks.”A few hours later, however, Rohrabacher denied the claim, saying he had made the proposal on his own initiative, and that the White House had not endorsed it.“At no time did I talk to President Trump about Julian Assange,” the former congressman wrote on his personal blog. “Likewise, I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange. I was on my own fact finding mission at personal expense to find out information I thought was important to our country.“At no time did I offer Julian Assange anything from the president because I had not spoken with the president about this issue at all. However, when speaking with Julian Assange, I told him that if he could provide me information and evidence about who actually gave him the DNC emails, I would then call on President Trump to pardon him,” Rohrabacher added.“At no time did I offer a deal made by the president, nor did I say I was representing the president.”White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told reporters: “The president barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman. He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject.”“It is a complete fabrication and a total lie,” Grisham said. “This is probably another never-ending hoax and total lie from the DNC.”Trump, however, invited Rohrabacher to the White House in April 2017 after seeing the then congressman on Fox TV defending the president.In September 2017, the White House confirmed that Rohrabacher had called the then chief of staff, John Kelly, to talk about a possible deal with Assange, but that Kelly had not passed on the message to Trump. Rohrabacher confirmed that version of events on his blog on Wednesday.“I told him that Julian Assange would provide information about the purloined DNC emails in exchange for a pardon. No one followed up with me including Gen Kelly and that was the last discussion I had on this subject with anyone representing Trump or in his Administration,” he wrote.“Even though I wasn’t successful in getting this message through to the President I still call on him to pardon Julian Assange, who is the true whistleblower of our time.”Assange appeared in court on Wednesday by videolink from Belmarsh prison, wearing dark tracksuit bottoms and a brown jumper over a white shirt.Before Rohrabacher’s denial, district judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is hearing the case at Westminster, said the claim of a deal was admissible as evidence.?Until he was voted out of office in 2018, Rohrabacher was a consistent voice in Congress in defence of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, claiming to have been so close to the Russian leader that they had engaged in a drunken arm-wrestling match in the 1990s. In 2012, the FBI warned him that Russian spies were seeking to recruit him as an “agent of influence”.The publication of emails hacked from the Hillary Clinton campaign helped perpetuate an aura of scandal around the Democratic candidate a few weeks before the 2016 election.WikiLeaks put them online hours after Trump had suffered an apparent public relations disaster with the emergence of a tape in which he boasted of molesting women.Assange is wanted in America to face 18 charges, including conspiring to commit computer intrusion, over the publication of US cables a decade ago.He could face up to 175 years in jail if found guilty. He is accused of working with the former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.The extradition hearing is due to begin at Woolwich crown court on Monday, beginning with a week of legal argument. It will then be adjourned and continue with three weeks of evidence scheduled to begin on 18 May.The decision, which is expected months later, is likely to be appealed against by the losing side, whatever the outcome.Assange has been held on remand in Belmarsh prison since last September after serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching his bail conditions while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.He entered the building in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex offence allegations, which he has always denied and were subsequently dropped.Assange’s claims of a deal emerged a day after Trump granted clemency to a string of high-profile figures convicted on fraud or corruption charges, including the former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and the “junk bond king” Michael Milken. Trump has not excluded pardoning Roger Stone, a former aide who was convicted in November of obstructing a congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, and in particular for lying to investigators about his relationship with Assange and WikiLeaks.Stone once boasted that he had dinner with Assange but later said the claim was a joke.




  • Suspect, 1 other found dead after 9 people killed in Germany

    Suspect, 1 other found dead after 9 people killed in GermanyA man suspected of fatally shooting nine people in the German city of Hanau was found dead at his home early Thursday, hours after the attacks in and outside two hookah lounges, police said. The number of dead in the shootings Wednesday evening rose to nine, a police statement said. Officers sealed off and searched the apartment in Hanau's Kesselstadt district, near the scene of one of the shootings, after following up witness statements on a getaway car.




  • Ship captain arrested in probe of arms trafficking to Libya

    Ship captain arrested in probe of arms trafficking to LibyaAuthorities in northern Italy arrested the captain of a Lebanese-flagged cargo ship on suspicion of international arms trafficking Wednesday while they investigate if the vessel transported tanks, rockets and other weapons from Turkey to Libya. The captain is under investigation for allegedly transferring military goods to Libya with as-yet unidentified Turkish military officials in violation of a United Nations arms embargo, Italian prosecutor Franceso Pinto told The Associated Press. Italian authorities launched their probe based on allegations a crew member made after the cargo ship arrived in the port city of Genoa earlier this month.




  • Landmine blast kills 6 in Yemeni defense minister's convoy


  • Editorial Roundup: US


  • 80 is not the new 70: Age may bias heart care, study finds

    80 is not the new 70: Age may bias heart care, study findsNow researchers say something similar might be happening with age perception and heart surgery. A U.S. study out Wednesday finds that heart attack patients who turned 80 within the previous two weeks were less likely to get bypass surgery than those who were two weeks shy of that birthday, even though the age difference is less than a month. Guidelines do not limit the operation after a certain age, but doctors may be mentally classifying people as being "in their 80s" and suddenly much riskier than those "in their 70s," said the study leader, Dr. Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School.




  • Cambodia Leader’s Virus Exposure Shows Risk to China’s Neighbors


  • At Arizona rally, Trump trolls Democrats debating in Nevada

    At Arizona rally, Trump trolls Democrats debating in NevadaPresident Donald Trump trolled his political enemies Wednesday in the first of three rallies in three days in the West as Democrats vied in neighboring Nevada to be the one to challenge him in the November election. Just minutes before Trump regaled a friendly crowd in Phoenix, Democrats watched billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg make his debut on the debate stage ahead of Nevada's party caucuses on Saturday. Trump took aim at the new target.




  • Toxic Superfund cleanups decline to more than 30-year low


  • Plaintiffs' attorneys take aim at Boy Scouts' `dark history'

    Plaintiffs' attorneys take aim at Boy Scouts' `dark history'Like millions of other Americans in the 1950s and '60s, Duane Ruth-Heffelbower spent his formative years learning to tie knots, build campfires and pitch tents with the Boy Scouts, whose wholesome, God-fearing reputation was burnished by Normal Rockwell's magazine-cover paintings of fresh-faced Scouts, brave, courteous and cheerful.




  • Ukraine Seeks to Move On With U.S. Now That Impeachment Is Over

    Ukraine Seeks to Move On With U.S. Now That Impeachment Is Over(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine wants to move on in its relationship with the U.S. after the country was pulled into domestic politics during the impeachment process of President Donald Trump, the country’s foreign minister said.The Ukrainian government is “happy that the whole investigation, the whole impeachment part, is over,” Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York. “We hope that nobody will poke their nose in our elections. That’s what we are trying to do here, staying away from your local affairs, with your elections, especially in the electoral year.”Ukraine was pulled into a bitter U.S. political fight after a phone call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy set the impeachment process in motion. The president was acquitted by the Senate last month for pressuring the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden to help his re-election.Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, said in Kyiv last week after meeting Zelenskiy that it was time for Republicans and Democrats to get past the crisis and support Ukraine with security assistance. Murphy spoke during a visit along with Republican Senators Ron Johnson and John Barrasso. Witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry said Trump held up such aid for months last year to pressure Zelenskiy to announce probes into Biden and the Democrats.The Ukrainian government doesn’t believe its relationship with the U.S. needs to be “reset,” Prystaiko said. Ukraine was “dragged” into this affair but “we don’t believe that it affected our relations,” he added.Ukraine remains locked in a bitter struggle with Russia after President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in 2014 in a conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives. Talks mediated by Germany and France have yielded some progress, including prisoner exchanges, but there’s still no resolution in sight.A Ukrainian soldier died Tuesday as Russian-backed fighters sought to advance beyond territorial lines established under a five-year-old peace accord, Ukraine’s military said. The incident comes just days after the Kremlin offered grounds for encouragement by handing control of Ukraine policy to Dmitry Kozak, a senior official with a reputation for pragmatism.Ukraine has been at war with Russia for six years because “we are making the same choice as American people did -- market-driven economy and the just democratic freedoms,” Prystaiko said.Ukraine will use international pressure to persuade Iran to cooperate to provide more information on the circumstances that led to the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January, the same night Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps fired a barrage of missiles at a U.S. base in Iraq.“We do have some instruments in our power to push them, maybe, if they are not cooperating enough,” Prystaiko said. “We believe that they don’t have the technical capacity to do it in a way that everybody in the world will believe that this is” helping the investigation.Ukraine is pressing Iran to send the so-called black box recorders from the Boeing Co. plane that was shot down after taking off from Tehran last month, Prystaiko said earlier this month. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country won’t let the flight recorders leave Iran and be decoded without the presence of Islamic Republic envoys.\--With assistance from Daryna Krasnolutska.To contact the reporters on this story: Glen Carey in Washington at gcarey8@bloomberg.net;Vonnie Quinn in New York at vquinn@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • The Latest: Sanders: Democrat with most delegates should win

    The Latest: Sanders: Democrat with most delegates should winBernie Sanders is the only Democratic candidate on the debate stage who thinks the candidate with the most delegates should win the party’s presidential nomination even if he or she doesn't have a majority. Bloomberg, who is not competing in early voting states, has not qualified for any previous debates.




  • Pakistan says soybean dust, not gas, killed 14 in Karachi


  • Lawyer: Assange was offered US pardon if he cleared Russia

    Lawyer: Assange was offered US pardon if he cleared RussiaWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange plans to claim during an extradition hearing that the Trump administration offered him a pardon if he agreed to say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, a lawyer for Assange said Wednesday. Assange is being held at a British prison while fighting extradition to the United States on spying charges.




  • How John Bolton won the war on Iran policy

    How John Bolton won the war on Iran policyDuring his tenure as national security adviser, John Bolton succeeded in shaping the direction of the Trump administration's Iran policy, overriding resistance from the Defense Department and the rest of the government.




  • Super PACs aid Warren, Klobuchar whether they like it or not

    Super PACs aid Warren, Klobuchar whether they like it or notDemocrats Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are getting help for their presidential bids from separate super PACs, whether they like it or not. Persist PAC started running ads Wednesday in Nevada to support Warren. Kitchen Table Conversations PAC is running ads in Nevada and South Carolina to help Klobuchar.




  • Coronavirus kills two Iranians, first Mideast deaths

    Coronavirus kills two Iranians, first Mideast deathsTwo people have died in Iran after testing positive on Wednesday for the new coronavirus, the health ministry said, in the Islamic republic's first cases of the disease. According to YJC news agency, a branch of state television, the pair who died were Iranian citizens and residents of the holy city of Qom. State news agency IRNA quoted Kianoush Jahanpour, a ministry spokesman, as saying the virus was detected in two elderly people with immunity problems in Qom, south of the Iranian capital.




  • Blagojevich praises, endorses Trump as justice reformer

    Blagojevich praises, endorses Trump as justice reformerFormer Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich gushed about Donald Trump a day after the Republican president set him free from a federal prison, delivering a 20-minute monologue Wednesday outside his Chicago home that sounded like an extended campaign commercial. Standing before a crowd of more than 100 reporters and well-wishers at the steps of his house, the governor-turned-convicted felon even offered an endorsement of Trump's bid for a second term. The carnival feel of his first scheduled press event since going free included a giant photo of Blagojevich's head, which the two-term governor signed for the person holding it.




  • EU’s Hogan to Business: Brace for ‘Massive’ Change in U.K. Ties


  • In S Carolina, Sanders may get boost from billionaire Steyer

    In S Carolina, Sanders may get boost from billionaire SteyerBillionaires are the consistent villains in Bernie Sanders' campaign narrative. Steyer's aggressive courtship of black voters in the state, coupled with tens of millions of dollars in advertising, has put him in a surprisingly strong position that could siphon support from former Vice President Joe Biden.




  • U.S. medical schools boost LGBTQ students, doctor training

    U.S. medical schools boost LGBTQ students, doctor trainingAliya Feroe recalls the flustered OB-GYN who referred her to another physician after learning she identified as queer. For Rhi Ledgerwood, who was designated female at birth, identifies as trans and doesn’t have sex with men, it was a doctor advising about condoms and pregnancy prevention. For Tim Keyes, who came out as gay at age 17, it’s when doctors automatically assumed he sleeps with women.




  • Trump Offered Assange Pardon if He Covered Up Russian Hack, WikiLeaks Founder’s Lawyer Claims

    Trump Offered Assange Pardon if He Covered Up Russian Hack, WikiLeaks Founder’s Lawyer ClaimsLONDON—A lawyer for Julian Assange has claimed in court that President Donald Trump offered to pardon Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to help cover up Russia’s involvement in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee. Assange’s lawyers said on Wednesday that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal in 2017, a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published. WikiLeaks posted the stolen DNC emails after they were hacked by Russian operatives.The claim that Rohrabacher acted as an emissary for the White House came during a pre-extradition hearing in London.Assange has argued that he should not be extradited to the U.S. because the American case against him is politically motivated. He spent almost seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in Central London claiming that he would be jailed in the U.S. if he wasn’t granted asylum. He was kicked out of the embassy last year.His lawyers told the court that Trump’s alleged offer to pardon Assange proved that this was no ordinary criminal investigation.Edward Fitzgerald, who was representing Assange in court, said he had evidence that a quid pro quo was put to Assange by Rohrabacher, who was known as Putin’s favorite congressman.GOP Lawmaker Got Direction From Moscow, Took It Back to D.C.Fitzgerald said a statement produced by Assange’s personal lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, included a description of “Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”Rohrabacher weighed in on Wednesday afternoon, insisting he never spoke to Trump about Assange prior to his personally-funded “fact finding mission” to London. He said he told Assange that he would “call on” Trump to pardon him if he was able to say who gave him the hacked emails.“I was not directed by Trump or anyone else connected with him to meet with Julian Assange,” he said in a statement. “At no time did I offer Julian Assange anything from the President because I had not spoken with the President about this issue at all.”Rohrabacher said he spoke briefly with then chief of staff John Kelly after the trip to let him know that Assange would provide information about the hacked DNC emails in exchange for a pardon. “No one followed up with me including Gen. Kelly and that was the last discussion I had on this subject with anyone representing Trump or in his Administration,” he said.District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is presiding over the pre-trial hearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said the allegation would be admissible during Assange’s extradition hearing, which is due to begin next week.If Assange appears in court in the U.S., he will face 18 charges including conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which could total a prison sentence of 175 years.On Twitter, WikiLeaks’ verified account claimed there were more “bombshells” to come in the court hearing.Two months after Rohrabacher’s trip to visit Assange, the Wall Street Journal reported that he was trying to arrange a deal for Trump to pardon Assange. The White House confirmed at the time that Rohrabacher had spoken to Kelly about the plan to free Assange, but it was not clear if Trump had personally spoken to Rohrabacher either before or after his mission to London. In 2018, Rohrabacher told The Intercept that he had been blocked from discussing the plan with the president because Kelly and other White House staffers were scared it would look like collusion. Rohrabacher, who lost his California re-election fight in 2018, has been accused of helping push Kremlin lines in the U.S. in the past. A few months before he went to London to meet Assange, his staff director was ousted after a report by The Daily Beast exposed close links between Russia and Rohrabacher. The congressman had worked with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met Trump’s campaign team at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, part of a lobbying operation designed to promote Kremlin aims in Washington.Stephen Colbert Can’t Believe Trump Trusts Julian Assange More Than American IntelligenceWhite House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Wednesday denied that Trump played any role in the offer of a pardon. “The President barely knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman,” she said in a statement. “He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject. It is a complete fabrication and a total lie. This is probably another never ending hoax and total lie from the DNC.”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.




  • UN: Thousands fleeing Syrian offensive, kids dying in cold

    UN: Thousands fleeing Syrian offensive, kids dying in coldHundreds of thousands of people fleeing a Russian-backed Syrian offensive are being squeezed into ever smaller areas near Turkey’s border “under horrendous conditions” in freezing temperatures that are killing babies and young children, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Wednesday. Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that “the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe” in northwest Idlib province, which is the last major rebel stronghold, has “overwhelmed” efforts to provide aid. “I am getting daily reports of babies and other young children dying in the cold,” he added.




  • Austrian minister to travel to Iran amid nuclear tensions

    Austrian minister to travel to Iran amid nuclear tensionsAustria's foreign minister said Wednesday that he will travel to Tehran this weekend amid efforts by European countries to keep alive Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers. Alexander Schallenberg said after meeting his German counterpart in Berlin that he will be taking a “European message” to Tehran on Saturday and Sunday after also meeting the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, this week.




  • Iran Reports First Deaths From Coronavirus


  • Trump ousts top defense official who certified Ukraine aid

    Trump ousts top defense official who certified Ukraine aidPresident Donald Trump has ousted the Pentagon's top policy official who had certified last year that Ukraine had made enough anti-corruption progress to justify the Trump administration's release of congressionally authorized aid to Kyiv in its conflict against Russian-backed separatists. John Rood resigned Wednesday, saying he was leaving at Trump's request. The Trump administration's delay in releasing the aid to Ukraine was central to the president's impeachment by the House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.





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