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  • Hachalu Hundessa: 'My friend the hero who was gunned down'

    Hachalu Hundessa: 'My friend the hero who was gunned down'The BBC's Amensisa Ifa was close to Ethiopian protest singer Hachalu Hundessa, who was shot dead on Monday.




  • Will Putin Really Return To The Kremlin in 2024?

    Will Putin Really Return To The Kremlin in 2024?President Vladimir Putin now has the legal right to remain in power until 2036, after a large majority of Russians voted in favor of Kremlin-backed constitutional reforms.




  • The Latest: Trump goes to Mount Rushmore for fireworks

    The Latest: Trump goes to Mount Rushmore for fireworksWith the U.S. setting another record in newly reported coronavirus cases Friday, thousands have gathered at President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore — and few are wearing protective masks. Trump did offer thanks to “the doctors, nurses and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus.” Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, a Trump ally, had said social distancing wouldn’t be required during the event and masks would be optional.




  • The UK buys a 45 percent stake in broke satellite startup OneWeb

    The UK buys a 45 percent stake in broke satellite startup OneWebIt's part of the government's post-Brexit plan to replace the EU's sat-nav system.




  • Alabama health officials can't verify 'COVID party' reports


  • 8-year-old killed, 3 injured in shooting at Alabama mall


  • Iran agrees to compensate families of plane crash victims, Sweden says

    Iran agrees to compensate families of plane crash victims, Sweden saysIran has reportedly agreed to compensate the families of the foreign victims who were killed when a passenger jet was blown out of the sky outside Tehran in January, a horrific crash mistakenly caused by the country’s own military forces. “We have signed an agreement of mutual understanding that we will now negotiate together with Iran about amends, compensation to the victims’ next of kin,” she told Swedish news agency TT. The January crash came on the heels of Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes against American military facilities following a President Trump-sanctioned drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.




  • Epstein cohort's arrest becomes new test for plea deal

    Epstein cohort's arrest becomes new test for plea dealCould that same deal now help Ghislaine Maxwell, the Epstein confidante arrested Thursday, evade charges she helped lure at least three girls into sexual liaisons with him? The British socialite was arrested Thursday in New Hampshire on charges that she acted as a recruiter of underage girls for Epstein, usually under the guise of hiring them to perform massages, and sometimes participated in his sexual abuse of the teens. The allegations against the couple date back many years, but Epstein, for a while, appeared to have resolved them under a deal with federal and state prosecutors in South Florida in which he pleaded guilty to lesser state charges and served 13 months in jail and a work-release program.




  • Former world leaders warn against Israel annexation plan

    Former world leaders warn against Israel annexation planA group of former world leaders urged European leaders on Friday to keep pressuring Israel against annexation of parts of the West Bank, warning against complacency after Israel made no move to take over the territory on July 1. The Elders, founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, said in letters to the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and the European Union that they should insist to Israel that annexation would have negative political and economic consequences for bilateral and regional relations.




  • Cop who stopped Elijah McClain fired over response to photos

    Cop who stopped Elijah McClain fired over response to photosOne of the white officers who stopped Elijah McClain was fired over photos showing colleagues reenacting the chokehold used on the Black man before he died last year, authorities said Friday. Police stopped McClain as he walked down the street in a ski mask last August for “being suspicious.” Aurora Officer Jason Rosenblatt tried to use a chokehold on the 23-year-old but couldn't because of his position, so another officer did, a report from prosecutors said.




  • Bounties Uproar Casts a Shadow Over a Rare Trump Foreign Policy Achievement

    Bounties Uproar Casts a Shadow Over a Rare Trump Foreign Policy AchievementFor a president with few tangible foreign policy accomplishments under his belt, Afghanistan had come to look something like a bright spot.His nuclear talks with North Korea have proved fruitless; his "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran has produced no concessions from Tehran; Palestinians declared his Middle East peace plan dead on arrival; and a trade deal with China looks more unlikely every day.But while President Donald Trump has not achieved his goal of a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, he has drawn down thousands of U.S. troops and struck a deal with the Taliban intended to pave the way for a complete exit and an end to the 19-year conflict.Now the uproar over U.S. intelligence showing that Russia paid bounties for the killings of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is renewing focus on a conflict that had drifted to the political back burner and turning what had been a qualified success story for the president into at least a short-term political disaster.What remains to be seen is whether, and how, the episode might affect Trump's future plans. The military recently finished drawing down troops in Afghanistan from about 14,000 last fall to roughly 8,600. That is the minimum level that military commanders say allows them to prevent the Taliban and other radical fighters from overrunning the shaky, U.S.-backed Afghan government in Kabul.But with the November election coming, military officials say they are braced for Trump to announce at any time his intention to pull thousands more troops from the country before then.One person familiar with the president's thinking said he had repeatedly spoken of having all U.S. soldiers out of the country by the end of the year. That prospect may become even more likely now that the United States' continuing presence in Afghanistan has badly stung a president who lost patience with the U.S. mission there long ago but for years has found himself pressured to stay by congressional and military leaders invoking the specter of another attack in the mold of Sept. 11.The debate over what Trump officials knew about the intelligence on Russian bounties and when is "ignoring the bigger picture here," said Dan Caldwell, senior adviser of Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative group that opposes U.S. troop deployments overseas. "The bigger problem," he added, "is that by leaving our troops not only in places like Afghanistan but also in Iraq and Syria, we make it easier for our adversaries like Russia, Iran and nonstate actors like al-Qaida to bleed us on the cheap."Trump has called stories about the bounties "a made up Fake News Media Hoax" and studiously avoided commenting on the substance of the intelligence, including how it could change his policies toward either Russia or Afghanistan. But however willing he may be to overlook or downplay Russian aggression worldwide as he seeks to thaw relations with Moscow, it seems likely that the political grief he has suffered will only fuel his desire to withdraw troops from the country.Trump's patience with the conflict has been steadily waning in recent months, and he was particularly angry after two U.S. soldiers were killed when a member of Afghanistan's security forces opened fire on U.S. troops during a joint patrol in early February. Days later, Trump, who has often remarked on the burden of writing military condolence letters, traveled to Dover Air Force Base to witness the return of the soldiers' remains, a somber nighttime ceremony chillingly punctured by a widow's desperate screams.The recently published book by Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton confirms what has become increasingly obvious. Bolton recounts numerous instances when Trump, making liberal use of expletives, asked his exasperated advisers when he could be finished with the country. "We've got to get out of there," Bolton recalls Trump saying in March 2019.Trump took a key step in that direction Feb. 29, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a Taliban leader signed an agreement in Qatar under which the U.S. would begin a phased troop withdrawal in exchange for a halt in Taliban attacks on U.S. forces and the beginning of political talks between the insurgent group and the Afghan government.The signing came just days after officials say intelligence about the Russian bounties appeared in Trump's daily intelligence briefing. Some Trump officials were concerned that the intelligence could jeopardize the Taliban deal. Whether for that reason or others, officials say Trump was not verbally briefed about it at the time.That agreement has been plagued with setbacks, including an unwelcome increase in Taliban attacks on Afghan targets, an exchange of prisoners between the Taliban and the Afghan government that has taken months longer than expected, and an Afghan election with disputed results that paralyzed the country's government.In one sign that Trump is determined to press ahead, Pompeo spoke by video conference Monday with the Taliban's deputy and chief negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, "to discuss implementation of the U.S.-Taliban agreement," according to a State Department spokeswoman."The secretary made clear the expectation for the Taliban to live up to their commitments, which include not attacking Americans," added the spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus. (There is no indication that U.S. intelligence has tied Russian bounties to any attacks on Americans since the agreement was signed or that the Taliban's senior leadership was aware of them.)All the while, however, U.S. troops have been on their way out. And while Afghanistan continues to suffer horrific attacks like a May assault on a maternity ward in Kabul, there is little evidence that American voters, whose support for the war has long been waning, feel any less safe."Certainly there's a political resonance for the notion that, after all these years, President Trump will end the war that other presidents were unwilling to end," said Richard Fontaine, chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based policy group.Fontaine cautions against a withdrawal of troops, reminiscent of the U.S. exit from Iraq in 2011, that could allow militants to rampage and terrorists to find safe haven as al-Qaida did in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.For now, that view has significant support in Congress. On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee voted 45-11 to approve a bipartisan amendment to an annual defense authorization bill that would restrict funds for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan below the level of 8,000.One of the amendment's co-sponsors, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, warned in a statement that "the U.S.-Taliban deal allows for premature troop withdrawal that is not conditions-based."A Senate effort from the opposite perspective met a swift rebuke the same day. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. and one of Congress' leading noninterventionist voices, co-sponsored an amendment with Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan within a year. The Senate voted 60-33 to table the amendment.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company




  • Italy slams Egypt's stance on killing as 'punch in the face'

    Italy slams Egypt's stance on killing as 'punch in the face'The president of the lower house of Italy's Parliament has slammed Egypt’s stance in a probe to bring to justice the torturers and killers of an Italian doctoral student who disappeared in Cairo while researching labor movements in Egyt. Chamber of Deputies President Roberto Fico told Italian state TV on Friday that lack of satisfactory cooperation from Egyptian prosecutors in solving the 2016 killing of Giulio Regeni amounted to a ‘’punch in the face? of Italy. Fico, a leading member of the main party in Italy's coalition government, the populist 5-Star Movement, was expressing frustration that the discussions Italian prosecutors had with their Egyptian counterparts this week failed to elicit progress.




  • Iran says identifies cause of nuclear 'accident'

    Iran says identifies cause of nuclear 'accident'Iran's top security body said Friday it had determined the cause of an "accident" at a nuclear site but declined to release details, citing security reasons. "Investigations by relevant bodies have accurately determined the cause of the accident at... Natanz nuclear complex," said a spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council, referring to one of the country's main uranium enrichment plants. "Due to certain security concerns the cause and details of this accident will be announced at the proper time," state news agency IRNA quoted Keyvan Khosravi as saying.




  • Can Trump's anti-mail-voting crusade hurt him in key states?

    Can Trump's anti-mail-voting crusade hurt him in key states?President Donald Trump's campaign and allies have blocked efforts to expand mail-in voting, forcing an awkward confrontation with top GOP election officials who are promoting the opposite in their states. The rare dissonance between Trump and other Republican elected officials also reflects another reality the president will not concede: Many in his party believe expanding mail-in voting could ultimately help him. Trump's campaign has intervened directly in Ohio, while allies have fired warning shots in Iowa and Georgia, aimed at blunting Republican secretaries of state in places that could be competitive in November.




  • Russian Orthodox Church defrocks coronavirus-denying monk

    Russian Orthodox Church defrocks coronavirus-denying monkThe Russian Orthodox Church on Friday defrocked a coronavirus-denying monk who has defied Kremlin lockdown orders and taken control of a monastery. A church panel in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg ruled to defrock 65-year-old Father Sergiy, who has attracted nationwide attention by urging believers to disobey church leadership and ignore church closures during the pandemic. In Friday's video, Father Sergiy denounced President Vladimir Putin as a “traitor to the Motherland” serving a Satanic “world government” and dismissed Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill and other top clerics as “heretics” and “enemies of God and Holy Mother of God” who must be “thrown out.”




  • United Nations workers suspended after viral sex act video


  • Ethiopia's Nobel Winner Can't Rest on His Laurels


  • Iraq sets up border posts to try to prevent Turkish advance

    Iraq sets up border posts to try to prevent Turkish advanceIraqi troops were enforcing positions along the border with Turkey, officials said Friday, to prevent Turkish forces from advancing deeper into Iraqi territory after two weeks of airstrikes as Ankara continues to target Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Security officials said Ankara has established at least a dozen posts inside Iraqi territory as part of a military campaign to rout members of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, who Turkey says have safe havens in northern Iraq.




  • UK in talks to join EU's coronavirus vaccine scheme - FT, citing UK officials


  • Malawi country profile

    Malawi country profileProvides overview, key facts and events, timelines and leader profiles along with current news about Malawi




  • Putin orders amendments extending his rule into constitution

    Putin orders amendments extending his rule into constitutionPresident Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered amendments that would allow him to remain in power until 2036 to be put into the Russian Constitution after voters approved the changes during a week-long plebiscite. According to a copy of the decree released by the Russian government on Friday, the amendments will come into force on Saturday. The changes allow Putin to run for two more six-year terms after his current one expires in 2024, but also outlaw same-sex marriages, mention the “belief in God as a core value” and emphasize the primacy of Russian law over international norms.




  • Civil rights leader Andrew Young says racism is based on fear

    Civil rights leader Andrew Young says racism is based on fearThe former colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and later U.N. Ambassador, tells CBS News, "We're going to have to come together."




  • Violence mars Portland protests, frustrates Black community

    Violence mars Portland protests, frustrates Black communityProtesters in this liberal, predominantly white city have taken to the streets peacefully every day for more than five weeks to decry police brutality. As the Portland protests enter a second month, they have shifted on several nights from the city’s downtown core to a historically Black neighborhood in North Portland that’s already buckling under the effects of white gentrification and has the most to gain — or lose — from the outrage in the streets. Late last week, some protesters barricaded the doors to a police precinct a half-block from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and set fire to the building, which also houses Black-owned businesses, including an Ethiopian restaurant and a barber’s school.




  • Russia's constitutional changes to come into force on July 4 -Kremlin


  • The UK government to acquire satellite company OneWeb in deal funded in part by India's Bharti Global

    The UK government to acquire satellite company OneWeb in deal funded in part by India's Bharti GlobalDistressed satellite constellation operator OneWeb, which had entered bankruptcy protection proceedings at the end of March, has completed a sale process, with a consortium led by the UK Government as the winner. The group, which includes funding from India's Bharti Global – part of business magnate Sunil Mittal's Bharti Enterprises – plan to pursue OneWeb's plans of building out a broadband internets satellite network, while the UK would also like to potentially use the constellation for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services in order to replace the EU's sat-nav resource, which the UK lost access to in January as a result of Brexit.




  • Uganda boda boda rider sets himself on fire 'over bribe'

    Uganda boda boda rider sets himself on fire 'over bribe'The motorcycle taxi rider's bike had been seized for carrying passengers against coronavirus restrictions.




  • UN agency: North Europe radiation likely linked to reactor


  • Iran declines to disclose cause of mysterious nuke site fire

    Iran declines to disclose cause of mysterious nuke site fireAn online video and messages purportedly claiming responsibility for a fire that analysts say damaged a centrifuge assembly plant at Iran's underground Natanz nuclear site deepened the mystery Friday around the incident — even as Tehran insisted it knew the cause but would not make it public due to “security reasons.” The multiple, different claims by a self-described group called the “Cheetahs of the Homeland” included language used by several exiled Iranian opposition organizations. The disparate messages, as well as the fact that Iran experts have never heard of the group before, raised questions about whether Natanz again had faced sabotage by a foreign nation as it had during the Stuxnet computer virus outbreak believed to have been engineered by the U.S. and Israel.




  • UN staff in Israel suspended over sex act video

    UN staff in Israel suspended over sex act videoThe United Nations has suspended two male workers without pay after a video emerged of them cavorting with a woman in a red dress inside a UN-marked vehicle as it cruised through Tel Aviv. In the 18-second video clip, a woman is seen straddling a man in the back seat of the car, while another man dozes in the passenger seat as the vehicle drives past a beach in the Israeli city. The UN reacted with horror to the video and launched an investigation, which is focused on two workers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which monitors military activity in Israel. Neither the woman nor the two men have been named since the video - which UNTSO has described as “abhorrent" - went viral earlier in June. “Two male international staff members who were in the UN vehicle in Tel Aviv have been identified as having engaged in misconduct, including conduct of a sexual nature," Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement on Thursday.




  • Coronavirus in South Africa: Deciding who lives and dies in a Cape Town township

    Coronavirus in South Africa: Deciding who lives and dies in a Cape Town townshipWithout enough supplies of oxygen or staff, health workers in South Africa are making some difficult decisions.




  • North Korea and US likely to resume talks whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden win 2020 election, China expert on Pyongyang says

    North Korea and US likely to resume talks whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden win 2020 election, China expert on Pyongyang saysA Chinese Communist Party expert on North Korea says it could pose a security threat to China and expects talks between Pyongyang and Washington to resume whether or not US President Donald Trump wins a second term in November.Zhang Liangui, professor of international strategic research at the Central Party School, said that the demolition of the inter-Korea liaison office in the border city of Kaesong last month highlighted the geopolitical risk China faced should ties between North and South Korea become unstable."If one day North Korea takes military actions against the South, geopolitics dictates that China, as a neighbouring country, will inevitably be dragged into it, whether we like it or not," he said.The Central Party School is both a think tank and a training school for Chinese leaders. Zhang, who has studied Korean issues for decades, is considered one of China's top experts on North Korea.He said that the destruction of the liaison office by North Korea last month was meant to show Pyongyang's displeasure with Seoul over issues such as South Korea's ties to the United States, and its failures to provide economic assistance and help to lift sanctions on North Korea.Taking advantage of the thaw between the two Koreas following the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, North Korea launched the "special envoy diplomacy" with South Korea in February 2018.However, the warming of ties didn't last and North Korea began to step up its criticism of the South last year. "The underlying reason is that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un felt he has been let down by South Korea," Zhang said.The new book by former US national security adviser John Bolton, Zhang said, suggests that the US could either continue to apply maximum economic pressure on North Korea or resort to military actions.Zhang believes that US policymakers have concluded it would be to Washington's advantage to let North Korea hold onto part of its nuclear arsenal and negotiate with Kim only on give up his long-range missiles."The US has come to realise that it would be good for them to leave a nuclear-armed country right on China's doorstep," he said."If Trump is re-elected, he will begin dealing with North Korea again, and he'll have two options. One is to press on to force North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons completely, verifiably and irreversibly. If this cannot be achieved, then military force will be considered."Trump and Kim at the demilitarised zone in Panmunjom, South Korea, on June 30, 2019. Photo: Reuters alt=Trump and Kim at the demilitarised zone in Panmunjom, South Korea, on June 30, 2019. Photo: Reuters"Which option that he will choose may depend on how China-US relations go," he continued. "[It is entirely possible] that the US and North Korea may establish ties one day [regardless of where China stands]."Zhang said that the outcome would be the same if Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee, defeats Trump in November " since both Republicans and Democrats have similar positions on China.Zhang said China should be worried about North Korea's nuclear stockpiles because the country has a fragile economy."If a regime is struggling for survival, it may drag someone down with it," he said. "To use the same rhetoric by the Americans, North Korea is a failed state. Its economy is in a bad shape, and it is isolated diplomatically.""Very few people in China realise how big a threat North Korea can be.""A small nation which has nuclear arms can be a serious security threat for the world," Zhang said."We should bear in mind what our ancestors have taught us " make friends from afar and attack enemies who are near."This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.




  • It Would Cost Trillions: The Day North Korea Collapses

    It Would Cost Trillions: The Day North Korea CollapsesThe prospect of a peaceful Korean Unification, however remote it seems, would be a historical event worth planning for. While preparing for the worst, we should hope for the best. Hoping for the best means there is a scenario where North Korea’s collapse and regime change occur miraculously, opening doors to South Korea and the West to take over North Korea in what one hopes would be a peaceful absorption. As unlikely as this sounds, it is important to remember that it is not without historical precedent.




  • U.N. says it is "alarmed" at arrests in Hong Kong, concerned at "vague" law


  • Steroid drug purchased for COVID patients in poor countries - U.N.


  • Africa's week in pictures: 26 June - 2 July 2020

    Africa's week in pictures: 26 June - 2 July 2020A selection of the week's best photos from across the continent.




  • Modi visits military base close to China amid standoff

    Modi visits military base close to China amid standoffIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unannounced visit Friday to a military base in a remote region bordering China where troops from the two countries have been facing off for nearly two months. Modi’s visit comes after a massive Indian army buildup in Ladakh following hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese soldiers on June 15 that left 20 Indians dead and dozens injured in the Galwan Valley, the worst confrontation in over four decades between the Asian giants.




  • South Africa's hospitals bracing for surge of virus patients

    South Africa's hospitals bracing for surge of virus patientsThe nurse started crying when describing her work at a Johannesburg hospital: The ward for coronavirus patients is full, so new arrivals are sent to the general ward, where they wait days for test results. Its hospitals are now bracing for an onslaught of patients, setting up temporary wards and hoping advances in treatment will help the country's health facilities from becoming overwhelmed. In Johannesburg, the largest city, health officials said they are considering reimposing some restrictions to try to slow the quickening spread of the virus.




  • Nord Stream 2 Could Sever Transatlantic Ties

    Nord Stream 2 Could Sever Transatlantic Ties(Bloomberg Opinion) -- U.S. President Donald Trump is furious at Germany for many reasons, not all of them fathomable. In phone conversations with Angela Merkel, he’s allegedly called the German chancellor “stupid” and denigrated her in “near-sadistic” tones. Though this be madness, as the Bard might say, there is — on rare occasions — method in it. One such case is Nord Stream 2.It is an almost-finished gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany, running right next to the original Nord Stream, which has been in operation since 2011. “We’re supposed to protect Germany from Russia, but Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for energy coming from a pipeline,” Trump roared at a recent campaign rally. “Excuse me, how does that work?”As is his wont, the president thereby conflated many things. One of his grievances is that Germany has long been scrimping on its military spending, in effect free-riding on U.S. protection, for which he wants to punish his “delinquent” ally. Another is that the European Union, which he considers Germany’s marionette, allegedly takes advantage of the U.S. in business. Trump also wants to sell Europe more American liquefied natural gas (LNG).But Trump isn’t the only American trying to stop Nord Stream 2. In December, Congress aimed sanctions at a Swiss company that supplied the ships to lower the pipes into the water. This delayed the pipeline’s launch. Then Russia sent another vessel to finish the job. So this week a bipartisan group of Senators moved to widen the sanctions in order to kill Nord Stream 2 altogether.The problem is that if this new round becomes law, it will amount to an all-out economic assault on Europe. It could hit individuals and companies from many countries that are only tangential to the project — by underwriting insurance for the pipeline, say, or providing port services to the ships involved.Considering this an instance of illegal American extraterritoriality, the German government now plans to make the EU retaliate against the U.S. Trump, in the heat of America’s “silly season” leading up to November, could then strike back with new tariffs on German cars or a full-blown trade war. The transatlantic alliance, which was already frayed, is close to tearing.To me, this situation increasingly resembles “chicken,” a classic in game theory. The question is whether both sides are merely feigning recklessness (as the game assumes) or are already too far gone. And that applies just as much to the Germans. They like to play the reasonable side in transatlantic fights but deserve just as much blame as Trump and Congress for causing this mess.If Russia were a normal country, the German rationale for this pipeline might make sense. Europe will need more gas, especially to replace much dirtier coal and to supplement renewable sources of energy on the way to becoming carbon-neutral. And to get that gas, it makes sense to diversify — between Norwegian imports, American LNG or any other sort, including the Russian stuff. And piping it into Europe along the shortest route — through the Baltic — is efficient.But Russia is far from a normal country. It has for years been waging hybrid warfare in Europe, ranging from disinformation campaigns to aggression in Ukraine. At Germany’s urging, Russia recently extended a contract with Kiev to keep piping gas through Ukraine for several more years. But in the longer term, the new pipeline gives Russia dangerous geopolitical and strategic options.With two pipelines through the Baltic and another big one through the Black Sea, Russia could in the future cut all central and eastern European countries out of billions in transit fees. The country already controls almost 40% of the EU’s gas market even without Nord Stream 2. Once that goes online, the rest of Europe may become too dependent and therefore vulnerable to blackmail. When Trump calls Germany “a captive to Russia,” he has half a point.This is why Poland and the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia also oppose Nord Stream 2. As NATO’s eastern front line and former victims of invasion and aggression, they fear Russia more viscerally than Germans do nowadays. Psychologically, the Poles distrust any deal between Germany and Russia over their heads, because it reminds them of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, which carved up their region between Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence.My question to the Germans, then, is why they have for years been deaf to these strategic concerns by their partners in NATO and the European Union, while coddling their own pro-Russian business lobbies and, of course, the Kremlin.German intransigence looks even more unsavory when considering who within Germany is most passionately in favor of the pipeline. Support for it skews sharply to the left, with its long tradition of anti-American and pro-Russian leanings. The most egregious example is Gerhard Schroeder, a Social Democrat who was Angela Merkel’s predecessor as chancellor. He’s always been buddies with Russian President Vladimir Putin. These days he also chairs the supervisory board of Nord Stream AG, which is owned by Gazprom PJSC and thus controlled by the Kremlin, as well as the board of Rosneft Oil Co PJSC, a Russian oil giant.This week, Schroeder testified to the Bundestag that Germany and Europe should prepare tough countermeasures against U.S. sanctions. He won support from The Left, a party that descends from the former regime in East Germany.Nord Stream 2 was and is a terrible idea. It’s a geopolitical project disguised as a private business deal. It has shown Germany to be an insensitive and naïve ally, and the U.S. to be a truculent one. It is now rending what little remains of their former relationship. If there is any way to leave these pipes buried and forgotten under the sea, all involved should discreetly and diplomatically search for it. Otherwise, this game of chicken will end the way it’s not supposed to.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andreas Kluth is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. He was previously editor in chief of Handelsblatt Global and a writer for the Economist. He's the author of "Hannibal and Me." For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.




  • Activist leaves Hong Kong after new law to advocate abroad

    Activist leaves Hong Kong after new law to advocate abroadProminent Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law has left the city for an undisclosed location after testifying in a U.S. congressional hearing about a tough new security law imposed by mainland China on the semi-autonomous territory. Law, who declined to disclose his whereabouts for safety, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday that he left because Hong Kong needs an advocate for democracy who can work internationally. Under the new security law, activists and politicians in Hong Kong who speak to foreign media or testify in foreign hearings can be arrested for secessionism or colluding with foreign forces, Law said.




  • White Mich. couple charged after gun pulled on Black family

    White Mich. couple charged after gun pulled on Black familyA white couple face criminal charges after one of them was captured on video pulling a handgun on a Black woman and her daughters in a restaurant parking lot in Michigan. Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, were arrested after Wednesday night's confrontation and charged Thursday with felonious assault, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said in a release. As a condition of the bond they must turn over all firearms, not engage in “assaultive behavior” and not leave Michigan, Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a statement.




  • At Rushmore, Trump to say protesters seek to 'defame' heroes

    At Rushmore, Trump to say protesters seek to 'defame' heroesPresident Donald Trump plans to say in a fiery speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday night that protesters have waged “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history” amid demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality. The sharp rebuke in a holiday address to mark the nation’s independence follows weeks of protests across the nation, sparked by the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. “This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore," Trump will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by the White House.




  • Only verified intelligence? A look at presidents' briefings

    Only verified intelligence? A look at presidents' briefingsThe White House says President Donald Trump was never briefed on intelligence that Russia had put a bounty on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan because there wasn’t corroborating evidence. Intelligence that may be on shaky ground today may foreshadow tomorrow’s calamity. HOW DO PRESIDENTS RECEIVE NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION?




  • Virus concerns grow — as do crowds flocking to Jersey Shore

    Virus concerns grow — as do crowds flocking to Jersey ShoreAs coronavirus-related restrictions are eased and temperatures climb, people are flocking back to the Jersey Shore. “I am really concerned,” said Paul Kanitra, mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, a popular shore town that was unexpectedly overrun by thousands of tourists who swarmed the beach and boardwalk a few weeks ago at a “pop-up party,” paying little heed to social distancing or masks. “We're seeing spikes across the country in states that opened up weeks ago, and while we're doing a good job in New Jersey, there are a lot of people that are way too cavalier about social distancing,” he said.




  • North Korea's response to coronavirus has been a 'shining success', says Kim Jong-un

    North Korea's response to coronavirus has been a 'shining success', says Kim Jong-unKim Jong-un has said that North Korea has stopped the coronavirus making inroads in his country and his response to the pandemic has been a "shining success". According to state news agency KCNA, Mr Kim told a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party that North Korea had "thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis, which is a shining success achieved." He warned against complacency or relaxation in the anti-epidemic effort and urged North Koreans to maintain "maximum alert", KCNA said in a statement. The politburo meeting on Thursday comes as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns, even as the world moves quickly past the grim milestones of 10 million confirmed infections and 500,000 deaths. North Korea has reopened schools but kept a ban on public gatherings and made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public places as part of its response to the coronavirus threat, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Wednesday.




  • Paraguay controls coronavirus, while its neighbors struggle

    Paraguay controls coronavirus, while its neighbors struggleAs nearby nations grapple with uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus, the poor, landlocked nation of Paraguay appears to be controlling the disease, with just a few thousand confirmed cases and a few dozen deaths. Along with Paraguay's relative isolation, experts credit the country with creating a network of quarantine centers in military academies, motels, and religious institutions where citizens arriving home must isolate for at least 14 days and pass two consecutive coronavirus tests before being able to move about the country freely. With only 7 million people, a stagnant economy, high poverty and a weak public health system, Paraguay moved to slow coronavirus in March by closing borders and imposing the quarantine restrictions, along with closing schools and public events and declaring a nighttime curfew.




  • U.S. envoy to visit S.Korea to discuss stalled N.Korea nuclear talks


  • Supreme Court blocks curbside voting in Alabama

    Supreme Court blocks curbside voting in AlabamaThe U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision Thursday blocked a lower court ruling allowing curbside voting in Alabama and waiving some absentee ballot requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conservative justices granted Alabama’s request to stay a federal judge’s order that would allow local officials to offer curbside voting in the July runoff and loosen absentee ballot requirements in three of the state’s large counties. The order will remain stayed while the court decides whether to hear Alabama’s appeal.




  • Emails Tell the Inside Story of How the Enquirer Got Jeff Bezos’ Nudes*

    Emails Tell the Inside Story of How the Enquirer Got Jeff Bezos’ Nudes*In September 2018, an obscure Hollywood talent agent reached out to a reporter at the National Enquirer with a hell of a story. Michael Sanchez said that one of the world’s wealthiest people had accidentally sent nude photos of himself to a colleague. He had access to the photos, the reporter told her editors, and he wanted hundreds of thousands of dollars to turn them over.Less than four months later, the Enquirer ran the first of a multi-part series exposing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s extramarital affair. AMI says the stories were based entirely on text messages and lewd photos provided to the publication by Sanchez, the brother of Bezos’ mistress.The Daily Beast first reported in early 2019 that Sanchez was the Enquirer’s source. And the Enquirer has since confirmed his role. But Sanchez has vehemently disputed public accounts of his involvement since then, including that he was AMI’s sole source—and has filed lawsuits against Bezos and American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company. On Tuesday, AMI moved to dismiss its lawsuit and sanction Sanchez for allegedly abusing the court system.As part of that motion, AMI revealed extensive new information about how, in its telling, the Bezos expose came together—and about Sanchez’s role in leaking the relevant information to the tabloid. Its court filing contained emails, text messages, and sworn statements by the three AMI employees who co-bylined its Bezos stories: former chief content officer Dylan Howard, editor James Robertson, and reporter Andrea Simpson.Trump Had Kushner Push the National Enquirer to Probe Scarborough Murder ConspiracyThose documents tell AMI’s side of the story, and they paint a picture of an investigation driven almost entirely by Sanchez’s eager desire to sell the salacious tale for a sum that he hoped would exceed half a million dollars. (Neither Sanchez nor AMI responded to requests for comment.)At the same time, the documents reveal some inconsistencies in what AMI employees told each other about the story, what Sanchez told them, what eventually appeared in print, and what AMI has said publicly about the series since it ran in January 2019. The person who supposedly received Bezos’ inadvertently sent photos is not revealed, and AMI’s court filing is cagey about the nature and source of the most salacious material undergirding its investigation.Even the order of events is less clear than AMI’s position indicates. According to AMI, Sanchez first reached out to Simpson, the Enquirer reporter, on Sept. 10, 2018. But a person familiar with the situation said reporters at the Enquirer had started to investigate Bezos earlier, raising questions over AMI’s timeline as presented in the court filings.Indeed, the person familiar with the matter said that on Sept. 9, a day before Simpson says she first heard from Sanchez, a directive went out from a senior AMI editor to multiple reporters with a seemingly out-of-the-blue demand for an in-depth investigation into Bezos, his life story, finances, family, business, and any potential skeletons in his closet. The editor didn’t mention Sanchez or any specific suspicions about an extramarital affair.Lurking behind the tabloid’s fixation on Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man, have been suggestions from Bezos’ top security consultant, Gavin de Becker, that the government of Saudi Arabia may have had a role in the Enquirer story. “Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” de Becker wrote in a March 2019 column for The Daily Beast. “As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.” In January of this year, two United Nations special rapporteurs released a report, commissioned by de Becker, providing some limited forensic evidence linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the unauthorized access of Bezos’ phone. The Saudi ruler appeared to be taunting the Amazon founder about his affair—months before the Enquirer began its investigation.Bezos Investigation Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private DataAMI, which has enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Saudi royal family, has consistently and vehemently denied that that government played any role in its Bezos reporting. The origins of the investigation, as it portrayed them in its court filing this week, were more mundane, and, AMI insists, began with that tip from Sanchez.Simpson reported back to Howard on her initial Sept. 10 exchange with Sanchez in an email filed in court this week. “Michael has a potentially great story,” she wrote. Much of the email was redacted. Its subject line was “Lauren Sanchez,” the name of Michael Sanchez’s sister. She was also Bezos’ lover, a fact that AMI says it didn’t learn for another six weeks.Sanchez, Simpson told Howard, had told her that a friend of his worked for a “Bill Gates-type, very well known billionaire.” Bezos, whom Sanchez didn’t identify at the time, was “bragging” to this mutual friend about the actress he was sleeping with, and decided to send the friend a screenshot of a text message from the woman. Instead, as Simpson relayed Sanchez’s tip, Bezos inadvertently sent nude photos of himself, “sexy photos of the actress,” and “sexual emails between the two.”“The guy who got them wants $, likely 6 figures,” Simpson told Howard. “I told Michael the material and story so far sounds good.” Sanchez, Simpson wrote, would be “the middle man” in the exchange.Two weeks later, Sanchez followed up with Simpson to tell her that his friend, the one to whom Bezos had supposedly sent the photos inadvertently, was already pitching the story to another outlet, the Daily Mail. That publication had offered $300,000 for the story, Sanchez told Simpson. A knowledgeable Daily Mail source said that was “patently untrue,” and that the publication had never been offered the story, let alone agreed to a six-figure payment for it.If the supposed Daily Mail offer was a bluff, it underscored Sanchez’s apparent eagerness to get AMI on board. He wanted the company to enter into a non-disclosure agreement, and he was specific about the type of material it needed to cover. “NDA should say ‘text messages & multiple photos that are deemed to be of a sexual and/or inappropriate nature,’” he told Simpson in a text.At this point, AMI insists that it still didn’t know who the mysterious billionaire was. Sanchez referred to him by the codename “Bill” in communications with Simpson, Howard, and Robertson, the AMI editor. But in early October, Simpson and Sanchez met in person, and, she says, he showed her printed out copies of text messages and suggestive photos with faces cropped out.By mid-October, Sanchez was getting impatient. “The NDA delays are likely going to push the story to one of you [sic] weak rivals,” he told Howard. “I would prefer to avoid that.” Sanchez also reached out to Robertson with additional language he wanted added to the agreement: if AMI published the story Sanchez had brought them, he would get $300,000. If they used photos or screenshots he’d provided, Sanchez wanted $500,000 plus a percentage of that edition’s sales.The agreement was ratified the following day, October 18, and it stipulated that Sanchez would receive $200,000—far less than his asking price, but according to AMI, the most they’d ever paid for a story. The agreement covered “information, photographs, and text messages documenting an affair between Bezos and L. Sanchez.”On that same day, Sanchez told Howard that “Bill” was Jeff Bezos. A few days later he revealed that the mistress was his sister.Sanchez also went into more detail about the materials in his possession. He emailed Robertson a document titled “Project 77.docx” with an extensive account of information that he would provide to AMI, including photos described as “PIC OF [BEZOS] SELFIE IN UNDERWEAR / TOWEL,” “SHIRTLESS SELFIE PHOTO OF [BEZOS] IN JEANS,” and “PIC OF [LAUREN SANCHEZ] IN BIKINI / PICOF [LAUREN SANCHEZ] IN RED DRESS.”Notably absent from the photos described in that document were any suggesting they were of a fully nude Bezos, as described in Simpson’s email to Howard a couple months earlier.The Enquirer did obtain such photos—or, at least, Howard told Bezos they did in what the latter dubbed a “blackmail” threat after the Enquirer published its expose. According to emails that Bezos published in a Medium post in February 2019, Howard reached out to him and threatened to publish a “‘below the belt selfie’—otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” unless Bezos publicly affirmed that the Enquirer’s story about him was not politically motivated. The Amazon chief declined, then published the emails.“Below-the-belt selfie” is also the turn of phrase that Sanchez has used in the more than a year since the Enquirer’s stories ran to describe nude photos of Bezos in AMI’s possession. And he has repeatedly denied providing such photos. The phrase also pops up repeatedly in AMI’s court filing this week, which says that Sanchez provided such a photo to the Enquirer, but is vague about some of the details.Private Eyes Detail Inner Workings of National Enquirer ‘Blackmail’ MachineAccording to Robertson, Sanchez had promised such a photo to AMI. He, Howard, Simpson, and Sanchez jumped on a FaceTime call in November 2018, on which Robertson says he “observed Ms. Simpson looking at a printed photograph that Mr. Sanchez represented was a below-the-belt selfie of Mr. Bezos.”Howard provided a similar description of the photo in his declaration to the court submitted this week. “During the conversation, I saw Ms. Simpson look at a printed photograph that Mr. Sanchez told us was a below-the-belt selfie of Mr. Bezos.”Both Howard and Robertson conspicuously avoid saying that they saw the photo in question. But AMI’s court filing is more definitive. “The evidence demonstrates that Sanchez did share with AMI a below-the-belt selfie of Bezos,” it states.At the same time, the filing states that the photo came not from Bezos’ supposed inadvertent text message to his colleague, but from Lauren Sanchez herself. “Sanchez said that Bezos had texted the selfie to Lauren Sanchez, and that Lauren had later shared the photo with Sanchez,” the filing recalls.A couple weeks later, Sanchez had more material for AMI. He sent Howard and Robertson an email on Nov. 11 containing nearly a dozen screenshots of suggestive text message conversations between Bezos and his sister. A number of the texts are redacted in AMI’s court filing, indicating that they may have included additional photos.Michael Sanchez has, over the past year, characterized his involvement in the Enquirer story as one designed to help his sister and her boyfriend, using public relations skills acquired through a career managing entertainment industry talent. But according to AMI, he told Simpson that they were entirely unaware that he was sharing their photos and text messages.“He says Lauren and Jeff are NOT in cooperation with him,” Simpson told Howard and Robertson in a late November email. “Neither one have a clue.”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.




  • Explosion rocks Iranian nuclear facility: analysts

    Explosion rocks Iranian nuclear facility: analystsA centrifuge production plant above Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility was damaged by fire and an explosion around 2 a.m. Thursday, according to analysts. A U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite detected the fire from afar. Government spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi immediately headed to the site that houses a development program 25 feet underground to protect it from airstrikes.




  • Trump Admin Mulls Keeping Putin From G7 Summit in Response to Russian Bounties on Americans’ Heads

    Trump Admin Mulls Keeping Putin From G7 Summit in Response to Russian Bounties on Americans’ HeadsYou pay to kill our troops—we won’t invite you to our meeting of world leaders.That’s the scenario being mulled by senior officials in the upper echelons of the Trump administration, who are scrambling for a way to respond to Russia after news broke that Moscow paid bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. forces. One idea these officials have raised with President Donald Trump in recent days: not inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the G7 summit of global powers later this year.President Trump told reporters in late May that he wanted to invite Russia to the meeting (which used to be known as the G8, until Russia was suspended for annexing Crimea and invading Ukraine). And that following Monday, Trump spoke with Putin on the phone to discuss, among other things, the G7 gathering and the possibility that Russia might attend.But over the last several days, senior officials in the White House, including National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, have recommended to Trump that he not formally extend that invitation in the wake of the recent reports about the Russian bounties. (That’s according to two U.S. officials and a third source familiar with the matter.) While President Trump has not made a final decision on whether to officially invite Russia to the G7, officials say the administration is also considering inviting India and Australia to the meeting.Trump Gives Putin a Pass on Bounties So He Can Target Leakers Instead When government officials have briefed the president in the past week on the bounty intel and the G7, as well as the way forward on messaging and possible policy moves, they have encountered a familiar problem: holding Trump’s attention. In at least two instances in recent days when officials or aides have discussed the option of rescinding his offer to Putin, Trump responded by not committing one way or the other. According to two sources familiar with the matter, he instead quickly pivoted to bashing the media, particularly The New York Times, which broke the news of the bounties. The discussions about the G7 highlight the extent to which the administration is concerned about the optics of Trump embracing Russia in the middle of an uproar over its military intelligence service paying the Taliban to kill American troops. It also shows how constrained administration officials believe their options to be, given the president’s long-documented admiration for Putin.Trump “has made it perfectly clear that he wants to do Russia’s bidding,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT).The White House did not respond to a request for comment.Since the Times broke the news about the bounties, officials have grappled with how to defend the integrity of what’s been called an ongoing investigation into the Russian payoffs while also protecting Trump himself. The administration’s top intelligence and national security officials have all claimed that the president was not verbally briefed on the intelligence because there was a lack of consensus over the validity of the bounty evidence. Yet the information was deemed solid enough to make it into the President’s Daily Brief. But as The Daily Beast previously reported, a classified U.S. intelligence report makes it clear that Russia is supporting the Taliban materially and financially, and that there is serious evidence pointing to the fact that it is also paying bounties. So far, though, the administration has not made any moves to publicly address the issue, though senior administration officials said the Pentagon had issued warnings about the bounties to troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Backing away from offering Putin an invitation to the G7 could be a way for the president to take a public stand against Russia while at the same time preserving the goodwill between the two countries, an official familiar with the administration’s G7 conversations said. And maybe, if worded right, it might not piss off Trump.GOP Deny, Downplay Questions About Russian Bounty Scandal On Capitol Hill, where the intelligence report has circulated in recent days, Democrats are calling on the White House to address the Russian bounties. Some suggested issuing additional sanctions. Others said the president should demand that Putin put a stop to the bounty program.Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the Armed Services Committee and an Iraq War veteran, expressed exasperation on Thursday with what she said was an inadequate briefing on the Russia bounty question from the Defense Department. She has yet to hear from Afghanistan war commander Gen. Scott Miller, CIA Director Gina Haspel or Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the NSA.While Duckworth cautioned that she has not been fully briefed, she said the administration ought to do “much more” than not inviting Putin to attend the forthcoming G7 summit. “Obviously, we can have sanctions, obviously the president should be reaching out to the Russians saying, ‘You will not do this, you will cease and end this,’” she said.But Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested on Wednesday that, at this point, there’s little Congress can do to rein in the president’s clearly pro-Moscow instincts.“I think it's impossible for Congress to override the president’s Russia policy. The President sets foreign policy… Congress can pass additional sanctions, but if the President continues to try to bring them into the G7, if he withdraws troops from Germany, there’s nothing we can do that counteracts the administration’s policy,” Murphy said. “I don’t think Russia cares too much about congressional sanctions if the president is cheering them back into the G7 and withdrawing troops from NATO countries.”—with additional reporting by Spencer Ackerman and Sam BrodeyRead 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.





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