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  • AP Analysis: Saudi oil attack part of dangerous new pattern

    Golocal247.com news

    The assault on the beating heart of Saudi Arabia's vast oil empire follows a new and dangerous pattern that's emerged across the Persian Gulf this summer of precise attacks that leave few obvious clues as to who launched them. Beginning in May with the still-unclaimed explosions that damaged oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, the region has seen its energy infrastructure repeatedly targeted. "Iran can count on public skepticism to afford it some deniability under any circumstances, but an attack of this magnitude stands a much greater chance of provoking very severe diplomatic and military consequences," warned Michael Knights, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:58:22 -0400
  • Three million Syrian refugees could be repatriated into safe zone in northeast, Turkey says

    Golocal247.com news

    Three million Syrians could return to their country to a planned "safe zone", Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.  A US-Turkey safe-zone deal was agreed in August, and now forces from both countries are setting up the area in northeast Syria, which Mr Erdogan says needs to be enlarged in order to accommodate three million people.  He is pushing for the busy exclusion zone to extend from Turkey's border to Deir Ezzor and Raqqa, deep into territory held by Kurdish forces.  Mr Erdogan said he aims to settle "at least one million of our Syrian brothers," and wants to extend the safe zone following talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president.  It is believed to be unlikely that US-backed Kurdish fighters will accept Mr Erdogan's offer.  Labelled terrorists by Ankara, Kurdish groups say Turkey is planning to use the safe zone to drive out the Kurds already living there.  Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch an offensive against the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, which have been key to the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Mr Erdogan hosted Mr Putin and Mr Rouhani in Ankara Credit: ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images Speaking after the meeting with his Russian and Iranian counterparts on Monday, Mr Erdogan said it was unacceptable to support militant groups "under the pretence" of battling Isil.  Since the introduction of the safe zone deal, tens of thousands of civilians have fled from the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib to the Turkish border, with many more expected to join them as Russian and Syrian regime forces attempt to re-take the area.  Turkey has borne much of the brunt of the exodus of Syrians fleeing fighting, and has hosted 3.7 million Syrian refugees since the outbreak of civil war in 2011.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:55:36 -0400
  • First Day of Court Ends With Johnson on Back Foot: Brexit Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit, sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, and tell us your Brexit story. The Supreme Court concluded the first of three days of hearings into Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament. It’s a landmark case that not only threatens to undermine his position as prime minister, but could also force him to recall the legislature -- giving opponents of a no-deal Brexit more time to pass laws to force his hand.While it’s notoriously difficult to determine how a case will turn out from judges’ questions, lawyers observing the proceedings said opponents of a so-called no-deal Brexit had the better day. During a period of intense scrutiny, a government lawyer promised to provide a written statement outlining what Johnson plans to do if he loses.Key Developments:The first day of hearings has ended in London. There are two more days to come, and the court has not given a date for its rulingRead profiles of the judges hereJudges press Johnson’s lawyer on what premier plans to do if he loses case; Richard Keen promises to file written answer to the courtPound reverses losses, rising as much as 0.5%How Brexit Could Unleash a U.K. Constitutional Crisis: QuickTakeLiberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson said her party would cancel Brexit on day one if elected to governmentCourt Ends First Day, as Questions Offer ‘Clue’ (4:30 p.m.)The first day the Supreme Court hearing into Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament has drawn to a close. The session first saw arguments from lawyers including David Pannick representing anti-Brexit businesswoman Gina Miller, who argued that Johnson had acted unlawfully in ordering the prorogation.In the afternoon, a government lawyer came under pressure from judges to clarify what Johnson’s position would be if he lost at the nation’s highest court. On balance, Miller’s team are likely to be slightly happier.The questions being asked by the judges “are a clue,” trial lawyer Gavin Millar said. “I thought David Pannick got quite an easy ride this morning, which may be an indicator.”And Robert Hazell, a constitutional law professor at University College London, said: “I think if I were the government after the first day, I think I would be feeling a bit more worried.”On Wednesday morning, the court will hear from leading U.K. government lawyer James Eadie.EU Open to Deal, Needs U.K. Proposals: Coveney (4:10 p.m.)The European Union remains open to a Brexit deal, but is still waiting on written proposals from the U.K., Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters in Dublin on Tuesday.Coveney reiterated that Ireland won’t sign up for permanent checks on the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland after Brexit, but added he didn’t think checks would be needed close to the frontier anyway. That differs from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s warning earlier this month that some form of checks near the border could be needed.Swinson Pledges ‘Brighter’ No-Brexit Future (3:25 p.m.)Jo Swinson ended a polished first leader’s speech to the Liberal Democrat party conference with a pledge to “change our politics, stop Brexit, and win a brighter future.”“We cannot be satisfied with a place on the fringes of British politics, narrow and pure, small and irrelevant,” Swinson said of her party, which currently has just 18 MPs out of 650. “We can defeat nationalism and populism.”The speech drew sustained applause, and was peppered with ovations when Swinson delivered lines on standing to be prime minister, and saying that being a woman isn’t a weakness -- a reference to Boris Johnson’s past references to people as a “big girl’s blouse” and a “girly swot.”Her policy initiatives stretched beyond Brexit, with measures to protect the climate and wider environment, to increase youth services and to broaden government priorities beyond boosting GDP and encompass the wider wellbeing of society.Judges Quickly Turn on Government Lawyer (2:45 p.m.)Several Supreme Court justices quickly turned on the lawyer for the government in the case over Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament, demanding a clearer explanation of what the premier would do if he lost.Justice Brian Kerr went further, pushing to discover if Johnson would recall lawmakers or attempt to suspend the legislature again.“Can we take it that he wouldn’t prorogue Parliament again,” Kerr asked.Richard Keen, a lawyer for the government, said that Johnson would abide by the ruling, but stopped short of saying that Parliament would immediately be recalled.“If this court finds that the advice of the prime minister was unlawful, the prime minister will take all necessary steps to comply with any declaration made by the court, and that is the appropriate way that this matter should be addressed,” Keen said.Keen promised the court he would get a written answer on what the prime minister would do if he lost the case.Lib Dems Would Cancel Brexit on Day 1 (2:40 p.m.)The Liberal Democrats will cancel Brexit on day one of a new government if they win a majority in the next general election, leader Jo Swinson said in her speech at the party conference in Bournemouth.Swinson also compared Prime Minister Boris Johnson to a “socialist dictator” for overriding constitutional norms, and said opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn “is Brexit by nature,” according to text of the speech handed to journalists before her speech.There are also new party policies in her speech: The Liberal Democrats will push introduce a New Zealand-style “wellbeing budget” alongside annual budgets, and make sure that every new government policy has an assessment on its impact of people’s health, welfare and happiness. The party will also push green policies, she said.More Than 4.4 Million Requests for Live Stream (2 p.m.)The U.K. Supreme Court said its servers received more than 4.4 million requests to access the live stream for Tuesday’s hearing on the suspension of Parliament. While that doesn’t mean more than 4 million people tried to log on, the court said it’s “a good preliminary indicator of general numbers.”Those figures don’t include viewers on TV channels including BBC and Sky, meaning the proceedings were probably the most-watched in European legal history.Is Politics Legitimate Grounds for Suspension? (1:20 p.m.)Justice Patrick Hodge asked if a legitimate purpose for suspending Parliament could be to “obtain a political advantage.”The question was considered by a lower court in London earlier this month, which said even if prorogation was purely political, the issue would not be “territory in which a court can enter.”But David Pannick, a lawyer leading the opposition to a no-deal Brexit, said the court should look at “the scrutiny of Parliament” rather than the purely political outcome.Johnson ‘Confident’ of Legal Arguments (12:40 p.m.)Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that he is “confident in our arguments” in the cases at the Supreme Court, his spokesman, James Slack, told reporters at a briefing in Westminster.Johnson, who spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier, told his senior ministers that he agreed to an intensification of Brexit talks at a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, Slack said.The prime minister “continues to believe there’s a deal to be done with the EU, but at the same time no-deal planning must continue at pace,” Slack told reporters. Technical and political talks will continue this week and the two sides will move to daily meetings “shortly,” he said.Judge Asks If Confidence Vote Was Right Option (12:30 p.m.)Justice Robert Reed asked whether courts should intervene, given that Parliament had the option to hold a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson’s government before the suspension but chose not to.“Where Parliament has stayed its hand, should the Courts intervene?” Reed asked.David Pannick, the lawyer for the anti-no-deal Brexit side, replied that the question blurred arguments related to policy and law. The issue of whether politicians chose not to call a confidence vote is irrelevant to the question of whether what Johnson did was legal, he said.“It is no answer that there could have been a political solution,” Pannick said.Two Judges Ask About Work Lost to Suspension (12 p.m.)Court President Brenda Hale and Justice Robert Carnwath both ask lawyers challenging the government what legislation was dropped because of the suspension of Parliament.“It would be of great interest to know which bills were lost in the prorogation,” Hale asked.David Pannick, who represents Brexit opponents, said that Parliament wasn’t able to debate or ask questions of the executive during the extended break. One bill that was dropped, according to the Parliamentary Review, was divorce legislation, which might interest Justice Hale, a former family law specialist.Pannick said that the “plain effect” of the decision was to prevent Parliament from performing its duties.What Could the Court Verdict Look Like? (11:10 a.m.)Both the English and Scottish claimants are seeking a declaration that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen was unlawful and “null and void.”The prime minister said in his own legal filing that he intends to abide by any declaration made by the court. But his lawyers have left some wriggle room, arguing that the Scottish court didn’t have jurisdiction to make the order in the terms that it did, they said.In response, attorneys for the Scottish claimants called the government’s argument “unsustainable nonsense.” Meanwhile Gina Miller’s lawyers want the court to overturn the prorogation order directly.Supreme Court Defines Its Role (10:50 a.m.)Supreme Court President Brenda Hale opened the three-day hearing by reminding the room that the role of the judges is non-political and concerned solely at bringing sense to differing opinions from lower panels.“This is a serious and difficult question of law -- amply demonstrated by the fact that three senior judges in Scotland have reached a different conclusion to three senior judges in England,” she said. “The Supreme Court exists to resolve these difficult issues.”“The determination of this question will not determine when and how the United Kingdom will leave the European Union,” she continued.Scottish Lawyers Prepare for Another Suspension (10:25 a.m.)The lawyers for politicians in the Scottish challenge to Boris Johnson are already looking ahead to rumors that the prime minister might suspend Parliament again -- even closer to the Brexit deadline.“If a fresh decision is taken by the Executive to prorogue Parliament, that new decision will again be unlawful if and insofar as it is still taken for an unlawful purpose (stymieing parliamentary accountability),” lawyers said in their filing.The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported that Johnson’s office is considering another suspension as a way of getting around a law requiring the government to seek a Brexit extension if it can’t secure a divorce deal with Brussels. After his appearance on Bloomberg Television (see 9 a.m.), Jolyon Maugham said he’d also heard that might be the case.Lawyers File Preliminary Arguments (9:35 a.m.)The government told judges in its preliminary filing that when Parliament meets is a political issue, noting that prorogation -- effectively the suspension of the legislature -- has been recognized since 1707.The issue “is intrinsically one of high policy and politics, not law,” the government said in court filings posted on the Supreme Court website.Lawyers for Gina Miller, the businesswoman who previously sued to force then Prime Minister Theresa May to allow Parliament to vote on a key Brexit benchmark, argued that the five-week suspension hindered lawmakers’ oversight of the executive branch during a period when “time is very much of the essence.”The prime minister’s reasons to suspend Parliament were “infected by factors inconsistent with the concept of Parliamentary sovereignty, in particular his belief that Parliament does nothing of value at this time of year,” Miller’s lawyers said in their filing.Maugham: Brexit Opponents Mobilizing Against PM (9:15 a.m.)Opponents of a no-deal Brexit are discussing forming an emergency government if Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries to get around the new law demanding he seek a Brexit extension if he can’t secure a divorce deal, lawyer Jolyon Maugham said in his Bloomberg Television interview (see 9 a.m.).Johnson has said he won’t ask for a delay to the 31 Oct. Brexit deadline, even though the Benn Act requires him to do so if he can’t negotiate a withdrawal agreement with Brussels.“I would not be surprised to see two goes at forming an emergency government,” he said. “One led by Jeremy Corbyn, and if that were to fail -- and one imagines it would -- another led by a more unifying cross-party figure.”Maugham Criticizes Johnson’s Strategy (9 a.m.)Jolyon Maugham, a London lawyer spearheading one of the cases in front of the Supreme Court, told Bloomberg television the case has historic significance.“Everyone who believes in democracy has to hope that I am going to succeed,” he said on Tuesday.If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the government, a prime minister would be able to suspend Parliament for an entire electoral period, he said.“That is an absolutely remarkable proposition that reduces parliamentary democracy to a husk,” Maugham said.Judiciary Must Be Respected, Buckland Says (Earlier)Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the “robust independence” of the judiciary must be respected whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court case. Some officials questioned the impartiality of the Scottish court, which ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful.“We will examine the ruling very carefully and abide by the rule of law,” Buckland told the BBC on Tuesday. U.K. judges are “world class and world leading, and we must let them do their job.”Earlier:Boris Johnson’s Brexit Plan Goes to Court With EU Talks in ChaosCan Boris Johnson Sell an All-Ireland Backstop to Save Brexit?Brexit Bulletin: The Dilemma of a Deal\--With assistance from Anna Edwards, Jessica Shankleman, Thomas Penny, Peter Flanagan and Alex Morales.To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Browning in London at jbrowning9@bloomberg.net;Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net;Franz Wild in London at fwild@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Anthony AaronsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:52:00 -0400
  • Netanyahu issues frantic warnings to Right-wing voters as Israel goes back to the polls

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    Benjamin Netanyahu spent Israel’s election day issuing increasingly frantic warnings that he was in danger of being defeated, as millions of Israelis went to the polls to decide whether he should continue his 13 years in power.  In what has become a familiar election playbook, Mr Netanyahu spent the final hours of voting telling Right-wing voters that they were complacent and in danger of waking up to a Leftist government if they did not turn out.  “Only you will decide whether a strong Right-wing government will be formed under my leadership or a weak Left-wing government,” he told supporters as he darted between campaign stops in Jerusalem.  Mr Netanyahu has made the same warnings ahead of each of his recent elections, leaving many Israelis to believe he is simply trying to maximum his vote and is not in any real danger of losing.  The prime minister also appeared to flout election laws by giving two radio interviews after voting had started and by publishing polling data on his Facebook account. Facebook temporarily supended a chatbot on his account in response.     A woman walks past a Likud party election campaign banner depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump in Tel Aviv Credit:  CORINNA KERN/ REUTERS Mr Netanyahu’s election rival, Benny Gantz, a former general who leads the centrist Blue & White party, spent much of the day in the liberal bastion of Tel Aviv, urging voters to cast the prime minister out of office.  “We will succeed in bringing hope, all of us together, without corruption and without extremism,” he said, a reference to the criminal corruption charges against Mr Netanyahu.  The prime minister faces a hearing next month where Israel’s attorney general will make a final decision on whether to bring charges on allegations that Mr Netanyahu manipulated media regulations to benefit a press mogul in return for favourable news coverage.  Mr Netanyahu denies wrongdoing.   The final polls of the election show Mr Netanyahu’s Likud and Mr Gantz’s Blue & White tied on around 32 seats. Neither party appeared to have a clear path to forming a majority coalition, setting the stage for what could be weeks of post-election negotiations.   Children accompany an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man to a voting station in the city of Bnei Brak during the Israeli parliamentary election Credit:  MENAHEM KAHANA/ AFP The two parties both won 35 seats in the last election in April. When Mr Netanyahu was unable to form a majority government he called an unprecedented second election to try win an overall majority.  If Mr Netanyahu is unable to cobble together a coalition this time, he faces the possible risk of a mutiny within his own Likud party. Senior Likud figures have so far insisted they will not rise up against their leader. “It will never happen. We are totally against anybody telling the Likud who to vote for,” Nir Barkat, a senior Likud MP, told The Telegraph.  But Blue & White believes Likud officials could eventually overthrow Mr Netanyahu if they believe he has become a drag on the party’s prospects of holding onto power.   The election followed a similar script to the one that preceded it in April, focusing less on policy differences and more on the central question of whether or not Mr Netanyahu should stay in office after 13 years in power.  The prime minister presented himself as an indispensable leader and the only man with the stature and experience on the world stage to guide Israel through the dangerous currents of the Middle East.  His campaign put up massive posters showing him shaking hands with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India. “Netanyahu: a different league,” the posters read.  “I don’t like Bibi but he’s the best person for the job,” said Shula Feldman, 39-year-old British-Israeli originally from London. “For me, the issue of security overrides everything.”  Like many Likud voters, Mrs Feldman, said she believed the criminal prosecution against Mr Netanyahu was at least partly motivated by politics. “I don’t think there would be charges if he didn’t have so many enemies,” she said.   Mr Netanyahu also repeated campaign tactics that have worked for him in the past including making increasingly extreme pledges to his Right-wing voter base, inciting against Israel’s Arab minority, and issuing panicked warnings that he was going to lose.  Less than a week before the election, Mr Netanyahu pledged to annex the Jordan Valley into Israel, an unprecedented step that would destroy any lingering hopes of a Two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was widely seen as an effort to energise his voter base.   Facebook suspended a chatbot belonging to Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party after it sent visitors a message warning of  “Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men”.  For his part, Mr Gantz offered himself as a unifying figure who would bring Israel together after years of Mr Netanyahu’s divisive rule. He charged the prime minister with seeking to cling to power only to protect himself from the criminal corruption charges swirling around him.  “The time has come when the majority takes care of everybody and not the minority takes care of one person,” Mr Gantz said, alleging that Mr Netanyahu would rely on the votes of extremists to pass an immunity law that would shield him from prosecution.  Mr Gantz, a liberal, staked out a more aggressively secular position than he did in the last election and promised to challenge the power of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties which Mr Netanyahu has relied on. Mr Gantz said his hope was to form “a secular unity government” led by Blue & White but which also included Likud and the secular nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party.   However, Mr Gantz said that Likud could only join such a unity government if it first ditched Mr Netanyahu as its leader. Senior Likud figures have said so far said they will remain loyal to Mr Netanyahu.  Moshe Mordechai, a 67-year-old driving instructor, said he normally voted Likud but now intended to back Mr Gantz. “It’s time for a change. Gantz impresses me and I have had enough of Bibi,” he said.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:49:01 -0400
  • UN adopts Afghan resolution without China's 'Belt and Road'

    The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a compromise resolution extending the U.N. political mission in Afghanistan. It drops a Chinese demand to include a reference to China's $1 trillion "belt and road" initiative but stresses the need for regional connectivity. China and Russia had clashed with the U.S. and other Security Council members Monday over China's insistence on including its flagship global program in the resolution.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:48:46 -0400
  • UN expert: Suu Kyi's role in Rohingya abuses still unclear

    Golocal247.com news

    A top U.N. investigator said Tuesday "it's still an open-ended question" about how much Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi could be implicated in human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims. Marzuki Darusman said it was "probably the case" that Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace prize laureate, may not have been "knowledgeable" about a violent crackdown against the ethnic minority that erupted in August 2017 and ultimately drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from their homes in Myanmar. "It's still an open-ended question to what extent she might be implicated," said Darusman, a former Indonesian attorney-general who headed a fact-finding mission on Myanmar over the last two years on a mandate from the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:47:28 -0400
  • The Latest: Egypt calls for world to back Saudi Arabia

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    Egypt's foreign minister says his country is standing by Saudi Arabia following the weekend attack on major oil sites in the kingdom. Sameh Shoukry is calling on the international community to collectively back Saudi Arabia and identify who was responsible for the attacks on a Saudi oil field and the world's largest crude oil processing plant.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:36:45 -0400
  • Even Donald Trump Thinks He’s Spending Too Much Time on Ethanol

    (Bloomberg) -- Global disputes over trade and nuclear weapons have consumed plenty of President Donald Trump’s time and attention -- but a narrow, domestic clash over U.S. biofuel policy may be giving those issues competition.Trump has held more than a half dozen meetings and helped broker at least three near-deals on U.S. ethanol and biodiesel mandates since he moved into the White House. Despite the intense Oval Office negotiations, a lasting compromise between warring oil and biofuel interests has eluded the commander-in-chief. And now his patience may be wearing thin.Trump joked to people at one recent White House meeting on the topic that he had spent more time on ethanol than on both China and Iran, according to people familiar with the matter. The people asked not to be identified describing a private meeting.“The president is tired of dealing with this,” Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, told reporters Tuesday. “He’s more or less said so many times.”And that frustration began long before the current negotiations, Grassley said, recalling Trump’s efforts last year to lift fueling restrictions on higher-ethanol E15 gasoline.“Even back when we were in the White House talking about E15,” Grassley said, “it just seemed like he could never get to the bottom of the ethanol issue or he couldn’t satisfy both Big Oil and the farmers, and he was trying to do that.”Trump’s latest quip may have betrayed his frustration with the ongoing biofuel policy fight, which pits two of his favored constituencies -- agriculture and energy interests -- as well as several swing states against each other.Advocates for corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel say the Environmental Protection Agency has too eagerly granted oil refineries waivers exempting them from mandates compelling them to use the renewable fuels. Oil industry allies, at the same time, have implored the administration to keep issuing the waivers and rein in the costs of tradable credits they use to prove they’ve fulfilled annual blending quotas.One White House official complained to lobbyists that the president was tired of dealing with the issue at a meeting last week, according to a person familiar with the exchange.Long-Running IssueTrump was pulled into the issue even before he took office, as billionaire investor, then-refinery owner and later unpaid presidential regulatory adviser Carl Icahn in August 2016 complained about a “rigged” marketplace for the renewable fuel credits. He helped vet Trump’s nominees to lead the EPA and eventually tried to craft his own compromise with biofuel supporters.In the spring of 2018, Trump presided over months of negotiations -- ultimately reaching a pact in June that promised to simultaneously boost ethanol and keep refining costs in check. Within days, the plan fell apart, following fierce criticism from Iowa’s two Republican senators, Grassley and Joni Ernst.Now, Trump is trying again, after warnings that an uproar in Iowa and other politically important farm states over refinery waivers could haunt him at the ballot box next year. Refining executives from Valero Energy Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. pressed their case with Trump last week. Corn Belt senators and ethanol producer Archer-Daniels Midland Co. also made their own arguments in a meeting with the president.Trump already promised a “giant package” of changes he boasted would make farmers happy while keeping oil refineries in business. But it looks like he’ll have to get through at least one more meeting first. More senators -- this time from states with big refining interests -- are seeking an audience with the president this week.(Updates with comment from Grassley starting in fourth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.net;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman, Justin BlumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:32:01 -0400
  • Iran Shows Trump That It’s Too Big to Be Crushed or Marginalized

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    (Bloomberg) -- Earlier this year, President Donald Trump warned that “it’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens.” Something big has happened with an attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, and yet the administration in Washington looks like the one with the problem.After leading voices in the Trump administration laid the blame squarely on Iran, it isn’t obvious how the U.S. can effectively retaliate against a country that is already under maximum economic sanctions. Iran is too big for the U.S. to invade even if there were appetite among U.S. voters for another Gulf war, and has demonstrated its ability to strike back hard should the U.S. decide to escalate.U.S. sanctions have cratered the Iranian economy. Yet administration hopes that this would lead to a popular backlash against the government in Tehran, forcing it to cave to American demands, have yet to bear fruit.Instead, the regime has relied on responses honed over 40 years of international isolation, upping the ante to show that if the U.S. continues forcing Iranian oil exports to zero in an attempt to bankrupt its government, Iran has the power to halt the oil exports of U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, too.“We are caught in this vicious circle,” said Ali Vaez, Iran Project Director at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. “The U.S. has to realize that Iran is part of this region. Iran cannot be excised.”Revolutionary GuardRather than retreat in the face of withering revenues, which was a part of the logic that informed U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal that had lifted sanctions, the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is increasingly active in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and even Afghanistan.For the Guard -- which has long defined itself as the Middle East’s ultimate bulwark against U.S. military power -- sanctions are almost seen as a call to arms.“Saudi Arabia’s Backbone is Broken; The U.S. and al Saud are in Mourning!” crowed the front page headline in Monday’s edition of Kayhan newspaper, whose chief editor is directly appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.On social media, too, the mood among Iranians has been more jingoistic than fearful.A 2017 clip of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman saying “we won’t wait for the war to come to Saudi Arabia, we’ll take the war to Iran,” has been widely recirculated and mocked in recent days. “Well Bin Salman my brother, tell me how’s Aramco doing?” said one Twitter user’s caption for the clip, referring to Saudi Arabia’s leviathan oil company.Regional InfluenceThat bravado is ultimately misplaced, because nothing Iran has done to date has brought the lifting of sanctions -- the central problem for the country of 82 million as a whole -- any closer, according to Michael Knights, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. At the same time, Iran’s capacity to make its interests felt across the region has been on full display.“We have a sequence of events since about May 12, where the Iranians have pushed on one red line and relationship after another,” said Knights. “From a military perspective it has really been superbly executed, from tanker attacks that didn’t spill a drop of oil into the Gulf, to these now, which were of the same quality that the U.S. would have displayed in the mid-90s, using the cruise missiles it had then.”Each tactical success has further raised Iran’s prestige in the region, a higher priority for regime conservatives and the IRGC than restoring the economy, according to Knights.That forward-leaning approach is part of a longer term game plan, as Iran seeks to benefit from a gradual U.S. withdrawal from the region that’s likely to continue regardless of who is elected president in 2020.“The U.S. has been looking for years for a re-posturing in the Middle East that would entail a lighter commitment on their end,” said Cinzia Bianco, Arabian Peninsula research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, a think tank. “This is crucial to what happened with Aramco, because the IRGC is fully aware of this context and is trying to test its new limitations.”Balance of PowerThe attack could have a lasting impact on the balance of power in the region, because it cruelly exposed the scale of an ongoing change in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, according to Pierre Noel, senior fellow for economic and energy security at the International Institute for Security studies, in London. “The Saudis lost in 30 minutes the war they had been preparing for for 50 years,” Noel said in a briefing on Tuesday. “They lost 50 percent of their national oil output, to Iran, and without the U.S. being immediately able or willing to offer cover.”That has rendered empty, or at least severely limited, the absolute U.S. security guarantee for Saudi Arabia and its oil fields that Saudi and other countries in the region have long assumed.Much of what happens next will depend on how hard the U.S. and Saudi decide to push their case that Iran, rather than its Houthi proxies in Yemen, was responsible for Saturday’s bombing of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure at Abqaiq. If the U.S. decides to force the issue and produce hard evidence in public, the pressure to be seen to retaliate will be high, according to Knights and others.Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, which the Houthis have claimed for themselves. It won’t negotiate with the U.S. at any level, Khamenei said on Tuesday. That would appear to rule out a meeting of Trump and President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly in New York this month.Missiles and DronesThe European signatories to the Iran nuclear deal that Trump abandoned unilaterally last year in a precursor to re-imposing sanctions are content to stay on the fence for now. The governments of France and Germany, both of which were instrumental in establishing a special purpose vehicle meant to aid Iran over U.S. opposition, condemned the attacks without laying blame.Iran’s military, at least, appears to be calculating that Trump will prefer to leave the case inconclusive and stick with less risky, costly and unpopular alternatives to an act of war.“It’s necessary for everyone to know that all U.S. bases and their vessels are within a 2,000 kilometer (1,240 mile) reach of our missiles,” the IRGC’s aerospace forces commander, Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh said in an interview with the Iranian news agency, Tasnim, on Sunday.Iran has about 50 medium range ballistic missiles deployed and others in development, as well as about 130 drones, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “Neither we nor the Americans have any intention of going to war,” the brigadier general said.\--With assistance from Lin Noueihed.To contact the reporters on this story: Marc Champion in London at mchampion7@bloomberg.net;Zainab Fattah in Dubai at zfattah@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, Alan Crawford, Mark WilliamsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:30:50 -0400
  • Fighting for survival: Keys to Netanyahu's return to power

    Golocal247.com news

    Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is in a race for political survival as the country holds repeat parliamentary elections Tuesday. If Netanyahu's Likud party and his smaller allies can secure a narrow 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, he will be well on the way to forming a coalition of hard-line religious and nationalist parties. Most critically for him, such a coalition would be expected to grant him immunity from prosecution on a series of expected corruption charges.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:13:13 -0400
  • Israel Rivals Set to Slug It Out in the Second Election This Year

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Israel went to the polls for Tuesday’s election do-over a fiercely divided nation, with no definitive sign whether legally embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will retain his grip on power.While the latest opinion surveys gave Netanyahu a bump, they still suggest he’ll struggle to put together a parliamentary majority without secularist former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, a onetime ally who refused to join his government following the April 9 election.Follow our TOPLive coverage of Israel’s electionLiberman, long seen as this election’s kingmaker, had slipped in recent polls, and sentiment could still shift further in the premier’s favor. If it turns out Netanyahu does need his fickle friend, the real drama will come as he tries to peel off lawmakers from the opposing camp -- or be forced out if he fails.“It could end with another stalemate, and several weeks during which the president taps someone to form a government and he runs into obstacles,” said Yoram Meital, a political scientist at Ben-Gurion University. “It’s a very polarized political landscape, and it’s too early to predict how it will end.”How Ultra-Orthodox Perks Set Israel Election Agenda: QuickTakeNetanyahu’s uncertain prospects come at a bad time for him personally, as he tries to head off possible corruption charges, and for his plans to quash Iranian and Palestinian ambitions.With his political survival at stake, Netanyahu was busy on election day trotting out tried-and-true ploys to propel Israeli nationalists to the polls: turning the liberal left and non-Zionist, Israeli Arab leaders into bogeymen.“Voters of the right, have you lost your minds?” Netanyahu said on Twitter. “Go out now and vote Likud in order to stop a left-wing government with the Arab parties.”Netanyahu has also made a bid for nationalist votes by promising to annex parts of the West Bank, a move Israel has shunned for more than 50 years.Jordan’s King Abdullah II, speaking at a news conference in Berlin on Tuesday, said he was “extremely concerned” by that pledge.“This does not help a conducive atmosphere to bringing the Israelis and Palestinians together, so these type of statements I think are a disaster to any attempt to move forward to a two-state solution,” he said at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.One of the Netanyahu campaign’s gambits fell afoul of Facebook, which suspended his Likud party’s chatbot for the second time in a week, this time for violating Israeli election law by publishing poll information after a Sept. 13 deadline.“We work with Elections Commissions around the world to help protect the integrity of elections,” Facebook said. “We have restricted this bot for violating local law until the polling stations are closed tonight.” Polls close at 10 p.m. local time. Final polls over the weekend predicted the Netanyahu-led bloc will land about 58 seats in the 120-member Knesset, with Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu capturing eight, up from five in April but down from a high of 11. The grouping led by the premier’s chief rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, is set to secure about 53 seats, they indicated.Staying in power could be crucial to Netanyahu’s efforts to stay out of court -- and possibly jail. He entered the race weakened by what he says are baseless graft allegations cooked up by left-wing opponents. Before coalition talks broke down, he was trying to push through new legislation granting him immunity from prosecution while in office.The political uncertainty has dovetailed with renewed military confrontations with Iran-backed militants along Israel’s northern frontier with Lebanon and Syria, and at its southern boundary with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Against this backdrop, the Trump administration plans to release its Middle East peace proposal just days after Israel’s election, Netanyahu said last week.The country’s elections-related paralysis has already delayed presentation of the plan’s political component.The economy rarely strayed into the campaign given solid growth. But the next government will have to decide what mix of tax hikes or spending cuts is needed to bridge a widening fiscal deficit.As long as Netanyahu wins more support in parliament, analysts expect he’ll get first crack at piecing together a coalition, even if Blue and White on its own has a slight edge over Likud.Netanyahu says he won’t resign if coalition talks flop again. But Likud leaders might not give him another chance.“If he doesn’t succeed, the party will oust him,” predicted Meital, the Ben-Gurion University political scientist.(Updates with Netanyahu tweet, Facebook suspension starting in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Alisa Odenheimer.To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Teibel in Jerusalem at ateibel@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, ;Benjamin Harvey at bharvey11@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Amy TeibelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:04:39 -0400
  • Saudi king urges international response after oil field attacks blamed on Iran

    Golocal247.com news

    Saudi Arabia’s king has urged an international response to attacks on the kingdom’s oil industry blamed on Iran, which sent crude prices soaring and brought the region to the brink of war. King Salman, speaking for the first time since the weekend strikes, called on the international community "to shoulder its responsibility in condemning the perpetrators" and "clearly confronting" those behind it. He said the Saudi "is able to respond to such acts" regardless of their origin. The weekend strikes on Abqaiq - the world's largest processing plant - and the Khurais oilfield have knocked out 5.7 million barrels per day, or six percent of global total, making it the biggest disruption to oil production in modern history. They picked up slightly on Tuesday, after analysts said Saudi output could return to normal within weeks.   This satellite overview handout image obtained September 16, 2019 courtesy of Planet Labs Inc. shows damage to oil infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaig  Saudi’s allies have condemned the attacks, which have served to show how costly a conflict between the kingdom and Iran would be. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, agreed on "the need to work together, alongside international partners, to agree a collective response,” according to Downing Street.   President Donald Trump had said the US would take its cue from Riyadh, which said the weapons used were Iranian made but that its investigation to establish the launch site was still ongoing. Mr Trump stressed that if there were to be a retaliatory strike, Saudi would have to play a leading role and that the US would not shoulder the cost. As to whether diplomacy with Iran had been exhausted, he said: “No, it’s never exhausted … You never know what’s going to happen … I know they want to make a deal … At some point it will work out.” There had been mooted plans for Mr Trump to to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month, in an attempt to stop the tense situation from escalating. The prospect looked more likely after the departure of Mr Trump’s hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, who had pushed a “maximum pressure” policy on Iran. Smoke from a fire at the Abqaiq oil processing facility fills the skyline, in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia Credit: Al-Arabiya However, following the latest developments, Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday dismissed the possibility of talks with the US “on any level”. "Iranian officials, at any level, will never talk to American officials. This is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran ... their policy of maximum pressure will fail," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, said. "If America changes its behaviour and returns to the nuclear deal, then it can join multilateral talks between Iran and other parties to the deal," he added. Ayatollah Khamenei said the US wants to prove its "maximum pressure policy" against Iran is successful. "In return, we have to prove that the policy is not worth a penny for the Iranian nation," he said. "That's why all Iranian officials, from the president and the foreign minister to all others have announced that we do not negotiate (with the US) either bilaterally or multilaterally." The crisis between Washington and Tehran stems from Mr Trump's pullout last year from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers. He also re-imposed and escalated sanctions on Iran that sent the country's economy into freefall. The US looked as though it might be dragged into direct confrontation with Tehran this week after the Islamic republic was accused of being behind Saturday’s attack on ally Saudi. Mr Trump tweeted that the US was “locked and loaded” but that it would take the lead from Riyadh. The US has stopped short of blaming Iran, but officials have privately briefed they have evidence the drones were launched from Iranian territory. “Well, it’s looking that way,” Mr Trump said when asked if Iran was responsible for the attacks. “We’ll let you know definitively. ... That’s being checked out right now.” He said he did not want war with Iran, however, if it came to it he noted the US has the best weapons systems. “The United States is more prepared” for a conflict than any country in history, the president said. “With all that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it.”

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 11:04:21 -0400
  • Iran's supreme leader: No talks with the US at any level

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday "there will be no talks with the U.S. at any level"— remarks apparently meant to end all speculation about a possible U.S.-Iran meeting between the two countries' presidents at the U.N. later this month. Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who's been personally sanctioned by the Trump administration, as saying this is the position of the entire leadership of the country and that "all officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe" this. "There will be no talks with the U.S. at any level," he said.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 10:46:49 -0400
  • Arrest warrant for Lebanese-American who worked for Israel

    Golocal247.com news

    A Lebanese judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for a Lebanese American who confessed he'd worked for Israel during its occupation of Lebanon for nearly two decades, Lebanese judicial officials said. The officials said acting military investigative judge Najat Abu Shakra postponed the questioning of Amer Fakhoury at the Military Court in Beirut pending permission from Lebanon's Bar Association for an American lawyer to attend.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 10:36:36 -0400
  • 10 fighters killed in new, unclaimed strikes in east Syria

    Unknown aircraft attacked a weapons depot belonging to Iranian-backed paramilitary forces in an eastern town near the Iraqi border early Tuesday, killing at least 10, a Syria war monitor and an Iraqi security official said. An Iraqi security official said the strike hit weapons depots belonging to Iraqi factions operating under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the name given for the mainly Shiite militias in Iraq that Iran supports. The strikes are the latest in a series of unclaimed attacks both inside Iraq and along the border with Syria targeting Iran-backed militias.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 10:30:59 -0400
  • Netanyahu's career on the line as Israel votes

    Golocal247.com news

    Israelis voted Tuesday in an unprecedented repeat election that will decide whether longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stays in power, despite a likely indictment on corruption charges. Netanyahu, the longest serving leader in Israeli history, is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office, and fifth overall. Throughout an abbreviated but alarmist campaign characterized by mudslinging and slogans condemned as racist, Netanyahu has tried to portray himself as a seasoned statesman who is uniquely qualified to lead the country through challenging times.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 09:58:10 -0400
  • UK's Johnson will act if court says parliament suspension was unlawful -lawyer

    A lawyer for the British government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that if it ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful, he would take action to remedy the situation. "It will be then for the prime minister to address the consequence of that declaration (that the suspension was unlawful)," Richard Keen told the court during a hearing.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 09:28:02 -0400
  • Iran charges three detained Australians with spying

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran has charged three detained Australians with spying, a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday, after the reported arrest of a travel-blogging couple and an academic. Two of the Australians were alleged to have used a drone to take pictures of military sites, while a third was accused of spying for another country, spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told reporters. It was the first official confirmation that Australians have been detained in Iran after the families of three of them said last week they had been arrested in the Islamic republic.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 09:20:18 -0400
  • The Latest: Facebook penalizes Netanyahu page over poll post

    Golocal247.com news

    Facebook has penalized a chatbot on the page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because it violated a law prohibiting the publication of public opinion polls in the days leading up to an election. It was the second time in less than a week that Facebook has taken action against Netanyahu's page, which uses an automated chat function to communicate with followers. The measure came as Israelis head to the polls in what is largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 09:18:01 -0400
  • Activists: Bahrain court won't release activist from prison

    Golocal247.com news

    Activists say a court in Bahrain has refused to release a prominent activist and allow him to serve out at home the remainder of his five-year prison sentences for tweets. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said Tuesday the court refused the noncustodial sentence request for Nabeel Rajab. Bahrain's state-run media did not immediately acknowledge the decision.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 08:26:58 -0400
  • Jordan's king: Israel annexing settlements would be disaster

    Golocal247.com news

    Jordan's King Abdullah II says if Israel goes ahead with the idea of annexing all the settlements in the West Bank it would be a "disaster" for attempts to find any two-state solution with the Palestinians. Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday, Abdullah said he was "extremely concerned" about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vow to annex all the West Bank settlements.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 08:22:05 -0400
  • Putin’s Trolling of Trump Isn’t Just About Missiles

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- President Vladimir Putin’s offer to sell Russian air defense systems to Saudi Arabia is about more than mere trolling, even though it caused laughter from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.  Putin was trying to persuade the entire Middle East that working with him is more effective than cooperating with the U.S. One could regard it as a kind of mafia-style protection offer: The new, more aggressive gangster on the block is making a bid because the current king of the streets has grown lazy and risk-averse.On  Monday, Putin was in Ankara for talks on the Syrian conflict with Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He made every effort to blend in, referencing the Quran and making constant references to Muslim traditions.  “The Holy Quran says violence is only acceptable when defending your kin,” Putin told a press conference after the summit. “So we’re willing to provide aid to Saudi Arabia in defending their kin, their country.”  The Saudis should “make a wise, statesmanlike decision,” he suggested, and purchase S-300 air defense systems as Iran did, or the more modern S-400 ones which Turkey recently purchased. “They will reliably protect any Saudi Arabian infrastructure,” Putin said, referring to the recent drone attack on Saudi refineries.Putin’s Quranic scholarship is a little dubious (the Islamic holy book actually permits Muslims to fight back when attacked, not when protecting “kin”), but Rouhani was willing to let it pass. He asked Putin facetiously which system he’d recommend to the Saudis -- the S-300 or the S-400. “Let them have their pick,” Putin replied.  In reality, it’s the S-400 that Russia has been trying hard to sell to Saudi Arabia, so far without success. It has also offered the missiles to Qatar. Neither the S-300 nor the S-400 has seen any real combat use. Theoretically, and as seen in exercises, these are powerful weapons. But not even Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, who has had a few opportunities to use the S-300s he received from Russia last year, has done so.The point of acquiring such systems isn’t so much to shoot down enemy aircraft and missiles but to make a bid for Russian support in case of a crisis. For that, Erdogan, whose country is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has been willing to live with the threat of U.S. sanctions and even lose access to U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets.Russia’s bid to replace the U.S. as the go-to problem solver in the Middle East is based on the success of its relatively low-cost but highly effective intervention in Syria, where the Russian air force and deniable mercenaries have helped propel Assad’s forces to victory in a bloody civil war. Putin’s foray in Syria was meant, in part, as a sales demonstration to Middle Eastern regimes: Russia will, if asked, intervene on the side of the incumbent ruler in the interest of stability, and it will do so quickly and without political strings attached. The U.S. offers neither of these advantages.President Donald Trump is, at heart, an isolationist unwilling to send U.S. troops overseas, and his instinct so far has been to pull out of Middle Eastern countries rather than start new wars. The current field of Democratic presidential hopefuls is almost uniformly pacifist: Most off the candidates support a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, and all are for ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. The U.S. public is tired of overseas military adventures. Russia’s advantage in this regard is that Putin doesn’t care what the public thinks when he feels it’s in Russia’s interest to intervene militarily in some far-off place. Moreover, he uses Kremlin-friendly private military companies to provide a cloak of deniability.Putin also makes a point of not trying to tell his situational allies – or perhaps “clients,” current and potential, is a better word – how to run their countries. Assad may be up to his elbows in blood, but he’s the “legitimate” ruler; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be responsible for the murder of  journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but Putin has gone out of his way to act friendly with the prince when others shunned him. U.S. help often comes with patronizing advice and sometimes even with direct support for regime change. Putin defends the right of incumbents to act in line with what they see as their traditions – thus the several references to the Quran he made in Ankara.This, of course, makes for some awkward exceptions to the ancient rule that says the enemy of one’s enemy is one’s friend. Russia’s closeness to Iran, on full display on Monday, is an irritant to Saudi Arabia, especially when the U.S. says Iran was responsible for the drone attack on Saudi infrastructure. On the other hand, Russia is Saudi Arabia’s natural ally in protecting the global oil market from the disruption caused by U.S. shale operators. Besides, Saudi Arabia working with the Kremlin could potentially be a way to end Iranian provocations since Moscow will talk with Tehran rather than hit it with sanctions as the U.S. does.It’s hard to see Saudi Arabia siding openly with Russia and undermining its long-standing alliance with the U.S., no matter how tempting Putin might make it sound. Putin’s foreign policy record doesn’t spell trustworthiness, and his steadfast support for Assad isn’t proof that he’ll be as unfailingly loyal to other potential clients. Besides, the U.S. has shown the crushing might of its military on more occasions than Putin’s Russia; there’s no question that its ability to win any conventional armed conflict is greater than Russia’s today.In the medium to long term, however, which power is seen as the chief  problem-solver in the Middle East depends on U.S.  willingness to bring its might to bear. Trump’s actions against Iran haven’t been overwhelmingly effective. The Yemen conflict,  in which the U.S. has sides with the Saudis, is still raging. U.S. foe Assad controls most of Syria. And Turkey hasn’t suffered any adverse consequences for defying the U.S. with its S-400 purchase.Putin is waiting in the wings and signaling that he speaks the same language as the clients he’s courting.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at stebaker@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 08:22:04 -0400
  • Putin’s Trolling of Trump Isn’t Just About Missiles

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- President Vladimir Putin’s offer to sell Russian air defense systems to Saudi Arabia is about more than mere trolling, even though it caused laughter from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.  Putin was trying to persuade the entire Middle East that working with him is more effective than cooperating with the U.S. One could regard it as a kind of mafia-style protection offer: The new, more aggressive gangster on the block is making a bid because the current king of the streets has grown lazy and risk-averse.On  Monday, Putin was in Ankara for talks on the Syrian conflict with Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He made every effort to blend in, referencing the Quran and making constant references to Muslim traditions.  “The Holy Quran says violence is only acceptable when defending your kin,” Putin told a press conference after the summit. “So we’re willing to provide aid to Saudi Arabia in defending their kin, their country.”  The Saudis should “make a wise, statesmanlike decision,” he suggested, and purchase S-300 air defense systems as Iran did, or the more modern S-400 ones which Turkey recently purchased. “They will reliably protect any Saudi Arabian infrastructure,” Putin said, referring to the recent drone attack on Saudi refineries.Putin’s Quranic scholarship is a little dubious (the Islamic holy book actually permits Muslims to fight back when attacked, not when protecting “kin”), but Rouhani was willing to let it pass. He asked Putin facetiously which system he’d recommend to the Saudis -- the S-300 or the S-400. “Let them have their pick,” Putin replied.  In reality, it’s the S-400 that Russia has been trying hard to sell to Saudi Arabia, so far without success. It has also offered the missiles to Qatar. Neither the S-300 nor the S-400 has seen any real combat use. Theoretically, and as seen in exercises, these are powerful weapons. But not even Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, who has had a few opportunities to use the S-300s he received from Russia last year, has done so.The point of acquiring such systems isn’t so much to shoot down enemy aircraft and missiles but to make a bid for Russian support in case of a crisis. For that, Erdogan, whose country is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has been willing to live with the threat of U.S. sanctions and even lose access to U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets.Russia’s bid to replace the U.S. as the go-to problem solver in the Middle East is based on the success of its relatively low-cost but highly effective intervention in Syria, where the Russian air force and deniable mercenaries have helped propel Assad’s forces to victory in a bloody civil war. Putin’s foray in Syria was meant, in part, as a sales demonstration to Middle Eastern regimes: Russia will, if asked, intervene on the side of the incumbent ruler in the interest of stability, and it will do so quickly and without political strings attached. The U.S. offers neither of these advantages.President Donald Trump is, at heart, an isolationist unwilling to send U.S. troops overseas, and his instinct so far has been to pull out of Middle Eastern countries rather than start new wars. The current field of Democratic presidential hopefuls is almost uniformly pacifist: Most off the candidates support a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, and all are for ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. The U.S. public is tired of overseas military adventures. Russia’s advantage in this regard is that Putin doesn’t care what the public thinks when he feels it’s in Russia’s interest to intervene militarily in some far-off place. Moreover, he uses Kremlin-friendly private military companies to provide a cloak of deniability.Putin also makes a point of not trying to tell his situational allies – or perhaps “clients,” current and potential, is a better word – how to run their countries. Assad may be up to his elbows in blood, but he’s the “legitimate” ruler; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be responsible for the murder of  journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but Putin has gone out of his way to act friendly with the prince when others shunned him. U.S. help often comes with patronizing advice and sometimes even with direct support for regime change. Putin defends the right of incumbents to act in line with what they see as their traditions – thus the several references to the Quran he made in Ankara.This, of course, makes for some awkward exceptions to the ancient rule that says the enemy of one’s enemy is one’s friend. Russia’s closeness to Iran, on full display on Monday, is an irritant to Saudi Arabia, especially when the U.S. says Iran was responsible for the drone attack on Saudi infrastructure. On the other hand, Russia is Saudi Arabia’s natural ally in protecting the global oil market from the disruption caused by U.S. shale operators. Besides, Saudi Arabia working with the Kremlin could potentially be a way to end Iranian provocations since Moscow will talk with Tehran rather than hit it with sanctions as the U.S. does.It’s hard to see Saudi Arabia siding openly with Russia and undermining its long-standing alliance with the U.S., no matter how tempting Putin might make it sound. Putin’s foreign policy record doesn’t spell trustworthiness, and his steadfast support for Assad isn’t proof that he’ll be as unfailingly loyal to other potential clients. Besides, the U.S. has shown the crushing might of its military on more occasions than Putin’s Russia; there’s no question that its ability to win any conventional armed conflict is greater than Russia’s today.In the medium to long term, however, which power is seen as the chief  problem-solver in the Middle East depends on U.S.  willingness to bring its might to bear. Trump’s actions against Iran haven’t been overwhelmingly effective. The Yemen conflict,  in which the U.S. has sides with the Saudis, is still raging. U.S. foe Assad controls most of Syria. And Turkey hasn’t suffered any adverse consequences for defying the U.S. with its S-400 purchase.Putin is waiting in the wings and signaling that he speaks the same language as the clients he’s courting.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at stebaker@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 08:22:04 -0400
  • EXPLAINER-Brexit deal emerging or not? Latest in Britain-EU talks

    The European Union has pushed back against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's assertion that a new Brexit deal was in the making. A month before a make-or-break EU leaders' summit and some six weeks before Britain is due out, Johnson asked on Tuesday to intensify talks, while the bloc implored London to present workable proposals to unlock an agreement. Johnson's negotiator David Frost held four rounds of talks with the bloc recently as London pushes to ditch the contentious backstop clause that could tie Britain to EU trading rules after Brexit to preserve the seamless border between EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 08:08:00 -0400
  • With Saudi Oil Under Attack, Trump's Deference to It Returns to Fore

    Golocal247.com news

    WASHINGTON -- After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Donald Trump declared that the United States was "locked and loaded," a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him "under what terms we would proceed."His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh's bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind.Whether, and how, to commit U.S. forces is one of the most critical decisions any U.S. president can make, but Trump's comment gave the impression that he was outsourcing the decision. The fact that the other country was Saudi Arabia -- a difficult ally that came under intense criticism for the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist -- reinforced the long-standing criticism that the energy-rich kingdom buys U.S. support."What struck me about that tweet was not just that it's obviously wrong to allow Saudi Arabia to dictate our foreign policy, but that the president doesn't seem to be aware of how submissive it makes him look to say that," said Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., a former assistant secretary of state."It is a big deal to attack oil fields," Malinowski added. "It does affect more than just Saudi Arabia's interests. But whatever we do, we have to do what's best for us and we have to recognize that the Saudis have a profound bias."Trump told reporters Monday that he had not "promised" to protect the Saudis and that he would "sit down with the Saudis and work something out." But he expressed caution, suggesting that for all of his bellicose language, he was not rushing toward a military conflict.Asked whether Iran was behind the attack, Trump said, "It is looking that way." But he stopped short of definitive confirmation. "That is being checked out right now," he added.Trump warned that the United States had fearsome military abilities and was prepared for war if necessary. "But with all that being said, we would certainly like to avoid it," he added. "I know they would like to make a deal," he said of the Iranians, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program. "At some point, it will work out."There is no evidence it will work out soon. The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the notion on Monday that President Hassan Rouhani would meet Trump in New York next week when both are scheduled to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. While Trump said in June that a meeting could happen without preconditions, and his own aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, repeated it last week, Trump called that "fake news" over the weekend and falsely blamed the news media for making it up.The notion of the United States doing the bidding of the Saudis has a long and bristling history. Critics complained that Saudi Arabia effectively hired out the U.S. military to protect itself from Saddam Hussein's Iraq and reverse his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The Saudi government even forked over $16 billion to reimburse the United States for about a quarter of the cost of the war that followed in 1991 -- along with Kuwait, the most of any country.The resentment felt over the years by U.S. officials crossed the ideological spectrum, summed up pithily in a leaked 2010 cable by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The Saudis, Gates told the French foreign minister at the time, always want to "fight the Iranians to the last American."Among those who seemed to share the sentiment in the past was a New York businessman and television entertainer named Donald Trump. "Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won't, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth-$ trillion!" he tweeted in 2014.Since taking office, Trump has made Saudi Arabia his closest ally in the Middle East other than Israel, and has strongly supported its multifront struggle with Iran for dominance in the region. He has also left little doubt about the primacy of money in the relationship, openly citing the value of arms contracts in explaining why he would not criticize the Saudi government for Khashoggi's killing.When two Saudi oil processing centers were hit by an aerial assault over the weekend, Trump spoke out quickly, much as any president might given the effect on world oil supplies."Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked," Trump tweeted. "There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!"The statement was strange for many reasons. Pompeo had already named the Iranians as the culprits; Trump did not. But the seeming abdication of fact-finding and decision-making to the Saudis gave Democrats a moment to argue that the president was willing to let the Saudi monarchy make decisions for the United States."If the President wants to use military force, he needs Congress -- not the Saudi royal family -- to authorize it," Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, wrote on Twitter.Heather Hurlburt, a national security official under President Bill Clinton who is now at New America, a Washington-based research organization, said it would be perfectly normal for a president to consult an ally before taking action in such a circumstance."It's not remotely normal for a president to talk publicly about that, to use language that sounds as if we aren't making our own decisions about whether to use force -- or trusting our own intelligence," she said. "And it's completely unprecedented with a country that is not a treaty ally."The White House declined to comment on Monday beyond Trump's remarks, but some national security conservatives were willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt."Obviously, it's difficult to know for sure what's going through the president's mind," said John P. Hannah, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.But he said his guess was that Trump "wants the country most affected and threatened by the attack to step up publicly, pin responsibility squarely on Iran and put some real skin into the game by formally requesting that the U.S. and international community come to the defense of Saudi Arabia and global economy."That could help mobilize international opinion and perhaps forge a coalition against Iran, "rather than an excuse to do nothing," Hannah added.In his comments to reporters Monday, Trump seemed intent on avoiding the perception that he was taking direction from the Saudis. If there is any response to the strikes on the oil facilities, he said, then the Saudis would play a part themselves -- if nothing else, by financing it. Which, of course, made it sound like the United States was willing to be, in effect, a mercenary force for the Saudis."The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something," he said. "They'll be very much involved. And that includes payment. And they understand that fully."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 08:08:00 -0400
  • Merkel Sees No Reason to End Saudi Arabia Weapons Embargo

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    (Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel said she sees no reason for Germany to end its embargo on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia, days after the attacks on the kingdom’s oil facilities.“At the moment I don’t see any conditions for the government to change its position,” Merkel said at a news conference after meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Berlin. Germany’s stance was “determined by the Yemen conflict” and a diplomatic resolution to hostilities there is urgently needed, she added.Germany’s ban on Saudi arms sales, including on projects involving companies like Airbus SE, has led to the disruption of defense exports across Europe, triggering complaints from the U.K. and France.The existing halt on weapons deliveries runs until the end of this month and would need to be renewed. Exceptions have been made for some joint export projects with other nations.Merkel condemned the weekend attacks in Saudi Arabia, which eliminated about 5% of global oil supply and raised the risk of more conflict in the region, and said Germany is waiting for more information about who was responsible.“I don’t have a conclusive perspective, but of course it’s broadly in the context of the very tense situation in the region,” she said.To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Brussels at pdonahue1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Iain Rogers, Raymond ColittFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 08:04:58 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-UK will work energetically on Brexit deal, PM Johnson tells Merkel - spokesman

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday that he would work with energy and determination to reach a Brexit agreement and will discuss it at a meeting of the United Nations next week, his spokesman said. After a bruising visit to Luxembourg on Monday when Johnson was booed by protesters and criticised by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, the British leader spoke to Merkel earlier on Tuesday, redoubling efforts to secure a deal to leave the European Union. "The prime minister reiterated that the UK and the EU have agreed to accelerate efforts to reach a deal without the backstop, which the UK parliament could support, and that we would work with energy and determination to achieve this ahead of Brexit on 31st October," Johnson's spokesman said.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:38:34 -0400
  • Merkel suggests she wants to uphold halt in arms exports to Saudi

    Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday suggested she wanted to stick to Germany's halt in arms exports to Saudi, saying she did not see any reason to change the government's stance and Berlin had tied its position to the development of the war in Yemen. "At the moment I don't see any prerequisites for the government to change its position," Merkel told a news conference. In Yemen a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for over four years in a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Muslim rival Iran.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:38:27 -0400
  • Merkel criticises Netanyahu plan to annex Jordan Valley

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement last week that he intended to annex the Jordan valley in the occupied West Bank, saying it hurt efforts to negotiate a peace deal. "The German government backs an internationally negotiated peace solution in the sense of a two state solution ... annexations are always detrimental to peace solutions. The plan announced by Netanyahu, who faces a closely fought election on Tuesday, was "a disaster for any attempt to push two-state solution forward", said King Abdullah.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:34:52 -0400
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Rules Out Talks With U.S. Ahead of UN Meet

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    (Bloomberg) -- Iran won’t negotiate with the U.S. at any level, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday, dampening speculation a meeting between the countries’ presidents is possible despite attacks on critical Saudi oil infrastructure.“Sometimes they say negotiations without any precondition and sometimes with 12 conditions,” Khamenei said in comments published by the semi-official ISNA news agency. “Such statements either come from their disheveled policies or are a ploy to confuse the other side.”Talks with the U.S., in New York or elsewhere, would amount to victory for Donald Trump’s so-called maximum pressure policy, the cleric said.The U.S. has imposed swingeing sanctions on Iran’s economy -- especially its oil sales -- since exiting the 2015 nuclear deal last year in an effort to curtail Tehran’s regional influence and military capabilities.The confrontation has sporadically convulsed the Gulf, with the weekend strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry ratcheting tensions to new heights.While Trump hasn’t directly blamed Iran for the attacks, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has.Two U.S. officials said the location of the damage and weapons used suggest the attack was not launched by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility and have carried out numerous strikes on Saudi territory during a four-year war with a military coalition led by the kingdom. Iran has denied involvement.Trump hasn’t ruled out a possible meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani when both are in New York this month for the annual United Nations General Assembly.Trump tweeted on Sunday that the “Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!).” But officials including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have told reporters publicly that Trump is willing to take a meeting with no conditions.The prospect of a strike on Iran in retaliation for an attack that didn’t target Americans or even a country with which the U.S. has a defense treaty is proving divisive in Washington. Trump said the U.S. is prepared for any conflict, but that Saudi Arabia would need to play a significant part in any action.\--With assistance from Abbas Al Lawati.To contact the reporter on this story: Arsalan Shahla in Dubai at ashahla@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net, ;Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Mark WilliamsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:12:01 -0400
  • Boris Johnson's Hulk Is Knocked Out by Ant-Man

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Never has the surface area of a conference room in Luxembourg caused such a diplomatic row.Britain’s politicians and media are shouting about a “stitch-up” after a surreal outdoor press conference featured Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel standing next to an empty podium where his British opposite number Boris Johnson was meant to be. The Grand Duchy’s apparent lack of office space big enough to host the world’s media meant the event had to happen outside, but Johnson’s apparent unwillingness to try to speak above the noise of Brexit protesters made that a deal-breaker. The result was the Incredible Hulk (Johnson’s memorable self-description) turning into the Invisible Man, allowing Bettel to steal the show.Politicians in Johnson’s Conservative Party seized on this as more proof of the EU belittling the U.K.’s democratic choice to quit the bloc — and doubled down on their commitment to leave by Oct. 31 “do or die.” That the humiliation was delivered by tiny Luxembourg, the diplomatic equivalent of the superhero Ant-Man, only added to the fury. The Duchy is one of the EU’s least populous countries and depends heavily on the flow of financial services from other countries for its prosperity. As a member of the EU Council of leaders, though, Bettel has a casting vote on Britain’s fate. That gives him a pulpit from which to project power. Monday’s performance was opportunistic, but legitimate: National politicians, not Brussels bureaucrats, are the ones who will make the ultimate decisions on Brexit (and hence on Johnson’s own fate).And Europe’s leaders are clearly getting frustrated with the British prime minister’s antics. For all the talk of Luxembourg overplaying its hand, Bettel’s talking points sounded like a synthesis of the positions of 27 EU member states, which are starting to take shape ahead of October’s crucial meeting of the EU Council.Asked whether he would grant an extension to the official Brexit deadline, which is what the U.K. Parliament is forcing Johnson to ask for, Bettel said he wouldn’t be prepared to do so without good reason. This echoes the tough line laid down recently by France, Spain and the Netherlands. Finland, which holds the EU’s presidency, is similarly minded. Telegraphing a unified position among member states is productive. It’s not just a PR stunt for a small nation.This strategy puts the screws on Johnson by highlighting the lack of negotiating progress, and making sure that he shares the blame for it.The most significant Brexit development in Luxembourg that day didn’t happen at the podium, but at Le Bouquet Garni restaurant where Bettel’s countryman — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker — lunched with Johnson and the chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. There was an agreement to step up talks to find a deal, with meetings taking place daily to find a solution that doesn’t involve a hard border returning to Ireland. Bettel’s call for Johnson to “act” with concrete proposals ratchets up the pressure too.Brexit theatrics on their own won’t take Europe anywhere productive. A no-deal scenario is neither side’s preferred option, at least officially, but Johnson has promised his Brexiter supporters that he will exit the EU by Halloween “come what may” and Europe’s leaders have hammered home repeatedly their readiness for a worst-case scenario. While these are negotiating positions as both sides try to secure the best Brexit deal possible for themselves, there is the chance they will indeed lead to no deal.Still, at least the empty-podium debacle keeps the spotlight on Johnson’s lack of productive proposals, while making clear that the EU states won’t succumb to U.K. efforts to divide them. Even the smallest countries are getting a chance to outplay the Brits.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:10:19 -0400
  • Boris Johnson's Hulk Is Knocked Out by Ant-Man

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Never has the surface area of a conference room in Luxembourg caused such a diplomatic row.Britain’s politicians and media are shouting about a “stitch-up” after a surreal outdoor press conference featured Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel standing next to an empty podium where his British opposite number Boris Johnson was meant to be. The Grand Duchy’s apparent lack of office space big enough to host the world’s media meant the event had to happen outside, but Johnson’s apparent unwillingness to try to speak above the noise of Brexit protesters made that a deal-breaker. The result was the Incredible Hulk (Johnson’s memorable self-description) turning into the Invisible Man, allowing Bettel to steal the show.Politicians in Johnson’s Conservative Party seized on this as more proof of the EU belittling the U.K.’s democratic choice to quit the bloc — and doubled down on their commitment to leave by Oct. 31 “do or die.” That the humiliation was delivered by tiny Luxembourg, the diplomatic equivalent of the superhero Ant-Man, only added to the fury. The Duchy is one of the EU’s least populous countries and depends heavily on the flow of financial services from other countries for its prosperity. As a member of the EU Council of leaders, though, Bettel has a casting vote on Britain’s fate. That gives him a pulpit from which to project power. Monday’s performance was opportunistic, but legitimate: National politicians, not Brussels bureaucrats, are the ones who will make the ultimate decisions on Brexit (and hence on Johnson’s own fate).And Europe’s leaders are clearly getting frustrated with the British prime minister’s antics. For all the talk of Luxembourg overplaying its hand, Bettel’s talking points sounded like a synthesis of the positions of 27 EU member states, which are starting to take shape ahead of October’s crucial meeting of the EU Council.Asked whether he would grant an extension to the official Brexit deadline, which is what the U.K. Parliament is forcing Johnson to ask for, Bettel said he wouldn’t be prepared to do so without good reason. This echoes the tough line laid down recently by France, Spain and the Netherlands. Finland, which holds the EU’s presidency, is similarly minded. Telegraphing a unified position among member states is productive. It’s not just a PR stunt for a small nation.This strategy puts the screws on Johnson by highlighting the lack of negotiating progress, and making sure that he shares the blame for it.The most significant Brexit development in Luxembourg that day didn’t happen at the podium, but at Le Bouquet Garni restaurant where Bettel’s countryman — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker — lunched with Johnson and the chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. There was an agreement to step up talks to find a deal, with meetings taking place daily to find a solution that doesn’t involve a hard border returning to Ireland. Bettel’s call for Johnson to “act” with concrete proposals ratchets up the pressure too.Brexit theatrics on their own won’t take Europe anywhere productive. A no-deal scenario is neither side’s preferred option, at least officially, but Johnson has promised his Brexiter supporters that he will exit the EU by Halloween “come what may” and Europe’s leaders have hammered home repeatedly their readiness for a worst-case scenario. While these are negotiating positions as both sides try to secure the best Brexit deal possible for themselves, there is the chance they will indeed lead to no deal.Still, at least the empty-podium debacle keeps the spotlight on Johnson’s lack of productive proposals, while making clear that the EU states won’t succumb to U.K. efforts to divide them. Even the smallest countries are getting a chance to outplay the Brits.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:10:19 -0400
  • The Trade Dogfight Trump Can Say He Won Fair and Square

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    (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Terms of Trade newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Economics on Twitter for more.If President Donald Trump imposes new tariffs on European goods next month, America’s transatlantic allies can’t say they they’ve been blindsided like they have with other trade policies launched from his White House.While some may bristle that the self-proclaimed “Tariff Man” is expanding his trade fight with the European Union, Trump would be acting on the right side of international law in a long-running case pitting Toulouse, France-based Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing. This time he’ll have the explicit authorization of the World Trade Organization, the referee of global commerce.That’s a key distinction from Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, or steel and aluminum imports, or the threat of tariffs on foreign cars and parts — instances when he acts based on his presidential authority. It’s also a break from the norm for a leader who has trashed the WTO as the “single worst trade deal ever made” and threatened to withdraw from the organization entirely.Here’s how the international trading system is supposed to work:If a country gets upset with another country’s trade practices, it can file a dispute at the WTO where a panel of experts offers a judgment. If the losing country doesn’t comply with that ruling, the WTO allows the winning country to retaliate. For most of his first term in office Trump has preferred to cut to the chase and levy tariffs that he says are exempt from WTO oversight because they’re necessary to protect America’s “public morals” and national security. But in the instance of Airbus, Trump and his predecessors have pursued and succeeded in a landmark case against the EU that’s been a decade-and-a-half in the making. Last year the WTO ruled that the EU hasn’t ended its illegal subsidies, which Boeing and the U.S. claim give Airbus an unfair advantage, and the WTO will soon green-light new U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars worth of European goods.But the other shoe has yet to drop. In a similar action that’s still winding through the Geneva-based WTO, the European Commission is readying its own tariffs on U.S. exports in retaliation for unfair subsidies given to Boeing. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom summed up the situation on Monday by saying “both we and the U.S. have sinned” and the time has come to settle the dispute rather than resort to tit-for-tat tariffs.The multi-billion dollar question now: Will Trump see an opportunity to forge a comprehensive aerospace accord with the EU or kick off a transatlantic trade war of epic proportions instead?Charting the Trade WarGlobal trade in services slowed during the first quarter of 2019, according to a new World Trade Organization report, which describes a “broad loss in momentum” among sectors like technology and tourism.Today’s Must ReadsU.S.-Japan deal | Washington has plans to sign a trade accord with Japan in coming weeks, though Tokyo warned any deal must include pledges of no new tariffs auto exports. Plow ahead | Chinese trade officials are coming to the U.S. this week to prepare the agenda for a meeting of top negotiators in October, the Ministry of Commerce said. Chip shot | The U.S. government will need to agree to talks with Huawei as part of a future trade deal with China, a top executive at China’s largest tech company said. Landmark hearing | Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy has been on trial since he became Britain’s prime minister, and on Tuesday his lawyers will defend it in the U.K.’s highest court. Swiss miss | Switzerland’s economy is expected to expand less quickly than the government previously project, slowed by weaker demand from the world’s major economies.Economic AnalysisSpending less | Economic slowdowns, trade wars and the U.S. Huawei ban threaten tech spending. Further easing | The PBOC stepping up stimulus to buffer the Chinese economy from trade war.Coming UpSept. 18: Japan, Italy trade balance Sept. 19-20: U.S.-China talks in WashingtonLike Terms of Trade?Don’t keep it to yourself. Colleagues and friends can sign up here. We also publish Balance of Power, a daily briefing on the latest in global politics.For even more: Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access for full global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.How are we doing? We want to hear what you think about this newsletter. Let our trade tsar know.\--With assistance from Brendan Murray and Viktoria Dendrinou.To contact the author of this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah McGregor at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:00:14 -0400
  • Teen climate activist to urge climate action on Capitol Hill

    Swedish teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg will join other youth leaders to urge U.S. lawmakers to support “transformative climate action” during two days of meetings and speeches on Capitol Hill, starting on Tuesday. The events are intended to drum up support ahead of a global “climate strike” on Friday in which students and workers around the world will walk out to demand more action to fight global warming, and to heap pressure on leaders attending a United Nations climate summit in New York later this month. Democratic Senator Ed Markey, chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, will host a news conference kicking off the meetings with the activists on Tuesday morning, before including them at the task force’s weekly meeting.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 07:00:00 -0400
  • Palestinian sues Israeli military commanders for war crimes

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    Pitching his case as a David-versus-Goliath fight, a Dutch-Palestinian man went to court in the Netherlands Tuesday seeking damages from two former Israeli military commanders for their roles in a 2014 airstrike on a Gaza house that killed six members of his family. One of the commanders is Benny Gantz, a retired military chief who is now a leading candidate in Israel's elections, also taking place Tuesday. The other is former Israeli air force commanders Amir Eshel.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 06:54:17 -0400
  • Iran rules out talks with Trump, as US attempts to downplay appetite for war

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    Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has ruled out talks with the United States in significantly timed comments that were among his most pessimistic on prospects for relations with Washington, and even the West.Ayatollah Khamenei, the high-ranking cleric who is Iran’s ultimate spiritual and political authority, denounced the policy of “maximum pressure” pursued by the administration of Donald Trump and rejected the possibility of talks with American officials until it returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it abandoned last year.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 06:37:00 -0400
  • Britain's Supreme Court enters Brexit crisis

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    Britain's Supreme Court began considering legal challenges Tuesday to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's controversial decision to suspend parliament for over a month, as the country's political crisis over Brexit intensifies. The court started hearing three days of arguments over Johnson's move to shutter, or prorogue, the House of Commons last week until October 14 -- just two weeks before the country is scheduled to leave the European Union. The politically-charged case, unprecedented in Britain, could lead to parliament being recalled and Johnson's political hand severely weakened in the run-up to the October 31 departure date.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 06:30:15 -0400
  • Saudi Arabia Pressed by Trump Envoy to Allow Nuclear Inspections

    (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s administration has sent a letter to Saudi Arabia that sets out requirements the kingdom needs to follow in order to get U.S. nuclear technology and know-how.The baseline for any agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will be tougher inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said at briefing in Vienna on Tuesday. The kingdom must adopt the IAEA’s so-called Additional Protocol, a set of monitoring rules followed by more than 100 countries that give inspectors wide leeway in accessing potential atomic sites.“We have sent them a letter laying out the requirements that the U.S. would have, certainly in line with what the IAEA would expect from the standpoint of additional protocol,” said Perry, who’s attending the IAEA’s annual meeting this week. “An additional protocol is what is going to be required, not only because that’s what the IAEA requires but because that’s what Congress requires. This isn’t just the Trump administration unilaterally deciding.”The remarks put pressure on the Saudi government to embrace broader monitoring of its atomic program or face difficulty fueling its first major reactor. The country is nearing completion of a low-powered research unit being built with Argentina’s state-owned INVAP SE, which needs an inspections agreement in place before it can access the low-enriched uranium it needs to operate.In the rarefied world of nuclear monitoring, the IAEA is responsible for sending hundreds of inspectors around the world to look after and maintain a vast network of cameras, seals and sensors. Their job is to account for gram levels of enriched uranium, ensuring that the key ingredient needed for nuclear power isn’t diverted into building weapons. Without submitting to tighter IAEA monitoring, the kingdom would struggle to fuel its reactor.So far, Saudi Arabian officials have declined to answer questions about when they may conclude a new IAEA safeguards deal.Saudi Arabia “supports and endorses active international cooperation with regard to the transfer of nuclear technology and expertise,” Khaled Bin Saleh Al-Sultan, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, said on Monday in a statement.Saudi Arabia is currently signed up to the IAEA’s so-called Small Quantities Protocol, a set of rules that will become obsolete once it needs atomic fuel for a working reactor. It hasn’t adopted the rules and procedures that would allow nuclear inspectors to access potential sites of interest.The IAEA is currently in talks with Saudi Arabia about signing a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. That set of rules would allow the kingdom to fuel its research reactor but falls short of the Additional Protocol demanded by the U.S. for a full-scale plant, according to two diplomats familiar with the negotiations.“There’s still a period of edification that needs to go on with both citizens of the kingdom and leadership, so that they’re comfortable,” Perry said. Getting a new IAEA agreement done would show “we’re big guys and we know the requirements to play at this level.”Enrichment of uranium into nuclear fuel is at the heart of the U.S. conflict with Iran because of the technology can be easily adapted to military purposes. A tighter inspections system in Saudi Arabia would give the IAEA insight into exactly how that country’s capabilities and intentions are evolving.Perry confirmed reports that Saudi Arabia has indicated it’s interested in producing its own nuclear fuel.“I consider this to be a form of negotiation,” said Perry, who spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman before joining this week’s IAEA talks. “We have a really good professional and personal relationship.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net, Andrew ReiersonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 06:19:19 -0400
  • Trump Says U.S., Japan Reach Initial Agreement on Tariffs

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. President Donald Trump said his administration will enter into an initial trade accord over tariffs with Japan in the coming weeks while Tokyo warned any final deal must include assurances that Washington won’t slap new duties on $50 billion of Japanese automobiles.In a notice to Congress on Monday, Trump also said the U.S. will be entering an “executive agreement” with Japan over digital trade. There was no mention by Trump if he’ll end the threat to impose tariffs on Japanese auto imports as part of the trade deal.“My administration looks forward to continued collaboration with the Congress on further negotiations with Japan to achieve a comprehensive trade agreement that results in more fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and Japan,” Trump said in the statement released by the White House via email.Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, the country’s point man for the trade talks with Washington, said Tokyo wanted to see the Trump administration lay to rest the threat of new auto tariffs before agreeing to a final trade deal.“We are aware of the internal process that is going on in the U.S. and the president’s notice of the U.S-Japan trade negotiations,” Motegi told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. He added that language assuring Japan on car tariffs was under consideration.Key details still need to be worked out. While Japan is a key export market for U.S. rice farmers, American growers won’t get increased sales under the current terms of the deal, people familiar with the accord said. U.S. producers hope the issue will be dealt with in the second phase of negotiations between the two countries, according to one of the people.The threat of steep new U.S tariffs on imported automobiles and components has loomed over the auto industry and major American trading partners since the Commerce Department in February found those imports could impair national security.‘In Principle’After meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G-7 summit in France last month, Trump announced that the two countries had struck a trade deal “in principle.” The leaders said they hoped to sign the pact on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month.Japanese equities were little changed Tuesday, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average inching up 0.1% to 22,001. U.S. stock futures declined early Tuesday in New York.U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said the limited trade deal will cover agriculture, industrial tariffs and digital trade. The USTR said on Monday it had no further comment and Trump provided no details about what was in the initial deal.Under an earlier proposal, Japan would cut tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, including beef, pork, dairy products, wine and ethanol. The U.S. would cut levies on some Japanese industrial products, but not on cars. Japanese media has reported that the sides had agreed to lower tariffs on U.S. beef and pork to levels offered to members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.Abe agreed to direct talks in September 2018 after Trump hit Japan’s steel and aluminum exports with tariffs and threatened to do the same on all imported cars, including those made in Japan.Trump earlier this year delayed a decision until November over whether to impose new levies of as high as 25% on imported vehicles over national security grounds to allow more time for talks with Japan and the European Union. He also agreed with Japan that there would be no new tariffs while trade talks continue.(Adds detail about rice in sixth paragraph, updates markets.)\--With assistance from Teo Chian Wei, Jon Herskovitz and Takashi Hirokawa.To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah McGregor in Washington at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net;Jenny Leonard in Washington at jleonard67@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net, Sarah McGregor, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 06:18:28 -0400
  • Trial opens against controversial Turkish televangelist

    A controversial Turkish Islamic televangelist and cult leader has gone on trial on more than a dozen charges, including forming a criminal gang, blackmail and sexual abuse of minors. The televangelist — who uses the pen name Harun Yahya — has authored numerous books promoting creationism against Darwin's theory of evolution.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:59:47 -0400
  • North Korea Could Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier: Naval Expert

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    Could North Korea’s armed forces sink an American aircraft carrier? Yes—depending on what type of carrier they confront, how skillfully U.S. Navy commanders employ the flattop and its consorts, how well North Korean warriors know the tactical surroundings and, most crucially, whom fortune favors in combat.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:38:00 -0400
  • AOC-Style Challengers Looking to Unseat the Dems’ Top Brass in 2020

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    Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyThe House Judiciary Committee was in the middle of considering a resolution expanding Democrats’ impeachment proceedings when Rep. Matt Gaetz decided to get personal. Decrying Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s escalating impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the right-wing Florida congressman fired a shot at the integrity of the hearing—and at the man holding the gavel. “I would hope,” Gaetz said, “that these proceedings are not about the chairman’s upcoming primary challenge.” The quip prompted some shocked groans on the Democratic side of the dais—and silence from Nadler. But the cheap shot raised by Gaetz is central to the argument that one of Nadler’s Democratic primary opponents, Lindsey Boylan, eagerly makes herself. “Without my challenge, I have no doubt in my mind he wouldn't be aggressively acting the way he is,” said Boylan in a recent interview. “But it's not enough.”Boylan, a former official in the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is one of four candidates seeking to unseat Nadler in the New York City district he has represented since 1992. She has raised some $350,000 for her campaign so far—$85,000 of it from herself—and is the best-resourced candidate in a field of challengers that includes two other women who are also several decades younger than Nadler and are also enthusiastic backers of lefty policies like the Green New Deal.It’s not just Nadler who is feeling some fresh heat from his own party. After years of targeting moderates and backbenchers, anti-establishment elements in the Democratic Party are directing their energy toward unseating their most influential lawmakers, smelling blood after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York shocked the political establishment by defeating former Rep. Joe Crowley in a 2018 primary. That trend is cresting in 2020, with upstarts around the country taking on the Democratic lawmakers who are setting the party’s priorities on not only impeachment and oversight but also health-care and spending policy. Serious challengers with electoral experience and promising grassroots support are gunning for no fewer than five influential committee chairs—Nadler, Richard Neal of the Ways and Means Committee, Eliot Engel of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Nita Lowey of the Appropriations Committee, and Frank Pallone of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The top two House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, also face primary rivals who have garnered some attention, but defeating those two is a far taller task.Several of these primaries will air substantial policy differences over the issues dominating debate among Democrats right now, like Medicare-for-All. In other races, the ideological daylight between candidates will be slim.But on the whole, 2020’s bumper crop of challenges centers on how well a new generation of Democrats can sell the idea that the party’s old guard is no longer capable of forcefully leading on a range of key issues—including, as Gaetz’s trollish interlude underscored, their commitment to holding Trump’s feet to the fire. According to Neal Kwatra, a Democratic strategist in New York, the phenomenon amounts to an escalation in Democrats’ internal debates over what they stand for. “What you’re seeing is, these broader challenges are much less about ideology and more about the fighting spirit of the party, what it’s willing to do, how it’s going to hold Trump and the Republican Party writ large accountable,” Kwatra told The Daily Beast. “I think that’s a generational challenge.”The challengers to Neal and Nadler in particular reflect the phenomenon. Both chairmen face their most serious races in years from candidates loudly criticizing their commitments on everything from countering Trump to serving their districts. That dynamic figures to put additional pressure on both chairmen as they try to steer their committees’ respective agendas, both of which are crucial to Democrats’ oversight of the president and policy priorities more broadly. Neal, who has represented a solidly Democratic, largely white western Massachusetts district since 1988, is a moderate in today’s party. Due to his perch on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, he’s turned into something of a villain for progressives over his opposition to Medicare-for-All and his seemingly cozy relationships with corporate interests.But it was Neal’s unique authority in the House to obtain Trump’s tax returns that was the final straw for some on the left. It was expected that Neal would leverage that power and ask for the tax filings immediately after Democrats took the House majority—instead, he did not do so until April, and he did not file a lawsuit to get them until July. A federal judge has blocked House Democrats’ bid to expedite that lawsuit; it could be months or years before it is resolved.Alex Morse, the 30-year old mayor of the town of Holyoke, is weaving all these threads together in his challenge to Neal, which has already attracted some buzz in the media and among the left. “There’s an urgency to this moment and the urgency is not matched by this member of Congress,” Morse told The Daily Beast in an interview. “His core argument, the argument of his supporters is, why would we give up that power—but what’s the point of having power if you’re not using it to hold this president accountable?”The essence of that critique is the same in Nadler’s Manhattan- and Brooklyn-based district, but the Judiciary Chairman is a far different animal: among the most progressive senior leaders in the House, he has long enjoyed widespread support in this district, a hub of affluent liberals; one Democratic operative called him “the godfather of progressive politics in New York.”Nadler’s challengers argue that the district deserves even more aggressive and more progressive leadership from its representative, not only on impeaching Trump but on climate change and income inequality. Boylan in particular has relentlessly hammered Nadler for his handling of the impeachment inquiry, which she mocks as an “Inception-like, dream-within-a-dream” amid muddled messaging and widespread clamoring from the party base for Nadler and Pelosi to move forward in bringing an impeachment inquiry. She casts the stalled impeachment proceedings as exhibit A of why the district should replace their representative. “This community has not seen Congressman Nadler lead on the issues of the day, and the one most in front of our faces, impeachment,” she said. “It's time for the next generation.”In suburban New York City, meanwhile, the challenge to Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee chair, leans less on his stewardship of oversight matters and more on generational change. His leading opponent, Jamaal Bowman, is a 40-year old school principal in the Bronx, and his campaign launch video pulled clips from Engel’s three decades in Congress to spotlight his political stances, like his advocacy for the 1994 crime bill, that have aged poorly. The possibility of an energetic campaign from a black leader in the community excites many progressives, and Bowman is viewed as perhaps the most viable primary to a top Democratic lawmaker anywhere in the country. The fundamentals of the district also favor him more than other challengers: just north of Ocasio-Cortez’s district, it is deeply liberal and is one of only a few majority-minority districts to have a white representative. These races are in their early stages, but the challengers have showed signs of fundraising prowess—or at least a willingness to self-fund enough to get their message out. New York Democrats are anticipating Boylan’s next fundraising quarter with interest to see if she can build on the $350,000 she’s raised so far. Another candidate running against Nadler, entrepreneur Holly Lynch, has seeded $125,000 of her own money to her campaign, which she is kicking off this week. Nadler, who has often run unopposed for the Democratic nomination in New York’s 10th District, has faced well-resourced primary rivals before. In 2016, the last time there was a primary race, businessman Oliver Rosenberg poured $350,000 of his own money into a campaign that targeted Nadler almost entirely over his support for the Iran nuclear deal. Ultimately, Nadler won with nearly 90 percent of the vote.Morse, meanwhile, called The Daily Beast from New York City, where he was tapping his network of friends and contacts for fundraising. He’ll need every cent he can get: Neal, who runs a committee that’s coveted by lawmakers as a veritable ATM for campaign cash, is already sitting on a campaign war chest of nearly $4 million. But a hot primary is hardly a symmetrical war, say some operatives. “The beauty of it is,” said Karthik Ganapathy, who co-founded a progressive strategy firm intended to help challengers, “you don’t need to match incumbents one for one—you just need to have enough money to get your own message out there.”Promising candidates could eventually earn the imprimatur of Justice Democrats, the left-wing organization that’s become a primary race kingmaker after sparking the rise of Ocasio-Cortez in 2018. The group has already endorsed several challengers, including Bowman.Progressives might be clamoring for that leftward intervention to unseat some incumbents. But the idea of putting real time and resources into defeating loyal liberals like Nadler makes Democrats of different ideological stripes uneasy about the growing primary trend and concerned about the impact it could have on their stated top priorities—defeating Trump and taking back the Senate.“How anyone views getting rid of Jerry Nadler as being anything on a top 2,000-list of problems the Democratic Party has,” said a veteran Democratic strategist, “is a ridiculous waste of time.”A New York-based Democratic strategist told The Daily Beast that many progressives agree, and are not prioritizing Nadler’s race, instead focusing on Engel and Lowey. “You should have to defend and show your record to the people. The fact that Nadler has to go to his community and say, here’s what I’ve done for you,” the strategist said, ”I think he can do that successfully.”In an environment where all incumbents are watching their backs, it’s unlikely any will be caught as flat-footed as Crowley was in 2018. Notably, Neal is already coming out swinging against his opponent: in a statement to The Daily Beast, campaign spokesperson Peter Panos argued Neal was on the “front lines” of holding Trump accountable, and went after Morse’s stewardship of public schools in Holyoke, which were taken over by the state for poor performance in 2015, four years into his tenure as mayor. “Where was his urgency,” asked Panos, “to improve the schools in his city?”Nadler’s campaign did not comment for this story. But New York Democrats say that the chairman’s extensive political network is poised to be put to work in his race. Key local leaders like Corey Johnson, the speaker of the New York City Council, are vouching for Nadler’s work in Congress and back home.“If there are members of the Democratic caucus who are out of sync with Democratic values, we should be challenging them,” Johnson told The Daily Beast, specifically mentioning Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas moderate who’s previously been backed by the National Rifle Association. “We need to be strategic about these things,” he said. “Jerry’s not a person who’s out of sync with our values or hasn’t delivered for our district.”Though even those who are bullish on the challengers expect most of them, if not all, to lose, there is hope that they might push these entrenched incumbents toward the positions the challengers are advocating. The New York Democratic strategist, for example, was quick to point to the campaign of Cynthia Nixon, who fell far short of upsetting Gov. Cuomo in the state’s 2018 primary but successfully pressured him to adopt more progressive positions. “New York has entrenched representatives who aren’t shaking things up,” the strategist said. “These people just respond to primaries.”The candidates themselves, of course, don’t view that as a consolation prize. “Success for me isn’t moving him anywhere,” Morse said of Neal, who he described as set in his ways. “It’s winning… These victories are more possible than ever.”The small group of House Democrats who have defeated incumbents themselves are watching from Capitol Hill, meanwhile, with an attitude that this competition is good for Democrats, no matter how intense it may get."Look, it’s healthy,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, who unseated longtime Rep. Mike Honda in a deep blue Bay Area district in 2016. “We're living in a time of great anxiety, great change, and there should be competition for these seats. They aren’t entitlements.”Neither, apparently, are fancy titles and powerful gavels. “Don’t try,” he cracked, “to become a committee chair in Congress.”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.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:29:21 -0400
  • How Celebrity Chef Einat Admony Learned to Love Israeli Food

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    Courtesy Michelle GevintWhen I was growing up, my dad was the one who shopped at the shuk, not my mother, as you might think. He was the unusual husband who was happy to take his wife’s shopping list and then head out to pick up the day’s groceries: glossy baladi eggplant, fragrant bunches of cilantro and parsley, dates, creamy gvina levana, and perhaps more freshly toasted and ground baharat spice mix, which seemed to make its way into so many of my mom’s recipes.I would often go with my father when he shopped. Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv was not far from our home in the suburbs and was also right near the Yemenite quarter in which my dad spent his childhood. We would do the shopping and then wander into the shuk’s Yemenite quarter, which housed a handful of simple restaurants serving Yemenite classics, the kind of food you’d otherwise find only in a family’s home. My dad was happy to take on the shopping because he knew he’d be rewarded by my mother’s fantastic cooking (plus he was a nice guy). But he also might have volunteered for the shuk because he could indulge in some of the food he loved best—especially lachuch, a springy, moist Yemenite flatbread that was the one dish from his culture that my mom never mastered.My Persian mom was born in Iran, and was eventually raised in an Iraqi household. In Israel, our family would be called “Mizrahi,” meaning Jews who came from the Middle East rather than those with roots in Spain (Sephardic) or elsewhere in Europe (Ashkenazi).Mizrahi dishes are the foods of my childhood, and I learned to make them starting at about age eleven, when I became my mom’s assistant. She was always cooking something intriguing and delicious—Persian rice dishes fragrant with handfuls of herbs; kubbaneh, a delicious Yemenite bread she’d bake overnight for Shabbat lunch; chicken in fassenjan, a sauce made from ground walnuts and pomegranate juice and flavored with crazy-looking dried Persian limes. Our next-door neighbor was Moroccan, and she would let me help her with the hand-rolled couscous and all the spicy, tangy accompaniments for it—pumpkin chirshi, pepper and tomato matboucha, sweet and savory lamb tagine. While my mom and neighbor were getting free labor, I was getting an education, and I ended up as a professional chef (with a stop at cooking school along the way). It’s those foods of my multicultural childhood that I crave the most and that I now cook most often here in New York City. I’ve even built restaurants around my favorite Mizrahi dishes: My fast-casual Israeli chain, Taïm, was one of the first in the United States to serve sabich, an Iraqi Jewish, deliciously sloppy fried eggplant sandwich…something that just a few years ago you’d never have seen outside the neighborhood. And my couscous restaurant, Kish-Kash, celebrates all the influences of North African cuisine that surrounded me throughout my childhood.I’m gratified to see that the rest of the world is catching on. So many of the wonderful dishes I grew up cooking and eating are no longer considered ochel shel bayit—food you would only eat at home—but are being featured on restaurant menus all over Israel and in the United States.Food like this, whether Persian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, or Yemenite, represents not only my childhood and my heart but also Israeli cuisine as a whole—a multicultural mosaic of traditions from literally all over the globe, served in the spirit of generosity, hospitality, and joy, evolving as Israel grows as a nation. Israeli cuisine is young but with ancient roots, and I’m happy to be a part of its evolution. Now you can cook these dishes, too, and join me as we continue to create new traditions.* * *Fassenjan Meatballs: Persian Beef and Duck Meatballs in Walnut-Pomegranate Sauce* * *Quentin BaconWhat this brownish and somewhat grainy sauce—called fassenjan—lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in rich, intense flavor, thanks to a powerful combo of walnuts, pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, and dried limes. The brown, rock-hard Persian limes won’t win a beauty pageant either, but crack them in your hands and inhale the complex citrusy aroma with hints of smokiness, and you’ll understand why cooks in Iran treasure them. You can find dried limes (or dried lemons) in Middle Eastern groceries or order them online. They’re worth seeking out, and they keep indefinitely.Note: You can use all ground beef (2 pounds) instead of the duck. Serves 6 to 8 Fassenjan Meatballs INGREDIENTS:Meatballs * 1 pound Ground beef * 1 pound Ground duck breast * 1 yellow Onion, coarsely grated * ½ cup Finely chopped fresh parsley * 1 tsp ground Coriander * 2 tsp Kosher salt * Freshly ground black pepper * Vegetable oil, for fryingSauce * 1 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil * 1 Onion, coarsely grated * 2 medium Garlic cloves, grated or minced * 1 tsp Grated fresh ginger * 1½ cups Very finely chopped walnuts * ½ tsp Ground cumin * ½ tsp Kosher salt, plus more if needed * Freshly ground black pepper * 2 cups Pure unsweetened pomegranate juice (we like POM Wonderful) * ½ cup Pomegranate molasses * 2 dried Persian limes, cracked * Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper To Serve * Cooked white rice * Fresh pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional) * Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish DIRECTIONS:Prepare the Patties: Put the beef and duck in a large bowl, add the onion and parsley, and season with the coriander, salt, and several twists of pepper. Knead thoroughly to blend the ingredients. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.Rub your hands with a bit of vegetable oil and shape the meat mixture into golf ball–sized meatballs; set them on a tray.Line a plate or separate tray with paper towels. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry quickly until they are just golden brown on all sides, 3  to 4 minutes total; shake the pan a few times to roll the meatballs in the oil and make sure they are browned evenly. For the best browning, don’t crowd the pan; work in batches if you need to. Transfer the meatballs to the paper towels. Repeat to cook the remaining meatballs; set aside.Prepare the Sauce: Heat the oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3  minutes. Add the walnuts and sauté for another 3  minutes. Season with the cumin, ½  teaspoon salt, and several twists of black pepper. Pour in the pomegranate juice and molasses and add the dried limes. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Taste and adjust the seasoning—once you add the meatballs, you won’t be able to stir, so make sure the sauce is seasoned to your liking.Gently slide the meatballs into the sauce in a single layer, making sure they are fully submerged in the sauce (shake the pan slightly to settle them). Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the sauce is thick and shiny, another 10 minutes or so. Serve hot over white rice, garnished with pomegranate seeds (if they are in season) and cilantro leaves. If not serving immediately, let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days; reheat gently.Excerpted from Shuk by Einat Admont and Janna Gur (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019.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.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:28:53 -0400
  • Climate Anxiety Groups Are the New Self-Care

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    Photo illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Photos GettyThis story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. There were dance parties, DJ sets, drum classes and tutu-making workshops. Still, despite the buoyant mood it wasn’t just another festival tailor-made for glossy Instagram photos. Instead, Catharsis on the Mall, which was inspired by Burning Man and took place on the National Mall in May, had a different aim— healing. Not surprisingly part of the conversation included climate change and within 24 hours of a climate anxiety session being announced, all the seats were reserved. Amid laughter and ambient festival noise 30 people gathered in a hot tent and sat on rugs and lawn chairs to talk about their feelings of despair, depression, and anxiety.Debbie Chang, a volunteer with the D.C. chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby, led the group and said the genesis of the event came from noticing the negativity of activists around her.“There’s not really a space, I don’t think, for people to talk about these feelings,” Chang said. “People don’t want to dwell on negative emotions, but people want to be heard and validated.”Attendees were asked to jot down emotions they felt when thinking about climate change and elaborate within small groups. After exploring the emotions, Chang led a discussion about coping mechanisms including breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and stretching.As part of staying grounded in the work the group also discussed what aspects of the movement made them hopeful. In naming those hopes, they were tasked with envisioning an ideal future and to imagine the first baby step they could take towards actualizing it.“The idea is: There’s a lot of doom-and-gloom, and it’s important to remember what it is you’re working for. I think taking a moment to envision that is motivating,” Chang said. “I think there’s a lot of research to support that visualizing that first step means people will more likely take it.”Chang’s meetup is part of a growing movement of support spaces that have sprung up around the country. As activists seek to stay engaged they are increasingly grappling with the challenges of what has become known as climate anxiety or climate depression.“There’s a feeling that your anxiety or your feelings are going nowhere… we’re locked in the warming, greenhouse gas will have effects for decades,” said Alex Trope, a resident physician at the University of California in San Francisco within the Department of Psychiatry. “It’s the 11th hour. People are going to feel that now.”Trope is also a member of Climate Psychiatry Alliance, a group comprised of psychiatrists who believe that mental health is significantly impacted by the changing climate and requires more clinicians to be well-versed in the concerns of the activist community. In addition to ideas on how to take tangible and meaningful action the alliance is, working to build a list of “climate-aware therapists.”Though Trope said professional intervention for climate anxiety might be necessary for those with “deep dysfunction,” he said finding someone who could relate could also be therapeutic.“It’s important to find someone who can hold it with you, not crack jokes or not recognize the crisis,” he said, adding that person-to-person interaction could help counteract the “doom-and-gloom online coverage.”Arizona-based activist Laura Schmidt said she felt like her years spent working in the environmental nonprofit space weren’t “fruitful,” because she was unable to “force people to look at the problem.” Needing to rethink her approach to her activist work she utilized her grad school work in identifying tools that activists use to fight burnout and developed a 10-step program along with her wife, Aimee Lewis-Reau. Called the Good Grief Network, the program has a similar structure to Alcoholics Anonymous and therapy sessions. Designed in the form of weekly meetings, the program guides participants through practicing self-care. Each week focuses on a different part of the curriculum ranging from confronting morality to practicing gratitude to clearing past trauma. Regardless of the week’s lesson there is a focus on how to properly accept, process, and act upon the feelings that the severity of climate change can bring. The 10th step is “action-oriented” and acts as a means to help express climate anxiety in a positive way while taking “the pressure off the individual to save the world.”Lewis-Reau said creating a “clear headspace” was a priority of the program. “If someone’s internal world is chaotic, it will make them act out in destructive ways. People should not be acting out in fear and panic, despite acting towards an uncertain future. The steps are tools that you have to be reminded of and practiced. It’s a process-oriented program… Every step, you’re at a new level of understanding.”  Since Good Grief’s first meeting two years ago, the program has flourished with branches in California, New Jersey, Vermont, British Columbia and Australia. “We created the program we needed, and we’re kind of shocked with the level of growth,” Schmidt said, referencing the over 250 people who have participated. “We’ve personally done 10 rounds of the program with participants, and more meetings are happening beyond us,” Schmidt said. “We know this is strong. It empowers people and takes away desperation.”For Lynn Wang, a trip to Australia last year was a tipping point as she felt the “bigness of the world collapsed” after seeing the coral reefs.“Those coral reefs took thousands of years to become what they are. Hundreds of thousands of years of work were destroyed in the blink of an eye,” she said. “It gave me a feeling that was unstoppable, that we could not stop the system destroying nature.”During random conversations with other activists in the Sunrise Movement, where she is a hub coordinator, she noticed their climate anxiety would “come out in little spurts.” “People would say, ‘Isn’t it great that the world is ending in 12 years?’ It’s in the back of people's minds, and it’s constantly over our heads,” she said. “There’s a real fear for the next generation. Thinking about the future, I can’t imagine planning for the future when we only have 12 years.”The decision to host a support group was aimed and combating dueling emotions.“The Sunrise Movement is optimistic, and that's not rhetoric that always jives with internal feelings… the climate movement is still figuring that out,” Wang said. “We’re discouraged from saying things that might cause a panic, because panic is not a good emotion to act from… We need to make room for the anxiety before it takes over the movement. If it’s driven by the panic, we won’t be able to do much.” The movement—which shot to fame after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined their sit-in at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office—believes that wealthy oil and gas executives along with complicit politicians are prohibiting climate change solutions from becoming reality.  They focus on political engagement, like making the Green New Deal a top issue in the 2020 election or organizing demonstrations at City Halls across the nation.Wang’s hub plans to participate in the Global Climate Strike on September 20, kicking off a week of action demanding an end to fossil fuel use. Strikes are planned in 150 countries leading up to the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23. Wang said organizing and participating in events like the strike was “therapeutic” in fighting climate anxiety because it allowed her to find people who shared her values. Chang concurred, and said the camaraderie is critical.“People are asking for fellowship in this work,” Chang said. “As long as there’s other people around you, there is always hope.”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.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:24:49 -0400
  • Biden Broke With Putin Over Threat to Big Chicken

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    Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Photos GettyJoe Biden was fed up and determined to show the Russians that they should think twice about ever running afoul of him or the United States’ path again.“I want to let everybody know, I can either be Russia's best friend or worst enemy,” Biden warned. “And if they keep fooling around like this, they are going to have me as their worst enemy.”But Biden wasn’t talking about Russian meddling in the U.S. elections. He was talking about chickens. It was May 22, 2002, and Delaware was suffering as a result of a Russian ban on U.S. poultry—a major industry in the small state. Biden, then Delaware’s senior senator and up for re-election, had raised the issue with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush himself. Biden was one of many upset lawmakers. It wasn’t the first time (or the last) Biden would deal with issue; in 1996, Biden led an effort in the Senate to stop a similar ban from going into effect. By 2002, U.S. poultry was a $40 billion industry, with 38 states involved in production. Russia accounted for 40 percent of all U.S. poultry sales abroad. Biden had long expressed his suspicions about Vladimir Putin, telling Meet the Press in June 2001 bluntly he did not think the Russian president was trustworthy. Biden was a vocal critic of Russia on a range of national security and foreign policy issues including human rights abuses like the silencing of the press as well as their conduct in the war in Chechnya.While these issues certainly remained, Biden signaled new hope in working with Russia in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Putin was among the first world leaders to speak directly to Bush and offer his country’s support for whatever came next. That effort seemed to speed up what had been a warming trend in U.S.–Russian relations, particularly when it came to trade. In return for Russia’s assistance, Putin had asked for relief from the 1974 Jackson-Vanik law, a Cold War-era measure that barred normal trade relations with then-communist governments due to their limitations on Jewish emigration. Putin saw the law as obsolete and as an impediment to Russia joining the World Trade Organization. By December 2001, the late California Rep. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and human rights champion, began crafting a bill to graduate Russia from the law and Biden and then-Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) expressed interest in introducing the Senate version. Three months later, everything got really clucked up.After the Bush administration slapped Russian steel with higher tariffs, Russia—though the Kremlin denied they were retaliating at the time—cut off the U.S. poultry market, citing concerns about its safety. The ban sent diplomats scrambling. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said the issue became the “the number one problem in U.S.-Russian relations” at the time, until the agreement to lift it in mid April 2002. “This dispute has already caused some harm to our bilateral economic relationship, that's undeniable,” Vershbow said at a press conference in Moscow on March 31, 2002, according to a State Department transcript. “And it will also inevitably complicate Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization.”Biden made it clear, he would not forget and he wouldn’t let the Bush administration either. “I want to assure Delaware’s poultry producers that the periodic imposition or threat of a ban remains a crucial issue in U.S.-Russian relations, and that it will not be forgotten when President Bush makes his trip to Russia later this spring,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Delaware State News on April 12, after the ban had been lifted. “The link between international diplomacy and our economic well-being at home has been demonstrated anew.” Biden has made his record as a respected elder statesman a focal point of his presidential campaign. The trade dispute over chicken also illustrated how Biden balanced his role as a powerful player in the nation’s foreign policy, with the interests of his home state—as well as his willingness to use the levers of power to escalate issues on behalf of his constituents. “As Vice President and in the U.S. Senate, Joe Biden proudly fought for American exports and stood up to other countries—including Russia—when they tried to deny American workers, farmers, and businesses their fair shot to compete,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden’s presidential campaign. A month after the op-ed, on the eve of the summit between Bush and Putin, Biden made good on the threat to continue the pressure on the Kremlin, accusing Russian officials of deliberately slow-walking the process of restarting the poultry trade. “When they lifted the embargo, though, they lifted it only in principle,” Biden said in a speech on the Senate floor on May 22 to express his disapproval of a just-passed non-binding “sense of the Senate” resolution in support of normalizing trade relations with Moscow. “I have been one of the guys criticized on this floor for being too supportive of Russia,” Biden said. “But before I can support taking steps, of any form, to lift trade limits on Russia, I want to make sure they have their act in order, and make sure Russia’s commitment to fair and open trade and the rule of law is in the works.”After reiterating he believed that Russia, in principle, that Russia should be graduated from the Jackson-Vanik law, he expressed hope that Russia had “gotten the message.” “I was told personally that the President of the United States of America is going to raise this issue. Tomorrow it begins,” he said. “He is going to raise this issue personally with the President of Russia.”But, while Biden was instrumental in stopping the momentum to normalize trade with Russia in 2002, nearly a decade later, as vice president he showed he did not hold a grudge. “It’s better for America—and presumptuous of me to say this, never tell another man his business or another country their interest—but it’s better for America, and I believe better for Russia to be able to trade with each other under predictable and transparent rules,” Biden said in a speech at Moscow State University in 2011. “And that’s also why we’re going to work with Congress to terminate the Jackson-Vanik amendment.”President Obama signed legislation removing Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Act in December 2012. 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.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:23:06 -0400
  • Britain's Supreme Court enters Brexit crisis

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    Britain's Supreme Court will begin considering legal challenges Tuesday to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's controversial decision to suspend parliament for over a month, as the country's political crisis over Brexit intensifies. The court is set to hear three days of arguments over Johnson's move to shutter the House of Commons last week until October 14 -- just two weeks before the country is scheduled to leave the European Union. The politically-charged case, unprecedented in Britain, could lead to parliament being recalled and Johnson's political hand severely weakened in the run-up to the October 31 departure date.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:22:22 -0400
  • Why the EU should stick to the Brexit deadline and rule out any extensions

    Golocal247.com news

    Brussels has been suffering from a London syndrome since the initial shock of the EU referendum in 2016. Now it is high time to move on‘The amount of time wasted on Brexit by the EU in general, and the European council in particular is not justifiable.’ Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty ImagesBritish politics is in turmoil … again. Since 52% of the Brits who voted in the referendum opted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016, British politics has been essentially a single-issue game. But so has European politics. This is why, irrespective of whether and when new British elections will be held, the EU should reject any possibility of further extending the 31 October Brexit deadline.A new extension of another few months only makes sense if a clear and realistic solution is just a matter of time. However, more than three years after the referendum vote, the UK remains deeply divided, at both the mass and the elite level.Although preferences have remained relatively stable, despite three years of political turmoil, several polls show a change from a slight leave to a slight remain majority. However, polls that provide more options than just a binary choice show no clear majority for any one outcome. For instance, an April 2019 YouGov poll showed that a plurality (37%) preferred a new referendum, while almost a majority (49%) favored one of three forms of Brexit: no deal (26%), alternative deal (12%), and EU-offered deal (11%). A sizeable part (13%) said they didn’t know, and are probably as fed up with the discussion as most Europeans on the continent.At the same time, neither of the two major parties has a clear or credible plan. The Tories want either a no-deal Brexit or Theresa May’s Brexit plan, both of which have been rejected (repeatedly) by the British parliament. And the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, mainly wants new elections and the possibility of a new referendum without offering a new option to overcome the national division.The only extension that would therefore make sense is an indefinite one, in which the EU gives the Brits as much time as they need to figure themselves out. But this assumes, as much of the Brexit debate does, that there are no costs connected to the political limbo that both the EU and the UK find themselves in. This is, of course, not the case.So far, both the British and European debate has been focused on whether the UK will be satisfied with the final outcome of Brexit, especially around key questions like the Irish-UK border and immigration, as well whether leave voters will get the Brexit they voted for. Consequently, the interests of the roughly 17 million Brits who voted to leave the EU completely sideline not just the interests of the 16 million Brits who voted to remain in the EU, but also those of almost 500 million other Europeans. This is both irresponsible and undemocratic, at least from the perspective of the citizens and governments of the other 27 EU member states.It is true that most Europeans want the UK to stay within the EU. But not at any cost. And costs there are. First and foremost, the political insecurity about the faith of British membership, and therefore the membership of the EU, has economic costs, with major companies delaying investment decisions – although so far some EU member states (like Germany and the Netherlands) have done good business at Britain’s expense. Second, massive amounts of bureaucratic and political resources have been wasted on responding to every serious Brexit proposal that comes out of London – which bureaucrats in all other member states, but particularly in those with close trade relationships with the UK, like Ireland and the Netherlands, have to take seriously, given the possibly devastating economic consequences.And, third, the amount of time wasted on Brexit by the EU in general, and the European council in particular is not justifiable. The heads of government of all EU member states use the rare EU council meetings to set major policy goals for the EU, but since 2016, most meetings have discussed … you guessed it, Brexit. And this is happening at a time when both the economic and so-called “refugee crisis” are ongoing for member states like Greece and Italy; that the EU’s main economic and political ally, the United States, is governed by an anti-EU president, and its former enemy, Russia, is actively influencing elections across the EU. And that’s not even mentioning Iran, Israel and Kashmir.Brussels has been suffering from a London syndrome since the initial shock of the EU referendum in 2016. Now, three years later, it is high time to break the stranglehold of its irresolute captor and to move on: with the Brits if possible, without them if necessary. * Cas Mudde is a Guardian US columnist and the Stanley Wade Shelton UGAF professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. His latest book is The Far Right Today

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 05:00:22 -0400
  • New Trump Tariffs May Soon Hit European Luxury Exports

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    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Some of Europe’s top luxury brands are targeted in President Donald Trump’s latest tariff salvo, which could affect billions of dollars in exports of American-bound whiskeys, wine, Champagne, handbags and men’s suits.A panel of three World Trade Organization arbiters, as expected, said Friday the U.S. can legally impose tariffs on an array of European exports in retaliation for Europe’s illegal government aid to Airbus SE. EU sources say they expect the WTO arbiters to publicly circulate a report by month’s end that will allow new U.S. duties on a range of goods worth $5 billion to $7 billion per year, while Trump has threatened tariffs on $11 billion.Shares of French luxury conglomerate LVMH fell as much as 4.4% on Monday in Paris, with Airbus dropping as much as 5.4%. Continuing political turmoil in Hong Kong and a slowing Chinese economy have also weighed on European fashion and drinks companies.Washington’s response is expected within days after the WTO’s green light for retaliation. The U.S. has identified possible targets -- with tariffs potentially as high as 100% -- on a list of goods with a total export value of $25 billion a year. Though the most valuable goods on the U.S. list are exports of European aircraft and parts, the tariffs could also hit products made by Europe’s most recognized high-end brands.LVMH is particularly vulnerable to the proposed U.S. levies, which target two of its primary product lines -- wine and spirits like Dom Perignon, Moet & Chandon and Hennessy -- and leather goods under labels such as Givenchy, Kenzo and Louis Vuitton.Expensive TastesThe U.S. market for luxury goods is among the top destinations for European companies like LVMH where the U.S. made up almost a quarter of its total global sales last year. American shoppers bought 11.2 billion euros ($12.4 billion) worth of goods from LVMH in 2018, according to Bloomberg data.LVMH Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said that the company is “sensitive to tariffs and trade barriers,” during a conference call in July.New tariffs will increase costs that will undoubtedly be passed on to U.S. consumers, said Luca Marotta, the CFO of Paris-Based Remy Cointreau SA, which produces Remy Martin cognac, Cointreau, Passoa and Mount Gay rum.“If the tariff increase will happen, I repeat myself, we will increase prices at the same moment,” Marotta said during a July 17 conference call.Trump’s planned EU tariffs are unique for his administration because, unlike the trade war he started against China, the U.S. will be applying duties explicitly authorized by the WTO, an organization he’s threatened to withdraw from if it doesn’t reform.The dispute between Toulouse, France-based Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing Co. encapsulates a criticism from Trump and others -- that the WTO is a slow-moving bureaucracy -- because it’s a case that’s taken about 15 years to resolve.European beverage producers are already reeling from the uncertainty stemming from Trump’s repeated threats to slap new tariffs on wine, liquor and other alcohol.The Trump administration is currently evaluating whether to penalize French wine and other goods in response to France’s tax on digital companies like Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.“The degree of uncertainty has somewhat notched up a little bit,” said Pernod Ricard SA Chief Executive Alexandre Ricard on an Aug. 26 conference call.Paris-based Pernod Ricard produces top-shelf wines, bitters, whiskeys, spirits, cognac, brandies and rum.The impact of Trump’s tariffs will also have an unwelcome effect on Scotch whisky producers, which are already girding for the fallout of a potentially messy no-deal Brexit.The EU exported $2.1 billion worth of Irish and Scotch whiskeys to the U.S. in 2018, according to data provided by the Geneva-based International Trade Center.Many U.S. exporters oppose the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs, which they say could boomerang and jeopardize thousands of American jobs.Whiskey ShotU.S. whiskey producers have already become collateral damage from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs -- which spurred the EU to retaliate with a 25% tariff on U.S. bourbon and whiskey. What’s more, the EU has threatened further penalties on $12 billion worth of whiskey and other U.S. exports stemming from a related WTO dispute over U.S. subsidies to Boeing Co.“Depending on the level of tariffs imposed on EU spirits and wine, we estimate it could negatively impact U.S. businesses, leading up to a loss of jobs from 11,200 to even 78,600 jobs across the United States,” said Chris Swonger, the president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council.There are two ways the EU can avoid new tariffs from the long-running aircraft dispute with the U.S.: by ending its illegal subsidies for Airbus, or reaching a settlement agreement.Though U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the current European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom have both welcomed the idea of negotiating a settlement, talks to resolve the issue haven’t begun.Those negotiations could become more difficult after Malmstrom cedes her post on Nov. 1 to Phil Hogan, a hard-nosed Irish trade negotiator who’s pledged to take a more pugnacious approach to EU-U.S. trade relations.In a Sept. 10 interview with RTE radio, Hogan said “we are going to do everything we possibly can to get Mr. Trump to see the error of his ways.”(Removes reference in fifth paragraph to Donna Karan, which LVMH sold in 2016, in story published Sept. 16.)\--With assistance from Thomas Mulier, Chris Middleton and Birgit Jennen.To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at bbaschuk2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Richard Bravo at rbravo5@bloomberg.net, Sarah McGregor, Brendan MurrayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 04:36:54 -0400
  • AP Explains: Israel's parliamentary elections

    Golocal247.com news

    Israel is holding the country's 22nd parliamentary elections on Tuesday, with over 6.3 million people eligible to cast ballots. Coming on the heels of April elections, it is an unprecedented repeat vote largely seen as a referendum on long-seated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The do-over election was triggered after Avigdor Lieberman, a former Netanyahu ally, refused to join his coalition last April, accusing the prime minister of giving ultra-Orthodox religious parties too much power.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 04:28:18 -0400
  • Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rules out negotiations with US

    Golocal247.com news

    Iran will never hold one-on-one talks with the United States but could engage in multilateral discussions if it returns to the 2015 deal on Iran's nuclear programme, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, according to state television. US President Donald Trump has said he could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, possibly at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month. "Iranian officials, at any level, will never talk to American officials ... this is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran ... their policy of maximum pressure will fail," state television quoted Khamenei as saying. Khamenei said Iran's clerical rulers were in agreement on this: "All officials in Iran unanimously believe it. "If America changes its behaviour and returns to (Iran's 2015) nuclear deal, then it can join multilateral talks between Iran and other parties to the deal," Khamenei said. Trump has stepped up sanctions against Iran since last year when he withdrew from the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers and reimposed sanctions that were lifted under the deal in return for Iran curbing its nuclear programme. In retaliation for the US "maximum pressure" policy, Iran has gradually scaled backed its commitments to the pact and plans to further breach it if the European parties fail to keep their promises to shield Iran's economy from U.S. penalties. "If we yield to their pressure and hold talks with Americans ... This will show that their maximum pressure on Iran has succeeded. They should know that this policy has no value for us," said Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters. Tensions between Tehran and Washington have spiked following a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that sent oil prices soaring and raised fears of a new Middle East conflict. Trump said on Monday it looked like Iran was behind the attacks but stressed he did not want to go to war. Iran has denied any involvement. Iran's regional rival, Saudi Arabia, said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons and it was capable of responding forcefully. Saudi Arabia urged U.N. experts to help investigate the raid.

    Tue, 17 Sep 2019 03:51:54 -0400
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