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Catholic priest Joseph McLoone stole church money and spent it on himself, Grindr men, authorities say

Catholic priest Joseph McLoone stole church money and spent it on himself, Grindr men, authorities say A Catholic priest in Pennsylvania was charged with theft after he stole nearly $100,000 from his parish over several years.


Chinese state media accuses Hong Kong metro of aiding protesters

Chinese state media accuses Hong Kong metro of aiding protesters China's state-run media have launched a co-ordinated attack on the company that runs Hong Kong's train network for its perceived support of pro-democracy protesters, echoing a campaign against Cathay Pacific. As hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the financial hub approach their third month of rallying around democratic reforms, Beijing has upped its rhetoric against the movement -- and any organisation appearing to support it. On Thursday, Chinese state-backed outlets accused Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) company of abetting protesters by offering them a free and "exclusive" train to escape police, after a sit-in to mark a mob attack by suspected triad gang members one month earlier.


Trump claim doctors treating mass shooting victims 'were coming out of operating rooms' to meet him dismissed by hospital

Trump claim doctors treating mass shooting victims 'were coming out of operating rooms' to meet him dismissed by hospital A hospital in El Paso has denied Donald Trump’s claim doctors “were coming out of operating rooms” to meet him when he travelled to Texas and Ohio to console victims of two mass shootings."At no time did, or would, physicians or staff leave active operating rooms during the presidential visit,” University Medical Center spokesperson Ryan Mielke told local TV station KVIA. “Our priority is always patient care."


Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington

Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington An ambitious agenda by the March for Our Lives activists may be the first time the majority of Americans get real representationA young girl looks on as she attends a vigil for the victims of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMarch for Our Lives, the national youth gun violence prevention movement founded by survivors of last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, released a sweeping gun reform agenda this week.The agenda calls for significantly raising the standards for gun ownership in America, and reducing by about 100m the total number of guns in circulation.It’s a dramatic, ambitious plan. And it may represent the first time in decades that the majority of Americans will get any real representation in the gun control debate in Washington.March for Our Lives’ young activists endorsed an Australia-style mandatory government buyback and destruction of “assault weapons”. They want to decrease the number of guns in circulation by 30% – which would mean roughly 100m fewer firearms in American hands. They proposed regulations that would dramatically raise the bar for who is allowed to purchase a gun, putting US law much more in line with European countries. And they want to revisit the 2009 supreme court decision, District of Columbia v Heller, which enshrined a pro-gun interpretation of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms.These proposals are substantially more aggressive, and more ambitious, than anything the Democrats in Washington have fought for in years. In fact, for decades, gun control groups and progressive politicians have done a poor job at representing the majority of Americans in Congress when it comes to gun control. A surprising voidDemocrats have fought for minor new restrictions on gun buying – and been defeated by the Republican party’s gun absolutists – but, fundamentally, the Democratic party has remained supportive of gun ownership.Democratic lawmakers’ efforts to “ban assault weapons”, for example, have not meant an actual ban on these guns, but only a ban on future sales, meaning that Americans could keep the millions of military-style rifles they already own. President Obama’s signature gun control legislation after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a compromise bill that would have closed just a few of the gaping loopholes in the nation’s background check system – a measure so weak it’s doubtful whether it would have had any effect on gun violence at all.The country’s largest gun control groups, too, have made great efforts to portray themselves as pro-“gun safety”, not anti-gun. They routinely advertise themselves as supporters of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms. And they have focused on “commonsense reforms,” such as getting what activists see as particularly extreme weapons off the streets, or requiring a criminal background check before every gun sale.This lack of any explicit anti-gun side in the American gun debate is strange.Although many Americans may not realize it, gun owners are a minority in the United States. American civilians overall own an estimated 300m to 400m firearms, more than one gun per person. But this frequently cited statistic obscures how concentrated American gun ownership is.In recent surveys, roughly 70% to 80% of Americans said they do not personally own a gun, and a majority said that nobody in their household owns a gun. Just 3% of American adults own half the country’s guns, according to a definitive 2015 survey. This small group of gun super-owners have an average of 17 guns each.Gun absolutists – the activists who oppose any gun control measures, who want Americans to be able to own any kind of gun, and carry them everywhere – are a minority within that minority. According to the best available estimates, fewer than 10% of American gun owners overall are members of the National Rifle Association.There appear to be at least as many Americans who are vehemently anti-gun as there are NRA members.Recent Gallup polls have found that 28% of American adults say they would support a law banning handgun ownership, except by the police and other “authorized persons”. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 9% of American adults believed that “almost no one” should be legally allowed to own guns – about the same proportion as the number of adults who believed that “almost everyone” should be able to own them.A coalition of 9% of American adults would translate into more than 20 million people. That’s a group four times larger than the NRA, which claims between 5 million and 6 million members.Only a minority of Americans oppose most private gun ownership. But there’s strong majority support for much tougher gun control laws than the ones currently on the books.A 2017 Pew survey found 68% supported banning assault-style weapons. 71% supported having a federal database to track all gun sales. A 2018 Gallup survey found 68% of respondents supported raising the legal age to buy certain guns. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 77% of respondents were in favor of requiring people to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.It’s not hard to find Americans who oppose the country’s current gun culture. They show up at gun control rallies, holding signs that say things like “Repeal the Second Amendment”. They live in neighborhoods burdened by decades of daily gun violence. They’ve lost family members or friends to shootings. They keep asking: Why can’t we just get rid of the guns?But for years, these Americans’ views have not been well represented by America’s “gun safety” groups, and they have had virtually no representation in Congress.This may finally be starting to change. Moving the gun debateIn 2016, a progressive activist launched Guns Down America, a small organization that advocates not simply for “gun sense laws”, but for “a future with fewer guns”. Following the Parkland shooting, the young March for Our Lives activists have advocated unapologetically for bold reform, though they, like other American gun control activists, say they’re not anti-gun and their proposals for stricter regulation represent the interests of “responsible gun owners”.It’s not yet clear how much the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will move towards embracing these majority opinions on gun control policy. But there’s already been movement towards the actual middle of the debate.In 2016, Obama argued in a CNN Town Hall that “issues like licensing, registration, that’s an area where there’s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it”. This year, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker made gun licensing the center of his 2020 gun control platform.After the mass shooting targeting Latino families in El Paso, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke said he endorsed not just an assault weapon ban, but a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. On Wednesday, he became the first Democratic 2020 candidate to tweet that he supported March for Our Lives’ new policy agenda.O’Rourke’s campaign did not back away from the most controversial elements of the youth activists’ plan, including their desire to revisit the supreme court’s current interpretation of the second amendment, enshrined in the Heller decision.“While Beto agrees with the court’s holding that the second amendment allows for regulation, he does not agree with the entirety of the Heller decision,” said Aleigha Cavalier, O’Rourke’s national press secretary. “One piece of the Heller case Beto believes should be revisited is the court’s decision to strike down DC’s safe storage requirements.”America’s gun debate may soon actually have two sides.


Half of Venezuela's Oil Rigs May Disappear If U.S. Waivers Lapse

Half of Venezuela's Oil Rigs May Disappear If U.S. Waivers Lapse (Bloomberg) -- A looming U.S. sanctions deadline is threatening to clobber Venezuela’s dwindling oil-rig fleet and hamper energy production in the nation with the world’s largest crude reserves.Almost half the rigs operating in Venezuela will shut down by Oct. 25 if the Trump administration doesn’t extend a 90-day waiver from its sanctions, according to data compiled from consultancy Caracas Capital Markets. That could further cripple the OPEC member’s production because the structures are needed to drill new wells crucial for even maintaining output, which is already near the lowest level since the 1940s.A shutdown in the rigs will also put pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s administration, which counts oil revenues as its main lifeline. The U.S. is betting on increased economic pressure to oust the regime and bring fresh elections to the crisis-torn nation, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Latin America’s biggest crude exporter until recent years.Venezuela had 23 oil rigs drilling in July, down from 49 just two years ago, data compiled by Baker Hughes show. Ten of those are exposed to U.S. sanctions, according to calculations by Caracas Capital Markets. The Treasury Department extended waivers in July for service providers to continue for three more months, less than the six months the companies had sought.Most other government agencies involved in the deliberations opposed any extension, a senior administration official said last month, adding that another reprieve will be harder to come by.“Almost half the rigs are being run by the Yanks, and if the window shuts down on this in two months, then that’s really going to hurt Venezuela unless the Russians and the Chinese come in,” said Russ Dallen, a Miami-based managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets.Output RiskA U.S. Treasury official said the department doesn’t generally comment on possible sanctions actions.More than 200,000 barrels a day of output at four projects Chevron Corp. is keeping afloat could shut if the waivers aren’t renewed. That would be debilitating to Maduro because the U.S. company, as a minority partner, only gets about 40,000 barrels a day of that production.The departure of the American oil service providers would hurt other projects in the Orinoco region, where operators need to constantly drill wells just to keep output from declining. The U.S.-based companies are also involved in state-controlled Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s joint ventures in other regions such as Lake Maracaibo.Limiting ExposureHalliburton Co., Schlumberger Ltd. and Weatherford International Ltd. have reduced staff and are limiting their exposure to the risk of non-payment in the country, according to people familiar with the situation. The three companies have written down a total of at least $1.4 billion since 2018 in charges related to operations in Venezuela, according to financial filings. Baker Hughes had also scaled back before additional sanctions were announced earlier this year, the people said.Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Weatherford, PDVSA and Venezuela’s oil ministry all declined to comment.Halliburton has adjusted its Venezuela operations to customer activity, and continues operating all of its product service lines at its operational bases, including in the Orinoco Belt, it said in an emailed response to questions. It works directly with several of PDVSA’s joint ventures, and timely payments from customers are in accordance with U.S. regulations, it said.Hamilton, Bermuda-based Nabors Industries Ltd. has three drilling rigs in Venezuela that can operate for a client until the sanctions expire in October, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Petrello said in a July 30 conference call, without naming the client.The sanctions carry geopolitical risks for the U.S. If Maduro manages to hang on, American companies would lose a foothold in Venezuela, giving Russian competitors such as Rosneft Oil Co. a chance to fill the void. Chinese companies could also benefit. Even if the waivers get extended, the uncertainty hinders any long-term planning or investments in the nation by the exposed companies.Rosneft’s press office didn’t respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment on operations in Venezuela.\--With assistance from David Wethe, Debjit Chakraborty and Dina Khrennikova.To contact the reporters on this story: Peter Millard in Rio de Janeiro at pmillard1@bloomberg.net;Fabiola Zerpa in Caracas Office at fzerpa@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net, Pratish Narayanan, Joe RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


GOP groups fundraising with T-shirts showing Greenland as part of America

GOP groups fundraising with T-shirts showing Greenland as part of America The campaign operation of House Republicans and the Nevada GOP have used President Donald Trump's comments about buying Greenland to create and fund-raise with T-shirts that include the Danish territory as part of America.


Chinese state media says fentanyl abuse is entirely U.S. responsibility

Chinese state media says fentanyl abuse is entirely U.S. responsibility Chinese state media on Friday hit back at claims by U.S. officials that China was failing to crack down on the flow of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances into the United States, saying that responsibility for opioid abuse lay with users. The United States was "pushing responsibility" for fentanyl abuse to China and ignoring that Beijing had implemented strict controls on the highly addictive synthetic opioid, reported The People's Daily newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party.


Sanders campaign boss concedes he may not win New Hampshire

Sanders campaign boss concedes he may not win New Hampshire The campaign manager for Bernie Sanders emphasized Thursday that New Hampshire is a critical presidential primary state he expects Sanders to win, but he's leaving room for a scenario in which Sanders falls short. Faiz Shakir said he doesn't "like the language of must-win," though he does believe it is an important early voting state.


Hong Kong gears up for fresh protests as activists target airport

Hong Kong gears up for fresh protests as activists target airport Hong Kong braced on Friday for further demonstrations and a "stress test" of the city's international airport at the weekend, as nearly three months of anti-government protests showed no sign of abating. Multiple protests are planned for Friday, including a march by accountants to government headquarters and a "Baltic Chain" event where protesters will join hands across different districts in the Chinese territory. In 1989 an estimated two million people joined arms across three Baltic states in a protest against Soviet Union rule which became known as the Baltic Way or Baltic Chain.


Suspect in California campus killing was co-worker

Suspect in California campus killing was co-worker A man arrested in the stabbing death of a retired administrator at the California State University, Fullerton campus was a co-worker, police said Thursday. Chuyen Vo, 51, was arrested Wednesday night at his home in Huntington Beach, officials announced at a news conference near the killing scene in a campus parking lot. Lt. Jon Radus, however, declined to elaborate on Vo's work relationship with the victim and whether it was current or in the past.



Top Stories - Google News

2 Nigerian men in California oversaw a romance scam that targeted women worldwide, feds say - CNN

2 Nigerian men in California oversaw a romance scam that targeted women worldwide, feds say   CNN

US prosecutors charged 80 people -- mostly Nigerians -- in the widespread conspiracy that defrauded $6 million from businesses and vulnerable elderly women ...

View full coverage on Google News

William and Kate take budget flight after Harry and Meghan slammed over private jets - CNN

France's Macron calls Amazon rainforest fires an 'international crisis' - CNN

Miley Cyrus Will Keep Pets in Liam Hemsworth Divorce - TMZ

27 Injured In Sacramento Train Collision, Derailment; 13 Transported to Hospitals - CBS Sacramento

US futures point to higher open ahead of Powell's speech - CNBC

OnePlus says its TV will have a 55-inch QLED panel - Circuit Breaker


World News Headlines - Yahoo! News

Sweden 'receives indications' Iran is ready to release British tanker

Sweden 'receives indications' Iran is ready to release British tanker Sweden has reportedly received “very strong indications” from Iran that it will release the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker sometime in the coming days.  Sweden’s foreign ministry believes that the ship, which is operated by a Swedish firm, will be set free in the near future, according to Swedish public television.  The report emerged after Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, met with his Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallstrom, in Stockholm earlier this week. The Iranian minister also met with the chief executive of Stena Bulk, the ship’s operator.  A spokeswoman for Sweden’s foreign ministry would not confirm or deny the STV report.   “We look positively at what Foreign Minister Zarif himself has said publicly about hopes for a possible quick solution for Stena Impero, but we do not disclose what is said in the meetings,” the spokeswoman said.  The Stena Impero was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on July 19 in apparent retaliation for Royal Marines seizing the Iranian Grace 1 tanker off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4. Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, met with his Swedish counterpart Credit: REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo The Grace 1, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, was released from Gibraltar over the weekend. British officials hoped its release would pave the way for the release of the Stena Impero.  Iran has so far given no indication when, or if, it plans to release the British-flagged tanker.  Iranian officials initially indicated that the Stena Impero had been seized in response to the Grace 1’s seizure but now claims that the ship violated maritime rules in the Persian Gulf.  Tehran has said that a court in the southern port of Bandar Abbas will decide the ship’s fate. British officials believe Tehran is hiding behind legalism when the ship’s seizure and release are in reality in the hands of political decision makers.   The US has continued to pursue the Grace 1 after it left Gibraltar and has warned European states not to give the ship safe harbour as it sails east across the Mediterranean.  That warning has now been extended to any European shipping firms that might interact with the tanker. “The shipping sector is on notice that we will aggressively enforce US sanctions,” a US official told Reuters.


Security in Kashmir tightened following call for march

Security in Kashmir tightened following call for march Authorities intensified patrols Friday in Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city after posters appeared calling for a public march to a United Nations office to protest New Delhi's tightened grip on the disputed region. Police and paramilitary soldiers re-imposed restrictions on traffic in areas where they had been eased, putting steel barricades back up and laying razor wire across roads, bridges and intersections. On Aug. 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir's decades-old special status guaranteed under Article 370 of India's Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region, which is split between archrivals Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.


Yemeni government forces rout separatists from southern city

Yemeni government forces rout separatists from southern city Forces loyal to Yemen's internationally recognized government have taken full control of a key southern city after overnight clashes with separatists, Yemeni security officials said Friday. Clashes over Etq, the capital of oil-rich Shabwa province erupted late Thursday night and lasted until Friday morning, said the security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because there were not authorized to talk to the media. The city of Etq was previously divided between Saudi-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government forces and a separatist militia, trained and armed by the United Arab Emirates.


Putin orders 'symmetric' measures after US missile test

Putin orders 'symmetric' measures after US missile test President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to find a quid pro quo response after the test of a new U.S. missile banned under a now-defunct arms treaty. In Sunday's test, a modified ground-launched version of a Navy Tomahawk cruise missile accurately struck its target more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) away. The test came after the U.S. and Russia withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.


Macron Riles Bolsonaro, Setting Up G-7 Fight Over Amazon Fires

Macron Riles Bolsonaro, Setting Up G-7 Fight Over Amazon Fires (Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron said Group of Seven leaders gathering in Biarritz, France, Saturday must tackle head on the fires in the Amazon jungle, establishing the summit’s first flash point.“Our house is burning. Literally,” the French president wrote in a tweet late Thursday. “It is an international crisis.”But by placing the environmental emergency at the top of the G-7 agenda, he risks walking into a geopolitical fight he cannot win if he tries to prise a response to the crisis from Donald Trump, who has already pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro, who has echoed Trump’s skepticism on environmental issues, has already reacted angrily. He said that discussing the fires without his country’s involvement showed a “colonial mentality that isn’t appropriate for the 21st century.”“I regret that President Macron is seeking to use the internal matters of Brazil and other Amazon countries for political gain,” Bolsonaro said in a tweet.The Brazilian rain forest is suffering a record number of fires this year and the government in Brasilia has become increasingly sensitive to international concern about the issue.While Macron is trying to rally a global response to the climate emergency, Trump has been working to roll-back restrictions on CO2 emissions in the U.S. This week he attacked automakers for their opposition to a plan to ease fuel efficiency requirements.The French leader is sure to find an ally in Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Germany’s Angela Merkel. Merkel already had a run-in with Bolsonaro at June’s G-20 in Osaka after she criticized his environmental policy and cut financial aid for the Amazon. Bolsonaro told Merkel that she had an obsession with the environment and she should use the money for reforestation in Germany.German Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday that Merkel backs Macron’s call because the ’alarming and threatening’ burning of the Amazon, is an international issue. But the configuration of the G-7 right now will make it difficult for Macron to make headway. Trump famously ripped up last year’s communique and does not want to be cornered. In the U.K., Boris Johnson is eager to tighten his bond with Trump and at odds with European allies over Brexit. Italy is mired in a messy political crisis at home and has no prime minister. While Japan is unlikely to stick its neck out -- it is more concerned about the potential fall out from the U.S. trade war with China.All this points to Macron winding up isolated on the issue if he tries to achieve anything meaningful on the fires when talks begin Saturday.(Updates with German spokesman in ninth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sills in Madrid at bsills@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Flavia Krause-Jackson, Raymond ColittFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


The Latest: Former Iraq PM warns Israel of 'strong response'

The Latest: Former Iraq PM warns Israel of 'strong response' Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is warning of a "strong response" if it is proven that Israel was behind recent airstrikes in Iraq. The comments by al-Maliki, who was Iraqi prime minister for eight years and now heads a Shiite bloc in parliament, came hours after U.S. officials confirmed Israel was responsible for the bombing of an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq last month.


Syrian TV: Troops in control of northern Hama countryside

Syrian TV: Troops in control of northern Hama countryside Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops seized control of a string of villages in the northern countryside of Hama province, completing their takeover of the formerly rebel-held region just south of Idlib province for the first time since 2012, Syrian state TV and a war monitoring group said Friday. The TV said troops seized the villages of Latamneh, Latmeen, Kfar Zeita and Lahaya, as well as the village of Morek, where Turkey maintains an observation post, on Friday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported Friday that government troops were in control of the entire northern Hama countryside after capturing a series of towns of villages.


G-7 Leaders Squabble as World Economy Teeters

G-7 Leaders Squabble as World Economy Teeters (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.Historians may look back at this weekend’s gathering of world leaders in the French port city of Biarritz as a squandered opportunity.The global economy is weakening, trade wars are escalating and major economies like Germany are sliding toward recession. But Group of Seven allies are so divided there’s little hope for the type of coordinated response that sprang from similar meetings a decade ago.Amid the growing financial crisis in 2008, then-President George W. Bush called an emergency G-20 meeting that yielded a roadmap to combat the worldwide slowdown. Along with subsequent multilateral actions, it’s widely seen as having helped avoid a deeper downturn.Now disagreements over everything from Iran’s nuclear program to Brexit to the future of the global trading system likely will stand in the way of unified solutions.U.S. President Donald Trump has dismissed accusations his tariff assault on China and threats to impose duties on Europe’s auto industry are contributing to any slowdown.As Shawn Donnan, Raymond Colitt and Toru Fujioka write, the brightest economic hope for this round may be just that things don’t get any worse.And while the world’s political leaders squabble, it may be left to central bankers conducting their own retreat some 5,000 miles away in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to save the day.Global HeadlinesAmazon brouhaha | French President Emmanuel Macron’s call on the G-7 to tackle the fires raging in the Amazon jungle has set up the summit's first flash point. It’s sure to irritate Trump, who pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, and has already riled Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who said discussing the issue without his nation’s involvement reflects a “colonial mentality.”Seeds of discontent | Top Trump officials met yesterday to consider options for quelling a backlash in politically important farm states, Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Mario Parker report. The topic of discussion? Recent administration moves that would slow biofuel use. They’re trying to blunt anger in Iowa and other states critical to the president’s re-election in 2020.Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has produced a new film called “Claws of the Red Dragon” attacking Huawei Technologies, an attempt to steel the president’s resolve to confront China. Click here for more on why — even if Trump faces another Republican primary challenger — it’s unlikely to lead to much. Online army | The technology underpinning Hong Kong’s leaderless protests is a major reason there’s no end in sight: Online discussion groups are the movement’s backbone, and authorities who've tried to subdue it can’t simply lock up the masterminds and send everyone home. And no single leader has emerged with enough clout to call demonstrators off — or negotiate with the government. One of the biggest tests of unity will come this weekend, when netizens are again planning to disrupt airport operations.Tiring of war | From his heavily fortified compound west of Libya’s capital, Ghassan Salame has a ringside seat as two forces battle for control of the country. The United Nation’s special envoy, his mission is to end fighting between the internationally-recognized government and its chief rival, commander Khalifa Haftar, that’s been fueled by the ambitions of regional powers. His argument, writes Samer Khalil Al-Atrush? No one can win this deadlocked contest.Pyongyang criticism | North Korea’s top diplomat has blamed Michael Pompeo for stalled nuclear talks with the U.S., saying the secretary of state “casts a dark shadow” over the negotiations. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Pompeo was more focused on his own political aspirations than getting a result. It’s the latest statement from North Korea seeking a more favorable negotiating framework before Kim Jong Un restarts talks.What to WatchItalian President Sergio Mattarella gave the center-left Democrats until Tuesday to form a coalition with their long-time rivals, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, following the government’s collapse. Trump’s lawyers will be in a New York court today trying to block Democrats’ access to financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has much at stake over the outcome.And finally ... Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes a U.K. economy free of the EU will see depressed British port cities roar back into life as tax-exempt zones. He’d be well advised to have a look at the concrete bunker on the edge of Luxembourg’s airport. As Hugo Miller and Stephanie Bodoni report, the reality can be a nightmare as such duty-free facilities face growing criticism for being conduits of money laundering and tax evasion. \--With assistance from Karen Leigh.To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Karl MaierFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


80 Years Ago This Week, Hitler and Stalin Cut the Deal That Triggered WWII

80 Years Ago This Week, Hitler and Stalin Cut the Deal That Triggered WWII Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyBy the spring of 1939 Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and Joseph Stalin’s USSR had been “pouring buckets of shit on each other’s heads” for decades, as Stalin later said.During the 1920s and 1930s they vied for power in Europe, blaming each other for all economic and social ills, and battling through proxies in the Spanish Civil War.  Their diametrically opposed far-left and far-right philosophies and economic strategies culminated in the German-led Anti-Comintern Pact of 1936-37 creating an alliance between the Third Reich, Imperial Japan and eventually Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy against the spread of Communism, and more specifically the threat of a Soviet invasion.D-Day Did Not Turn the Tide in WWII. That Happened in 1941.Early on, Hitler had feared that the USSR and the Western democracies would make an anti-Nazi alliance to curtail German expansion.  He gave them three chances to do so, and they flubbed them all. In 1936 when Hitler “remilitarized” the Rhineland, an extant Russia-France pact could have been called into play and both countries could have invaded Germany. France did not insist on doing so, and its similar reluctance to pincer the Third Reich allowed Hitler’s Anschluss with Austria in early 1938 and the Nazi occupation of the Sudetenland part of Czechoslovakia that followed the Munich Accord in October 1938.  Stalin was irate at being excluded from the Munich talks.  His absence allowed Britain’s Neville Chamberlain and France’s Edouard Daladier, urged on by Mussolini, to hand the Sudetenland to Hitler without Russian objections. Stalin blamed Soviet Foreign Secretary Maxim Litvinov, a Jew born Meir Henoch Wallach of Bialystok, for being boxed out of Munich. Until then, Litvinov had done very well by the USSR and by Stalin. An old-line Communist who prior to the Revolution had spent time in jail and in exile in the party’s service, in 1921 he had been appointed by Vladimir Lenin as deputy commissar for foreign affairs, and after Lenin died, in 1930 Stalin had elevated Litvinov to the top position. He then succeeded in getting formal recognition of the USSR by the United States of America and acceptance into the League of Nations; he also birthed the non-aggression alliances with Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey that provided the USSR with a border of buffer states against a German invasion.But as the Nazis continued to expand the Third Reich, Stalin became convinced that the buffer states were not enough protection for the USSR at just the moment when it could not sustain a war because his purge of the Soviet military had left it too weak for large-scale combat. Hitler, for his part, had been vocally anti-Soviet until he began listening to former Champagne salesman Joachim von Ribbentrop.  Married to a wealthy woman and known for lavish spending, pretensions, and incompetence, von Ribbentrop joined the Nazi Party in 1932.  He steadily gained traction in the foreign ministry by loudly opposing the foreign minister, Konstantin von Neurath, with the aid of the Schutzstaffel, better known by the initials SS—Ribbentrop liked to wear his SS general’s uniform for diplomatic occasions, even as ambassador to Great Britain.  Hitler had steadily become disenchanted with von Neurath and a foreign ministry that slow-walked every bold stroke he attempted. So after shaking up the German military, in early 1938 Hitler upended the foreign ministry and appointed von Ribbentrop as top dog.  The salesman had already begun selling Hitler hard on the attractiveness of a pact with the USSR: in case of war it could prevent the Third Reich from having to fight on two fronts, and could assure continued access to raw materials—grains, soybeans, oil, and phosphates—in the likely event of a British and French naval blockade of Germany.Hitler’s hatred for Jews was well-known, and for some time his minions had been complaining to Stalin’s about their chief negotiator, the Jew whom they referred to as “Litvinov-Finkelstein,” implying that great progress could be made between the two countries if he was removed. Stalin sacked Litvinov on May 3.  He was arrested by the NKVD, his phones cut, his office locked, his aides interrogated. Too prominent in the West to be summarily executed, he was dispatched to Washington, D.C., as ambassador, and Stalin replaced him as foreign secretary with his most loyal protégé, Vyacheslav Molotov.  As with the name ‘Litvinov,’ ‘Molotov’ was a Revolutionary moniker.  In Russian it meant “the hammer,” and he functioned as the hammer to Stalin’s sickle. When informed that his Party colleagues called him Comrade Stone-ass for his ability to sit through interminable meetings, Molotov corrected them by saying that Lenin himself had dubbed him Comrade Iron-ass.The switch of Molotov for Litvinov was an unmistakable signal that collective security via the USSR’s alliances with buffer states and Western democracies was dead.  And Hitler had already sent another unmistakable signal: that his next target was the German-speaking area of Poland known as the Danzig Corridor.  Did the Western democracies miss these signals and the potential for a Hitler-Stalin alliance?  No, but fear of confrontation, based on the terrible experience of the Great War, and the lack of bloodshed so far in Hitler’s take-overs had lulled them into complacency.But the dictators were ready to act. On May 17, a Russian attaché in Berlin told his German counterpart that there were no foreign policy conflicts between the two countries. As von Ribbentrop would shortly put it in a missive to Moscow, “There is no question between the Baltic and the Black Sea which cannot be settled to the complete satisfaction of both [Soviet and German] parties.”London and Paris did not react as quickly. As though there were no urgency, their first delegation did not arrive in Moscow until June 15,  and it was half-hearted: military officials only authorized to make tentative commitments, subject to ratification at home. They conveyed that Great Britain and France would indeed give the USSR a free hand in the Baltic States and Finland, and the right to enter Poland and Rumania—but only if Germany invaded Poland or Rumania.  Hitler could offer the USSR the same territorial conquests, and without having to fight Nazi Germany to obtain them.  Those territory grabs were the essence of the “secret protocol” of the eventual Nazi-Soviet pact, a few paragraphs whose existence would not be acknowledged until the Nuremberg Trials of 1945, that Molotov would continue to deny until his dying day, and that Vladimir Putin shrugged off as fake news.  It gave the Soviets carte blanche in the Baltic states and the eastern half of Poland.  After three months of incremental progress produced a draft document that both sides liked, on Aug. 21 a Stalin telegram arrived in Berlin authorizing von Ribbentrop to fly to Moscow on Aug. 23. As von Ribbentrop’s motorcade was making its way from the airport to the Kremlin, he was astonished to pass through streets lined with cheering Russians waving swastika flags and other Nazi banners.  The flags and banners had been confiscated from a nearby film studio that had been making an anti-Nazi  propaganda film. The film was never completed. Negotiations went so well that von Ribbentrop was stunned.  He had to phone for instructions regarding a hitch over who would gobble up what portions of Latvia.  Hitler consulted a map and phoned back with a concession to Stalin.  Once von Ribbentrop and Molotov had signed the pact, the German phoned again to Obersalzberg, Hitler’s mountain retreat, where he was readying the Poland invasion plans with the senior military staff.  It was three in the morning. Architect Albert Speer was in the room as Hitler took the call: “Hitler stared into space for a moment, flushed deeply, then banged on the table so hard that the glasses rattled, and exclaimed in a voice breaking with excitement, ‘I have them!  I have them!’”   In the next moments, he green-lit the invasion of Poland for September 1, having earlier postponed it so that the pact with the USSR could be signed.  And he assured his generals that once they had occupied Poland and taken over France and the Low Countries, the Nazi juggernaut would overrun the USSR.Stalin, in the Kremlin, was ecstatic, breaking out the Champagne and caviar, and toasting Hitler.  Stalin had reason to gloat, for with a single stroke he had reassembled almost the entire Romanov Empire at the start of the Great War. Within months, 50 million more people in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and parts of Finland would be under his control.On Aug. 24, the public part of the non-aggression pact was publicized around the world.  A few days later, Stalin managed not to mention the secret protocol part to a group of top aides when he told them that a war was about to begin “between two groups of capitalist countries for the redivision of the world, for the domination of the world!  We see nothing wrong in their having a good hard fight and weakening each other. It would be fine if, at the hands of Germany, the position of the richest capitalist countries (especially England) were shaken.”Even before von Ribbentrop returned to Berlin, an aide, Hans von Herwarth, quite upset over the secret protocol, gave a copy to his friend Chip Bohlen, then serving in the American embassy in Moscow. Bohlen reported this quickly to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but the U.S. did not share the information with Great Britain or France prior to Sept. 1, 1939. On that date, Hitler’s forces invaded Poland, their supreme commander secure in the knowledge that Soviet forces would not oppose them.  France and Britain, although already mobilized, were nonetheless underprepared for the swiftness and ferocity of the German blitzkrieg. Other than declaring war they made rather minimal responses to the invasion of Poland, a country they had pledged to defend. Some French troops advanced east of the Maginot Line to the German border, but did not cross into Germany. British air raids did little damage. The naval blockade was begun, but did nothing to halt the advance of German troops. In mid-September, after German troops reached the Polish capital, Warsaw, Stalin gave the go-ahead for Russian troops to enter Poland. Later he said that he was worried that the Germans would simply take the remainder of Poland if Russian troops did not claim that territory. The Russian Army’s entrance prevented 200,000 to 300,000 Polish troops from escaping to the south, where they might have survived in exile and served with the forces of the democracies. When the American Press Bent the Rules to Fight HitlerWhen Britain and France learned of the Russian invasion, they pulled back the French troops from the German border to behind the Maginot Line, and ceased the air raids. By Sept. 28, 1939 Poland no longer existed. The first phase of World War II was over; the next phase would be dubbed “the phony war” because the belligerents appeared not to be engaging in active combat. That phase would end in May 1940 with Hitler’s invasion of France and the Low Countries.When von Ribbentrop had gone to Moscow, Hitler had sent along his personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, to record the event and to bring back a photographic record of Stalin’s earlobes—if they hung loose from his head, then he was Aryan, but if they were attached, Stalin must be a Jew.  Hoffman returned with close-ups that assured Hitler that Stalin’s earlobes were unattached—and that therefore, in Hitler’s eyes Stalin was a worthy partner, at least for the time being.  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.


America’s Key to Keeping ISIS Defeated

America’s Key to Keeping ISIS Defeated Louai Beshara/GettyEastern Syria sits at the crossroads of critical policy decisions in Washington. The region is at the center of an escalating crisis in U.S.-Turkey relations, while maintaining America’s presence there blocks Iranian and Russian gains in Syria. It also is key to keeping ISIS defeated. Washington should see eastern Syria as one of the most important strategic pieces of “real estate” to emerge out of the last half-decade of conflict in the Middle East.The area of northeast Syria where the U.S. today plays a critical role, roughly the size of West Virginia, is now a kind of Gordian Knot. While American adversaries, such as Russia or Iran, have a clear goal in Syria, keeping the Bashar al-Assad regime in power and entrenching their influence, the U.S. policy goal is less clear. ISIS, Assad, and Turkey Are Waging a Shadow War on U.S. Allies in SyriaTurkey, a historic U.S. ally, recently threatened to launch a military operation into eastern Syria against key U.S. partners who helped defeat the so-called Islamic State, leaving Washington with a devil’s bargain: leave eastern Syria and watch five years of fighting ISIS and working with local forces collapse, or continue to fuel a crisis with Turkey. The U.S. chose a temporary solution, telling Ankara it would work on a “safe zone” along the Syria-Turkey border.Is eastern Syria just a sunk cost for Washington? The reality is that the U.S., partly by accident and partly by mission creep, has found itself sitting astride the most important nexus of four foreign policy axes connecting the Middle East and the world. One is Iran’s regional strategy, another is Russia’s plans and a third is Turkey’s goals. Lastly, the area keeps ISIS contained. It’s because it ties in to so many agendas that this triangle of land is so important, and so combustible.It didn’t begin this way. Northeast Syria was a poor, neglected part of the country for most of the 20th century. The Obama administration deepened U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict initially through support for anti-Assad rebels but shifted to focus on defeating Islamic State after 2015. Eventually a coalition of 75 countries signed on to fight ISIS in Iraq, with a handful supporting U.S. anti-ISIS operations in Syria. It was an open-ended war with a mandate to defeat the extremists, morphing into supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces as the central partner on the ground fighting ISIS. The Pentagon wanted a “by, with and through” approach that implied a small U.S. footprint, backing mostly Kurdish fighters. President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from Syria in December 2018, then slowed down. ISIS lost its last major foothold in March 2019 but thousands of its former fighters formed sleeper cells.A Pentagon report released on Aug. 6 says the U.S. has completed a partial withdrawal at a time when the SDF “needed training and equipping to respond to ISIS resurgent cells.” Efforts at stabilization and security, which foresee the training of 110,000 local forces, are continuing but are strained by contradictory policies. U.S. efforts to get the U.K., Germany or France to commit troops to backfill the slow U.S. withdrawal and support a safe zone have come to naught. Leaving eastern Syria now means creating a vacuum and giving ISIS breathing space. It would also mean abandoning partners on the ground, reducing U.S. influence.A second U.S. policy in Syria emerged in the fall of 2018. Although the Trump administration ended support for the rebels, National Security Adviser John Bolton said the U.S. would remain in Syria until Iran left. Officials realize that controlling a swath of Syria, including a military base at Tanf near the Jordanian border, puts pressure on Iran’s support for the Syrian regime and its entrenchment in Syria. America’s presence stymies the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, keeping it from expanding its activities across Iraq and Syria. This is a key concern for Israel which has carried out more than 1,000 airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria to interdict Iranian support to Hezbollah.Turkey has slammed the U.S. role in Syria, accusing it of training terrorists linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and creating a “terrorist corridor” that threatens Ankara. Washington attempted to assuage Ankara’s anger, putting a bounty on three PKK leaders in 2018 and agreeing to work jointly with Turkey on a safe zone along the Syrian border. But the tensions with Turkey include other, perhaps larger problems, such as Ankara’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system. Some of these contretemps stem in part from Turkey’s dim view of U.S. policy in eastern Syria. In the process, Russia and Turkey have grown closer. Iran also now boasts of its growing ties with Turkey. Ankara has threatened repeatedly over the last year to launch a military operation into eastern Syria where U.S. forces are based, even saying it has informed Moscow of its intentions. The U.S. warned it against unilateral action on August 6 and promised to do more to create a “safe zone” for Turkey.Such solutions are short-term, and Washington has been cagey about playing a grander role, despite its influence on the ground. Meanwhile Iran, Russia and Turkey regularly meet in the framework of the Astana peace talks on Syria, excluding the U.S. Eastern Syria is now a hinge on which the door to U.S. influence in the region opens or shuts. It is intricately linked to stability in the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, which is a close U.S. partner. American allies such as the United Arab Emirates, whose regional policies tend to be at odds with Turkey and Qatar, oppose Turkey’s desire to launch an operation. "There is no excuse for Turkish control of Syrian land,” The National in the UAE argued on August 8, building on a similar editorial on July 14. But come what may, the White House doesn’t want another “forever war” like Afghanistan.As Iran-U.S. Tensions Rise, Hezbollah Readies for War With IsraelAreas from Raqqa to Qamishli in Syria are no longer just an area to be stabilized against the resurgence of ISIS, or a region used as a bargaining chip with Iran. It is too combustible for either simple mission. Moscow, Tehran and Damascus are eager for American humiliation and seeking to exploit U.S.-Turkey tensions. Washington allies, from the Gulf to Israel, would see a setback if the U.S. withdraws suddenly. That means the U.S. also has leverage over these allies and could encourage more buy-in from Riyadh or Abu Dhabi, to support stabilization and reconstruction. They also oppose Iran’s growing influence, and are at odds with Turkey, so for them northeast Syria is important.Recognizing eastern Syria as more than the sum of its parts is the best way to understand the long-term challenge there. It is the strategic real estate in the Middle East upon which the ambitions of four powers rest, and where U.S. strategy is made or broken.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.



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Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings Russia will launch the world's first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region. Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia. Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.


Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington

Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington An ambitious agenda by the March for Our Lives activists may be the first time the majority of Americans get real representationA young girl looks on as she attends a vigil for the victims of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMarch for Our Lives, the national youth gun violence prevention movement founded by survivors of last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, released a sweeping gun reform agenda this week.The agenda calls for significantly raising the standards for gun ownership in America, and reducing by about 100m the total number of guns in circulation.It’s a dramatic, ambitious plan. And it may represent the first time in decades that the majority of Americans will get any real representation in the gun control debate in Washington.March for Our Lives’ young activists endorsed an Australia-style mandatory government buyback and destruction of “assault weapons”. They want to decrease the number of guns in circulation by 30% – which would mean roughly 100m fewer firearms in American hands. They proposed regulations that would dramatically raise the bar for who is allowed to purchase a gun, putting US law much more in line with European countries. And they want to revisit the 2009 supreme court decision, District of Columbia v Heller, which enshrined a pro-gun interpretation of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms.These proposals are substantially more aggressive, and more ambitious, than anything the Democrats in Washington have fought for in years. In fact, for decades, gun control groups and progressive politicians have done a poor job at representing the majority of Americans in Congress when it comes to gun control. A surprising voidDemocrats have fought for minor new restrictions on gun buying – and been defeated by the Republican party’s gun absolutists – but, fundamentally, the Democratic party has remained supportive of gun ownership.Democratic lawmakers’ efforts to “ban assault weapons”, for example, have not meant an actual ban on these guns, but only a ban on future sales, meaning that Americans could keep the millions of military-style rifles they already own. President Obama’s signature gun control legislation after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a compromise bill that would have closed just a few of the gaping loopholes in the nation’s background check system – a measure so weak it’s doubtful whether it would have had any effect on gun violence at all.The country’s largest gun control groups, too, have made great efforts to portray themselves as pro-“gun safety”, not anti-gun. They routinely advertise themselves as supporters of Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms. And they have focused on “commonsense reforms,” such as getting what activists see as particularly extreme weapons off the streets, or requiring a criminal background check before every gun sale.This lack of any explicit anti-gun side in the American gun debate is strange.Although many Americans may not realize it, gun owners are a minority in the United States. American civilians overall own an estimated 300m to 400m firearms, more than one gun per person. But this frequently cited statistic obscures how concentrated American gun ownership is.In recent surveys, roughly 70% to 80% of Americans said they do not personally own a gun, and a majority said that nobody in their household owns a gun. Just 3% of American adults own half the country’s guns, according to a definitive 2015 survey. This small group of gun super-owners have an average of 17 guns each.Gun absolutists – the activists who oppose any gun control measures, who want Americans to be able to own any kind of gun, and carry them everywhere – are a minority within that minority. According to the best available estimates, fewer than 10% of American gun owners overall are members of the National Rifle Association.There appear to be at least as many Americans who are vehemently anti-gun as there are NRA members.Recent Gallup polls have found that 28% of American adults say they would support a law banning handgun ownership, except by the police and other “authorized persons”. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 9% of American adults believed that “almost no one” should be legally allowed to own guns – about the same proportion as the number of adults who believed that “almost everyone” should be able to own them.A coalition of 9% of American adults would translate into more than 20 million people. That’s a group four times larger than the NRA, which claims between 5 million and 6 million members.Only a minority of Americans oppose most private gun ownership. But there’s strong majority support for much tougher gun control laws than the ones currently on the books.A 2017 Pew survey found 68% supported banning assault-style weapons. 71% supported having a federal database to track all gun sales. A 2018 Gallup survey found 68% of respondents supported raising the legal age to buy certain guns. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 77% of respondents were in favor of requiring people to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.It’s not hard to find Americans who oppose the country’s current gun culture. They show up at gun control rallies, holding signs that say things like “Repeal the Second Amendment”. They live in neighborhoods burdened by decades of daily gun violence. They’ve lost family members or friends to shootings. They keep asking: Why can’t we just get rid of the guns?But for years, these Americans’ views have not been well represented by America’s “gun safety” groups, and they have had virtually no representation in Congress.This may finally be starting to change. Moving the gun debateIn 2016, a progressive activist launched Guns Down America, a small organization that advocates not simply for “gun sense laws”, but for “a future with fewer guns”. Following the Parkland shooting, the young March for Our Lives activists have advocated unapologetically for bold reform, though they, like other American gun control activists, say they’re not anti-gun and their proposals for stricter regulation represent the interests of “responsible gun owners”.It’s not yet clear how much the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will move towards embracing these majority opinions on gun control policy. But there’s already been movement towards the actual middle of the debate.In 2016, Obama argued in a CNN Town Hall that “issues like licensing, registration, that’s an area where there’s just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it”. This year, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker made gun licensing the center of his 2020 gun control platform.After the mass shooting targeting Latino families in El Paso, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke said he endorsed not just an assault weapon ban, but a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. On Wednesday, he became the first Democratic 2020 candidate to tweet that he supported March for Our Lives’ new policy agenda.O’Rourke’s campaign did not back away from the most controversial elements of the youth activists’ plan, including their desire to revisit the supreme court’s current interpretation of the second amendment, enshrined in the Heller decision.“While Beto agrees with the court’s holding that the second amendment allows for regulation, he does not agree with the entirety of the Heller decision,” said Aleigha Cavalier, O’Rourke’s national press secretary. “One piece of the Heller case Beto believes should be revisited is the court’s decision to strike down DC’s safe storage requirements.”America’s gun debate may soon actually have two sides.


North Korea foreign minister calls Pompeo 'poisonous plant'

North Korea foreign minister calls Pompeo 'poisonous plant' North Korea's foreign minister on Friday called U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a "poisonous plant of American diplomacy" and vowed to "shutter the absurd dream" that sanctions will force a change in Pyongyang. The North's blistering rhetoric may dim the prospect for an early resumption of nuclear negotiations between the countries. A senior U.S. diplomat said earlier this week that Washington was ready to restart the talks, a day after U.S. and South Korean militaries ended their regular drills that Pyongyang called an invasion rehearsal.


Half of Venezuela's Oil Rigs May Disappear If U.S. Waivers Lapse

Half of Venezuela's Oil Rigs May Disappear If U.S. Waivers Lapse (Bloomberg) -- A looming U.S. sanctions deadline is threatening to clobber Venezuela’s dwindling oil-rig fleet and hamper energy production in the nation with the world’s largest crude reserves.Almost half the rigs operating in Venezuela will shut down by Oct. 25 if the Trump administration doesn’t extend a 90-day waiver from its sanctions, according to data compiled from consultancy Caracas Capital Markets. That could further cripple the OPEC member’s production because the structures are needed to drill new wells crucial for even maintaining output, which is already near the lowest level since the 1940s.A shutdown in the rigs will also put pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s administration, which counts oil revenues as its main lifeline. The U.S. is betting on increased economic pressure to oust the regime and bring fresh elections to the crisis-torn nation, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Latin America’s biggest crude exporter until recent years.Venezuela had 23 oil rigs drilling in July, down from 49 just two years ago, data compiled by Baker Hughes show. Ten of those are exposed to U.S. sanctions, according to calculations by Caracas Capital Markets. The Treasury Department extended waivers in July for service providers to continue for three more months, less than the six months the companies had sought.Most other government agencies involved in the deliberations opposed any extension, a senior administration official said last month, adding that another reprieve will be harder to come by.“Almost half the rigs are being run by the Yanks, and if the window shuts down on this in two months, then that’s really going to hurt Venezuela unless the Russians and the Chinese come in,” said Russ Dallen, a Miami-based managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets.Output RiskA U.S. Treasury official said the department doesn’t generally comment on possible sanctions actions.More than 200,000 barrels a day of output at four projects Chevron Corp. is keeping afloat could shut if the waivers aren’t renewed. That would be debilitating to Maduro because the U.S. company, as a minority partner, only gets about 40,000 barrels a day of that production.The departure of the American oil service providers would hurt other projects in the Orinoco region, where operators need to constantly drill wells just to keep output from declining. The U.S.-based companies are also involved in state-controlled Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s joint ventures in other regions such as Lake Maracaibo.Limiting ExposureHalliburton Co., Schlumberger Ltd. and Weatherford International Ltd. have reduced staff and are limiting their exposure to the risk of non-payment in the country, according to people familiar with the situation. The three companies have written down a total of at least $1.4 billion since 2018 in charges related to operations in Venezuela, according to financial filings. Baker Hughes had also scaled back before additional sanctions were announced earlier this year, the people said.Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Weatherford, PDVSA and Venezuela’s oil ministry all declined to comment.Halliburton has adjusted its Venezuela operations to customer activity, and continues operating all of its product service lines at its operational bases, including in the Orinoco Belt, it said in an emailed response to questions. It works directly with several of PDVSA’s joint ventures, and timely payments from customers are in accordance with U.S. regulations, it said.Hamilton, Bermuda-based Nabors Industries Ltd. has three drilling rigs in Venezuela that can operate for a client until the sanctions expire in October, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Petrello said in a July 30 conference call, without naming the client.The sanctions carry geopolitical risks for the U.S. If Maduro manages to hang on, American companies would lose a foothold in Venezuela, giving Russian competitors such as Rosneft Oil Co. a chance to fill the void. Chinese companies could also benefit. Even if the waivers get extended, the uncertainty hinders any long-term planning or investments in the nation by the exposed companies.Rosneft’s press office didn’t respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment on operations in Venezuela.\--With assistance from David Wethe, Debjit Chakraborty and Dina Khrennikova.To contact the reporters on this story: Peter Millard in Rio de Janeiro at pmillard1@bloomberg.net;Fabiola Zerpa in Caracas Office at fzerpa@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina Davis at tinadavis@bloomberg.net, Pratish Narayanan, Joe RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Tears, fear as Russian students jailed over opposition protests

Tears, fear as Russian students jailed over opposition protests In a court on the outskirts of Moscow, fellow students of Yegor Zhukov started weeping as he delivered a speech via a video link from jail. The 21-year-old is among a group of young protesters with bright futures risking criminal convictions and life-changing jail terms as Russia attempts to quell dissent. Zhukov is the most prominent among them thanks to his popular YouTube clips where he criticises President Vladimir Putin's regime and backs the anti-corruption campaign of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.


Chaotic scene as DNC votes down climate change debate at San Francisco meeting

Chaotic scene as DNC votes down climate change debate at San Francisco meeting The move sparked loud and angry backlash from climate change activists who believe the Democratic Party should change the rules to allow for a debate focused solely on climate issues.


Chinese state media says fentanyl abuse is entirely U.S. responsibility

Chinese state media says fentanyl abuse is entirely U.S. responsibility Chinese state media on Friday hit back at claims by U.S. officials that China was failing to crack down on the flow of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances into the United States, saying that responsibility for opioid abuse lay with users. The United States was "pushing responsibility" for fentanyl abuse to China and ignoring that Beijing had implemented strict controls on the highly addictive synthetic opioid, reported The People's Daily newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party.


70 US mayors urge Trump administration to 'abandon' proposed changes to federal food stamp program

70 US mayors urge Trump administration to 'abandon' proposed changes to federal food stamp program Seventy U.S. mayors rebuked the Trump administration's proposed cuts to the federal food stamp program in a signed letter.



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Does U.S. women's soccer deserve equal pay?

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After fighting for 9/11 victims, Jon Stewart turns to Warrior Games

After fighting for 9/11 victims, Jon Stewart turns to Warrior Games The former “Daily Show” host is serving as the host and emcee of this week’s 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa, where about 300 wounded, ill or injured active-duty and veteran military athletes are competing in 14 adaptive sports.


Kevin Love talks anxiety, depression and the time he thought he was going to die mid-game

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Is there a crisis with our boys? Expert says they need love, not discipline

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Aly Raisman on Larry Nassar assault: Sometimes people forget I'm still coping with it

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Aly Raisman on Larry Nassar assault: Sometimes people forget I’m still coping with it

Aly Raisman on Larry Nassar assault: Sometimes people forget I’m still coping with it Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman tells the Yahoo News show “Through Her Eyes” that she sometimes finds it difficult to hear the graphic details in the sexual assault stories of others, as she is still coping with her own traumatic experience.


For the love of the brain: One mother's fight for CTE awareness

For the love of the brain: One mother's fight for CTE awareness Karen Kinzle Zegel spends her days working on the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation website, fielding questions and giving out information on a disease she barely knew existed five years ago – until it took the life of her son, for whom the foundation is named. Karen remembers, “We were a football family, his dad was a coach, I would cheer and yell and you know, do all the things the football mom does. At the time, she was unaware of CTE – chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head – and the role it was playing in Patrick’s life.



April 9th, 2012

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