Monthly World News August 2019
Declaration comes after Israel accused of a 'suicide attack' by self-destructing drones.by Zeina KhodrLebanon's Hezbollah has promised to retaliate against Israel after accusing it of being behind what it called a suicide attack by self-destructing drones last weekend. Domestic rivals have long accused the group of making security and military decisions on its own, dragging the country to war. But this time Lebanese officials are rallying behind Hezbollah. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Beirut.
By Shasta Darlington, Florencia Trucco, Jaide Garcia and Bianca Britton, CNNSão Paulo, Brazil (CNN) - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has banned the use of fire to clear land throughout the country for 60 days, in response to the massive increase in blazing fires in the Amazon rainforest that has caused international outrage. According to an official decree, which was released on Thursday morning, the ban started on Wednesday -- the day it was signed. The practice of burning land in rural areas is common among farmers, who will often use fires to clear the land for new crops or livestock. Bolsonaro has repeatedly insisted the Amazon should be opened to development and has defunded the agencies responsible for cracking down on illegal activity. Experts say his pro-development policies and lax regulation have led to ranchers and farmers burning the rainforest for purposes of cultivation and farming.
CFR President Richard Haass: Under Trump, The United States Has Become The "Principal Disruptor" Of World OrderPosted By Tim HainsRICHARD HAASS: The measure of a G-7 now isn't what you accomplish, it's what you avoid. In this case, it was avoiding a major blow-up with the United States from the get-go. Emmanuel Macron decided the last thing you needed was a communique because it would be impossible to get one the United States could sign onto that would be substantive. He was very smart. He cut his losses. I think John's point is right. Abdication is a word I have used. Essentially the United States has gone from being the principal architect and general contractor of world order to now becoming the principal disruptor. The problem for the Europeans and the Japanese and others is they lack the capacity to subjects duty substitute for us. They do what they can. $20 million for Amazon fires which is a literal drop in the bucket. Without the United States in the driver's seat, we don't make a lot of progress. The gap between the challenges and the international responses is growing. That's the historical judgment about the G-7, which looks like a tired gathering.
If the bombshell report is true, it would "make impeachment proceedings absolutely inevitable," an NBC analyst saysBy Shira TarloMSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell reported news Tuesday night that, if confirmed, could have a major impact on the White House tenure of President Donald Trump, congressional investigations into the president's finances and his business relationship with Russia. O'Donnell, appearing on the network with host Rachel Maddow, revealed that a "single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that the Trump — Donald Trump's loan documents there show that he has co-signers. That's how he was able to obtain those loans, and that the co-signers are Russian oligarchs." A shocked Maddow responded, "What? Really?" "That would explain — it seems to me — every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, if true, and I stress the if true part of this," O'Donnell replied, adding that the revelation would "test the Trump theory that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters would still be with him." "Yeah, man. Seriously," Maddow said. "That's the financial equivalent of that." For analysis, O'Donnell interviewed Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative reporter and tax expert David Cay Johnston of DC Report. "Deutsche Bank, in making these loans, had to have someone in the background that was guaranteeing these loans. It would be surprising if they're actually co-signers," Cay Johnston said in response to the news. "That would be absolutely astonishing, and I would think mandate his removal from office." O'Donnell also interviewed NBC News national affairs analyst John Heilemann, who stressed that if O'Donnell's reporting is true, "it's the skeleton key that picks the lock on so many fundamental mysteries of the Trump era."
In a dramatic move on Wednesday morning, Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson set in motion the suspension of the UK Parliament - which means MPs have much less time to debate Brexit, the process of the UK leaving the European Union. Parliament is to be suspended for five weeks ahead of 31 October, the day the UK is due to leave the EU. That's just nine weeks away. People who want the UK to remain in the EU are calling it a coup - and even some in favour of Brexit have criticised the move. Mr Johnson wants to start a new parliamentary session, with a fresh programme, from 14 October. Instead of a normal three-week autumn recess, parliament will now wrap up some time around 10 September. With so little time, MPs would find it difficult to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
By Ivana Kottasová, CNNWhat happens when Parliament is suspended? The House of Commons Library has issued useful guidance explaining the basics. It says that while it is the Queen who suspends the Parliament, her role in the process has been a formality in the UK for more than a century. The briefing paper explains that prorogations, the formal word for suspension, have been relatively short in recent years, rarely longer than two weeks. It usually ends with either a general election, or the Queen's Speech. The guidance, which was published in June, has an entire section focused on Brexit and the possibility of using a long suspension of the Parliament as a means to deliver a no-deal Brexit, an option that most MPs don't agree with. It says:
Trump reportedly derailed a meeting with G7 leaders when he insisted Russia should be readmitted to the group and everyone slapped him downBy Eliza RelmanPresident Donald Trump derailed a major meeting with world leaders at the annual Group of Seven summit on Saturday evening after he insisted that Russia should be reinvited to the international gathering, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. At a dinner in Biarritz, France, the president interrupted talks of the fires in the Amazon and Iran's nuclear capacity by advocating for Russia to be readmitted to the gathering of industrialized nations. Russia was expelled from the group in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine that violated international laws and agreements. Trump's comments initiated a discussion at the dinner about "whether the leaders should assign any special weight to being a democracy," The Post reported, citing officials. While most of the world leaders staunchly believed they should, Trump didn't. A senior official at the meeting told The Post that Trump crossed his arms and appeared to take a more combative stance as multiple leaders rejected his comments. "The consequence is the same as if one of the participants is a dictator," an official told The Post. "No community of like-minded leaders who are pulling together."
If you’re going to go with “maximum pressure,” don’t immediately undermine it.By Fred KaplanPresident Donald Trump’s wild and woolly press conference at the end of the G-7 summit shows, once again, that the putative author of The Art of the Deal is a lousy negotiator. It’s one thing, and fairly risky, to go all-out “maximum pressure” on China and Iran, but at least that’s a strategy. It’s another thing, and simply bumbling, to do so, then to admit having “second thoughts” about escalating tariffs against China (then to have a spokesman backpedal on that) and to welcome a dialogue with Tehran (only to have President Hassan Rouhani blow him off). Similarly, it’s one thing, though unconstitutional (and, therefore, a mindless bluff), to order U.S. companies to stop doing business with China, as Trump did just before the summit. But another then to say, at the press conference afterward, that President Xi Jinping is a “great leader” who will make a deal soon, and once he does, the companies should stay put and “do a great job.”
A series of mysterious explosions, dead Iranians, and rumors of secret missile targets.By Adam RawnsleyIranian-backed militias say it’s an Israeli covert operation. The U.S. says it’s probably just the heat. There’s an epidemic of mysterious explosions at Iraqi militia bases this summer, and it might be a sign that there’s a whole new shadow war going on in Iraq. Five hundred miles away, an attack by an explosive-laden delivery drone through the window of a Beirut office may have been the opening shot in a second front in Israel’s covert war against Iran. So who’s behind the bombs and why?
By Bill ChappellBrazil says it will reject an offer of at least $22 million from the rich countries in the Group of Seven to help fight fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he doesn't want the money — unless it comes with an apology from French President Emmanuel Macron. Bolsonaro and Macron have engaged in a days-long spat after the French leader used the G-7 summit this week to call for action to protect the Amazon and said the fires are a world environmental crisis that Bolsonaro has allowed to worsen. He also said that Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, had lied about his effort to combat deforestation. Bolsonaro responded angrily, saying Macron had insulted him and was trying to undermine Brazil's sovereignty by intervening in the Amazon. "This squabble is infuriating Bolsonaro's critics," NPR's Philip Reeves reports from Rio de Janeiro. "They say he should fight the fires — not the French." On Monday, Bolsonaro said in a tweet that he won't accept what he called Macron's "attacks." He also accused Macron of treating Brazil "as if we were a colony or no man's land." In an interview on French TV, Macron later referred to the Amazon as "the lungs of the planet" and pledged that the G-7 countries would help Brazil balance its economic development with environmental concerns. In an aside addressed to Bolsonaro, he added, "But we cannot allow you to destroy everything."
China insists it is unaware of calls to Trump and says tariffs are ‘extreme pressure’ and ‘not constructive at all’by Yun LiOne day later, China is still insisting no phone calls took place over the weekend that President Donald Trump claimed showed its willingness to talk again. “I have not heard of this situation regarding the two calls that the U.S. mentioned in the weekend,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at press conference on Tuesday. He had denied on Monday that the calls had taken place. “Regretfully, the U.S. has further increased the tax rate on China’s exports to the U.S. This extreme pressure is purely harmful to both sides and not constructive at all,” Geng said, according to a CNBC translation. On Monday, Trump said at the G-7 summit in France that China in recent phone conversations expressed its desire for a deal. His comment renewed hopes for a resolution between the world’s two largest economies, pushing the market higher as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 250 points Monday. Trump abruptly ended the tariff cease-fire earlier this month by slapping more tariffs on Chinese goods, and China retaliated with imposing duties on $75 billion more of U.S. goods and resumed auto tariffs. Trump also said he’s ordering U.S. companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China. “We hope that the U.S. can maintain calm, return to rationality, stop wrong practices, and create conditions for the two sides to conduct consultations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” Geng said Tuesday.
By Dov S. Zakheim, opinion contributorIn the course of his lengthy annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly this year, President Vladimir Putin excoriated the United States for abandoning the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty while asserting that “the work on promising prototypes and weapon systems that I spoke about in my Address last year continues as scheduled and without disruptions.” Putin went on to say that Russia had entered serial production of the Avangard hypersonic glide system, which was to be deployed later in 2019. He added that the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which he asserted was “of unprecedented power,” was in the test stage, as was the Peresvet laser missile and air-defense weapon, likewise to be deployed this year. He noted that the Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missile, having undergone operational testing, “proved [its] unique characteristics during test and combat alert missions while the personnel learned how to operate them.” Finally, he asserted that the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile “of unlimited range,” and the Poseidon nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle, were successfully undergoing tests. Since Putin’s speech in February, the work on at least one of those systems has suffered rather serious “disruption.” Despite Putin’s assertion that Burevestnik missile testing was going well, it was that very missile that Western analysts believe was being tested when a nuclear explosion, first reported earlier this month, killed seven scientists and forced an initial evacuation order for at least one nearby village because of potential exposure to deadly radiation.
By Morgan GstalterFormer White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Monday described President Trump’s attendance at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit as an “unmitigated disaster.” “He’s more or less been isolated by the other leaders. The French government brought in the Iranian foreign and finance ministers to discuss things without even letting the president of the United States know,” the now-vocal Trump critic said on CNN’s “New Day.” “Again, his ‘American first’ strategy is becoming ‘America alone,’” Scaramucci concluded. Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Monday described President Trump’s attendance at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit as an “unmitigated disaster.” “He’s more or less been isolated by the other leaders. The French government brought in the Iranian foreign and finance ministers to discuss things without even letting the president of the United States know,” the now-vocal Trump critic said on CNN’s “New Day.” “Again, his ‘American first’ strategy is becoming ‘America alone,’” Scaramucci concluded. The president attended the summit with world leaders in Biarritz, France, amidst an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. Trump on Friday announced new tariffs on more than $500 billion in Chinese goods in response to China’s new tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. automotive parts, farm products and other goods. The president ignited deeper concerns about the health of the economy when he said he would “hereby order” American companies to cut ties with China without specifying under what authority he planned to do that. “I’ve been saying for the last two weeks that he’s melting down at the core,” Scaramucci speculated about the president’s emotional state on CNN. “A couple more weeks like this, I think it is an unmitigated situation. You’ve got to get Republican leaders to come in and say the truth at some point.” He pointed to Trump’s fiery tweets on Friday asking who is the biggest “enemy" to the United States, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping. Scaramucci also said international business leaders are taking note of Trump’s mixed signals. “It’s complete irrationality and the markets know this and so the markets have lost patience,” Scaramucci said.
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large(CNN) - On Monday, before the close of the G7 meetings in France, the heads of those nations gathered to talk about climate change and what could be done to address the warming of our planet. Donald Trump didn't go. "The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead," press secretary Stephanie Grisham said by way of explanation for Trump's absence. Except that Trump seemed to think -- or at least said -- that the climate change meeting was later in the day and that he hadn't missed it at all. From the pool report: "Asked if he attended the climate session, Potus says 'we're having it in a little while.' He didn't appear to hear when a reporter told him it just happened." So, which is it? Did he have other pressing commitments? Or did he think it was later? Or are neither of those things true? (HINT: It's the last one!) Let's rule out the idea that Trump just had the climate meeting down on his schedule wrong. He has a slew of advisers to keep track of where he is going and when. Plus, there are only seven world leaders in attendance -- so, if the other six are all in one place, it's sort of hard to imagine Trump and his team couldn't figure it out pretty quickly. Which brings us to the official White House claim that Trump had "scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India" which is why he couldn't go to the climate change meeting. As CNN's Jim Sciutto pointed out, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were in the climate change meeting. (There's visual evidence!) That fact gives us these options by way of explaining the White House position: 1) Modi and Merkel have been cloned and can appear in two places at once. 2) Trump was meeting not with the heads of Germany and India but with lower-level staff. 3) The official White House line is total bunk. I'm no scientist but option No. 1 feels far-fetched. Option No. 2 is also ridiculous, because if anyone would see it as beneath him to meet with staff rather than the principals, it's Donald Trump. Which leaves us, by process of elimination, with Option No. 3 -- the White House isn't telling the truth. I know, you're stunned.
Saudi Arabia has denied there was an attack by the rebels, despite claims by them that an armed drone was used.Houthi rebels on Monday claimed to have attacked a military target in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh a day after the Yemeni rebels fired ballistic missiles at an airport. According to a spokesperson for the Houthis, who have been battling more than four years of a devastating military campaign led by Saudi Arabia, the attack was carried out with an armed drone. "The Houthis have said they have targeted a military place, but they haven't given more details about the target," Al Jazeera's Mohammed al Attab said from the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. Saudi Arabia has denied there was an attack by the rebels. Monday's incident is the latest in a spate of cross-border missile and drone attacks targeting Saudi air bases and other facilities in recent months. On Sunday, the Houthis fired10 Badr-1 ballistic missiles at Jizan airport in Saudi Arabia. They claimed the missiles had killed dozens, but the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis said that it had intercepted and destroyed at least six missiles. Last week, a drone attack caused a fire in a remote Saudi oil and gas field. The Saudi coalition has responded to the Houthi drone attacks with air raids on the group's targets in Sanaa and other areas. Houthis control most urban centres in Yemen. Yemen's latest conflict broke out in late 2014 when the Houthis seized control of much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
Drone wars in the Middle East: Israel launches more airstrikes on Lebanon after foiling 'killer UAV' attack by bombing SyriaBy James Gant For MailonlineIsraeli warplanes have attacked a Palestinian base in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria amid rising tensions in the Middle East. The early morning strike comes a day after an alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut while another exploded and crashed nearby. It is understood there were three strikes after midnight on Sunday, minutes apart, that struck a base for a Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, an ally of the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group. There was no immediate comment from Israel on the strike, which the agency said hit near the village of Qusaya in the eastern Bekaa Valley. Airstrikes by Israel against Palestinian factions in Lebanon, such as this one, have been rare in the past years. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday that his group will confront and shoot down any Israeli drones that enter Lebanese airspace from now on, raising the potential for conflict amid heightened regional tensions.
State of the UnionIn the face of possible economic distress, trade wars and a re-election campaign, conservative writer Bill Kristol says President Trump looks demoralized at the G7 meetings. Source: CNN
by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAYRussian state officials admitted Monday that radioactive gases with isotopes of barium, strontium and lanthanum were found in test samples following an explosion at a military test site but insisted there was no danger in the area. The blast earlier this month killed at least five state nuclear scientists and caused a brief spike in radiation around the area. Few and conflicting details emerged immediately following the blast, sparking speculation on the extent of its effects. The Aug. 8 explosion on a platform in the White Sea off Nyonoksa caused a reported brief spike in radiation in nearby Severodvinsk, but Russians have said it posed no risk to the region. Russia’s state weather and environmental monitoring agency said Monday that no trace of the radioactive gases has been found in the area since Aug. 8. According to Reuters, the isotopes were Strontium-91, Barium-139, Barium-140 and Lanthanum-140, which have half-lives of 9.3 hours, 83 minutes, 12.8 days and 40 hours, respectively. On Friday, a Norwegian monitoring institute said it believes the radiation spike was caused by a second explosion that occurred a few hours after the first blast, Reuters reported. The Arkhangelsk regional government, however, denied that report from Norway’s Seismic Array and said it had no information about a second blast, TASS reported.
By Jeff Mason, Richard LoughBIARRITZ, France (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday offered an olive branch to China after days of intense feuding over trade that has spooked financial markets and he opened the door to diplomacy with Iran, easing tensions on the last day of a strained G7 summit. The leaders of the world’s major industrialized nations, meeting in the French coastal resort of Biarritz, agreed on a deal to provide $20 million in emergency help to Brazil and its neighbors stop the Amazon forest fires. While they were not expected to leave Biarritz with a more comprehensive set of agreements or even a joint communique, Trump and his Western allies appeared to have at least agreed cordially to disagree on issues dividing them.
By Daniel WolfeLocally sourced Basque food prepared by Michelin-star chefs may have been on the menu, but that didn’t satisfy Donald Trump during a G7 summit dinner in Biarritz, France on Saturday night (Aug. 24). According to reporting by the Guardian, heated debates began when the US president demanded the group readmit Russia. Russia was removed by the previously named G8 after it annexed Crimea in 2014. During the seaside meal, French president Emmanuel Macron and European Council president Donald Tusk opposed Trump’s demands. A diplomat present told the publication that the evening was tense: “Most of the other leaders insisted on this being a family, a club, a community of liberal democracies and for that reason they said you cannot allow president Putin—who does not represent that—back in.” - - Why does Trump continue to do Putin’s bidding? What does Putin have on Trump?
Trump will be blamed for a global recession if he continues his trade war with China, says Boris JohnsonBy Adam BienkovDonald Trump risks taking the blame for a global recession if he continues his trade war with China, the UK prime minister Boris Johnson said ahead of their meeting at the G7 summit. The two leaders met for breakfast in Biarritz on Sunday morning. In advance of their meeting, Johnson warned Trump that his trade war was "not the way to proceed," and risked pushing the global economy into a downturn. "Apart from anything else, those who support the tariffs are at risk of incurring the blame for the downturn in the global economy irrespective of whether or not that is true," he told reporters on Saturday. He said other countries, including the UK are "at risk of being implicated in this." "We [the UK] face tariffs of altogether £2.25 billion - that's the value of the goods affected, £1.1 billion on whisky alone - that we could face if this goes on. This is not the way to proceed." He called on the president to change tack and go for an "opening up of global trade," instead. "I want to see a dialling down of tensions and I want to see tariffs come off," he said.
By Brett SamuelsPresident Trump said Sunday that the U.S. and Japan have agreed "in principle" to a bilateral trade deal involving agriculture and digital products. Trump told reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit that he expected the two countries to officially sign the pact during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September. "We have been working on a deal with Japan for a long time," Trump said. "It involves agriculture. It involves e-commerce. It involves many things. We've agreed in principle." "We've agreed to every point, and now we're papering it and we'll be signing it at a formal ceremony," Trump said, adding that the Japanese will be buying significant amounts of U.S. corn. The deal focuses on agriculture, industrial tariffs and digital trade, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. It will open up markets to an additional $7 billion in agricultural products, he said, calling it "very good news" for American farmers and ranchers. Abe said the two sides had agreed on the "core principles" but that some specific language in the deal still needs to be worked out. He said Japan has a need for corn imports because of pest problems with some Japanese-grown products. "We still have some work that needs to be done ... but we would like to make sure that our teams would accelerate the remaining work so as to achieve the goal of signing this agreement on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September," Abe said through an interpreter. The two sides have been in negotiations for months brokering a bilateral trade deal. The Trump administration has been seeking access to the Japanese agricultural sector, and the president had threatened on multiple occasions to impose tariffs on Japanese automobiles if they were unable to come to an agreement. Abe has sought to build a strong personal relationship with the mercurial Trump, visiting him at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and inviting the president and first lady for a state visit earlier this year. - We will see if that comes true as Trump has said, many times some was about to happen only to backtrack, sometimes the same day once more information has come out.
Analysis by Nathan Hodge, CNNMoscow (CNN)It's been a heady summer for Russia's embattled political opposition. On August 10, as many as 50,000 people rallied in Moscow calling for fair local elections, the biggest protests seen in the capital since early 2012. Now opposition leaders are calling for a protest on August 31, hoping to build on the momentum of Moscow's summer of discontent. So who are the protest leaders, and what is their goal? Alexei Navalny is the most recognizable Russian opposition leader. In late July, ahead of unsanctioned protests, he was jailed amid a roundup of opposition figures ahead of unsanctioned demonstrations on July 27 and sentenced to 30 days for allegedly violating protest laws. While in custody, he was hospitalized with an "acute allergic reaction." His physician suspected poisoning by an unknown substance. Navalny was released from jail on Friday, but while he was inside another activist has emerged as a leading opposition voice: Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer and activist with Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund. Sobol recently ended a month-long hunger-strike after election officials refused to allow her onto the ballot in upcoming municipal elections; she was also detained and subsequently released ahead of an August 3 protest. Initially, the protests centered on those municipal elections, which are scheduled for September 8. Moscow's election commission has barred a number of independent and opposition candidates from running because they had failed to obtain a sufficient number of signatures to be allowed to run. Opposition activists say the authorities are using administrative measures to block true political competition.But the protests have now taken on a different rationale: They have become a response to the wide-ranging crackdown on opposition activism. The slogan for the upcoming protest is "against political repression."
The record wildfires raging in the Amazon region could permanently change the ecosystem there, accelerating climate change across the planet.Source: CNN
By Associated PressJERUSALEM — The Israeli military attacked targets near Damascus late Saturday in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region. The late-night airstrike, which triggered Syrian anti-aircraft fire, appeared to be one of the most intense attacks by Israeli forces in several years of hits on Iranian targets in Syria. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds force, working with allied Shiite militias, had been planning to send a number of explosives-laden attack drones into Israel. Conricus said Israel had monitored the plot for several months and on Thursday prevented Iran from making an “advanced attempt” to execute the same plan. Then, Iran tried again late Saturday to carry out the same attack, he said. “We were able to thwart this attack with fighter jets,” he said, saying the Iranian attack was believed to be “very imminent.” He said Israel’s chief of staff was meeting with senior officers and forces were on high alert near the Syrian frontier.
By Jonathan MarcusUS pre-eminence in the Pacific is no more. For a long time experts have been speaking about China's rapid military modernisation referring to it as "a rising power". But this analysis may be out of date. China is not so much a rising power; it has risen; and in many ways it now challenges the US across a number of military domains. This is the conclusion of a new report from the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia. It warns that US defence strategy in the Indo-Pacific region "is in the throes of an unprecedented crisis" and that Washington might struggle to defend its allies against China. "America no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific", it notes, "and its capacity to uphold a favourable balance of power is increasingly uncertain." The report points to Beijing's extraordinary arsenal of missiles that threaten the key bases of the US and its allies. These installations, it asserts, "could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict". China is not a global superpower like the United States. Indeed it is doubtful if its military ambitions extend that far (though this too may be changing as it slowly develops a network of ports and bases abroad).
Boris Johnson has said the chances of a Brexit deal are "touch and go" - having previously said the odds of a no-deal Brexit were "a million to one". In a BBC interview at the G7 summit in France, he said it "all depends on our EU friends and partners". When pressed on the chances, he said: "I think it's going to be touch and go. But the important thing is to get ready to come out without a deal." Donald Tusk told the PM the EU is open to alternatives to the backstop. BBC Europe editor Katya Adler said the European Council president and Mr Johnson held talks on Sunday, which were in a "genuinely positive atmosphere". But she said Mr Tusk repeated the EU's position that any alternatives to the Irish backstop would have to be "realistic" and "immediately operational". The two men clashed on Saturday over who would be "Mr No Deal" - the person to blame in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson has previously said the UK must leave on 31 October "deal or no deal", but that the chances of a no-deal Brexit happening are a "million to one". Asked if people would still be able to get their medicine if there was a no-deal Brexit, the prime minister told the BBC: "That is certainly a guarantee that we can make." But he added: "I do not want at this stage to say there won't be unforeseen difficulties."
The US must lift restrictions on UK businesses if it wants a trade deal with the UK, Boris Johnson has said. Travelling to the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, the PM said there were "very considerable barriers in the US to British businesses". Mr Johnson said he had already spoken to President Donald Trump about his concerns, adding he would do so again when they meet on Sunday morning. The prime minister will also hold talks with EU Council President Donald Tusk. "There are massive opportunities for UK companies to open up, to prise open the American market," Mr Johnson said. "We intend to seize those opportunities but they are going to require our American friends to compromise and to open up their approach, because currently there are too many restrictions." Offering an example of a restriction, Mr Johnson said: "Melton Mowbray pork pies, which are sold in Thailand and in Iceland, are currently unable to enter the US market because of, I don't know, some sort of food and drug administration restriction." He continued: "UK bell peppers cannot get into the US market at all. "Wine shipments are heavily restricted. If you want to export wine made in England to the US you have to go through a US distributor. "There is a tax on British micro-breweries in the US that doesn't apply to US micro-breweries in the UK."
By William James, Michel RoseBIARRITZ, France (Reuters) - Britain joined Germany on Saturday in criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to block a trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur group of southern American countries to pressure Brazil on Amazon forest fires. In a surprise statement on Friday, Macron said he had decided to block the EU-Mercosur deal and accused Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of lying in playing down concerns about climate change. After landing in the seaside French resort of Biarritz, where Macron is hosting a summit of G7 countries, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticized the decision, a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office did the same in Berlin. “There are all sorts of people who will take any excuse at all to interfere with trade and to frustrate trade deals and I don’t want to see that,” Johnson told reporters. Late on Friday, a spokesman for Merkel said not concluding the trade deal with the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay was “not the appropriate answer to what is happening in Brazil now.”
WILDFIRES and smoke from the Amazon rainforest are seen from space in these dire satellite images taken by US space agency NASA.By Sebastian KettleyThe Amazon rainforest fires have reached record-breaking levels, surpassing more than 75,000 fires since the start of the year. In the 48 hours leading to Thursday, August 22, more than 2,500 fires were seen tearing through the Brazilian rainforest. Satellite images snapped by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite show pockets of raging fire in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The Amazon rainforest covers an area roughly half the size of Europe, stretching approximately 2.1 million square miles.
Guardian NewsThousands of protesters have formed a human chain across Hong Kong on the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, when about two million people created a chain across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to protest against Soviet occupation. More than two months of protests began in June over a now-suspended extradition bill, but have and have since expanded into a wider movement against the erosion of liberties under Chinese rule.
China said on Saturday it strongly opposes Washington’s decision to levy additional tariffs on $550 billion worth of Chinese goods and warned the United States of consequences if it does not end its “wrong actions”. The comments made by China’s Ministry of Commerce came after the U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Washington will impose an additional 5% duty the Chinese goods, hours after Beijing announced its latest retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, in the latest tit-for-tat moves in their bilateral trade dispute. “Such unilateral and bullying trade protectionism and maximum pressure violates the consensus reached by head of China and United States, violates the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, and seriously damages the multilateral trade system and the normal international trade order,” China’s commerce ministry said in a statement on Saturday. “China strongly urges the United States not to misjudge the situation or underestimate determination of the Chinese people,” it added. Trump’s latest tariff move, announced on Twitter, said the United States would raise its existing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to 30% from the current 25% beginning on Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the communist People’s Republic of China. At the same time, Trump announced an increase in planned tariffs on the remaining $300 billion worth of Chinese goods to 15% from 10%. The United States will begin imposing those tariffs on some products starting Sept. 1, but tariffs on about half of those goods have been delayed until Dec. 15. Trump was responding to Beijing’s decision on Friday night that it was planning to impose retaliatory tariff on $75 billion worth of U.S. imports ranging from soybean to ethanol. China will also reinstitute tariffs of 25% on cars and 5% on auto parts suspended last December.
By Trump-Kim summitNorth Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Saturday morning, South Korea's military says. The launch is the seventh carried out since North Korea ended a 17-month hiatus on testing at the end of July. Pyongyang has repeatedly expressed anger at US-South Korean military exercises that have been taking place. On Saturday South Korea said the latest missiles, launched after the drills ended, cause "grave concern". Military officials said the projectiles were launched at 06:45 and 07:02 local time (21:45 and 22:02 GMT Friday) from the eastern town of Sondok in South Hamgyong Province. They said they flew about 380km (240 miles) and reached an altitude of 97 km before landing into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea. "Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement. Japan's Defence Minister, Takeshi Iwaya, confirmed the missiles had not landed in Japanese territorial waters, but described them as a clear violation of UN resolutions.
By Sasha IngberDays after the United States tested a new cruise missile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for a symmetrical response. His order comes weeks after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a landmark arms control agreement between Washington and Moscow, collapsed on Aug. 2 amid concerns of a renewed arms race. Putin told Russia's Defense Ministry and other agencies to "study the level of threat posed by these US actions and take exhaustive measures to prepare a symmetrical response," according to Russia-backed outlet RT. He said Russia was aware that the U.S. had been developing prohibited weapons "for quite a long time." On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Defense tested a modified Navy Tomahawk cruise missile off the coast of California. The Pentagon said it "accurately impacted its target," flying more than 310 miles — a distance that would have breached the limits established by the now obsolete INF treaty. A senior Trump administration official told reporters earlier this month that the United States would flight-test a weapon system in the coming weeks. He said the country was "years away from having an effectively deployable capability."
By Yong XiongBeijing (CNN) - China on Friday unveiled tariffs on another $75 billion worth of US goods, the latest escalation in the trade war between the two countries. The additional tariffs of 5% or 10% will be levied on 5,078 products, including soybeans, coffee, whiskey, seafood and crude oil.China's Finance Ministry said the tariffs will roll out in two phases, the first beginning next month.
By Natalie Lung, James Mayger and Miao HanChina threatened to impose additional tariffs on $75 billion of American goods including soybeans, automobiles and oil, in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s latest planned levies on Chinese imports that pushed U.S. stocks and farm commodities lower. Some of the countermeasures will take effect starting Sept. 1, while the rest will come into effect from Dec. 15, according to the announcement from the Finance Ministry. This mirrors the timetable the U.S. has laid out for 10% tariffs on nearly $300 billion of Chinese shipments. An extra 5% tariff will be put on American soybeans and crude-oil imports starting next month. The resumption of a suspended extra 25% duty on U.S. cars will resume Dec. 15, with another 10% on top for some vehicles. With existing general duties on autos taken into account, the total tariff charged on U.S. made cars would be as high as 50%. China’s tariff threats take aim at the heart of Trump’s political support -- factories and farms across the Midwest and South at a time when the U.S. economy is showing signs of slowing down. Soybean prices sank to a two-week low. Among automakers, Tesla Inc. and Germany’s Daimler AG and BMW AG are the most vulnerable to the additional levies. Shares of the two German companies fell at least 2% in Frankfurt, while Tesla dropped 1.6% in early trading in New York.
By Barbie Latza NadeauDanish politicians expressed dismay and incredulity Wednesday over the cancellation of Donald Trump’s state visit scheduled for early September over Denmark’s refusal to sell Greenland to the U.S. Trump had planned to travel to the NATO country to discuss much more than the fantasy land purchase, but after the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the idea of buying Greenland absurd, Trump, apparently with hurt feelings, said he would not be able to make the trip after all. Danish lawmakers have not minced words over the icy incident. “It shows why we now more than ever should consider [fellow] European Union countries as our closest allies,” Morten Ostergaard, Danish Social Liberal Party leader said, according to Reuters. “The man is unpredictable. Reality surpasses imagination.”
By Morten ButtlerDenmark’s youngest ever prime minister has had her job for just over two months. But she’s already making international headlines as the target of Donald Trump’s ire. On Wednesday, 41-year-old Mette Frederiksen made clear she didn’t want the U.S. president’s decision to cancel a state visit to Denmark to become a diplomatic crisis. Trump, who axed a planned Sept. 2 trip because he wasn’t allowed to buy Greenland, was still welcome to come another time, Frederiksen told reporters in Copenhagen. She also said that the U.S. is one of Denmark’s closest allies. But Trump lashed out later in the day. Frederiksen’s use of the word “absurd” to characterize reports of his interest in purchasing Greenland, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, was “nasty,” according to the former real estate tycoon.
By Jessie Yeung, CNN(CNN) - The Amazon is burning -- and humans are likely to blame.Environmental organizations and researchers say the wildfires blazing in the Brazilian rainforest were set by cattle ranchers and loggers who want to clear and utilize the land, emboldened by the country's pro-business president. "The vast majority of these fires are human-lit," said Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch. He added that even during dry seasons, the Amazon -- a humid rainforest -- doesn't catch on fire easily, unlike the dry bushland in California or Australia. Farmers and ranchers have long used fire to clear land, said Poirier, and are likely behind the unusually large number fires burning in the Amazon today. The country's space research center (INPE) said this week that the number of fires in Brazil are 80% higher than last year. More than half are in the Amazon region, spelling disaster for the local environment and ecology. And 99% percent of the fires result from human actions "either on purpose or by accident," Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at INPE, said. The burning can range from a small-scale agricultural practice, to new deforestation for a mechanized and modern agribusiness project, Setzer told CNN by email. The Amazon forest produces about 20% of the world's oxygen, and is often called "the planet's lungs." According to the World Wildlife Fund, if it is irrevocably damaged, it could start emitting carbon instead -- the major driver of climate change. The environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, tweeted on Wednesday that the fires were caused by dry weather, wind, and heat. But CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said the fires are "definitely human-induced," and can't be attributed to natural causes like lightning strikes.
Police with riot shields shutter entrance to train station as protesters demand prosecution of Yuen Long attackers. Hong Kong riot police faced off briefly with protesters occupying a suburban train station on Wednesday evening, following the commemoration of a violent attack there by masked assailants against supporters of the pro-democracy movement. Near the end of the event, the police began what they called a "dispersal operation, using minimum force" after some protesters blocked roads and flashed laser pointers at officers. Police with riot shields faced off at the station entrance against a group of remaining protesters, who sprayed a firehose and spread soap on the floor to slow a police approach, while piling up rubbish bins, a wheelchair and umbrellas in a makeshift blockade. They also discharged fire extinguishers, creating a cloud obscuring visibility.
Boris Johnson is meeting Emmanuel Macron in Paris for Brexit talks, with the French president saying the UK's vote to quit the EU must be respected. But he added that the Ireland-Northern Ireland backstop plan was "indispensable" to preserving political stability and the single market. The backstop, opposed by Mr Johnson, aims to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. Mr Johnson said that with "energy and creativity we can find a way forward". On Wednesday German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the onus was on the UK to find a workable plan. UK Prime Minister Mr Johnson insists the backstop must be ditched if a no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October is to be avoided, arguing that it could leave the UK tied to the EU indefinitely. But the EU has repeatedly said the withdrawal deal negotiated by former PM Theresa May, which includes the backstop, cannot be renegotiated. However, it has previously said it would be willing to "improve" the political declaration - the document that sets out the UK's future relationship with the EU.
Moscow and Beijing warn of 'threats to international peace and security' after latest US test of new cruise missile. Russia and China have asked the United Nations Security Council to meet on Thursday over "statements by US officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles". Moscow and Beijing want to convene the 15-member council under the agenda item "threats to international peace and security" and have requested that UN disarmament affairs chief Izumi Nakamitsu brief the body, according to a request obtained by Reuters news agency. On Monday, the United States defence department announced that it had tested a conventionally configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500km of flight, the first such test since the US pulled out of Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday whether the test was aimed at sending a message to China, Russia or North Korea and indicated that the main concern was China. "We want to make sure that we, as we need to, have the capability to deter Chinese bad behaviour by having our own capability to be able to strike at intermediate ranges," he said. Esper said on a visit to Australia this month he was in favour of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in Asia relatively soon. Esper was also asked about a rocket test accident in Russia this month which US officials believe was associated with the Kremlin's hypersonic cruise missile programme. "Clearly they are trying to expand their strategic nuclear arsenal to deal with the United States," he said, adding that all such new weapons would have to be included in any future strategic arms reduction treaty.
By Colin DwyerFires in Brazil's Amazon rainforest are proliferating at an alarming rate. That's the gist of an announcement this week by the country's National Institute for Space Research, or INPE. According to the agency, there have been 74,155 fires in the Brazil so far this year — most of which erupted in the Amazon. That represents an astonishing leap of more than 80% over last year, and by far the most that the agency has recorded since it began compiling this data in 2013. Over half of those fires, or nearly 36,000 of them, have ignited in just the past month. That's nearly as many as all of 2018 combined. Smoke from the fires has darkened the skies over major Brazilian cities such as São Paulo. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has signaled unconcern about the situation. The far-right leader, who took office in January, has repeatedly lambasted Brazil's environmental regulations as an impediment to economic development, and under his tenure environmental agencies have seen diminished staff and funding. That includes the INPE itself, which had its leader, Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão, canned earlier this month because — according to Galvão — he questioned how Bolsonaro was using his agency's data
by Olesya Astakhova, Anne KauranenHELSINKI (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that a deadly blast at a military site in northern Russia earlier this month had taken place during the testing of what he called promising new weapons systems. Putin said that Moscow could not reveal everything about the blast because of its military nature, but that information exchanges about such accidents should be improved. “When it comes to activities of a military nature, there are certain restrictions on access to information,” Putin told a news conference in Helsinki, standing alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. He did not reveal which weapons system was being tested at the time of the blast on Aug. 8.
By Allie Malloy, CNNWashington (CNN) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to cancel his trip to Denmark, saying that the Danish Prime Minister's comments this week were "nasty" and "inappropriate" while speaking to reporters at the White House. "Denmark, I looked forward to going but I thought that the Prime Minister's statement that it was 'absurd' ... was nasty," he said. Last week, the Wall Street Journal first reported that Trump had expressed interest in buying Greenland. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the idea "absurd." Trump had been scheduled to visit Denmark in less than two weeks.
By Scott NeumanThe Pentagon says it has tested a U.S. missile that exceeds limits set down by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War agreement between Washington and Moscow that was officially scrapped less than three weeks ago. In Sunday's test off the coast of California, a modified Navy Tomahawk cruise missile flew more than 310 miles (500 kilometers). It marks a first for the U.S. since the arms-control treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The INF Treaty had barred the possession, production or flight-testing of all types of missiles with a range between 310 miles and 3,417 miles (500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers) — nuclear weapons considered especially destabilizing because of their short flight times. The Soviet Union and the U.S. had both deployed such weapons in Europe. The Pentagon's announcement on Monday said the missile was fired from a ground mobile launcher on San Nicolas Island, Calif., and "accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight." Hinting that the test was likely the beginning of a program to build additional weapons once barred by the treaty, it added: "Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform [the Department of Defense's] development of future intermediate-range capabilities."
CBS This MorningBritain's Prince Andrew is responding to sexual abuse allegations against Jeffrey Epstein for the first time since Epstein hanged himself in jail. Queen Elizabeth's middle son said in a statement he is "appalled by Epstein's alleged crimes." Charlie D'Agata reports.
Analysis by Nick Paton Walsh, CNNLondon (CNN)The marriage contract had just been signed, and the festivities were in full swing. But just as close relatives of the newlyweds were emerging from an upstairs room to join hundreds of friends and family members at a Kabul wedding hall, an uninvited guest walked forward. What should have been a moment of celebration turned into a scene of unimaginable carnage, as an ISIS suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the band playing in the men's section of the venue. Officials say at least 63 died -- the bride and groom survived -- but relatives think the death toll may be higher. Violent death is an everyday occurrence in Kabul, but this attack shocked many with its sheer savagery. "Before the blast we were so happy, all our family, relatives and friends were at the hall and we were enjoying the wedding," Basir Jan, a brother of the groom, told CNN. "When the blast happened, I saw dead bodies of my relatives and friends. Eight of my close friends were killed in the blast. It was a scene I will always remember."The devastation represents a personal tragedy the families who were targeted in Kabul at the weekend. But it also provided a bloody backdrop to the final stages of peace talks being held now between the Taliban and the United States.
Two Russian Radiation Detectors Went Silent After Mystery Nuclear-powered Missile Explosion: 'Very Odd Coincidence'By Brendan ColeMonitoring stations near the site of a failed nuclear-powered missile test in northern Russia have reportedly stopped transmitting data, bolstering concerns that the Kremlin is trying to cover up evidence of the accident. Russia's state nuclear company Rosatom said the explosion took place at the site in Nyonoksa on August 8 during tests on a liquid propellant rocket engine. The head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CNBTO), Lassina Zerbo, has said that the two stations nearby went offline two days after the explosion. Those monitoring stations, Dubna and Kirov, form part of a global network to ensure that countries are following the rules of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which Russia says it is adhering to, although it has not yet been formally internationally ratified.
By Brendan MurrayLondon | US President Donald Trump drew so much attention this past week on matters ranging from wanting to buy Greenland to a supporter's weight problems, that it was easy to miss some of his more stinging remarks on trade. While much of the focus was on his plans to divide up implementation of the next round of 10 per cent tariffs on Chinese imports between September 1 and December 15, and on the sharemarket plunge that followed, comments he made at a rally in New England signalled no backing down from his views about imbalances elsewhere. "The European Union is worse than China, just smaller. It treats us horribly: barriers, tariffs, taxes," he told a crowd Thursday in Manchester, New Hampshire, a city originally modelled after its industrial namesake in England. "They treat us really badly."
By Bobby Allyn, Frank LangfittBritain would face gridlock at ports; shortages of medicine, fuel and food; and a hard border with Ireland if it left the European Union with no deal, according to a leaked government document. The U.K. seems increasingly likely to crash out of the EU on Oct. 31, and the picture the government paints in a confidential document compiled under the code name Operation Yellowhammer and obtained by the Sunday Times is sobering. It details the ways government leaders are working to avert a "catastrophic collapse in the nation's infrastructure." Trucks could be dealt 2 1/2-day delays at ports, with significant disruption lasting up to three months, which would affect fuel supplies in London and the southeast of England, according the document. Medical supplies will also be vulnerable to "severe extended delays," since about three-quarters of the U.K.'s medicine comes across the English Channel. Fresh food will become less available, and prices will rise, according to the document. That outcome is expected to especially hit vulnerable groups. The government anticipates the return of a hard border with Ireland, which could spark protests and roadblocks. It also forecasts the closure of two oil refineries after import tariffs are eliminated, causing an expected loss of 2,000 jobs, worker unrest and disruptions to fuel supplies. A government source told the Sunday Times: "This is not Project Fear — this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios — not the worst case."
By Kumail JafferDONALD TRUMP’S administration has reportedly developed a deadly new long-range hypersonic missile which could be a game-changer in the ongoing arms race with Russia and China. The US President may still be on a golfing trip, but back home a key weapons developer is set to release a new hypersonic missile which could counter Russia’s efficient S-400 systems. The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) was announced this week after the group had worked closely with the US Army to develop the technology. It is set to be a huge upgrade on the Tomahawk cruise missiles used on Syria last year. According to a document detailing the weapon seen by Defense Blog, the mobility of the LRHW is part of a wider strategy to expand and modernise US military technology. It reads: “It will bring online a new class of ultra-fast, manoeuvrable, long-range missiles to neutralise enemy defensive weapons with rockets launched from trucks with Transporter Erector Launchers.”
By Ciaran McGrathA NUCLEAR explosion in Russia which authorities attempted to surround with a Chernobyl-style information blackout was the result of a top-secret SUPER-NUKE malfunctioning with deadly consequences. Vladimir Putin is developing the nuclear-powered ‘doomsday weapon’ which is not only nuclear-armed but nuclear powered meaning it can theoretically stay aloft for months at time. The 9M730 Burevestnik, which is referred to be NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall, is an experimental nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile which the Russians claim is capable of hitting any target on Earth. The Burevestnik/Skyfall with its unlimited range will “belch out radioactive fumes behind it”, an expert has warned, with last week’s spike in radiation levels in a remote area of Russia almost certainly caused by an accident involving the terrifying missile, experts have said. One of six new strategic weapons unveiled by Mr Putin on March 1, Skyfall is widely believed to have the rocket which exploded at a test centre in the north-west of the country, killing five people and injuring several others.
Roughly three tasks every minuteBy Jay PetersNot only does Microsoft have human contractors listen to some of your Skype and Cortana voice recordings, those contractors are paid poorly and given repetitive tasks, according to a report by Motherboard. And thanks to this new report, we now have an idea of what those contractors actually do with the Cortana recordings they listen to. Motherboard says contractors earning merely $12–$14 an hour are expected to transcribe and classify Cortana voice commands into more than two dozen topic areas, including gaming, email, communication, events, home automation, and media control. These transcribed recordings are used to help teach the Cortana assistant to better understand speech. Contractors are expected to work through a grueling 200 classification tasks an hour — that’s three a minute, or one every 18 seconds on average. They do have the potential to earn a bonus of an additional $1 an hour, according to contracts shared with Motherboard. Big tech companies have recently come under scrutiny for how they use human labor to power and train their services. The companies like to portray these tasks as accomplished by AI, but recent investigations have shown that it’s often repetitive work done by poorly-paid humans. Microsoft’s contractors listening to Cortana audio is one small example — content moderators at Facebook, on the other hand, are regularly exposed to extremely traumatic photos and videos and work in horrific conditions, as The Verge has reported.
Over 1.5 million American troops were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011. Many returned with visible scars of war -- but for some, their injury is hidden. At some of the military bases throughout those regions, waste materials were disposed of in giant so-called "burn pits," and breathing fumes from those fires appears to have damaged the health of countless veterans. Barry Petersen reports.
LONDON (Reuters) - A Conservative lawmaker at the centre of efforts to block a no-deal Brexit said on Saturday he was pessimistic about his chances because he and other party colleagues could not support a caretaker government led by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.
POLITICO Playbook PM: Scoop: Miftah wasn’t a problem when other congressmen went to ‘Palestine’ with themBy JAKE SHERMAN, ANNA PALMER, GARRETT ROSS and ELI OKUNWhen Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu denied two congresswomen entry into Israel, he criticized the fact that Miftah was funding their trip. But Miftah has sponsored trips for members of Congress in the past, and Israel has let them in the country. NOW, SHE’S OUT … AFTER ASKING FOR AND SECURING permission to visit her elderly grandmother in the West Bank, Rep. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-Mich.) now says she will not go to Israel. -- TLAIB: “Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me – it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.”
By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNNWashington (CNN)Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, the first and only Jewish candidate on a major party's presidential ticket in US history, called it a "serious mistake" for Israel to bar the first two Muslim women elected to Congress from visiting the country. "It's a serious mistake because it's contrary to the values of the state of Israel, the values to the United States of America which has been the underlying foundation of our relationship," Lieberman, who was Al Gore's running mate in 2000, told CNN's John Berman on "New Day" Friday. On Thursday, Israel announced it was banning Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota because of their support of a boycott against Israel -- and after President Donald Trump said Israel would be showing "great weakness" by allowing the two lawmakers to enter the country. Trump has previously criticized Omar and Tlaib but his comments about their trip were a remarkable step both by him and his ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to punish political rivals. "This kind of behavior by both leaders, I would say with respect, jeopardizes that tradition of nonpartisanship and American support of Israel," Lieberman, who has been a pro-Israel advocate and supportive of Trump's past actions on US-Israel relations, said.
CNNPresident Donald Trump praises Israel on its decision to ban Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country, after telling reporters he spoke to Israel prior and expressed support for the idea. CNN's Jim Acosta reports.
Who gets to decide what gets blasted into space?By Loren GrushThis month, space enthusiasts were shocked to learn that an Israeli lunar lander that crashed into the Moon’s surface in April actually had some passengers aboard: a tiny capsule filled with dehydrated microscopic organisms known as tardigrades. These little “water bears,” known to withstand very extreme environments, may have survived the wreck. Almost no one knew they were on board until a recent report in Wired revealed they had been added to the mission last minute — and without any governmental approval. The news was met with a mixture of surprise and dismay, with some fearing that these lifeforms could contaminate the Moon. The good news is that’s probably not going to happen. “At best, the tardigrades will survive in a dormant state for some period of time depending on their level of exposure to vacuum, temperature cycling, and radiation,” Lisa Pratt, NASA’s planetary protection officer, writes in an email to The Verge.
By Yen Nee LeeHedge fund titan Ray Dalio said he wouldn’t rule out China using its Treasury holdings to gain an upper hand against the U.S. in the trade war — a view that contrasts with many other observers. “We have a debtor-creditor relationship, not just a trade relationship. And (that) can be a dangerous thing,” Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, told CNBC’s “Managing Asia” in Singapore. When repeatedly pressed on whether Beijing could weaponize its ownership of U.S. Treasurys, Dalio responded: “I wouldn’t rule it out.” Analysts and investors have said that amid escalating trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies, China could resort to the so-called nuclear option to hurt the U.S.: Selling its large Treasury holdings. But many dismissed that suggestion, saying such a move will harm China too. China was the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasurys until June, when it was surpassed by Japan. According to data by the U.S. Treasury department, China held $1.11 trillion of U.S. debt in June.
By Debra ShushanThe much-touted shared values between the U.S. and Israel no longer seem to include liberal protections for free speech. The U.S.-Israel relationship suffered a profound setback Thursday. Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri confirmed that Israel would bar two members of Congress, Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from entering Israel because of their support for the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions on Israel. Thursday’s decision to deny Tlaib and Omar entrance to Israel reversed the earlier position expressed by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, who in July said that “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”
Greenland has said it is "not for sale" following reports that US President Donald Trump has spoken about buying the world's biggest island. The president is said to have discussed the idea of purchasing Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, during dinners and meetings with advisers. But Greenland's foreign ministry dismissed the idea, saying: "We're open for business, not for sale." Mr Trump's reported plans have also been quickly dismissed by politicians in Denmark. "It must be an April Fool's Day joke...but totally out of [season]!", tweeted former Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which first reported the news, said Mr Trump had spoken about the purchase with "varying degrees of seriousness". Sources quoted in other media differed over whether the president was joking or seriously hoping to expand US territory. The White House has not commented on the reports.
AN OUTRAGED Spanish MP is demanding his country steal Gibraltar back from Briton to make military gains.By Emily PrescottAgustin Roseti, an MP for the far-right Vox party, posted a rant to Twitter slamming Britain for turning the island, which borders the north of Spain, into a “parasite”. He argued Spanish ownership of the island could bolster his country’s military efforts. He added under British control the island poses a risk to Spaniards. He said: “Gibraltar is a military colony in the strait that has a naval base and airfield. “It fulfils three missions: logistics, operational and intelligence.
Associated PressABOARD A NASA RESEARCH PLANE — NASA scientists are crisscrossing Greenland on a mission to track melting ice. Greenland has been melting faster in the past decade, and this summer, it has seen two of the biggest melts on record since 2012. Global warming is the chief culprit, but scientists want to know how this is happening. Both warmer air and warmer water are eating away at Greenland, causing it to lose billions of tons of ice daily in the summer. A team of scientists and engineers aboard a research plane this week are dropping probes into the ice to help figure out which is the bigger cause.
By Jordan WeissmannThe world’s economy is looking very, very dicey at the moment. Investors enjoyed a brief, sweet moment of relief from their perpetual anxiety over Donald Trump’s trade war on Tuesday, when the White House announced that it would delay some of its upcoming new tariffs on Chinese goods until mid-December, in order to avoid mucking with America’s holiday shopping season. But this morning, a whole raft of bad news reminded everybody that, oh yeah, we’re very obviously in the midst of a global slowdown. As Bloomberg summed things up: China reported the weakest growth in industrial output since 2002. Germany’s economy shrank as exports slumped, and euro-area production plunged the most in more than three years as the overall expansion cooled. Prognosis: not great! There have been other danger signs, too. Britain’s economy shrank during the last quarter, partly thanks to pre-Brexit fears, and appears to be on the cliff’s edge of an outright recession. Then there are the bond markets, which are probably best visualized as a sweaty, red-faced man in an expensive suit shouting, “This sucker is about to blow!”
By Yun LiChina hopes to “meet the U.S. halfway” on trade issues, the foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday. The statement came after China said it will have to take the necessary counter-measures to President Donald Trump’s latest tariffs threat. “We hope the U.S. side will meet China half-way, and implement the consensus reached by the two leaders during their meeting in Osaka, and look for mutually acceptable solutions through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” China’s spokesperson at the foreign ministry Hua Chunying said Thursday, according to a CNBC translation. The statement drove stock futures higher. “On the basis of equality and mutual respect, we will find mutually acceptable solutions through dialogue and consultation,” Hua said. China’s State Council Tariff Committee said earlier the U.S. tariffs “seriously violated” a consensus reached by leaders of two countries at the G-20 summit. Trump early this month abruptly ended the cease-fire with China by threatening to slap duties on $300 billion of Chinese goods from Sept. 1. Some additional tariffs are now delayed to December and some items have been removed on the tariff list, the administration announced Wednesday.
By Sara Mazloumsaki and Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Vasco Cotovio, CNN(CNN) - A seized oil tanker at the center of a standoff between the UK and Iran is free to set sail, despite eleventh-hour efforts by the United States to halt the move to release it. The Supreme Court in the British territory of Gibraltar approved the release of the Grace 1, which was seized off the country's coast by authorities last month, after officials said they no longer wished to detain it. Gibraltar said it had received assurances from Iran and the owners of the oil that, were the tanker to be released, its cargo would not be taken to Syria, which would be in breach of European Union sanctions. The ship was seized six weeks ago as it passed through Gibraltar's territorial waters. Two weeks later, Iran seized a British ship in the Gulf, in what was widely regarded as a tit-for-tat operation. As tensions increased, the two sides conducted delicate negotiations in London. "Gibraltar has taken a very careful approach to the detention of Grace 1," Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told CNN "We only acted in July when we had evidence that the cargo aboard the vessel was going to Syria." "What we found aboard the vessel has confirmed the view that we took was the correct view. We have only released the vessel... when we have been convinced that the vessel is not now going to Syria," he added. A last-minute intervention by the US threatened to scupper the deal to release the Grace 1. In a court hearing Thursday morning, instead of announcing the release of the tanker, the Gibraltar attorney general's lawyer Joseph Triay said the US Department of Justice had applied to extend its seizure. The basis of Washington's legal efforts was unclear Thursday. The State Department referred CNN to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment.
By Isabel KershnerJERUSALEM — Israel on Thursday barred the entry of two American Democratic congresswomen who had planned to visit the West Bank, hours after President Trump had urged the country to block them. Mr. Trump’s intervention was an extraordinary step to influence an allied nation and punish his political opponents at home. The two congresswomen, Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, both freshmen, are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Both are outspoken adversaries of Mr. Trump and have been vocal in their support of the Palestinians and the boycott-Israel movement. The president has targeted them in speeches and Twitter postings that his critics have called racist and xenophobic. It was reported last week that Mr. Trump was pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to deny entrance to the two women, and Thursday morning he left little doubt. While Israeli officials were still deliberating the matter, he said in a Twitter post that “it would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit.”
BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China on Thursday vowed to counter the latest U.S. tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods but called on the United States to meet it halfway on a potential trade deal, as U.S. President Donald Trump said any pact would have to be on America’s terms. The Chinese finance ministry said in a statement that Washington’s tariffs, set to start next month, violated a consensus reached between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a June summit in Japan to resolve their disputes via negotiation. In a separate statement, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said, “We hope the U.S. will meet China halfway, and implement the consensus of the two heads of the two countries in Osaka.” China hopes to find mutually acceptable solutions through dialogue and consultation on the basis of equality and mutual respect, she added. Trump, who is seeking re-election in 2020 and had made the economy and his tough stance on China a key part of his 2016 campaign for the White House, on Thursday said any agreement must meet U.S. demands.
By Sasha IngberThe U.S. government has applied to take possession of the Grace 1, an Iranian oil tanker that was detained last month by the British, according to the Gibraltar government. "The U.S. Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered," a spokesperson with Gibraltar's government told NPR on Thursday. The official said the case will return to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET). The Gibraltar Chronicle reported that the U.S. application came just hours before the government was scheduled to release the tanker. It also reported that the Grace 1's captain and three officers were released from arrest in a separate development. The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment. Grace 1 was raided in waters off the coast of Gibraltar, a British territory, by Britain's Royal Marines on July 4. The tanker was impounded on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria — a breach of international sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
By patrick reevellThe explosion of a suspected Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile last week has caused a lot of confusion and anxiety, fueled in part by Russian authorities' continuing secrecy around the accident. Russia has provided few details known about the blast, which a U.S. official told ABC News "likely" took place during a test on the missile, named the SSX-C-9 Skyfall by NATO and as the 9M370 Burevestnik (Storm Petrel) by Russia. Here's what we know and don't about the incident. There was a spike in radiation immediately after the explosion on Friday, briefly elevating levels up to 16 times higher than normal in a city 20 miles from the Nenoksa Missile Test Site on Russia's northern Arctic coast. Russian authorities only officially acknowledged this spike on Sunday, three days after the accident. Nenoksa’s local administration had posted a notice on its website immediately after the blast, warning levels had spiked two times above normal. But this notice was then deleted after Russia's defense ministry denied levels had increased. Russia’s state weather service, Roshydromet, later acknowledged that the spike had sent radiation levels 4 - 16 times above the norm. But it appears the spike was also brief, lasting no more than 2 hours, before the lives returned to normal, according to Roshydromet. The environmental group Greenpeace said its own readings show the spike lasted less than an hour. The group does not dispute the official Russian readings now that levels reduced to normal. All of these readings have come from sensors at the nearby city of Severodvinsk, a nuclear submarine port, 20 miles from the test site.
The ethics commissioner says Mr Trudeau improperly tried to influence a former minister in the SNC-Lavalin affair. The prime minister says he accepts the commissioner's report but disagrees with some of its conclusions. The findings could be an issue for Mr Trudeau in advance of October's general election. Earlier this year, former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Mr Trudeau and his staff of spending months trying to convince her that taking SNC-Lavalin to trial would cost Canadians jobs, and their party votes. Her accusation proved to be politically costly for Mr Trudeau - leading to the resignation of two high-profile cabinet ministers, his top personal aide and the head of the federal bureaucracy - and cast a shadow over his leadership. Ms Wilson-Raybould said the commissioner's report was a "vindication" of her position that she was improperly pressured by Mr Trudeau and his staff.
President Donald Trump’s new tariffs on Chinese agricultural products are likely to hurt the Asian nation a lot less than the retaliatory duties Beijing already imposes on the U.S. The White House, while delaying tariffs on big-ticket consumer products until December, decided to push ahead with 10% tariffs on Chinese agricultural products as well as antiques, clothes, kitchenware and footwear from Sept. 1. The list ranges from the exotic -- live primates, whales and foxes -- to the more usual fare of milk and edible oils. But the amount of farm products China exports to the U.S. is much smaller than what it imports from America, even with the retaliatory tariffs in place. China shipped $3.1 billion worth of farm goods to America in the first half of this year, while it purchased $5.6 billion of U.S. agricultural items over the same period, according to Chinese customs data.
By Simon WatkinsAs the trade war with the U.S. continues to escalate, China has re-engaged with Iran on three key projects and is weighing the use of what both Washington and Beijing term the ‘nuclear option’, a senior oil and gas industry source who works closely with Iran’s Petroleum Ministry told OilPrice.com last week. For the first of these projects - Phase 11 of the supergiant South Pars non-associated gas field (SP11) - last week saw a statement from the chief executive officer of the Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) that talks had resumed with Chinese developers to advance the project. Originally the subject of an extensive contract signed by France’s Total before it pulled out due to re-imposed U.S. sanctions on Iran, talks had been well-advanced with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to take up the slack on development. As per the original contract, CNPC had been assigned Total’s 50.1 percent stake in the field when the French firm withdrew, giving it a total of 80.1 percent in the site, with Iran’s own Petropars Company holding the remainder. At the same time, Iran was desperate to increase the pace of development of the fields in its oil-rich West Karoun area, including North Azadegan, South Azadegan, North Yaran, South Yaran, and Yadavaran, in order to optimise oil flows ahead of further clampdowns on exports by the U.S.
by Erin Banco - National Security Reporter, Asawin Suebsaeng - White House ReporterAllies are steamed, national-security officials are baffled, and even the president is pissed about the contradictory signals the administration is sending about talks with Iran. The Trump administration keeps sending conflicting and contradictory messages to Iran about its terms for new negotiations, multiple U.S and European officials tell The Daily Beast. And the ensuing chaos has vexed the president, complicated diplomatic efforts for American allies abroad, and utterly baffled policymakers at home. “Absolute amateur hour,” said one former senior administration official, who was involved with the internal squabbles. For several months, the United States has been actively attempting to pass messages, via allies, to the Iranians in an effort to move closer to beginning formal diplomatic talks with Tehran. However, diverging opinions within the Trump administration are foiling the nascent diplomatic process, according to two current U.S. officials and another source with direct knowledge of the matter. The dissent is straining foreign intermediaries who are working as go-betweens between Washington and Tehran. They say they are fed up with receiving mixed messages from Donald Trump’s team. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment for this story. But a senior administration official told The Daily Beast, “The Administration is completely aligned in this approach. The President has been clear, he is open to meeting with Iran’s leadership to work out an agreement and give Iran the future it deserves.”
By Nathan Hodge and Olga Pavlova, CNNMoscow (CNN) - Residents of a Russian village near the site of a suspected explosion of a nuclear-powered missile hve been told to evacuate, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported, citing a local official. Villagers were asked to leave Nyonoksa on Wednesday morning due to planned military activities, RIA reported Tuesday, citing Ksenia Yudina, head of the press service of the Severodvinsk administration. Local news portal tv29.ru reported that Nyonoksa would be evacuated by train between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Wednesday. The settlement is approximately 30 miles from the port city of Severodvinsk.
By Morgan KrakowAn Israeli flight attendant died after contracting measles and falling into a coma, Israeli media reported Tuesday, the latest incident amid growing measles outbreaks in countries around the world. There were more reported cases of the virus in the first half of 2019 than in any other year since 2006, the World Health Organization announced Monday. Compared with this time last year, there have already been nearly three times as many reported cases of measles. While many of the measles outbreaks occurred in places with low vaccination rates, the WHO said, others are occurring in nations that have high rates, resulting from “lack of access to quality healthcare or vaccination services, conflict and displacement, misinformation about vaccines, or low awareness about the need to vaccinate.” “The United States has reported its highest measles case count in 25 years,” the WHO said in the announcement.
The stock market is very happy about signs of surrender.By Matthew YglesiasPresident Donald Trump announced on Tuesday morning that he was going to delay implementation of looming taxes on a broad set of Chinese-made goods and sent the stock market soaring. Just one week ago, financial markets were heading in the opposite direction as his administration officially designated China as a currency manipulator. In both cases, the literal implications of the policy changes are modest. Instead, the market reaction seems to be about reading the tea leaves as to Trump’s longer-term intentions. Designating China as a currency manipulator had no automatic consequences for policy in Washington or Beijing. It was simply seen as an escalating move and a sign of hardening hearts, an indication that Trump’s fans in the business community might not be getting the pre-election climbdown from trade war that they craved. Conversely, delaying the tariffs on a portion of the scheduled-for-tariffing products by a few months does not have a particularly large direct impact on the American economy. Stocks went up instead largely because it was seen as a sign that the previous signs of escalation in the trade negotiations had been read wrongly. Trump seems to remain attuned to stock market signals and nervous about indications that global financial markets don’t like trade confrontation. That gives investors reason to believe that Trump ultimately won’t push trade war to the limits, and that sent markets soaring. The fact that Trump climbed down in the midst of increasing international attention to escalating protests and crackdowns in Hong Kong gives Chinese leaders a timely propaganda win. But critically, nothing in the vast US-China trade dispute docket has actually been resolved. Trump just blinked a little bit in a mutually harmful conflict that has no obvious endpoint.
By Alexander Smith"Is it dangerous? Yes! I think the phrase 'flying nuclear reactor' tells you all you need to know," one analyst said. A recent explosion during what experts say was likely a Russian nuclear-powered missile test indicates Moscow could be trialing dangerous technology in an attempt to beat U.S. missile defenses. Five scientists were killed and radiation spiked in a nearby city following the blast at an offshore platform in the Russian Arctic last Thursday. Authorities have drip-fed details of the incident to the public. But on Monday, Vyacheslav Solovyov, scientific director of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, confirmed that at the time of the blast, nuclear scientists at the Nyonoksa military range were working on "small-sized energy sources using radioactive fissile materials." Another factual morsel came when Russia's state nuclear agency, Rosatom, said the accident happened while testing "isotope power sources within a liquid propulsion system." Experts said this vague, technical wording hinted that the facility was likely testing the same experimental weapon announced in March 2018 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He revealed that Russia was developing a cruise missile with "unlimited range" that could carry a nuclear weapon to any point on the globe.
By TOI staff7 were killed in blast that Moscow’s TASS news agency reports was related to a ‘radioisotope power source’. American intelligence officials have indicated that they believe an explosion in northern Russia last week may have been related to work on a nuclear-powered cruise missile, The New York Times reported on Monday. Thursday’s explosion at the Nenoksa Missile Test Site near Severodvinsk released radiation into the atmosphere, killing at least seven people and fueling speculation regarding Russia’s pursuit of a weapons technology examined and abandoned by Washington during the height of the Cold War. If successfully deployed, such a weapon would pose a strategic threat to the United States because it would be capable of bypassing current American missile defenses. However, there is currently no indication that the Russians have managed to succeed where their geopolitical rivals have failed.
By Jill Disis, Sherisse Pham and Laura He, CNN BusinessHong Kong (CNN Business)Authorities in Hong Kong canceled nearly 200 flights Monday because of a major protest at the city's international airport. That's terrible news for companies operating in the financial hub. The decision to cancel all departures and inbound flights not already in the air was made after thousands of pro-democracy protestors gathered at the airport, the region's third busiest after Beijing and Tokyo. Protests have been rocking Hong Kong for months, and the crisis is already having a noticeable effect on the city's economy. Some demonstrations have ended in violent clashes with police. Crowds appeared to be dissipating at the airport by Monday evening in Hong Kong. But the canceled flights are a stark reminder of the risk to global businesses and the city's tourism sector. More than 74 million passengers traveled to and from the airport last year. It handles 1,100 passenger and cargo flights each day, and serves about 200 destinations around the world. The airport contributes 5% to Hong Kong's GDP, directly and indirectly, said Frank Chan, Hong Kong's transport secretary, in May. "This is a disaster for Hong Kong that will cost tens of millions of dollars," said Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief and managing director of AirlineRatings.com, a website that monitors airlines. The direct impact of Monday's suspension isn't the only problem, he said. "Travelers for months to come will cancel and rebook with other airlines to avoid Hong Kong as a hub," Thomas added.
London -- The death of Jeffrey Epstein is putting new attention on his alleged co-conspirators, who could still face charges. The number one person on that list is Ghislaine Maxwell, who's accused of finding teenage girls for Epstein and his friends -- including a member of Britain's royal family. As CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports, documents unsealed on Friday contain allegations that Maxwell, a close acquaintance of Epstein's, played an "important role" in the late billionaire financier's "sexual abuse ring," directing an underage girl to have sex with Epstein and others. Maxwell strenuously denies the allegations. Her current whereabouts are unknown. "There are multiple victims who claim that Ghislaine Maxwell was a personal participant in recruiting them for Jeffrey Epstein, that she assisted in the scheduling of appointments, multiple victims being delivered to Epstein on a daily basis over an extended period of time," attorney Jack Scarola, who has represented several of Epstein's alleged victims, told CBS News. "There are allegations that Miss Maxwell was an active participant in the sexual abuse." Maxwell has been described as Epstein's ex-girlfriend and assistant -- his "best friend," according to Epstein, and a socialite who helped connect him with the wealthy and famous.
CBC NewsAlmost all of the 30 gondola cars attached to the cable crashed to the ground at around 4 a.m. on Saturday, according to staff working overnight.
By Choe Sang-HunSEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Sunday that the two projectiles it fired a day earlier were a new type of missile, making this the third new short-range ballistic missile or rocket system the North has successfully tested in less than a month as Washington struggles to resume talks on denuclearization. The two missiles were launched off North Korea’s east coast on Saturday in its second weapons test in the past week. On Sunday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency released photographs of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, watching what it called the launching of “another new weapon system.” After scrutinizing the photos, outside analysts said the missiles, fired from a tracked mobile launcher with two missile tubes, were of a type unveiled for the first time. North Korea has conducted five weapons tests since July 25, all of them in violation of United Nations resolutions, according to South Korea. They include a new short-range ballistic missile, known as KN-23 among outside analysts, which they said resembled Russia’s Iskander missile in its flight pattern and other traits. The North also tested a new multiple-tube rocket launcher.
By Carly ReadBODIES of Russian scientists killed following a colossal nuclear radiation explosion have mysteriously vanished, arousing suspicions corpses have been thrown into the sea. In a week of three eerie explosions across scarce landscapes in Russia, the death toll including the five killed in a recent deadly radiation explosion is now 10. But Russia’s nuclear energy cooperation said two of the bodies of five research workers killed in the latest explosion, which took place on Thursday, have been hurled into the sea after they disappeared. The five were killed when a rocket engine test went wrong triggering a biblical explosion caught on camera by a terrified resident that felt it miles away.
Prince Andrew was accused in court documents of touching a young woman’s breast at the Manhattan mansion of Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier now facing federal sex trafficking charges in New York. The allegation was contained within a tranche of just unsealed court papers in a defamation case involving Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and media heiress accused of procuring underage girls for Epstein and his social circle of the rich, famous and powerful. Maxwell was sued by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre in 2015. Giuffre alleged that Maxwell defamed her by claiming she was a liar. Giuffre had also alleged that Epstein coerced her into sexual encounters with Prince Andrew. Buckingham Palace has repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations. In a highly unusual statement issued in 2015, Buckingham Palace said “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue” and explicitly denied Prince Andrew ever had sexual contact with Giuffre. “It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with [Giuffre]. The allegations made are false and without any foundation,” the royal household later added. Documents filed by Giuffre’s lawyers cite a deposition of Joanna Sjoberg, who also accused Maxwell of bringing her to Epstein. Sjoberg’s deposition testimony, Giuffre’s lawyers said, described allegations involving Prince Andrew.
By Youyou ZhouThe US-China trade war continues to accelerate. America has put 25% tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, and is slated to add an additional 10% tariff on the remaining $300 billion. China currently collects tariffs between 5% and 50% on about $113 billion of US imports. Some worry about the long-term negative effects the trade war could have on the global economy, but in the short term, the bi-lateral tariff fight has brought benefits to many other countries. Quartz analyzed the trade flows of product categories affected by the Chinese and US tariffs. The data show that the winner of the US-China trade war so far is neither the US or China. It’s third-party countries like Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Canada who have stepped in to the void and found new buyers in the US and China.
by Michael H FuchsAsia’s historical, political and economic landmines are increasingly blowing up, and Donald Trump seems intent on accelerating the damage in ways that could threaten US national security and prosperity. Things didn’t always seem so bleak. Analysts have long heralded the coming of the “Asian century”. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and others have transformed from autocracies to democratic members of the G20. Today, nations across Asia are innovative economies, flourishing democracies and contributors to global security. Any measurement of GDP size, military might or population illustrate how Asia could be the most important region in the world in the 21st century. The Hong Kong protests are putting China on a collision course with the west. The future of Asia remains bright, but a crippling array of challenges threatens to upend its potential – and could have an immense impact on the US. Two of the most successful democracies in the region – South Korea and Japan, which are also US allies – are in the midst of a diplomatic brawl. The tensions are being driven by the legacy of Japan’s occupation of South Korea in the first half of the 20th century – which remains a devastatingly potent political issue in both countries – and starkly divergent approaches to the region from the two current leaders. The countries’ militaries have brushed up against one another, a trade war is under way, and South Korean president Moon Jae-in recently, ominously, said: “We will never again lose to Japan.”
Troops fire in the air as thousands rally in Indian-administered Kashmir's main city to denounce region's status change. Indian security forces have fired tear gas and shot live rounds in the air to disperse mass protests in Indian-administered Kashmir's main city as thousands rallied against New Delhi's stripping of the region's autonomy, according to local sources. The protests erupted afternoon prayers on Friday, with thousands of people marching towards the centre of Srinagar ignoring a curfew imposed as part of an unprecedented security lockdown in the disputed region, exclusive footage obtained by Al Jazeera showed. Some demonstrators were carrying black flags and placards saying "We want freedom" and "Abrogation of Article 370 is not acceptable." India's Hindu-nationalist government on Monday revoked Article 370 of India's constitution, limiting the region's decision-making powers and eliminating its right to its own constitution. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi also downgraded Indian-administered Kashmir from statehood to two federally administered territories - Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh - ruled directly by New Delhi.
China has ordered the Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific to suspend any staff who support pro-democracy protests in the territory. Beijing's demand coincided with a peaceful rally at Hong Kong's airport, where thousands occupied a terminal. Cathay also faced pressure online after China's state-run press fuelled a #BoycottCathayPacific hashtag, which trended on Chinese social media. Hong Kong has seen weeks of protests over China's control of the territory. The protests began about nine weeks ago over a proposed extradition bill between Hong Kong and mainland China and evolved into demands for greater freedoms. Hong Kong is part of China but its citizens have more autonomy than those on the mainland. It has a free press and judicial independence under the so-called "one country, two systems" approach - freedoms activists fear are being increasingly eroded.
BLACK FRIDAY UK power cut plunges Britain into darkness as National Grid outage sparks travel chaos with trains, tubes and traffic lights paralysedBy Molly Rose PikeA HUGE power cut has hit the UK with trains, Tubes and traffic lights cutting out across the country sparking national chaos. Britain was plunged into darkness at rush hour with large parts of London, the South East, Liverpool, Glasgow, Wales, Gloucestershire and Manchester all without electricity.
The SunRussia's President Vladimir Putin was appointed prime minister on August 9, 1999 and has has been in power, either as president or prime minister, ever since. His reign is longer than veteran Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and outstripped only by dictator Josef Stalin. Allies laud Putin as a father-of-the-nation figure who has restored national pride and expanded Moscow's global clout with interventions in Syria and Ukraine. Critics accuse him of overseeing a corrupt authoritarian system and of illegally annexing Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, a move that isolated Russia internationally. The current presidential term is the fourth for Putin, which he will serve until 2024 when he turns 72.
By Umair IrfanA new UN report highlights the ways we can use land to respond and adapt to a rapidly warming world. The huge new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on land use is finally out. The conclusions are stark: We are changing the Earth’s lands so drastically that our survival is now threatened. Though the report rounds up the best science on various climate horrors from intensifying heat waves and dust storms to growing food insecurity, it also devotes an entire 300-page chapter to evaluating land-based solutions and responses to climate change and land degradation. Such a sweeping problem means that there are a lot of ways to respond. The IPCC sums it all up in one, big, complicated chart:
Pyongyang is engaging in its own maximum pressure campaign.By D. ParvazNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday said Pyongyang’s latest missile test was “an occasion to send an adequate warning” to the United States and South Korea over the joint military exercises that started this week. With the test firing of what are presumed to be ballistic, short-range missiles into the sea on Tuesday, North Korea appears to be embarking on its own maximum pressure campaign — which, at best, is aimed at bringing the Trump administration back to the negotiating table, albeit with less stringent expectations. The test came as Ju Yong Cho, the country’s envoy to the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament, accused the United Sates of “inciting military tension” with its joint military exercises with South Korea. Seoul and Washington, said Ju, “can neither conceal nor whitewash” the “aggressive nature” of their military drills. He made no mention of North Korea’s recent missile tests, the nation’s fourth in the past two weeks.
CBS NewsA leaked U.N. report found that North Korea allegedly stole about $2 billion using cyberattacks to fund its weapons program. This comes after the country fired two missiles Tuesday in what leader Kim Jong Un called a "warning" against the U.S. and South Korea for conducting joint military exercises. Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World," joined CBSN to discuss the state of relations between the U.S. and North Korea.
Global NewsPolice were on scene near the Nelson River in Manitoba on Wednesday and a vehicle left the area carrying what is believed to be the bodies of the two suspects in the B.C. murder cases. The bodies were then taken to two waiting planes where officers loaded two boxes, believed to contain the bodies that police say may be that of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, onto two Winnipeg-bound planes so autopsies can be performed to confirm the identities.
Al Jazeera EnglishPakistan has stepped up political pressure on India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. It has expelled the Indian ambassador, downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended bilateral trade. Indian security forces have imposed a clampdown in Indian-administered Kashmir as the union government took away the state's autonomy.
By Ehsan Popalzai, CNNKabul (CNN)Fourteen people were killed and 145 injured by a Taliban suicide attack in Afghanistan on Wednesday, a spokesman for the country's ministry of interior told CNN. Around 9 a.m. local time, an explosive-laden vehicle targeted the gate of the district 6 police headquarters in Kabul, Nasrat Rahimi said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a media message from spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid.
By David Brunnstrom, Josh SmithWASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. national security adviser John Bolton reminded North Korea on Tuesday of its leader’s pledge to President Donald Trump not to resume launches of intercontinental-range missiles after Pyongyang conducted its fourth short-range missile test in less than two weeks and warned it might pursue “a new road.” Trump and his administration have played down the series of short-range tests since July 25 and on Tuesday U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States would not overreact and would keep the door open to talks. Bolton told Fox News Channel the testing appeared aimed at getting the short-range missiles fully operational and Trump was keeping a close eye on developments. “The president and Kim Jong Un have an understanding that Kim Jong Un is not going to launch longer range, intercontinental range ballistic missiles, and so I think the president is watching this very, very carefully.” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the launch of tactical guided missiles on Tuesday were a warning to the U.S. and South Korea’s joint military drills, state media KCNA said.
US asset freeze is an attack on private property, could bring additional hardship to Venezuelans, vice president says. Venezuela's vice president has called the latest US sanctions freezing the assets of President Nicolas Maduro's government a "global threat" and an attack on private property. Delcy Rodriguez said on Tuesday that "the US has to understand once and for all that they aren't the owners of the world". "Every country that has investments in the US should be very worried because this sets a dangerous precedent against private property," she said. Rodriguez also said the US measures were likely to bring additional hardship to the Venezuelan people, who were already suffering from the effects of hyperinflation and a deep recession. The US move, which follows repeated rounds of sanctions against Maduro, includes the authorisation of penalties against "foreign persons" who provide support for his government, the US national security adviser, John Bolton said on Tuesday. "I want to be clear that this sweeping executive order authorises the US government to identify, target and impose sanctions on any persons who continue to provide support to the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro," said Bolton, at a meeting in Peru's capital Lima to discuss Venezuela's political crisis.
CBS NewsHong Kong protesters condemned police in a rare press conference that came as Beijing is escalating its rhetoric. CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta reports from Hong Kong.
By Zachary Cohen and Alex Marquardt, CNNWashington (CNN) - US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has submitted his resignation letter to President Donald Trump and plans to move back home to Utah, according to a source familiar with his thinking. Huntsman's resignation is effective October 3 and there is some speculation that he is planning to run for governor of Utah, a role he previous served in from 2005 to 2009. However, a source close to Huntsman told CNN that decision is still up in the air, saying: "We shall see, it's been a long two years." The decision comes as the Trump administration is also dealing with the departure of Fiona Hill, the top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council. Hill is expected to leave her post this month meaning the administration will have to replace two of its top Russia hands at the same time. The Salt Lake Tribune was first to report Huntsman's resignation. Huntsman's successor, whoever it may be, will face the difficult task of fulfilling Trump's goal of improving ties with Russia at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries over issues including Moscow's annexation of Crimea, election interference and the attempted poisoning of an alleged Russian spy in Britain.Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have voiced concerns about Trump's reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia and continued attempts to cast doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election amid his efforts to improve relations between Washington and Moscow.
By Jordan WeissmannFor what feels like the thousandth time now, China is showing why trade wars are not, as President Donald Trump put it, “good, and easy to win.” Last week, the president decided to ratchet up his confrontation with Beijing, announcing that he would soon impose tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese imports. If he goes forward with the move, essentially all of the goods China sells to the U.S. will face taxes at the border. Now, the People’s Republic is hitting back. Government officials have told state-owned companies to “suspend purchases of U.S. agricultural products,” Bloomberg reported Sunday—a retaliatory move putting further pressure on American farmers that one analyst described as “an 11” on a scale of 1 to 10. And the Chinese aren’t stopping there. The government also allowed its currency to dramatically depreciate during trading Monday, letting it fall to an all-time low in the important offshore market.
By Steven Jiang, CNN BusinessBeijing (CNN Business)Chinese companies have halted purchases of US agricultural products, marking the latest escalation of the trade war between the United States and China. The halt in purchases comes in response to the Trump administration's announcement of new tariffs on Chinese imports last week, China's Commerce Ministry said Tuesday morning. The new 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to take effect on September 1. China's Commerce Ministry called the new tariffs a "serious violation of the consensus reached by the two countries' leaders in Osaka." At the June G20 meeting in Osaka, American and Chinese officials had agreed to a cease-fire in the trade war. State media had earlier quoted officials as saying Chinese companies had ordered US agricultural products after the Osaka summit, but some deals fell through due to "competitive pricing." China's State Council Customs Tariff Commission also said Tuesday morning it "will no longer exempt US agricultural products purchased after August 3 from import duties." The latest salvo in the trade war sent global markets plunging Monday. In addition to the halt in American agriculture purchases, China devalued the yuan Monday morning, sparking fear that the United States could retaliate. The US Chamber of Commerce warned last week that new tariffs "will only inflict greater pain on American businesses, farmers, workers and consumers, and undermine an otherwise strong US economy."
China halting new agricultural purchases, may slap tariffs on farm goods recently bought: State mediaby Yun LiChina said Monday that it could slap tariffs on U.S. agricultural products that it bought recently, state-run media Xinhua said. “The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council has not ruled out import tariffs on newly purchased US agricultural products after August 3, and Chinese related companies have suspended purchasing US agricultural products,” Xinhua said Monday, according to a Google translation. This is China’s newest threat in retaliation against President Donald Trump’s 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods announced last week. China has allowed its yuan to break through 7 against the dollar for the first time since 2008. “The relevant Chinese authorities indicated that China has a large market capacity and a bright prospect for importing high-quality agricultural products from the United States,” Xinhua said. “However, it is hoped that the US will conscientiously implement the consensus reached at the meeting between the heads of state of China and the US, and have the confidence to implement the commitments to create the necessary conditions for cooperation in the agricultural fields between the two countries,” Xinhua said.
by Michael SheetzWall Street analysts warned investors to brace for the trade war between the United States and China to further intensify, after it ratcheted up over the weekend to a level that Cowen says, “on a scale of 1-10, it’s an 11.” “Overnight, Chinese government retaliated against new U.S. tariffs, and it’s designed to get the President’s attention,” Cowen analyst Chris Krueger said in a note to investors on Monday. A Morgan Stanley team of analysts said “investors should behave as if further escalation will happen in 2019.” If that escalation does come, the firm estimated that a global economy recession will come in the next 9 months. “We take its literal message of planned tariffs quite seriously. There’s a pattern of responding to insufficient negotiation progress with escalation,” Morgan Stanley said. This is “a new and potentially more volatile phase,” Compass Point analyst Isaac Boltansky said, adding that China’s response “marks a pronounced escalation in trade tensions between the world’s largest economies.”
By Jonathan GarberChina isn't backing down in its trade war with the United States. Beijing responded to President Trump's threat to place new tariffs on Chinese goods Opens a New Window. on Monday by letting its currency, the Chinese yuan, sink to the weakest level in over a decade and ordering state-owned companies to reportedly halt their purchases of U.S. agricultural products. The onshore Chinese yuan weakened to worse than seven per U.S. dollar, hitting its lowest level since 2008, as Beijing looks to cushion the blow from Trump's tariffs. A weaker yuan makes Chinese goods cheaper for overseas buyers, which may be necessary as China just lost its spot as the US's biggest trading partner. Trade data released Friday by the Department of Commerce showed U.S. imports from China fell by 12% in the first six months of the year, allowing Mexico to supplant it as the U.S.'s biggest trade partner. "China dropped the price of their currency to an almost a historic low," Trump tweeted Opens a New Window. on Monday. "It’s called “currency manipulation.” Are you listening Federal Reserve? This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time!"
By Andrey Biryukov(Bloomberg) -- Russia is acting on a pledge by President Vladimir Putin to shrink the role of dollar in international trade as tensions sour between Washington and Moscow. The shift is part of a strategy to “de-dollarize” the Russian economy and lower its vulnerability to U.S. sanctions. But while the central bank was able to quickly dump half of its dollar holdings last year, progress in trade has been slow due to ingrained use of the greenback for many transactions. The share of euros in Russian exports increased for a fourth straight quarter at the expense of the U.S. currency, according to central bank data. The common currency has almost overtaken the dollar in trade with the European Union and China and trade in rubles with India surged. The dollar’s share in import transactions remained unchanged at about a third. “There’s been a strong incentive to change, not just for Russia but for its trading partners too,” said Dmitry Dolgin, an economist at ING Bank in Moscow. “The European Union is also now facing trade pressure from the U.S.” pushing them to try to reduce dependence on the dollar, he said. The euro came close to replacing the dollar as the currency of choice for Russian exports to the European Union, with its share climbing to 42% in the first quarter from 32% a year earlier. Russia still relies on the dollar for more than half of its $687.5 billion annual trade, though less than 5% of those deals are with the U.S. Part of Russia’s motivation to shift is that companies suffer delays on as much as a third of international payments in dollars because Western companies have to check with the U.S. whether the transactions are allowed, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in December.
By Matthew RozsaHere are five irrefutable facts about our president's ties to a foreign adversaryIn July 2016, Donald Trump — then still the Republican Party's presidential candidate — openly encouraged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, then the Democratic Party's nominee for the White House. "I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump told a group of reporters assembled reporters at a news conference. As former special counsel Robert Mueller's report made clear, this was not the beginning of Trump's association with Russia — but it was certainly a flashpoint. As it was then, Trump's coziness with the foreign adversary is far from hidden. Who could forget his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018? After meeting with the dictator for two hours in Helsinki, Trump told reporters this: "I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today."
Celebrities, royals and politicians brace themselves as court orders release of explosive Jeffrey Epstein filesIn Room 270, the records management unit, on the second floor of an imposing granite and marble courthouse in lower Manhattan, 167 documents totaling more than 2,000 pages are being kept under lock and key. But they are about to be unsealed and made public - making a host of important people around the world, including celebrities, politicians and royals, very nervous. The files contain explosive allegations in the case of Giuffre v Maxwell, in which Virginia Giuffre, a woman who claims to have been Jeffrey Epstein's teenage "sex slave", sued Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and the billionaire's former girlfriend, for defamation. The case was settled in May 2017 on the eve of the trial but the details were not disclosed and the final judgment and supporting documents were sealed, with the court noting the "highly sensitive nature of the underlying allegations."
By Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAYAnother foreign oil tanker was seized in the Persian Gulf, Iran's state media said Sunday – the third such ship to be detained by Tehran amid high tensions between Iran and the U.S. after Washington renewed sanctions on Iran's oil exports. Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced it detained the ship's foreign crew for smuggling 700,000 liters – about 185,000 gallons – of fuel from Iran, according to the semi-official Fars news agency, which cited state television. Seven sailors were detained.
By Rajesh Kumar SinghCHICAGO (Reuters) - With U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Thursday of tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese imports, nearly all goods from China will be subject to import taxes, and Trump says they generate billions of dollars in revenues for the U.S. Treasury from China. But that is not how tariffs work. China’s government and companies in China do not pay U.S. tariffs directly. Tariffs are a tax on imported products and are paid by U.S.-registered firms to U.S. customs when goods enter the United States. Importers often pass the costs of tariffs on to customers - manufacturers and consumers in the United States - by raising their prices. U.S. business executives and economists say U.S. consumers foot much of the tariff bill. That was why, immediately after Trump announced his decision, U.S. retailers blasted the move as “another tax increase on American businesses and consumers,” which they warned would threaten U.S. jobs and raise costs for American families. The new levies will hit a wide swath of consumer goods from cell phones and laptop computers to toys and footwear.
Bloomberg PoliticsAug.01 -- President Donald Trump abruptly escalated his trade war with China, announcing that he would impose a 10% tariff on $300 billion in Chinese imports that aren’t yet subject to U.S. duties after setbacks in negotiations with Beijing. Bloomberg's Shawn Donnan reports on "Bloomberg Markets: The Close."
As ban comes into force, hospitals and public transport sector say they will not deny services to burqa-clad women. The Netherlands has banned face-covering clothing, such as a burqa or niqab, in public buildings and on transport, as a contentious law on the garment worn by some Muslim women came into force. Between 100 and 400 women are estimated to wear a burqa or niqab in the European country of 17 million people. "From now on the wearing of clothing which covers the face is banned in educational facilities, public institutions and buildings, as well as hospitals and public transport," the Dutch interior ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The legislation - which was passed in June last year after more than a decade of political debate on the subject - also applies to other face coverings such as full-face helmets or balaclavas. Security officials are now required to tell people with face-covering clothing to show their faces. If they refuse, they can be denied access to public buildings and fined 150 euros ($165).
By Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst(CNN)Recent intelligence indicates that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has a "heart complaint," according to a senior official involved in international counterterrorism efforts. The official said the information suggests Zawahiri had a potentially serious condition but cautioned it was difficult to ascertain the severity of his health problems and what effect they might have on his longevity. The possibility that Zawahiri, who just turned 68, is seriously ill increases uncertainty over al Qaeda's long-term leadership succession plans. Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden had been widely tipped to one day take over command of al Qaeda but a US official told CNN on Wednesday that the US now believes that he is dead. Zawahiri's health was also referenced in a UN monitoring report that was circulated this summer to the Security Council. Citing "member state information," the report noted Zawahiri was "reported to be in poor health." It stated that although "Al-Qaida remains resilient" the "health and longevity of its leader ... and how the succession will work are in doubt." Zawahiri has continued to frequently appear in al Qaeda videos and was last heard from last month. There were no obvious signs that he has a serious health condition in these videos. The US still sees al Qaeda as a major threat and a US intelligence assessment on the terror group released in January stated that senior leaders are "strengthening the network's global command structure" as part of its effort to inspire and encourage attacks against the West. The group's "command and control is agile, active and able to respond," one US official who tracks the group told CNN earlier this year.
By Alex WardExperts say that would be a huge mistake, but the possibility can’t be discounted. Chinese political and military leaders this week have made a series of statements and possible moves that could foreshadow a future bloody outcome: Beijing’s forces intervening in Hong Kong. After taking over Hong Kong in a war in the 1800s, Britain returned it to China in 1997 with an important stipulation: The city would partly govern itself for 50 years before fully falling under Beijing’s control. So until 2047, the expectation was that the city and the mainland would operate under the principle known as “one country, two systems.” But Beijing clearly isn’t waiting that long, and critics say it’s imposing its will on the semiautonomous city via a puppet government. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy citizens have protested those and other moves peacefully since the early summer, but in recent weeks, demonstrators and the city’s authorities have used violence to make their points. Mainland China hasn’t taken kindly to the unrest, which it views as deeply threatening to its power. China’s political leadership and law enforcement officials don’t like anyone protesting the government in Beijing and have no tolerance for democratic movements. It’s no wonder, then, that Beijing has talked tough since protests began. But now it seems Chinese authorities may be speaking a little too tough these days.
By elizabeth mclaughlinNorth Korea has fired at least one projectile into the Sea of Japan, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News. The official said that the projectile is similar to the two launched by North Korea earlier this week which were assessed to be short-range ballistic missiles. The South Korean Joint Chiefs also later confirmed the launch of unknown short-range projectiles at 2:59 a.m. and 3:23 from South Hamgyong Province into the East Sea. This is the third launch by North Korea in the last two weeks alone. U.S. officials have said these launches appear to be North Korea's protest to joint U.S.-ROK military exercises set to begin later this month. Thursday's launch was first reported by CNN.
By Scott NeumanIranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at new U.S. sanctions imposed on the country's foreign minister, calling the Trump administration move "childish." On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, blocking him from doing business with Americans and restricting his access to any property he might have in U.S. jurisdictions. The move is seen as part of the administration's ratcheting up of pressure on Iran amid increased tensions between the two countries. "They have started doing childish things," Rouhani said in a speech in the western city of Tabriz, in Azerbaijan province, according to The Associated Press. "Every day they claim: 'We want to negotiate with Iran, without any pre-conditions.' And then they put sanctions on the country's foreign minister," Rouhani said. In announcing the sanctions on Zarif, Mnuchin said the foreign minister "spreads the regime's propaganda and disinformation." "Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader, and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world," the treasury secretary said in a statement. "The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable." Administration officials did not say whether the sanctions would prevent Zarif from visiting the United Nations in New York.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Britain on Thursday ruled out exchanging an Iranian tanker detained by Gibraltar for a British-flagged tanker seized by Iran in the Gulf. “We are not going to barter: if people or nations have detained UK-flagged illegally then the rule of law and rule of international law must be upheld,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said while on a trip to Bangkok. “We are not going to barter a ship that was detained legally with a ship that was detained illegally: that’s not the way that Iran will come in from the cold,” he said. “So I am afraid some kind of barter or haggle or linkage is not on the table.”
On July 25, the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), a team of investigative bloggers) reported that a Russian Defense Ministry exhibition contradicted claims the ministry made in 2015 and 2016, denying it used cluster munitions in Syria. The CIT had already debunked these denials using footage provided by Russian state media and the Defense Ministry in early 2016. This time, however, the Defense Ministry is tacitly admitting it has used the controversial weapon in Syria. At the Russian Defense Ministry’s “Patriot Park,” located near Moscow, there is a pavilion dedicated to the weapons Russian forces have used in Syria. CIT members visited the exhibition and found RBK-500 and RBK-500 ShOAB-0.5 cluster bombs on display. In January 2016, CIT published its first report debunking the Russian denials about cluster bombs. Most of the footage came directly from Russian state media like Sputnik, RT and Ruptly. In one case, RT reporter and TV host Murad Gazdiev tweeted a video of a Russian Su-34 taking off, loaded with RBK-500 SPBE-D cluster bombs. Armed #ruaf su-34 taxis just before takeoff. Lots of new video will be up on RT/Ruptly soon. #syria pic.twitter.com/TNTR7L4x5T
PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - U.S. embassy officials in Cambodia can leave if they do not like it there, a Cambodian government spokesman said on Thursday, following criticism by U.S. diplomats that the Southeast Asian nation’s 2018 election was deeply flawed. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CCP) won all 125 parliamentary seats in the election last year that rights groups said was neither free nor fair following the dissolution of the main opposition party. In a Facebook post on Tuesday marking a year since the vote, the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, said the election had “failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people”. U.S. officials should not make such “barbaric comments”, government spokesman Phay Siphan said in response. “Although we are friends, if these officials don’t like Cambodia, they should pack up and leave. Let me be clear: We don’t welcome you,” Siphan told a regular news conference on Thursday. Siphan said he was referring to a Twitter posting last month by U.S. President Donald Trump telling four ethnic minority Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to the “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.
By Erin Banco - National Security Reporter, Asawin Suebsaeng - White House ReporterBut somehow, the administration is turning to dovish Rand Paul to work with Iran, too. President Trump wants a new deal with Iran to replace the nuclear agreement he pulled out of, and he’s turning to one of his most hawkish confidants to help do it. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is working in close coordination with senior Trump administration officials who focus on Middle East policy to find an alternative to the Obama administration’s Iran deal, four people with knowledge of the efforts tell The Daily Beast. Part of that effort includes fielding ideas from outside actors, including foreign officials, two of those sources said. Graham’s developing role in the Trump administration’s Iran strategy comes as the State Department, Department of Defense, and other government agencies try to manage the delicate relationship between Washington and Tehran. The two countries have engaged in tit-for-tat escalations over the last several months, feeding fears on Capitol Hill that the two countries are on a crash course that could likely end in a direct military conflict. The situation has worsened in recent weeks, with the Trump administration accusing Iran of attacking tankers in the Gulf of Hormuz, which it heavily patrols.
By John BowdenA North Korean soldier crossed the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) late Wednesday night and defected to South Korean forces, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday. The Washington Post reported that the unidentified soldier made the crossing just before midnight, and was detained along the Imjin River by South Korean forces. "A South Korean soldier on guard duty first found an unidentified object floating in the river via thermal observation devices, which was later confirmed as a person. The military then took him safely into custody in accordance with due protocol," an official told Yonhap News Agency. "The man is an active-duty soldier, and he expressed his desire to defect to the South. Related procedures are underway," the official added. It was unclear whether the man was injured during his successful escape, as another North Korean soldier was in 2017 when he led soldiers on a dramatic chase during his successful defection attempt while being shot several times.
By Cate Cadell, Patpicha TanakasempipatBANGKOK (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday criticized China’s actions in Asia after meeting his Chinese counterpart for the first time this year amid political tension between the two countries. Pompeo spoke out against Chinese “coercion” of Southeast Asian neighbors in disputes over the South China Sea and its dam-building on the Mekong River. His comments highlighted the U.S. divide with China at a meeting in Bangkok of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). After meeting China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, Pompeo said both countries wanted to improve ties that have soured on issues ranging from trade, U.S. sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, Taiwan and the busy South China Sea waterway.
By Associated PressThe missile hit in the city's neighborhood of Breiqa where a military parade was underway by forces loyal to the United Arab Emirates. ADEN, Yemen — Rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile Thursday at a military parade in the southern port city of Aden and coordinated suicide bombings targeted a police station in another part of the city, killing at least 51 people and wounding dozens, officials said. The missile hit in the city's neighborhood of Breiqa where a military parade was underway by forces loyal to the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015 in support of Yemen's internationally recognized government. Since the rebels seized the country's capital, Sanaa, in 2014, Aden has served as the temporary seat of the government. The parade was taking place in the pro-coalition al-Galaa camp, said a security official, without give a breakdown for the casualties.
Bipartisan bill seeks New Start extension– the last formal restraint on the world’s major arsenals. Bipartisan Senate legislation introduced on Wednesday aims to change the administration’s course on nuclear arms control, urging Donald Trump to extend the New Start treaty with Russia or provide justification for allowing it to expire. Trump has already pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, which is due to end on Friday. That would leave New Start, which limits strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the US and Russia to 1,550 each, as the last formal restraint on the world’s major arsenals and its demise is widely seen as the potential death of arms control. Trump has been dismissive of the treaty, signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2010. The national security advisor, John Bolton, said it was “unlikely to be extended” when it expires in February 2021. Trump is provoking a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. What could go wrong? “Why extend the flawed system just to say you have a treaty?” Bolton asked rhetorically at a rally of young conservatives on Tuesday.
By Manveena Suri, CNNNew Delhi (CNN) - A 7-year-old boy complaining of jaw pain was found to have 526 teeth inside his mouth, according to the hospital in India where he was treated. The boy was admitted last month in the southern city of Chennai because of swelling and pain near his molars in his lower right jaw. When doctors scanned and x-rayed his mouth, they found a sac embedded in his lower jaw filled with "abnormal teeth," Dr. Prathiba Ramani, the head of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at Saveetha Dental College and Hospital, told CNN. While the surgery to remove the teeth took place last month, doctors needed time to individually examine each tooth before they could confirm their findings. After discovering the sac, two surgeons removed it from the boy's mouth. Then Ramani's team took four to five hours to empty the sac to confirm its contents and discovered the hundreds of teeth.
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