World News January 2019:
EU launches mechanism to bypass US sanctions on Iran - Virginia PietromarchiEU opens new channel for humanitarian trade with Iran, showing its willingness to stand against US policies. The European Union has announced the setting up of a payment mechanism to secure trade with Iran and skirt US sanctions after Washington pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal last May. The proposal of a financial instrument has been a key element in the EU's strategy to keep Iran from quitting the 2015 nuclear agreement, which was signed to prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. The new institution, named INSTEX - Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges - will allow trade between the EU and Iran without relying on direct financial transactions. It is a project of the governments of France, Germany and Britain and will receive the formal endorsement of all 28 EU members. The administration of US President Donald Trump has been closely eyeing European efforts to establish the financial mechanism and warned any attempt to evade its "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran would be subject to stiff penalties. The mechanism is the first concrete step by the EU to counter Trump's unilateral decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal.One week after President Donald Trump's administration recognized an opposition leader as Venezuela's interim president, the Latin American nation's disputed leader Nicolas Maduro warned Wednesday that the United States was in danger of turning his country into another Vietnam War. "People from #USA, I ask for your support in order to reject the interference of Donald Trump's administration which intends to turn my Homeland into a 'Vietnam war' in Latin America. Don't allow it!" Maduro posted on his Twitter account, in English. In a video published in Spanish on his Facebook account, Maduro said if "the U.S. intends to invade us, they will have a Vietnam worse than they can imagine." Maduro has accused the U.S. of attempting to stage a coup against his government. Speculation that Trump may be preparing to send troops to Venezuela was fueled this week after National Security Adviser John Bolton was seen holding a notepad that read: "5,000 troops to Colombia." Colombia borders Venezuela.In 2006, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted a dinner for President George W. Bush and other world leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia. In a photo, the man standing behind them is the caterer, wearing a tux and a white bow tie. His name is Yevgeny Prigozhin. His nickname is "Putin's chef." So what's the big deal about him? He epitomizes a real renaissance man in contemporary Russia, which is to say that he runs some very high-end restaurants," said Angela Stent, the head of Russian Studies at Georgetown University and author of the forthcoming book Putin's World. Interesting. But what else does he do? "He was the one running this Internet Research Agency, this troll factory in St. Petersburg that managed to mobilize thousands of Americans from 5,000 miles away to demonstrate and protest in the 2016 election," said Stent. That gets your attention. And there's more.$840M in gold bars prepared for loading onto Russian jet at Venezuelan airport: report By Edmund DeMarcheAbout 20 tons of gold from Venezuela's central bank was ready to be hauled away Tuesday on a Russian airline's Boeing 777 that landed in Caracas a day earlier, a Venezuelan lawmaker wrote on Twitter. The destination of the $840 million in gold bars was unknown, but a source told Bloomberg News that it represented about 20 percent of the country's holding of the metal. The gold was set aside for loading, the report said. The news outlet, which first reported on the tweet, identified the lawmaker as Jose Guerra. The lawmaker did not provide evidence for his claim but is identified in the report as a former economist at the country's central bank with close ties to workers still there. Noticias Venezuela, a news outlet in the country, posted a photo of what it identified as a Nordwind Airlines plane from Moscow that made the trip with only a crew aboard. Simon Zerpa, Venezuela's finance minister, did not comment about the gold when reached by Bloomberg and denied there was a Russian plane at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas. "I'm going to start bringing Russian and Turkish airplanes every week so everybody gets scared," he joked.Baffin Island glacier melt unmasks land covered for 40,000 years: report By Theresa BraineIt has been nearly 120,000 years since Earth was this warm, and 40,000 years since some ice-swathed Arctic lands have seen the sun. This is one conclusion of a study published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, in which researchers carbon-dated plants collected at the edges of 30 ice caps on Baffin Island, in the Canadian Inuit territory of Nunavut. “The Arctic is currently warming two to three times faster than the rest of the globe, so naturally, glaciers and ice caps are going to react faster,” said Simon Pendleton, lead author and a doctoral researcher at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), in a statement. The study was conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where INSTAAR is located, and in conjunction with the University of California at Irvine, as well as Purdue University. Baffin is the world’s fifth-largest island, lying west of Greenland, which has also been shown to be melting precipitously. The population is predominantly Inuit.(Reuters) - Carlos Ghosn said Nissan executives opposed to his plans for closer ties with automaking partner Renault SA resorted to “plot and treason” to disrupt them and were behind the financial misconduct allegations against him. Speaking to the Nikkei newspaper in his first media interview since his arrest on Nov. 19, Ghosn said he had discussed plans to integrate the companies with Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa in September. But Nissan executives employed “plot and treason” to uproot those plans, Ghosn said.Venezuelan officials seek to block U.S.-supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó from leaving the country, freeze his assets - Andreina Aponte, Rachelle Krygier, Anthony FaiolaVenezuela’s chief prosecutor asked the pro-government Supreme Court on Tuesday to prohibit opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó from leaving the country and to freeze his bank accounts, a day after the United States slapped sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company. “We request these preventive measures against Guaidó while we compile elements to stop the events that since January 22 have broken the peace of the Republic,” the prosecutor, Tarek Saab, said in a news conference. Speaking at the opposition-led National Assembly, which he heads, Guaidó responded to the move by dismissing it as “nothing new under the sun.” He said it came from “a regime that doesn’t give answers to Venezuelans” and whose “only answer is persecution and repression.” Guaidó added: “The world is clear on what’s happening in Venezuela . . . Let’s not desist because of threats and persecution. We will continue to advance in our fight.”A Toronto landscaper accused of killing eight men who went missing between 2010-17 has pleaded guilty to their murders. Bruce McArthur, 67, was arrested last January and charged in the deaths of two men, and police subsequently charged him in six other cases. Most of his victims had links to Toronto's Gay Village neighbourhood. Many of the victims' remains were found in plant pots on one property in Toronto's Leaside neighbourhood. Each of the first-degree murder charges carry an automatic life sentence, meaning he will not be able to apply for release until the age of 91. His sentencing hearing will begin on 4 February, in which friends and relatives will be give impact statements, describing how the killings have affected their lives.National security adviser John Bolton held a legal pad in a White House press briefing Monday with the words "5,000 troops to Colombia" written on it. Reporters noticed the scribbled note on Twitter, with the first line appearing to say "Afghanistan — welcome to talks." Economic adviser Larry Kudlow turned the notes away from reporters during the briefing. The note appears to refer to the situation in Venezuela, Colombia's neighbor. The U.S. announced last week it considers Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader of the country's National Assembly, as the legitimate president. More than a dozen other countries followed suit, backing Guaidó over the government of President Nicolás Maduro.Russia pumped a record 11.45 million barrels per day in December, an increase of 80,000 bpd on the previous month, its Energy Ministry reported in early January. Saudi Arabia’s crude output, by contrast, fell by more than 450,000 bpd from November to December. Global benchmark Brent crude has bounced back 25 percent from its late December route, but is still far from the more than $86 per barrel highs it witnessed in October. Brent was trading at $60.18 a barrel at 2.30 p.m. London time. OPEC members, along with several other countries, in December agreed on output cuts totaling 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in order to stem a sinking market and support their own export-dependent economies.Venezuela has backed down from their demand that US diplomats leave the country, saying they’re open to talks — as the Trump administration warned of a “significant response” if American personnel are threatened or intimidated. The country’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that far-left President Nicolas Maduro was suspending the expulsion of US diplomats, to allow for a 30-day window to negotiate with American officials. The embattled second-term leader cut ties with the US Wednesday after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guiado as Venezuela’s interim president, a move Maduro blasted as an attempted coup. He gave US diplomats three days to leave the county — but the Trump administration said it wouldn’t obey. Venezuela’s last-minute Saturday night decision to pull the expulsion order may have avoided a potential showdown with the US. Still, US National security adviser John Bolton cautioned that any threat on a US diplomat or Gaido would yield a forceful reaction. “Any violence and intimidation against U.S. diplomatic personnel, Venezuela’s democratic leader, Juan Guiado, or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response,” Bolton tweeted Sunday. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday refused to rule out US military action to address the unrest in Venezuela, where violent anti-government protests have broken out. “I don’t think any president of any party who is doing his or her job would be doing the job properly if they took anything off the table,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” Meanwhile, Maduro struck down calls from European countries to hold early elections within eight days. France, Germany and Spain threatened to follow the US in recognizing Guaido as the true leader. Russia has called the ultimatum “absurd” and Turkey said it supports Maduro. In an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, Maduro said he was open to a dialogue with the US but that it was improbable — but not impossible — that he meet Trump.WORLD WAR 3 WARNING: Russia 'reducing threshold' for nuclear weapons use - 'It's serious' - Harvey GavinRUSSIA has made the use of nuclear weapons more likely with its development of a new missile, the chief of Nato has warned. Jens Stoltenberg said Moscow’s construction and testing of SSC-8 cruise missiles, which the alliance says are banned under a Cold War-era accord, had reduced “the threshold for any use of nuclear weapons”. The Nato Secretary General said the “really serious” breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty required a “measured and responsible” response from the West. Russia revealed the 9M729 missiles late last year prompting fears they could be used to launch a nuclear attack against Europe or the United States at very short notice. The weapons, referred to as SSC-8 by Nato, can be quickly moved and multiple rockets fired by a single mobile launcher, making them hard to detect and difficult to defend against. Nato insists the weapons fall under those banned by the INF treaty because of their range, but Russia denies this. Speaking to CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Stoltenberg warned the Kremlin’s actions made the use of nuclear weapons more likely. He said: “Russia is in violation of that treaty, they have developed and deployed new missiles which are mobile, hard-to-detect, short warning time, and they are therefore reducing the threshold for any use of nuclear weapons. “So we call on Russia to come back in to verifiable, transparent compliance with that treaty, because this is really important for all of us.”Venezuela may 'spiral out of control' with at least 20 dead in protests, UN says - Jason Hanna, Nicole Chavez, Flora Charner(CNN) As two declared presidents vie for power in Venezuela, a UN human rights official says at least 20 people have died in protest-related violence this week in the Latin American country, sparking her concern that the situation there "may rapidly spiral out of control." The 20 people allegedly were shot to death by security forces or members of pro-government armed groups during demonstrations Tuesday and Wednesday, UN human rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Friday, citing "credible local sources." This comes amid a mounting crisis inside and outside Venezuela over its future, with opposition leader Juan Guaido having declared himself acting president, openly rebelling against President Nicolas Maduro, whose opponents allege was illegitimately elected for a second term. More than 350 demonstrators have reportedly been detained during the scores of protests that have occurred in Venezuela this week, Bachelet's office said. "I am extremely concerned that the situation in Venezuela may rapidly spiral out of control with catastrophic consequences," Bachelet said. "Any violent incident resulting in death or injury should be subject to an independent and impartial investigation to find out whether there was excessive use of force by the authorities, or if crimes have been committed by members of armed groups, whether pro-government or otherwise," she said.Queen sends a veiled Brexit message to UK politicians: end your bickering - Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton(Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth has sent a delicately coded message to Britain's factious political class over Brexit, urging lawmakers to seek common ground and grasp the big picture to resolve the crisis. With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Britain to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom is in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973. While Elizabeth, 92, did not mention Brexit explicitly in an annual speech to her local Women's Institute in Norfolk, the monarch said every generation faced "fresh challenges and opportunities." "As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture," the queen said. Though steeped in the conventional language the queen has made her hallmark, the remarks in the context of Britain's crisis are a signal to politicians to sort out the turmoil that has pushed the world's fifth largest economy to the brink. "She’s been a gold standard monarch for very nearly 67 years now and this is a particularly gilt-edged moment, I think it’s very important what she said and how she said it," historian Peter Hennessy said. Buckingham Palace declined to comment though the British media was clear about the significance of her remarks. The Times' headline read: "End Brexit feud, Queen tells warring politicians."This time last year, the first primates cloned through a nucleus transfer technique made headlines around the world. Now, Chinese researchers have pushed the envelope even further – by breaking a regulatory gene in macaques before cloning them. According to the researchers, cloning genetically altered primates has clear benefits for medical testing. But in the wake of controversy over gene-editing on humans, progress in this contentious area could be outpacing ethics. After the new experiment, five infant macaques born at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai all share the exact same genes, derived from a fibroblast taken from the skin of a donor monkey. More importantly, they all carry a copy of one specific gene – a version of BMAL1 that had been altered in the donor using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology. This gene normally produces a regulatory protein that plays a role in managing certain biological rhythms in mammals. But in the altered version this protein isn't produced, leading animals to exhibit symptoms of circadian disorders, such as reduced sleep and greater movement at night.Maduro says Venezuela is breaking relations with US, gives American diplomats 72 hours to leave countryVenezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning over the backing of the Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting socialist Nicolas Maduro to break relations with the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump formally recognized Guaido shortly after his announcement and praised his plan to hold elections. That was swiftly followed by similar statements from Canada and a slew of right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s neighbors Brazil and Colombia. At a rally that brought hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans into the east of Caracas, Guaido said Maduro had usurped power and promised to create a transitional government that would help the country escape its hyperinflationary economic collapse. “I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” 35-year old Guaido, the head of the opposition-run congress, told an exuberant crowd. Guaido’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions. In a televised broadcast from the presidential palace, Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the United States, which he said was seeking to govern Venezuela from Washington.26 billionaires own as much wealth as half the world - Luke BarnesAlexa, explain to me why AOC's 70 percent marginal tax rate is so popular. A sobering new report by the charity Oxfam has laid bare the stunning levels of global wealth inequality. According to the report, published Monday, billionaires have never had it better. The combined riches of the world’s 26 most wealthy billionaires equals $1.4 trillion — this is equal to the total wealth of the bottom 3.8 billion of the world’s population. Billionaires have increased their wealth by 12 percent this year, the report states, while at the same time the wealth of the poorest half of the world has fallen by 11 percent. This consolidation is happening at a rapid rate even for the billionaire class, which according to the report has doubled in size since the 2008 financial crisis. In 2016, 61 billionaires controlled half of the world’s wealth, then in 2017 that number was 43, before becoming 26 in 2018.Report reveals an undeclared North Korean missile base headquarters - Katanga Johnson(Reuters) - One of 20 undeclared ballistic missile operating bases in North Korea serves as a missile headquarters, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published on Monday. “The Sino-ri missile operating base and the Nodong missiles deployed at this location fit into North Korea’s presumed nuclear military strategy by providing an operational-level nuclear or conventional first strike capability,” the report said. The discovery of an undeclared missile headquarters comes three days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he “looks forward” to another summit to discuss denuclearization with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in late February. CSIS, which last reported on the 20 undeclared bases in November, said the Sino-ri base has never been declared by North Korea and as a result “does not appear to be the subject of denuclearization negotiations.”Belarusian model who claimed to have dirt on Manafort will be deported from Thailand - Richard S. EhrlichBANGKOK — A jailed Belarusian model and her Russian lover, who claimed to have audio of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort discussing U.S. electoral strategy with high-placed Russian figures, were found guilty Tuesday of sex crimes and will be deported. After the couple’s arrest in February 2018 near Bangkok, Anastasia Vashukevich — who calls herself Nastya Rybka — attracted international attention when she claimed she and partner Alexander Kirillov had secretly recorded the scandalous audio when she was Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s “mistress” in 2016 and 2017. Thai authorities detained the couple for conducting a weeklong seminar that officials said offered sleazy seduction techniques to foreign men and women who paid $700 each. After her arrest in Pattaya, Thailand’s infamously hedonistic beach resort, Ms. Vashukevich posted a video online while inside a prison vehicle, pleading with “friends, American press” for help. She claimed the couple secretly recorded “Manafort and Trump and all that buzz around the U.S. elections.”British Prime Minister Theresa May suffers devastating defeat on key Brexit vote - Adam Shaw | Fox NewsBritish Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a crushing defeat Tuesday as Parliament overwhelmingly rejected her Brexit deal with the European Union -- a defeat that places the future of Brexit in doubt and intensified calls for May’s ouster via a general election. May’s withdrawal agreement was voted down 432-202, the largest defeat for a prime minister in the history of the House of Commons. May was expected to lose, but the extent by which she lost was significant and marked a devastating blow for her leadership and her ability to go back to Brussels and negotiate further concessions. May acknowledged that her deal was rejected by Parliament, but added: "Tonight's vote tells us nothing about what it does support." Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, immediately tabled a motion of no-confidence in the government, which is likely to be debated on Wednesday. Should that pass, it could eventually lead to a snap general election if another government is not formed within two weeks.Seeds taken to the moon by China have sprouted, according the country’s National Space Administration, marking the first time any biological matter has been grown on the moon’s surface. The experiment is being seen as a significant step toward long-term space exploration. China’s Chang’e 4 probe became the first to land on and explore the moon’s far side when it touched down on Jan. 3. It was carrying soil containing cotton and potato seeds, yeast, and fruit-fly eggs. The cotton seeds have now grown buds, Chinese media report. State newspaper the People’s Daily tweeted an image of the seed, saying it marked “the completion of humankind’s first biological experiment on the moon.” Prof. Xie Gengxin, the experiment’s chief designer, said: “Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base.”Zimbabwe’s president raised fuel prices above $12 a gallon and then jetted off to Russia. Deadly chaos ensued.- Max BearakPent-up anger found its vent on Monday in Zimbabwe as thousands crowded the streets of cities and towns nationwide to protest the mismanagement of an economy that has undeniably rotted to its core. Just five months have passed since Emmerson Mnangagwa took over as president from Robert Mugabe, who ruled for nearly 40 years and presided over Zimbabwe’s initial catastrophic economic meltdown. But Mnangagwa, who won a contested election on promises of putting the country back in business, has made decisions that strike many Zimbabweans as a continuation of Mugabe’s misguided policies. Mnangagwa deposed an increasingly erratic Mugabe with the help of the military in November 2017, but a subsequent election was marred by accusations of vote rigging. On Sunday, just before taking a private jet on an official trip to Russia (all of the state-owned airline’s planes are grounded), Mnangagwa announced a 140 percent increase in fuel prices, raising the cost to $12.53 a gallon and making Zimbabwe by far the most expensive place to gas up in the world. For many Zimbabweans, it was the last straw. They took to the streets, but in another echo of the Mugabe era, so did security forces, looters and unidentifiable armed men.‘Putin’s Chef’ Lashes Out after Lawyer Rebuked in Troll Farm Case - William EcholsOn January 7, Judge Dabney Friedrich, who is presiding over the trial against the Russian firm Concord Management and Consulting LLC for its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, had a highly contentious courtroom exchange with defense lawyer Eric Dubelier, calling his conduct “unprofessional, inappropriate, and ineffective.” In a January 4 brief filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Dubelier compared Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutorial argument to a line from the 1978 film “Animal House”: "You f---ed up. You trusted us. Hey, make the best of it.”Syrian state media reported on Sunday one missile fired towards Damascus struck a warehouse at the city's airport. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel carried out an air raid on Iranian weapons in Syria over the weekend, a rare public confirmation of such attacks. "Just in the last 36 hours the air force attacked Iranian warehouses containing Iranian weapons in the Damascus international airport," Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of a cabinet meeting, according to his office. "The accumulation of recent attacks shows that we're more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria, just as we promised," the prime minister's office said.Murdered journalists were tracked by police with shadowy Russian links, evidence shows - Tim Lister and Sebastian Shukla, CNNNew evidence shows that three Russian journalists killed in the Central African Republic last year were victims of a well-planned ambush involving a senior police officer with shadowy Russian connections -- and they were tracked from the moment they arrived in the country. The three journalists -- Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Orkhan Dzhemal -- went to CAR in July 2018 to investigate the activities of Russian private military contractors. Their intention was to find out how the contractors were involved in exploiting the CAR's mineral wealth. The trio were shot dead after the vehicle in which they were traveling was attacked on a remote road in the volatile country. Their fate has cast a spotlight on a growing Russian presence in Africa, involving the Kremlin, private companies with ties to to President Vladimir Putin and large shipments of weapons. The official explanation of their death is that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, victims of bandits or rebels. But that story never quite added up. Nothing of value was taken from their vehicle, their driver survived unscathed, and investigations remain incomplete.British legislators ramp up pressure on embattled Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of crucial Brexit vote next week. British legislators have slashed the time Prime Minister Theresa May's government will have to formulate a plan B if her widely criticised Brexit deal is rejected in a crucial parliamentary vote next week. Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK's lower chamber House of Commons voted 308 to 297 on Wednesday to back a motion demanding the government puts forward a revised plan within three days should May lose the vote on January 15. MPs will have the right to amend any second plan brought forward by May, potentially opening the way for several different outcomes, ranging from a so-called "managed no-deal" exit to another referendum. May, who is struggling to win approval for her Brexit plan, previously had 21 days to report back to the Commons in the event of a defeat next Tuesday.Bolton and Pompeo scramble to reassure allies reeling from Trump's Syria decision - By Nicole Gaouette, CNNUS officials are working to contain the fallout from President Donald Trump's shock announcement of a Syria troop withdrawal, flatly contradicting the President as they do so and raising questions about whether a coherent strategy exists at all. Trump continues to qualify his statements on the US military presence in Syria, swinging from his ringing, conditions-free declaration in December that troops would be leaving "now" since ISIS had been defeated to Monday's more cautious tweet that troops would leave "at a proper pace." The two most senior members of Trump's national security teams, meanwhile, are reassuring allies in ways that baldly contradict the President's earlier declarations.BEIJING — China’s president, Xi Jinping, warned Taiwan that unification must be the ultimate goal of any talks over its future and that efforts to assert full independence could be met by armed force, laying out an unyielding position on Wednesday in his first major speech about the contested island democracy. Mr. Xi outlined his stance one day after Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, urged China to peacefully settle disputes over the island, whose 23 million people, she said, want to preserve their self-rule. But Beijing treats Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway from Chinese rule, and Mr. Xi said unification was unstoppable as China rose. “The country is growing strong, the nation is rejuvenating and unification between the two sides of the strait is the great trend of history,” Mr. Xi told officials, military officers and guests in the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.Nearly two years into his presidency and more than six months after his historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, President Trump finds himself essentially back where he was at the beginning in achieving the ambitious goal of getting Mr. Kim to relinquish his nuclear arsenal.That was the essential message of Mr. Kim’s annual New Year’s televised speech, where he reiterated that international sanctions must be lifted before North Korea will give up a single weapon, dismantle a single missile site or stop producing nuclear material.Enmeshed in three graft cases, the Israeli PM denies any wrongdoing and will seek a new mandate in April polls. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would not resign if indicted on corruption charges, as police continue to investigate several cases involving him ahead of April polls.Netanyahu, who is enmeshed in three corruption cases and denies any wrongdoing, announced last week that a snap parliamentary elections would be held in April, seeking a fresh political mandate after his right-wing ruling coalition collapsed. On Monday, Netanyahu said at a press conference during his Brazil visit that he would not step down "in the event of being summoned for a hearing by the prosecutor general before the elections".A French president struggling to reassert his grip after weeks of violent demonstrations across the country assured citizens on Monday night that he understood their anger — but said that henceforth order would be “applied without compromise.” In a potentially pivotal moment of his presidency, Emmanuel Macron sought to calm a country shaken by over six weeks of unrest, in which wealthy neighborhoods of Paris have been repeatedly hit by looting and burning. Mr. Macron, in the traditional New Year’s Eve speech given by French presidents, alternated between admonition and conciliation. But his overall message for the “Yellow Vest” protesters behind the demonstrations was unmistakable: Curb the disorder. “I’ve seen and heard unthinkable, unacceptable things,” Mr. Macron said. He vowed to “ensure everyone of their rights” but also to “expect from them their duties.”Britain's prime minister is using her new year's message to seek more political support for the proposed Brexit deal with the European Union.Theresa May said Monday night that Britain can "turn a corner" and end a divisive period if Parliament backs the agreement she reached with the EU.The State Department, Department of Defense and national security adviser John Bolton all issued public statements Friday that collectively outlined a road map for implementing President Donald Trump's decision to pull US troops out of Syria, a move the President has adamantly defended after more than a week of criticism and signs of conflict within the administration's highest levels. Over the course of just a few hours, both agencies and the White House national security adviser all released individual statements suggesting the administration is taking steps to initiate the complete withdrawal of 2,000 US troops from Syria despite a whirlwind of controversy. Trump's announcement more than a week ago blindsided allies in the region and sparked a controversy that culminated in the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.Kim Jong Un used his New Year’s address to issue a pointed warning to President Donald Trump, saying North Korea would take a “new path” in nuclear talks if the U.S. didn’t relax economic sanctions. While Kim affirmed his willingness to meet Trump again, his nationally televised speech offered no new initiatives to advance talks that have sputtered since their first summit in June. Instead, Kim said his patience with the U.S.-led sanctions regime designed as punishment for his nuclear weapons program was running out. “I am willing to sit with the U.S. president any time in the future and will strive to produce outcomes that would be welcomed by the international community,” Kim said, wearing a suit and tie and seated in a plush leather chair overlooked by paintings of his father and grandfather at work.Allies have quit UNESCO after announcement in 2017, arguing it fosters anti-Israel bias. The United States and Israel have officially quit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago. The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the US after World War II to foster peace.The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit, accusing the UN agency of anti-Israel bias.History shows that cooperation is the best choice for both China and the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Donald Trump in a congratulatory message on Tuesday to mark 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The two countries agreed last month to a 90-day temporary ceasefire in their bitter trade war to give them time to hold fresh talks to try and end a dispute that has seen them level increasingly severe tariffs on each others’ goods.Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has a near impossible feat to accomplish in the new year—convince Vladimir Putin to give up Russian territory.The land in question is a chain of tiny islands known as the Southern Kurils to Russia and the Northern Territories to Japan, and the dispute over them has dogged relations between the Pacific neighbors since the end of World War II. In recent weeks, the two countries have signaled renewed efforts to bring the disagreement to an end.Pope Francis, in his first message of the new year on Tuesday, bemoaned a lack of unity across the world, and warned against a soulless hunt for profit that benefits only a few. “How much dispersion and solitude there is all around us. The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed,” the pope said in his traditional New Year’s Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily he paid homage to motherhood, saying a world that looked to the future while forgetting “a mother’s gaze” was shortsighted.The family of the American citizen arrested in Russia on espionage charges said on Tuesday that he is innocent, and they fear for his safety.Paul Whelan, a 48-year-old retired U.S. Marine, was detained last week by Russia’s domestic security services while he was in Moscow for what they described as a “spy mission.” “We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being,” his family said in a statement. “His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected.” Whelan’s twin brother, David, said Paul was in Moscow for a fellow former Marine’s wedding, which took place at an upscale hotel in central Moscow on Dec. 28, the day he was detained. “It is inconceivable to me that he would have done anything to break the law in Russia,” his brother told The Post.Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is a threat to Brazilian democracy — and a model for authoritarianism that leaders around the world will follow. RIO DE JANEIRO — The tanks began to roll into Rio de Janeiro on the morning of April 1, 1964, some of them from the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, others from São Paulo. The Brazilian capital had moved to Brasília, the new planned city in the country’s interior, a few years prior, but Rio remained the effective center of power, and somewhere in the city, President João Goulart was clinging to power.
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