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World Monthly Headline News November 2019 Page 1

ABC News - As President Trump prepares for the NATO summit in London, the Taliban refuted claims it had agreed to negotiate a cease-fire, which Trump announced during a trip to Afghanistan.

Never in 18 years has the government used Section 412 of the PATRIOT Act, which permits indefinite detention of resident aliens on national-security grounds. Until now.
By Spencer Ackerman

For the 18-year lifespan of the war on terrorism, an obscure provision of the PATRIOT Act permitting the indefinite detention of U.S. non-citizens has gone unused. But to keep a Palestinian man behind bars even after he finished serving his sentence, the Trump administration has fired this bureaucratic Chekhov’s gun.

Adham Amin Hassoun, now in his late 50s, has spent nearly the entire war on terrorism in cages. First picked up on an immigration violation in June 2002, he ended up standing trial alongside once-suspected “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla. But Hassoun was never accused of any act or plot of violence. His crime was cutting checks to extremist-tied Muslim charities operating in places like Kosovo and Chechnya that Congress outlawed after the 9/11 attacks. Hassoun wrote all but one of those checks before 9/11.

Sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, Hassoun should have been a free man in 2017. Instead, he found himself in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which locked him up in western New York. It was there that Hassoun’s case turned extraordinary.

ICE wanted to deport Hassoun, but his statelessness as a Palestinian got in the way. No country—not the Lebanon of his birth, not the Israel that occupies the West Bank and Gaza—was willing to take him. Aided by attorneys at the University of Buffalo Law School, Hassoun in January won what should have been his freedom, on the grounds that his deportation was unlikely.

The Trump administration instead declared him a threat to national security. It did so at first using an also-obscure immigration regulation designed to sidestep a 2001 Supreme Court ruling imposing a six-month detention limit. And it was aided by a testimonial, under seal, of Hassoun’s alleged misdeeds behind bars as related by what his attorneys describe as jailhouse snitches who provided second- or third-hand accounts. But as the government fought what had become a habeas corpus case for Hassoun’s release, the Department of Homeland Security invoked, for the first time in U.S. government history, section 412 of the PATRIOT Act.

By Nicole Chavez, Nicola Ruotolo and Sebastian Shukla, CNN

Rome (CNN)Police in Italy say they raided the homes of 19 people who allegedly wanted to create an "openly pro-Nazi, xenophobic and anti-Semitic" party.
Officers found firearms and propaganda celebrating Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and fascist dictator Benito Mussolini during the series of raids across the country, police said in a statement Thursday.

The 19 suspects are under investigation but were not in custody, and police did not name any of them. Authorities had been monitoring "extreme right-wing local militants" during a two-year investigation led by the Anti-Mafia and Antiterrorism District of the Prosecutors Office of Caltanissetta and identified a "vast and jagged galaxy of subjects" who shared the same "ideological fanatism," police said.

The group intended to form a "openly pro-Nazi, xenophobic and anti-Semitic group called 'Italian National Socialist Workers' Party,'" police said.
Some of the suspects were accused of creating a logo for the party, using social media to recruit others and setting up a closed chat group under the name of "Militia" to train militants, the police statement said.

One man was shot dead by police, after a large area was cordoned off and several people confirmed injured.
By Patrick Smith

LONDON — A terrorism suspect was shot dead by police Friday afternoon after several people were stabbed at London Bridge, officials said.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told a press conference outside the Metropolitan police headquarters that the incident had been declared a terrorist incident.

"A male suspect was shot by specialist armed officers from the City of London Police and I can confirm that the suspect died at the scene," he said. "A number of other people received injuries during this incident — as soon as we can proved an update on their conditions we will.

The area surrounding the incident was cordoned off and bus, subway and train stations were closed. Shops and restaurants in the area were evacuated.

Video posted to social media from eyewitnesses appeared to show armed police and members of the public crowd around a person on the floor, on the north side of the bridge. Police are treating the incident as though it were terrorism-related on a precautionary basis.

In a repressive society, dark political jokes allow regular people to describe what they see with their own eyes.
By Leon Aron

Even before Donald Trump was facing impeachment over his dealings with Ukraine, his indifference toward that country’s fate was a punch line in neighboring Russia.

Vladimir Putin is calling the White House, begins one joke that’s been making the rounds. “Hello, Donald? I would like to discuss Ukraine with you.”

Trump: “What’s Ukraine?”

Putin: “Thanks, Donald!”

This genre of dark political joke—the anekdot—has been a staple of Russian humor at least since Soviet times, and anyone associated with the Kremlin is fair game. Though he’s lampooned far less often than Putin is, Trump has become a subject of numerous anekdoty because of his odd fascination with, and deference to, his counterpart in Moscow. Trump has asked Putin to prove that he never helps Trump, declares one current anekdot. Another asserts, Trump has fired all his intelligence chiefs. He will be getting all information from its source: Putin.

When I was a college student in the U.S.S.R., anekdoty circulated mainly by word of mouth. Today they abound on the internet. (Many of the anekdoty in this article are drawn from online forums; the rest I’m recounting from memory.) They still offer a glimpse into how everyday Russians see their leaders and their country’s relationship with the world. Every society has jokes, of course, but cynical humor serves an additional purpose in societies where the media are under state control and intentional disinformation abounds.

German police say thieves on the run after raid at historic Green Vault inside royal palace
By Kate Connolly

Thieves have broken into one of Europe’s largest collection of art treasures in the German city of Dresden and stolen objects worth up to one billion euros, police have said. The Grüne Gewölbe (or Green Vault) has been stripped of hundreds of artefacts, after the thieves reportedly started a fire in the early hours of Monday that led to a breakdown in the power supply and the failure of security alarms.

Police are calling the break-in the largest art heist in postwar history. The Grüne Gewölbe’s most famous artefact is Augustus the Strong’s treasure chamber. It was not known whether it had been broken into. A police spokesman said on Monday morning: “We can confirm that there has been a break-in in the Grüne Gewölbe … the perpetrators are on the run.”

On November 21, the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an investigative report headlined “Head cutters.” In it, the newspaper analyzed a video showing four Russian-speaking men torturing, disremembering and burning an Arab man. Novaya Gazeta identified one of the four men as a mercenary from Wagner, the Russian private military company (PMC). The report included copies of the man’s passport, his contract with Wagner and other documents proving his identity.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov commented on the Novaya Gazeta investigation the day it was published, saying the Russian presidential administration had seen neither the video nor the newspaper’s report. Peskov said the matter had “nothing to do with the Russian military” and that any “fears about our reputation are groundless.” “The president cannot make decisions regarding such companies, it is simply impossible,” Peskov insisted.

That claim is false.
Wagner - Utkin, Concord and Prigozhin

Wagner is Russia’s most famous private military company, and is reportedly named after its commander, Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer who used the nom de guerre Wagner during his service in Chechnya. Wagner is reportedly active in eastern Ukraine, Syria, and several countries in Africa and Latin America.

Apart from his position running Wagner, Utkin is chief executive of a company called Concord Management and Consulting LLC. The U.S. Justice Department indicted Concord and its owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in February 2018 as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Commenting on the Concord Management and Consulting LLC indictment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “We heard accusations against the company Concord. … and the accusations against it just fell apart in a U.S. court.” Polygraph.info earlier found that claim to be false.

Hill says Russia wanted to "delegitimize our entire presidency" in 2016
CBS News - National Security Council expert Fiona Hill explained during her testimony on Thursday why the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for the 2016 U.S. election interference is false. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff asked Hill how the theory served Russian interes. Video

Benjamin Netanyahu indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust
The Israeli prime minister has denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of a politically orchestrated "witch hunt."
By Saphora Smith and Paul Goldman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday.

Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of a politically orchestrated "witch hunt," faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum 3-year term for fraud and breach of trust, according to legal experts.

In February, Mandelblit announced he was considering indicting Netanyahu on one count of bribery and three counts of fraud and breach of trust, in three different cases. The cases are known as Case 1000, Case 2000 and Case 4000. Full Story

Iraqi protesters say Iran leaks confirm what they 'already know'
Iraqi protesters have focused on deep-seated resentment towards what they regard as Iranian meddling in Iraq's affairs.
by Sofia Barbarani

Baghdad, Iraq - Tahrir Square was jubilant as anti-government protesters poured into the occupied roundabout for the daily show of support for the country's continuing uprising. Since early October, Iraqis have taken to the streets to demand basic services, economic opportunities, and an end to corruption among the country's political elite. More than 300 people have been killed and at least 15,000 wounded as a result.

But morale remained high in Tahrir Square on Monday evening as music boomed in the streets, young men danced in groups, and families kept warm with cups of sweet tea and biscuits. They were undeterred by the day's news: hundreds of leaked Iranian intelligence documents detailing operations inside Iraq. The New York Times and The Intercept said they verified about 700 pages of reports by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security between 2014 and 2015, offering a "detailed portrait of just how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs".

A secret source, who refused to meet the reporters in person, said those involved in the leak wanted to "let the world know what Iran is doing in my country, Iraq". According to the Times, the leak details Iran's "painstaking work" to infiltrate every aspect of Iraq's political, economic and religious life - while also keeping the country from falling apart. Their goals, aside from preventing Iraq from descending into sectarian violence, include working against the breeding of Sunni-Muslim fighters on the border with Iran and halting the spin-off of an independent Kurdish region.

But to protesters in Tahrir Square, the news reports merely confirm what Iraqis already knew. "We've known for years that the Iranian government destroyed and killed our people," said 22-year-old Omar, a medical volunteer working in Tahrir Square. Full Story

Trump threatens higher tariffs if China doesn’t make a trade deal
By Tucker Higgins

President Donald Trump threatened higher tariffs on Chinese goods if that country does not make a deal on trade. The comments came during a meeting with the president’s Cabinet on Tuesday. The U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, have been locked in an apparent stalemate in trade negotiations that have lasted nearly two years. “If we don’t make a deal with China, I’ll just raise the tariffs even higher,” Trump said in the meeting.

Financial markets, which have proven reactive to developments in the ongoing trade war, largely shrugged off Trump’s latest warning. The U.S. and China agreed to a “phase one” trade deal in October, but Beijing and Washington have since sent mixed signals about how the countries will move forward. A spokesperson for China’s Commerce Ministry said earlier this month that both countries had agreed to cancel some existing tariffs simultaneously. Trump later said that he had not agreed to scrap the tariffs, lowering hopes for a deal.

“They’d like to have a rollback. I haven’t agreed to anything,” the president said. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Friday that the countries were “getting close” to reaching a trade deal. On Saturday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The officials had “constructive discussions,” according to China’s Commerce Ministry, and agreed to remain in close contact. The U.S. has imposed tariffs on about $500 billion in Chinese goods. China has retaliated with tariffs on about $110 billion in American products. Full Story

Sweden drops Assange rape investigation after nearly 10 years
By Johan Ahlander, Simon Johnson

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swedish prosecutor dropped a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ending the near decade-old case that had sent the anti-secrecy campaigner into hiding in London’s Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition.

Although the prosecutor’s decision can be appealed, it probably closes the case, which was launched in 2010. The accuser’s lawyer said she was studying whether to appeal it.

Assange skipped bail in Britain to avoid possible extradition and took refuge in the embassy in 2012. He was dragged out by police in April this year, and is now in jail fighting extradition to the United States on computer hacking and espionage charges unveiled after he left the embassy.

While Assange was in the embassy, the statute of limitations ran out on investigating all but one of several Swedish sex crime complaints originally filed by two women. Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson reopened the remaining case after Assange left the embassy, but she said on Tuesday the passage of time meant there was not enough evidence to indict Assange.

“After conducting a comprehensive assessment of what has emerged during the course of the preliminary investigation I then make the assessment that the evidence is not strong enough to form the basis for filing an indictment,” she told a news conference. “Nine years have passed. Time is a player in this decision.”

Assange, a 48-year-old Australian, has repeatedly denied the sex crime allegations, calling them part of a plot to discredit him and secure his eventual transfer to the United States. Full Story

US says Israeli settlements are no longer illegal
The US has shifted its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, no longer viewing them as inconsistent with international law. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the status of the West Bank was for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. Israel welcomed the move - a reversal of the US stance under President Donald Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama. Settlements are communities established by Israel on land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

They have long been a source of dispute between Israel and the international community, and the Palestinians. "After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate," Mr Pompeo told reporters, "the United States has concluded that "the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law". "Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law hasn't worked. It hasn't advanced the cause of peace," he added. The Palestinian Authority said the US decision was "completely against international law".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the policy shift "rights a historical wrong", and called on other countries to do the same. What is the Jewish settlements controversy? The issue of Jewish settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians. About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel has always disputed this. The Palestinians have long called for the removal of all settlements, arguing that their presence on land they claim for a future independent Palestinian state makes it almost impossible to make such a state a reality. Full Story

North Korea no longer interested in 'useless' meetings with US, says senior minister
By Carly Walsh and Aimee Lewis, CNN

(CNN) North Korea has said it is not "interested" in further meetings with the US, a day after President Donald Trump tweeted a message to the country's leader Sunday saying "See you soon!"

A statement from North Korean Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan, posted by state news agency, KCNA, said: "I interpreted President Trump's tweet on the 17th to signify a new DPRK-US summit" but "we are no longer interested in these meetings that are useless to us."
Kim suggested that the US is trying to portray "advancement in Korean Peninsula issue" but that it was a delay tactic.

"We will no longer give the US president something to boast about for nothing in return, and we must receive from the US what is corresponding to the results that President Trump is already boasting as his achievements," Kim said. CNN is seeking comment from the White House. Full Story

Trump defends, mocks Joe Biden after North Korea calls former VP a 'rabid dog'
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency had lashed out against Biden Friday, saying he “must be beaten to death with a stick.”
By Max Burman

President Donald Trump tweeted a backhanded defense about former Vice President Joe Biden Sunday after North Korea called the Democratic presidential candidate a "rabid dog."

"Mr. Chairman," Trump said on Twitter in an apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, "Joe Biden may be Sleepy and Very Slow, but he is not a 'rabid dog.'"

   Mr. Chairman, Joe Biden may be Sleepy and Very Slow, but he is not a “rabid dog.” He is actually somewhat better than that, but I am the only one who can get you where you have to be. You should act quickly, get the deal done. See you soon! https://t.co/kO2k14lTf7
   — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2019

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency speculated that by insulting Biden North Korea was trying to appeal to Trump. The president has continued to describe his personal relationship with Kim in positive terms despite a stalemate in nuclear talks. He repeated that sentiment Sunday, urging Kim to "act quickly, get the deal done." "See you soon!" he added. Biden, in contrast, has been a frequent target of Trump's insults. Full Story

Hong Kong protests: Police officer wounded with arrow at campus stand-off

Police have besieged a university campus in Hong Kong occupied by protesters who have been fighting back with arrows and petrol bombs. Officers have warned that they could use live ammunition if protesters do not stop attacking them using such weapons. A media liaison officer was earlier wounded in the leg with an arrow near the Polytechnic University (PolyU). Months of anti-government protests have caused turmoil in the city.

The latest violence is however some of the worst the semi-autonomous Chinese territory has seen since the movement began. The police have become targets for radical demonstrators, who accuse them of excessive force. Police have so far been responding to violence around the PolyU campus mostly with tear gas and water cannon. Those occupying the university have been told to leave immediately. Dozens have reportedly been arrested but hundreds remain inside. There are fears of bloodshed should police move in to quell what they have now declared a riot.

"I hereby warn rioters not to use petrol bombs, arrows, cars or any deadly weapons to attack police officers," police spokesman Louis Lau said in a statement broadcast via Facebook. "If they continue such dangerous actions, we would have no choice but to use the minimum force necessary, including live rounds, to fire back." Earlier on Sunday police fired a live round in response to what they said was a car hurtling towards officers near the university. Full Story

The world’s largest trade deal could be signed in 2020 — and the US isn’t in it
By Yen Nee Lee

After more than six years of negotiations, more than a dozen countries in Asia Pacific are now aiming to sign what would be the world’s largest trade agreement in 2020. The deal, called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP, involves all 10 countries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc and five of its major trading partners: Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Together, the 15 countries make up close to one-third of the world population and global gross domestic product, according to a Reuters report. That’s larger than other regional trading blocs such as the European Union and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. The mega-deal started with 16 countries but India decided not to join the trade pact over concerns that it would hurt the South Asian country’s domestic producers.

Significance of RCEP

RCEP was launched in November 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as an initiative by ASEAN to encourage trade among its member states and six other countries. Those six other countries — Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea — already have standalone free trade agreements with ASEAN. Coming together under RCEP would boost commerce across the group by lowering tariffs, standardizing customs rules and procedures, and widening market access especially among countries that don’t have existing trade deals. All 16 countries started negotiating RCEP in 2013, when talks for another major trade pact — the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP — were underway. Given China’s absence in the then U.S.-led TPP, which was slated to be the world’s largest trade deal, many observers considered RCEP a way for Beijing to counter American influence in the region. Full Story

Turkey says it bought Russian S-400s to use them, not put them aside

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey bought S-400 missile defense systems from Russia to use them, not put them aside, the head of the Turkish Defense Industry Directorate said on Saturday, days after talks between President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump. Erdogan and Trump held talks in Washington on Wednesday to overcome increasing differences between the NATO allies, ranging from Syria policy to sanctions threats over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s, which Washington says pose a threat to its Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.

Washington has warned that Ankara will face sanctions over its purchase of the S-400s, and has suspended Turkey from the F-35 program, in which it was a customer and manufacturer. It has yet to impose any sanctions on Turkey, which began receiving the Russian systems in July.

In an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Ismail Demir said it was not logical for any country to purchase such systems only to put them aside, and added that Ankara and Washington aimed to tackle the issue. “It is not a correct approach to say ‘we won’t use them for their sake’ about a system that we bought out of necessity and paid so much money for,” Demir said. “We have allied relations with Russia and the United States. We have to go on and respect the agreements we signed,” he said.

On Wednesday, Trump urged Erdogan at the White House to drop the S-400 systems, but Erdogan later said Ankara could not harm its relations with Russia. He reiterated Turkey’s desire to buy U.S. Patriot defenses in addition to the S-400s. A top aide to Erdogan said on Friday that Turkish and U.S. officials had begun working as part of a joint mechanism aiming to evaluate the impact of the S-400s on the F-35s. Demir said the move showed an easing in the position of the United States, and added that Turkey was ready to take measures that will address U.S. concerns over the S-400s after the talks. Full Story

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