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Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines 
  • IAEA chief Yukiya Amano who oversaw Iran deal dies at 72

    IAEA chief Yukiya Amano who oversaw Iran deal dies at 72Yukiya Amano, the Japanese diplomat who led the International Atomic Energy Agency for a decade and was extensively involved in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and the cleanup of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, has died at 72, the agency announced Monday. Amano, who had wide experience in disarmament, non-proliferation diplomacy and nuclear energy issues, had been chief of the key U.N. agency that regulates nuclear use worldwide since 2009. The news of his death comes at a time of increasing concerns and escalating tensions over Iran's nuclear program, after U.S. President Donald Trump left a 2015 deal with world powers that restricted Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.


  • Iran says it arrested 17 CIA spies, some sentenced to death

    Iran says it arrested 17 CIA spies, some sentenced to deathIran said Monday it has arrested 17 Iranian nationals allegedly recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to spy on the country's nuclear and military sites, and that some of them have already been sentenced to death. The arrests took place over the past months, and those taken into custody worked on "sensitive sites" in the country's military and nuclear facilities, an Iranian intelligence official told a press conference in Tehran. The announcement comes as Iran's nuclear deal with world powers is unraveling and tensions have spiked in the Persian Gulf region.


  • Syrian activists say airstrikes kill 27 in rebel-held town

    Syrian activists say airstrikes kill 27 in rebel-held townMultiple Airstrikes hit a busy market in a rebel-controlled town in northwestern Syria on Monday, killing at least 27 people and turning several buildings into piles of rubble, according to opposition activists and a war monitor. Shortly afterward, state media said rebels shelled a government-held village, killing seven. Government troops, backed by Russian air cover, try to push their way into the enclave near the Turkish border, which is dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants and other jihadi groups.


  • Trump: Iran claim to break up CIA network 'totally false'

    Trump: Iran claim to break up CIA network 'totally false'US President Donald Trump on Monday denied Iran's claim that it dismantled a CIA spy ring and arrested 17 suspects with alleged links to the US intelligence agency. "The report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth," Trump tweeted.


  • UPDATE 1-Trump denies Iran arrested 17 people accused of being U.S. spies

    UPDATE 1-Trump denies Iran arrested 17 people accused of being U.S. spies"The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do," Trump wrote on Twitter. Iran announced the arrests in state media, saying the alleged spies had been captured in the 12 months to March 2019.


  • U.K.’s New Premier Risks Majority Declining to One in Parliament

    U.K.’s New Premier Risks Majority Declining to One in Parliament(Bloomberg) -- If you thought Prime Minister Theresa May faced difficult arithmetic in the U.K. House of Commons, then her successor will have it even harder, after a series of defections and the potential loss of two seats in special elections.Either Boris Johnson, the favorite to be named leader on Tuesday, or Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt faces the prospect of the majority enjoyed by the Conservative Party and their Democratic Unionist Party allies falling to just one. That makes the job of stewarding any vision of Brexit through Parliament trickier, and it also hands more power to the DUP, which refused three times to back the deal May struck with the European Union.Here’s how the parliamentary arithmetic stacks up:How many Members of Parliament are there?There are 650 Members of Parliament. The seven MPs with the Irish Nationalist Sinn Fein party don’t take their seats, while Speaker John Bercow and his three deputies don’t vote, because they’re required to be impartial. That leaves 639 voting MPs -- meaning 320 are needed to guarantee a majority.To complicate matters further, The Welsh seat of Brecon and Radnorshire is currently vacant because its constituents voted to unseat the Tory MP, Chris Davies, after he was convicted for making false expense claims. A special election is scheduled for Aug. 1, with Davies standing again for the Tories.How many Conservatives are there?Not including Bercow, there are 312 Conservatives, plus 10 MPs from the DUP, which is allied to the ruling party. But one Tory, Eleanor Laing, is a deputy speaker, so must be discounted, giving them 321 MPs. On Monday, the Tory Dover MP Charlie Elphicke was charged with three counts of sexual assault, which he denies. He’s been suspended from the party, taking the official number down to 320. In practice, Elphicke is still likely to vote with them.How long will Elphicke’s trial take?Elphicke’s first court appearance is set for Sept. 6, but a full trial is likely to be several months after that. If he were to be convicted, he might be automatically excluded from Parliament, depending on the length of any jail sentence. But he’s likely to be still voting with the Conservatives as the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline approaches.What about the opposition?The main opposition Labour Party has 247 MPs, two of whom are deputy speakers and so don’t vote. The Scottish National Party has 35, the Liberal Democrats have 12, and other minor parties and independent MPs -- three of whom quit the Tories earlier this year -- total 25. That brings opposition votes to 317.So where does that leave us?The Tories and their DUP allies have 321 votes, including Elphicke. Opposition parties and independents have 317. If, as polls suggest, the Liberal Democrats win the Welsh special election next month, that’ll increase to 318. And if Elphicke is eventually forced out and replaced in a special election by another opposition MP -- Dover was Labour-held before he took it in 2010 -- then the government will be down to 320, with the opposition on 319.To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert Hutton, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Russian oligarchs in Britain scrutinised by US investigation into election meddling

    Russian oligarchs in Britain scrutinised by US investigation into election meddlingUS Senators investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election are renewing their focus on the activities of Russian oligarchs based in Britain. US congressional investigators say they are particularly interested in interviewing alleged associates of Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is known to have close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As part of its ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election campaign, the US Senate Intelligence Committee has now written a formal letter to a London-based security consultant requesting his presence in Washington to give evidence. In the letter, a copy of which has been seen by The Telegraph, the bipartisan committee of US Senators wants British-based security consultant Walter Soriano to attend a special closed session in Washington to answer questions about his alleged association with Mr Deripaska, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, as well as other key figures named in its Russian investigation. The committee also expressed an interest in Mr Soriano’s possible links with two former MI6 officers, Christopher Steele and Christopher Burrows, who were responsible for producing a highly damaging “dossier” on US President Donald Trump’s alleged ties with Russia. Mr Soriano is an Israeli cyber security consultant whose company USG Security Ltd has offices in London next door to Orbis Business Intelligence, which is run by Mr Steele and Mr Burrows. The committee has asked Mr Soriano to give oral evidence in Washington as well as producing “all documents and records, including hard copies or electronically stored information” relating to any dealings he may have had with a number of key figures in its Russia investigation. These include Mr Deripaska “or any of his employees or associates” as well as “Orbis Business Intelligence, or any of its employees or associates, including but not limited to Christopher Steele and Christopher Burrows”. Senators have also asked Mr Soriano to provide material relating to any dealings he has had with other key figures in their two-year investigation into Russian meddling. These include Paul Manafort, a former key aide of Mr Trump who is serving a seven-year jail term for fraud, Michael Flynn, the Trump administration’s first National Security Advisor, and Victor Boyarkin, a former officer in Russia’s GRU intelligence service who works for one of Mr Deripaska’s network of companies and is now subject to US sanctions. US investigators say the decision to summon Mr Soriano to Washington is a significant step in their attempts to understand the activities of Russian oligarchs linked to Mr Putin in Britain. “We are making progress with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and we are keen to talk to anyone who may have knowledge of what transpired during that time,” commented a senior US official. Mr Soriano, who is little-known in Britain and is understood to be an Israeli citizen, is a controversial figure in Israel, where he has been accused in the Israeli media of spying on police officers involved in the corruption probe into Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charges he denies. Mr Soriano has also produced a documentary about Mr Netanyahu’s late brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed leading Israel’s raid on Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976. The decision by US investigators to refocus their inquiry on the activities of Russian oligarchs and intelligence officers based in Britain follows this week’s warning by Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale in the Commons that Russia was seeking to rebuild its spying network in Britain after most of its spies were expelled in the wake of last year’s Salisbury poisoning. Mr Soriano could not be reached for comment.


  • US tells UK: your responsibility to take care of your ships in Persian Gulf

    US tells UK: your responsibility to take care of your ships in Persian GulfThe United States has signalled that Britain could be on its own in the Persian Gulf, in a fresh sign of disagreement between the allies over Iran policy. Asked about any possible US role in the tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, said on Monday that "the responsibility ... falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships." The US has been attempting to build a “coalition of navies” to coordinate efforts to protect ships in the Gulf, but the UK has not yet said that it will participate. It is understood Britain is hesitating over fears such a move could be seen by Tehran as provocative, at a time when the Government wants to avoid being dragged into more confrontation. A speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Credit: AP Iran seized the British-flagged Stena Impero on Friday in retaliation for Royal Navy marines impounding an Iranian supertanker off Gibraltar earlier this month on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. It is thought that British authorities had been pressured by the US, which has its own sanctions on Iran and is keen to stop as much of its oil exports as possible. Spanish newspaper El Pais reported over the weekend that the US alerted Madrid that the Grace 1 was heading towards its waters. It has also been reported that after Spain denied a request by Washington to seize the ship, the UK then accepted, despite reservations it would escalate already heightened tensions. The US has pursued a policy of maximum pressure on Iran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal; reimposing sanctions while designating the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corp as a terrorist entity.  The UK on the other hand has attempted to deescalate tensions and keep the accord alive. It agrees with other European signatories to the deal that it is the best chance of limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Following discussions with Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary, on Sunday and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday, Heiko Maas, Germany's Foreign Minister, said that alongside handling the dangers in the Strait of Hormuz, Europe will continue to play the "diplomatic card". Mr Maas said that "what we need is deescalation, and my British and French colleagues have the same opinion." He said that Germany does not want to join the US’s strategy. Sir Michael Fallon, the former defence secretary, said over the weekend that Britain could have joined with the US and other nations in protecting shipping in the strait, while distancing itself from the Trump administration's decision to tear up the nuclear deal. "We don't have to support Trump's position to recognise Britain and America have to be part of an international protection force for the international waterway," Sir Michael said.


  • Egypt hands out 11 life sentences for joining Islamic State

    Egypt hands out 11 life sentences for joining Islamic StateAn Egyptian court has sentenced 11 people to life in prison on charges of joining the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Giza criminal court on Monday says the defendants all traveled abroad to fight for IS and receive military training. Two other defendants got 15-year sentences, and another was given three years for the same charges.


  • Iran to Execute Members of Alleged CIA-Trained Spying Network

    Iran to Execute Members of Alleged CIA-Trained Spying Network(Bloomberg) -- Iran, locked in a worsening political standoff with Western powers, has handed down death sentences to several nationals accused of being part of a CIA-trained spy network uncovered earlier this year, an official said on Monday.U.S. President Donald Trump denounced the Iranian report as “totally false” on Twitter Monday. “Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do,” Trump said. Beyond that, an administration official said the White House doesn’t comment on intelligence activities.In Tehran, a senior intelligence official told foreign media that 14 people had been arrested. None of the suspects are dual nationals, according to the official, who declined to be identified and didn’t say how many were sentenced to death.The announcement marks a show of force by Iran at a time of turbulent ties with the U.S. after the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic and reimposed crippling sanctions on its economy.The friction was made worse by a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the U.K., which seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar earlier this month, saying it carried oil bound for Syria in violation of United Nations sanctions. Iran responded by holding a British tanker on Friday near the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping chokepoint through which about 40% of the world’s seaborne oil travels.Asked about Iran’s arrest of spies Monday on Fox News, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Iran “has a long history of lying." Iran’s announcement about the arrests is “further evidence of the outlaw nature of the Iranian regime,” he added.Iran has also accused Trump and his administration of lying about its operations related to Iran, including over U.S. statements that it brought down an Iranian drone last week.The Iranian Intelligence Ministry has detected an uptick in U.S. efforts to recruit spies in Iran since Trump’s election in 2016 and the appointment of Gina Haspel as director of the CIA last year, the Iranian official said.Iranian officials have identified the CIA agents who had recruited the suspects as diplomats based in Turkey, Zimbabwe and Finland.A program aired by state television on Monday showed clips of Trump and National Security Adviser John Bolton with Hormuz as the backdrop. The show identified the alleged members of the cell and contained what the network said were confessions by the accused, whose faces were blurred and voices distorted.The alleged spies were trained by the CIA to gather classified information from sensitive locations in Iran including military bases, nuclear facilities and economic centers, the official said. The American spy agency lured recruits by promising residency and jobs in the U.S. and safe passage out of Iran, setting up shell companies as a cover to approach and hire Iranians, he added.(Updated with Trump’s tweet in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Ladane Nasseri, Arsalan Shahla and Caitlin Webber.To contact the reporters on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at gmotevalli@bloomberg.net;Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net, Amy TeibelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Hong Kong Tempts China’s Ire as Protests Take More Violent Turn

    Hong Kong Tempts China’s Ire as Protests Take More Violent Turn(Bloomberg) -- From stick-wielding mobs who attacked activists to one pro-independence group accused of stockpiling explosives, the latest unrest in Hong Kong has prompted new fears that protesters and the China-backed government are heading toward a violent confrontation.In one case, Hong Kong residents -- many wearing the black shirts favored by protesters -- were attacked in a train station near the mainland border by groups of men wearing white shirts. In a separate episode, police arrested three men after finding volatile explosives and separatist campaign material in a raid on an industrial area.Elsewhere, police fired tear gas at protesters who had surrounded China’s local government headquarters, defaced the national emblem, declared a provisional legislature and spray-painted the exterior with slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Revolution of our time.”The incidents were part of the seventh-straight weekend of protests in the former British colony, and illustrate the fact that there is no simple solution to the ongoing political chaos. On Sunday, as a peaceful rally of more than 100,000 people Sunday devolved into running street battles on opposite sides of the city. The developments not only increased the risk that bystanders could be swept into the escalating political disputes, they drew the harshest warnings yet from Beijing, which said that protesters were testing its “bottom line.”“It’s definitely a turning point in Hong Kong politics and history,” said Alvin Yeung, an opposition lawmaker who heads the city’s Civic Party. Yeung noted that Hong Kong, despite years of dissent over Beijing’s rule, was one of Asia’s safest big cities. “Last night was an exception. And that’s why it’s so shocking. It’s completely out of control,” he said.The events showed that positions hardening on both sides as the city’s embattled leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, resists calls to resign despite protests exceeding 1 million participants. What began as a largely leaderless effort to block legislation allowing extraditions to the mainland has expanded into a list of demands including investigations into police tactics to a direct vote to replace Lam.With more rallies planned for as early as this weekend, and little sign that either side will accede to the others’ demands, activists and government supporters alike have been warning that the further unrest could lead to ever greater injuries. A handful of suicides by protesters in recent weeks have already added life-and-death stakes to the debate.The financial hub is also starting to grapple with the economic cost of continued unrest, which already risks keeping local shoppers away and deterring mainland visitors. Last week, police clashed with protesters inside a shopping mall in suburban Sha Tin.The attacks Sunday on passengers and bystanders at a train station in Yuen Long by unidentified groups of men further raised alarm that the unrest could begin to effect regular people. “Clashes might be expected during a protest, but no one expected the elderly, children, pregnant women and former news reporter that had not joined the protest, might be attacked by pro-Beijing gangs,” democracy advocate Joshua Wong told Bloomberg News.The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, which says it represents businesses employing a third of the local workforce, called for a formal withdrawal of the extradition bill and the setup of a commission of inquiry to examine the facts surrounding the ongoing tensions and their escalation.“Protests are becoming increasingly confrontational while factions are being created that pit citizen against citizen,” the chamber said in a statement on Monday. “The situation is also raising concerns in Hong Kong and internationally about our commitment to the basic law and the rule of law.”Lam’s efforts to resolve the crisis, including declaring the extradition bill “dead,” have so far only prompted further protests. At a news conference Monday, she condemned the vandalism at the Liaison Office while promising to investigate the attacks on activists, warning that “the whole of Hong Kong and its people will suffer as a result of the loss of order.”The South China Morning Post newspaper reported last week that Chinese officials in charge of Hong Kong were working to present leaders with a comprehensive strategy to resolve the crisis. Authorities have ruled out any military intervention and saw the police as key to maintaining stability and exposing the intentions of protesters, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.China’s PresenceA broader solution appears increasingly out of reach as protesters turn their ire from the local government to China. President Xi Jinping has warned that challenges to Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong won’t be tolerated and efforts to allow direct elections have been stalled since pro-democracy lawmakers blocked Beijing’s proposed system for choosing candidates in 2015. Demonstrators ransacked the city’s legislature building on July 1, the anniversary of its return to Chinese rule.Protesters risked further provoking Xi by bringing the chaos directly to the doorstep of Communist Party authority in Hong Kong, the central government Liaison Office. Riot police pursued the protesters past high rises and across highways to outside the ferry terminal, where they fired tear gas after some activists hurled projectiles.China’s top representative in the city, Wang Zhimin, denounced the protesters’ acts as “villainous and wicked” in a news briefing. The party’s flagship People’s Daily warned in an editorial Monday that protesters at the liaison office “openly challenged the authority of the central government.”Some lawmakers warned that the growing focus on Beijing risked jeopardizing the delicate framework that have allowed Hong Kong to exist as a pocket of free expression and free markets in China.“The violent attacks on the liaison office have gone way beyond the protests against the rendition bill,” said Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing lawmaker and member of Lam’s Executive Council. “These rebels must stop these provocative actions, which will seriously damage the relationship between the central government and Hong Kong.”(Updates to add Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce’s statement from 10th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Natalie Lung, Kari Lindberg, Ben Sharples and Fion Li.To contact the reporter on this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at imarlow1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Johnson Critic Duncan Quits as U.K. Minister: Brexit Update

    Johnson Critic Duncan Quits as U.K. Minister: Brexit Update(Bloomberg) -- Voting closes in the race to become next Conservative Party leader and prime minister. Boris Johnson is the clear favorite, and his demand that ministers be prepared to accept leaving the European Union without a deal is expected to trigger a series of resignations from the government. Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan submitted his on Monday morning.Key Developments:Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan confirms he has resignedChancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond says he’ll quit on Wednesday if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister; Justice Minister David Gauke has also said he’ll resignVoting in Tory leadership contest closes at 5 p.m., with winner to be announced Tuesday. Theresa May is due to step down WednesdayPound fallsTories Suspend Elphicke, Further Eroding Majority (2 p.m.)Tory MP Charlie Elphicke has had the Conservative whip suspended after he was charged with sex offenses (see 12:30 p.m.), according to a person familiar with the decision.The suspension of Elphicke, who supported Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, technically reduces the governing party’s already slim majority, though he’s likely to continue to support the party in most votes in Parliament.Major Calls on New PM to Listen to All Sides (1:30 p.m.)Former Prime Minister John Major said the U.K.’s next leader should not act only for ‘one hard-line faction’ on Brexit.“The new prime minister must choose whether to be the spokesman for an ultra-Brexit faction, or the servant of the nation he leads,’’ Major said in a statement. “He cannot be both, and the choice he makes will define his premiership from the moment of its birth.’’Major, whose premiership from 1990 to 1997 was overshadowed by splits in the Conservative Party over Europe, also said the next prime minister would face “uncompromising opposition’’ if he ignores views from all sides of the debate.Charges Could Pose Threat to Tory Majority (12:30 p.m.)The charging of Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke with three counts of sexual assault is a potential headache for Britain’s incoming prime minister. If he decides to suspend the whip while Elphicke goes through the criminal process it would further reduce the wafer-thin Tory majority in the House of Commons.Elphicke, a supporter of Boris Johnson’s push for the premiership, held his seat in Dover by 6,437 votes in 2017. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne tweeted that the Tories’ formal effective majority would soon be cut to just one vote.The party is also fighting a by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire on August 1 after its MP Chris Davies was unseated by a recall petition triggered by his conviction over a false expenses claim. If Davies fails to win back his seat it will further add to the Tory reliance on the votes of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, increasing their bargaining power.Brexit May Have Already Triggered Recession: Niesr (11 a.m.)The U.K.’s exit from the European Union may have already pushed the economy into a technical recession, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. There’s about a one-in-four chance that the economy is already shrinking, the think tank said.In a gloomy set of new forecasts, Niesr predicted that, even assuming a smooth exit in October, the economy will grow 1% in 2019 and 1% in 2020. The outlook worsens if there is a disorderly no-deal Brexit, with Niesr seeing the possibility of a “severe” downturn.Duncan Laments ‘Dark Cloud of Brexit’ (10:35 a.m.)In his resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Alan Duncan said he was stepping down in “anticipation” of the change of leadership on Wednesday. “It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit,” he said.Duncan didn’t directly refer to Boris Johnson in the letter; he did, though, say he was “deeply upset” that efforts to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman held in Iran on spying charges, had failed.Johnson’s own dealings with Iran were widely regarded as a low point of his time as foreign secretary. His incorrect comment that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching journalists rather than visiting her family was seized on by Iranian state television as an “unintended admission” of her guilt. Her family says her sentence was extended as a result; Johnson has denied that.Foreign Office Minister Duncan Quits (9:45 a.m.)Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign Office, confirmed he has resigned from the government. Duncan has been a vocal critic of Boris Johnson, under whom he served when the Tory front-runner was foreign secretary. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke have both said they’ll step down before Johnson takes office -- assuming he wins.Earlier:U.K.’s Hammond to Quit If Boris Johnson Wins Race to Succeed MayA New Leader Won’t Save Most-Hated Market From Brexit’s GripBrexit Bulletin: Thwarting JohnsonU.K. Business Chief Says New Premier Must Restore Confidence\--With assistance from David Goodman, Olivia Konotey-Ahulu and Tim Ross.To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Joe Mayes in London at jmayes9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington Post

    Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network: Washington PostHuawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], the Chinese company put on a U.S. black list because of national security concerns, secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing sources and internal documents. The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported. Such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used U.S. technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment, according to the Post.


  • Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network -Washington Post

    Huawei secretly helped North Korea build, maintain wireless network -Washington PostHuawei Technologies Co Ltd , the Chinese company put on a U.S. black list because of national security concerns, secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing sources and internal documents. The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported. Such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used U.S. technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment, according to the Post.


  • Rights group: Iraq government mismanaging water crisis

    Rights group: Iraq government mismanaging water crisisIncreased rainfall in Iraq this year has helped alleviate a water crisis in Basra and may avert the kind of large-scale and violent protests that afflicted the southern province last summer. "The government urgently needs to act," Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch told a press conference in Baghdad, where the organization released its report on Basra's water crisis.


  • Britain's May chairs emergency session on seized tanker

    Britain's May chairs emergency session on seized tankerBritish Prime Minister Theresa May chaired an emergency security session on Monday to discuss how to respond to Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt plans to brief Parliament on the Friday seizure of the Stena Impero tanker and its crew of 23, now in a heavily guarded Iranian port. Also on Monday, Iran released new video showing the ship's crew for the first time, an apparent attempt to show they were unharmed.


  • The Latest: German minister lauds IAEA head's Iran deal role

    The Latest: German minister lauds IAEA head's Iran deal roleGermany is one of the countries that participated in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and is now scrambling to salvage it following the withdrawal of the United States. The IAEA announced Amano's death at age 72 but did not say when he died or what the cause was.


  • Millions of Barrels of Iranian Oil Are Piled Up in China’s Ports

    Millions of Barrels of Iranian Oil Are Piled Up in China’s Ports(Bloomberg) -- Tankers are offloading millions of barrels of Iranian oil into storage tanks at Chinese ports, creating a hoard of crude sitting on the doorstep of the world’s biggest buyer.Two and a half months after the White House banned the purchase of Iran’s oil, the nation’s crude is continuing to be sent to China where it’s being put into what’s known as “bonded storage,” say people familiar with operations at several Chinese ports. This supply doesn’t cross local customs or show up in the nation’s import data, and isn’t necessarily in breach of sanctions. While it remains out of circulation for now, its presence is looming over the market.The store of oil has the potential to push down global prices if Chinese refiners decide to draw on it, even as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies curb production as growth slows in major economies. It also allows Iran to keep pumping and move oil nearer to potential buyers.“Iranian oil shipments have been flowing into Chinese bonded storage for some months now, and continue to do so despite increased scrutiny,” said Rachel Yew, an analyst at industry consultant FGE in Singapore. “We can see why the producer would want to do so, as a build-up of supplies near key buyers is clearly beneficial for a seller, especially if sanctions are eased at some point.”See also: Iranian Oil Tanker Daniel Enters Chinese Port: Ship TrackingThere could be more of the Persian Gulf state’s oil headed for China’s bonded storage tanks, Bloomberg tanker-tracking data show. At least ten very large crude carriers and two smaller vessels owned by the state-run National Iranian Oil Co. and its shipping arm are currently sailing toward the Asian nation or idling off its coast. They have a combined carrying capacity of over 20 million barrels.The bulk of Iranian oil in China’s bonded tanks is still owned by Tehran and therefore not in breach of sanctions, according to the people. The oil hasn’t crossed Chinese customs so it’s theoretically in transit.Some of the crude, though, is owned by Chinese entities that may have received it as part of oil-for-investment schemes. For example, one of the Asian nation’s companies could have helped fund a production project in Iran under an agreement to be repaid in kind. Whether this sort of transaction is in breach of sanctions isn’t clear, and so the firms are keeping it in bonded storage to avoid the official scrutiny it would if it’s registered with customs, according to the people.Nobody replied to a faxed inquiry to China’s General Administration of Customs.Lack of ClarityThe build-up of Iranian oil in Chinese bonded storage has yet to be clearly addressed by Washington. The White House ended waivers allowing some countries to keep importing Iranian oil on May 2.There are currently no exemptions issued to any country for the import of Iranian oil, and any nation seen importing cargoes from the Persian Gulf producer will be in breach of sanctions, according to a senior Trump administration official, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.“The U.S. will now need to define how it quantifies the infringement of sanctions,” said Michal Meidan, director of the China Energy Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. There’s a lack of clarity on whether it would look at “financial transactions or the loading and discharge of cargoes by company or entity,” she said.See also: China Buying Iran LPG Despite Sanctions, Ship-Tracking ShowsChina received about 12 million tons of Iranian crude from January through May, according to ship-tracking data, versus about 10 million that cleared customs over the period. The discrepancy could be due to the flow of oil into bonded storage. China will release June trade data that will include a country-by-country breakdown of oil imports in the coming days.One of the Iranian tankers that appears to have loaded oil after the U.S. waivers ended is VLCC Horse. It discharged at Tianjin in early-July after sailing from the Middle East, where shipping data showed it signaling its destination as Iran’s Kharg Island on May 4.Several other Iran-owned tankers offloaded in China or were heading there, according to ship tracking data. VLCC Stream discharged at Tianjin on June 19, while Amber, Salina and C. Infinity offloaded crude at the ports of Huangdao, Jinzhou and Ningbo. Snow, Sevin and Maria III were last seen sailing in the direction of China.Putting crude into bonded tanks in China also means Iran can avoid having to tie up part of its tanker fleet by storing the oil at sea for months at a time. The Islamic Republic used floating storage in 2012 to 2016 and again in 2018 as buyers shunned its crude due to U.S.-imposed trade restrictions.Should the Iranian crude leave bonded storage and end up in the market, it could pressure oil prices, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. West Texas Intermediate plunged more than 20% from late April to mid-June as the U.S.-China trade war intensified. It’s since recovered some of those losses, partly as a result of the rising tension between Washington and Tehran, and is trading near $57 a barrel.“A further escalation in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could jointly drive global economic growth a lot lower and encourage Iran-China cooperation,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a June note. “If Chinese refiners start to purchase Iran oil in large volumes on a sustained basis as U.S. tariffs rise again, WTI could drop to $40 a barrel.”(Updates with mention of June trade data in 12th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Nick Wadhams.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Serene Cheong in Singapore at scheong20@bloomberg.net;Sarah Chen in Beijing at schen514@bloomberg.net;Alfred Cang in Singapore at acang@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Serene Cheong at scheong20@bloomberg.net, Andrew JanesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Zelenskiy’s Gravity-Defying Act Is About to Test Ukraine Reality

    Zelenskiy’s Gravity-Defying Act Is About to Test Ukraine Reality(Bloomberg) -- It’s become a familiar story in European politics: a charismatic outsider captures the imagination of a nation fed up with a stagnant and bumbling political class. He rises quickly, at the head of a movement that sweeps out the old elite, and gains access to all the levers of power.So far, that fits Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to a tee, an unexpected victory margin in Sunday’s elections having put him on track for unprecedented control in the post-Soviet nation. But the next chapter has often been disappointment. From Alexis Tsipras in Greece to Emmanuel Macron in France, examples abound of leaders whose plans for radical change were thwarted by outsize expectations.And Zelenskiy, who just a year ago only played president on television, was dealt a more challenging hand than perhaps any of his precursors. He is facing a simmering military conflict, endemic corruption and a struggling economy -- which he all promised to fix. For any modicum of success, he’ll have to pick his way through the minefield of powerful oligarchs and corrupt officials, while negotiating with the likes of the International Monetary Fund and Russian President Vladimir Putin.“It is never easy to push through reforms because of the colossal resistance inside the organizations and on all levels of state bureaucracy,” said Valeriya Gontareva, the former head of the central bank. “Reforms are discredited through mass media, which is owned by oligarchs. They persecuted me personally, as well as the whole team at the central bank.”Gontareva’s own experience is a cautionary tale itself. She was part of a wave of officials who took on oligarchs but left in disappointment as the momentum of the previous administration petered out. Petro Poroshenko rose to power and led his new party to victory after Ukraine’s Kremlin-backed president was ousted in 2014. But in a few years, the inertia of the old guard won out and reform-minded leaders left from key posts including the central bank and the Finance Ministry.Yellow VestsZelenskiy’s party won about 42% in the party-list portion Sunday’s vote, according to results with 55% counted. It was also on track to win as many as 120 individual mandates, which would hand it more than 226 seats, the first full majority by a party in Ukraine’s history. He has invited the two-month-old Holos party for coalition talks, but it won’t be clear whether that will be necessary until final results are released later this week.In Macron’s case, his efforts to tackle sprawling bureaucracy and push through laws to benefit companies ran head-on into the so-called Yellow Vest protesters. For Tsipras, a promise to negotiate new terms with the IMF and ease off on austerity measures ended with him mostly caving to the lender’s demands and he was voted out in elections this month.Zelenskiy’s first task is to crack down on dirty officials --Ukraine is ahead only above Russia and Azerbaijan among European countries in Transparency International’s corruption perception rankings -- after Poroshenko pushed through reforms only slowly and under pressure from the IMF.“It’s inevitable that there will be obstacles,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta research institute in Kiev. “There are deep ties between business and politics, and it’s clear that some people don’t want these changes.”Zelenskiy has so far talked a tough game, badgering officials during campaign stops and insisting some resign. While his entourage included reformist ex-ministers popular among international investors, business links to exiled billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, whose television channel airs Zelenskiy’s shows, worry many, particularly after he named the mogul’s lawyer as his chief of staff.IMF DemandsOne of Zelenskiy’s first acts as president was to pledge to resume talks with the IMF to secure new financial aid as Ukraine faces $28 billion in debt service costs this and next year. That will probably require the next government to stick to tough budget targets, a continuation of years of austerity measures.With voters clamoring for better living standards, Zelenskiy announced a 21% reduction in natural gas prices, which can contribute to heating costs that eat up a large chunk of normal Ukrainians’ salaries during bitter winters. While a concurrent drop in global prices of the fuel mean the IMF hasn’t complained, the cut will be difficult to reverse if costs rise.“Zelensky’s team has little room to maneuver if it wants to keep the Western financial support flowing,” said Lilit Gevorgyan, a senior analyst at IHS Markit. “Ordinary Ukrainians are tired of economic hardships but the painful measures normally take years to rebalance and heal Ukraine’s mismanaged economy.”All of this is happening against the backdrop of the conflict with Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions, which has killed about 13,000 people since 2014. Zelenskiy has said he’ll engage Putin, but he has already encountered difficulty. Moscow rejected his demand for the release of Ukrainian sailors captured in international waters in November.“Negotiating with somebody who has been running Russia for the past 20 years from the position of complete political novice would be difficult on any day, even with the backing of Germany, France and even possibly the U.S.,” said Otilia Dhand, an analyst at political-risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence in Brussels. “When it comes to real outcomes, if we consider the red lines on each side, nothing has really changed. There’s very little Zelenskiy can negotiate.”To contact the reporters on this story: Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net;Kateryna Choursina in Kiev at kchoursina@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net, ;Scott Rose at rrose10@bloomberg.net, Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Israeli crews demolish Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem

    Israeli crews demolish Palestinian homes in east JerusalemIsraeli work crews on Monday began demolishing dozens of Palestinian homes in an east Jerusalem neighborhood, in one of the largest operations of its kind in years. The demolitions capped a years-long legal battle over the buildings, built along the invisible line straddling the city and the occupied West Bank. Israel says the buildings were erected too close to its West Bank separation barrier.


  • The Latest: China considers attending Iran meeting in Vienna

    The Latest: China considers attending Iran meeting in ViennaChina says it will "actively consider" sending a delegation to Vienna to discuss the Iran nuclear issue next week. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that China is "maintaining close communications with other parties" about the planned meeting. Since the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the deal last year, the other parties to the agreement — China, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and the European Union — have been trying to preserve it.


  • Iran pays tribute to late UN atomic agency chief

    Iran pays tribute to late UN atomic agency chiefIran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi paid tribute to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, after his death was announced on Monday. "My deep condolences... We worked very closely," tweeted Araghchi, who took part in the negotiations for a hard-won nuclear deal agreed between Iran and world powers in 2015. "I commend his skillful and professional performance... (that) resulted in complete closure" of the file on the "possible military dimension" of Iran's nuclear programme.


  • Reformist president's new party set to win majority in Ukraine's parliament

    Reformist president's new party set to win majority in Ukraine's parliamentEarly results have shown that president Volodymyr Zelenskiy's new party is poised to win a majority in Ukraine's parliamentary election, giving the former comedian free reign to enact sweeping anti-corruption reforms.  If this bears out as the remaining votes are counted, it would be the first time in Ukraine's post-Soviet history that a single party has controlled parliament.  The president called the snap election after he swept to power in April on promises to pass reforms like a tax amnesty and an end to parliamentarians' immunity from prosecution. The old guard parliament has so far stymied his initiatives and appointments.  His Servant of the People party, named after the television show in which Mr Zelenskiy previously played a schoolteacher-turned-president, had the support of up to half of voters in polling before Sunday's vote. It was reportedly holding preliminary coalition talks with Voice, another new party founded by rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk that is now expected to get 20 seats.  But Servant of the People now stands to win more than half the legislative body through Ukraine's mixed system. The party has done unexpectedly well in the 199 of 424 seats that are filled by first-past-the-post district races? With almost two-third of votes counted on Monday, it was leading in 127 of these constituencies, according to the central electoral commission. It had another 122 seats through the party list vote.  Twenty-six seats will remain empty as these districts in eastern Ukraine were taken over by Russia-backed separatists in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people. Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed on Sunday, the first day of the latest attempt to rejuvenate an oft-violated ceasefire.  Servant of the People party head Dmytro Razumkov speaks on Sunday Credit: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP The pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life, which is led by Vladimir Putin's longtime friend Viktor Medvechuk, was on track to get 44 seats representing districts in eastern Ukraine. The European Solidarity party of former president Petro Poroshenko and the Fatherland faction of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko were set to win 27 and 25 seats, respectively, an embarrassing showing that torpedoes their PM hopes.  Despite his anti-corruption rhetoric, questions remain about Mr Zelenskiy's ties to oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, the owner of the television channel that broadcast his shows. Servant of the People leader Dmytro Razumkov told journalists on Monday that the party was not expecting to enter a coalition and dismissed the idea of appointing Mr Vakarchuk as a rock star prime minister to complement the comedian president. “I think there are enough people on our team who can meet the challenges that exist in the country,” he said. “We have two to three people for every position.” An outspoken opponent of parliament's infighting and old-school politics, Mr Zelenskiy is expected to appoint technocrats and activists to key posts. Both Servant of the People and Voice refused to include any serving MPs on their tickets, meaning parliament will now be dominated by political neophytes. An April investigation found that Mr Zelenskiy flew to Geneva 11 times after Mr Kolomoisky fled there to avoid charges in Ukraine. He also appointed the oligarch's former advisor and lawyer head of the presidential administration.


  • Iran's supreme leader vows not to give up on Palestine

    Iran's supreme leader vows not to give up on PalestineIran's supreme leader was quoted Monday as saying during a meeting with a delegation from the Palestinian militant group Hamas that his country won't give up its stand on Palestine. "Supporting Palestine is an ideological and religious matter," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to the TV. Al-Arouri's delegation also met with Kamal Kharrazi, an adviser to Khamenei.


  • Libyan fighter plane reported landing in neighbor Tunisia

    Libyan fighter plane reported landing in neighbor TunisiaA private Tunisian radio station says that a Libyan training fighter aircraft has made an emergency landing in the southeastern Tunisian city of Medenine, on a route to Libya. Radio Mosaique FM reported that there were two pilots aboard the aircraft. It said security was being sent to the area to determine why the aircraft landed in neighboring Tunisia.


  • UPDATE 1-Release tanker and crew immediately, Britain tells Iran

    UPDATE 1-Release tanker and crew immediately, Britain tells IranBritain called on Iran on Monday to release a British-flagged tanker and its crew immediately, describing the seizure of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz as illegal. Iranian Revolutionary Guards rappelled from helicopters and seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday in apparent retaliation for the British capture of an Iranian tanker two weeks earlier. "The ship was seized under false and illegal pretences and the Iranians should release it and its crew immediately," Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman told reporters.


  • U.N. Environment Programme Urged to Protect Nature and Humankind from Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

    U.N. Environment Programme Urged to Protect Nature and Humankind from Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)4G/5G antenna densification is escalating health risks - a global crisis NEW YORK-(BUSINESS WIRE)-The Advisors to the International EMF Scientist Appeal, representing 248 scientists from 42 nations, have resubmitted The Appeal to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Inger Andersen, requesting the UNEP reassess the potential biological impacts of next generation 4G and […]


  • No Oil? Then Don’t Use Debt to Grow

    No Oil? Then Don’t Use Debt to Grow(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A decade after the international financial crisis and local political upheavals, many of the non-oil exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa are undergoing a process of redefinition of how they are linked with the global economy. It is not going well. Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan are becoming more dependent on external borrowing than on foreign direct investments compared to the pre-2008 period. This is visible with declining ratios of FDIs to GDP, in contrast with increasing ratios of foreign debt to GDP and total exports. Growth through debt rather than investment will have a long-term negative and sustainable impact on the ability of these nations to develop their economies. They will have a hard time servicing their external obligations and will likely miss opportunities for attracting badly needed foreign investments for growth and employment generation.Foreign debt witnessed an unmistakable leap in all four countries. In Egypt, the ratio of external debt to GNI more than doubled from 17% in 2010 to 36% in 2017. The change was as pronounced in Tunisia, were the ratio jumped from 54% to 83%. In Morocco and Jordan, the ratios changed as well from 65% and 29.6%, to 75% and 47%. The ratio of external debt to total exports of goods, services and primary incomes was even more dramatic for all four countries. This is a proxy of the capacity of these economies to service their growing external obligations. Between 2010 and 2017, the ratio increased from 75%, 99.6%, 97.6% and 125% for Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan respectively, to 190%, 178%, 125% and 198% in 2017. All the figures exceed the 77% limit that, in the World Bank’s reckoning, foreign debt has a negative impact on growth. Even though the overall levels of foreign indebtedness are not yet as high as the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rate at which external borrowing has been climbing is alarming. In contrast, the ratio of FDI net inflows to GDP has declined dramatically since the financial crisis of 2008.The 2008 worldwide financial meltdown and a contraction in global trade took a heavy toll on FDI in these economies. This was followed a couple of years later with the Arab Spring popular uprisings that unleashed longer-term dynamics of civil war, state collapse and mass population displacement.Egypt and Tunisia were directly affected by the uprisings even though neither witnessed state collapse or protracted civil strife. Morocco and Jordan were more stable internally—Morocco even managed to initially benefit from the turmoil in Tunisia and Egypt and attract more foreign investors fleeing uncertainty in the two neighboring countries. However, Morocco and Jordan were not immune to the broader regional and global contexts. In the case of Morocco, the international economic slowdown and the recession in the Eurozone exacerbated many of the country’s structural financial and economic weaknesses. The Jordanian economy was hit by the collapse of oil prices—in the presence of strong rentier links to the oil-rich Arab states—and the security and political hazards tied to the civil wars in Syria and Iraq. The relative political stabilization in all four countries as of 2014/2015 did not allow them much room for full-fledged recovery due to the global economic slowdown. This made it harder for all of them to achieve export-led growth and attract FDI, leaving them with foreign borrowing as the only viable option. Foreign debt accounts for much of the apparent recovery, as expressed in growth rates. How to fix this? In the current global climate, it may be too much to count on expanding exports or more FDI. International capital markets are unstable and global trade is contracting. Governments should instead target local investment in brick-and-mortar sectors that can deliver real growth, create jobs and possibly reduce the dependency on some imports. These countries should also make better use of the net inflows of capital they have received for years in the form of remittances. Instead of channeling them into non-tradable sectors like real-estate, as has been often the case, they should be used to finance investment in more productive sectors that could eventually improve chronic balance of payments problems. The governments of these countries should also work to upgrade regional linkages that have existed within the Arab world for decades. These ties have tended to be informal rather than institutional, and confined to flows of labor and capital rather than trade in goods and services. There are already efforts to tighten political ties with the Arab oil-rich nations, manifested in the formation of a regional block against Iran. These should be accompanied by trade-oriented regional integration, opening markets in oil-rich countries. There might be room also for adding a regional dimension to plans for industrial diversification by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, by coordinating flows of investment and technology and skill transfers in sectors like petrochemicals and hi-tech services.  Such measures would generate growth and employment for poorer allies and cement regional geopolitical arrangements.To contact the author of this story: Amr Adly at amradly82@gmail.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Amr Adly is an assistant professor at the American University in Cairo. He is the author of "State Reform and Development in the Middle East."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • UK leadership favourite Johnson hits more turmoil on last voting day

    UK leadership favourite Johnson hits more turmoil on last voting dayBritain's leadership contest entered its finale Monday with the favourite Boris Johnson facing more defections from ministers over his Brexit plan. The month-long contest between former London mayor Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is being decided by fewer than 200,000 grassroots members of the governing Conservative Party. Finance Secretary Philip Hammond announced Sunday that he would make a point of resigning before Johnson becomes prime minister because of his threat to take Britain out of the EU by an October 31 deadline without a deal.


  • Oman Foreign Minister Due in Iran After Seizure of U.K. Tanker

    Oman Foreign Minister Due in Iran After Seizure of U.K. Tanker(Bloomberg) -- Oman will send its foreign minister to Tehran on Saturday as tensions soar in the oil chokepoint it shares with the Islamic Republic.Yousef Bin Alawi will visit Tehran to discuss “recent regional developments,” the ministry said on Twitter.The move follows Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz last week. The incident fanned concerns of a confrontation that could disrupt Middle East supplies.Oman, the largest non-OPEC oil producer which shares the strait with Iran, on Sunday issued a rare public rebuke apparently directed at Tehran, calling on all parties to “respect maritime boundaries and maritime law and avoid exposing the region to risks affecting navigation” following reports that the vessel was intercepted in its waters.It also called on Iran to release the seized ship.To contact the reporter on this story: Abbas Al Lawati in Dubai at aallawati6@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net, Alaa ShahineFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Release tanker and crew immediately, Britain tells Iran

    Release tanker and crew immediately, Britain tells IranBritain called on Iran on Monday to release a British-flagged tanker and its crew immediately, describing the seizure of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz as illegal, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said. May is chairing a meeting of Britain's COBR emergency response committee and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt is expected to make a statement to parliament later on Monday to face criticism that Britain should have escorted the ship.


  • Hong Kong’s Long, Hot Summer of China Discord

    Hong Kong’s Long, Hot Summer of China Discord(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.Almost two months into Hong Kong’s summer of discontent, positions only seem to be hardening. And Beijing’s under increasing pressure to step in and restore order.From stick-wielding mobs who attacked democracy activists yesterday to a pro-independence group accused of stockpiling explosives on Saturday, Iain Marlow reports that Hong Kong’s latest weekend of unrest is prompting new fears protesters could be headed for a violent confrontation with the China-backed government. Both sides appear ready to escalate with no solution in sight.Protesters raised the stakes when some brought their grievances directly to the Communist Party’s doorstep, in one of the most overt acts of defiance since the handover of the former British colony in 1997. They surrounded China’s local government headquarters, defaced the national emblem, declared a provisional legislature and spray-painted the exterior with slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Revolution of our time.”Beijing warned that the incident, which ended when police cleared the streets with tear gas, tested the “bottom line” of its agreement to maintain Hong Kong’s autonomy.Still, there are no easy options, as protesters increasingly direct their ire at one thing Beijing won’t negotiate: its rule over Hong Kong.Global HeadlinesMoment of truth | President Donald Trump will have to decide what to do in his upcoming rallies when supporters chant “Send her back!” — the slogan directed at a Somali-born member of the House of Representatives that many critics call racist. It’ll be an early test of his willingness to tolerate the more extreme elements of his base as he ramps up his bid for a second term in 2020.Read how Facebook wins big as 2020 Democrats seek donors and debate slots.Puppet master | The sudden exit of Martin Selmayr — the most powerful man in Brussels — is shrouded in mystery, though it appears he fell victim to the political infighting that propelled his compatriot Ursula von der Leyen to the European Union presidency. Ian Wishart spoke to more than a dozen people and found friend and foe agree his departure will leave a large hole in the EU machinery at a critical time.Iran fallout | The crisis over Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf is dominating Theresa May’s final days as U.K. prime minister as she faces criticism for failing to protect shipping in the region. She is chairing an emergency meeting of top security officials today, but it’s likely to fall to her successor — expected to be Boris Johnson — to decide on London's long-term response.Click here to listen to Rosalind Mathieson discuss the crisis over Iran's seizure of the oil tanker as well as Hong Kong and trade.Anti-establishment sweep | President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dominated Ukraine’s parliamentary ballot, capitalizing on pledges to crack down on corruption, fix the economy and end the conflict with Russian-backed separatists. His Servant of the People party — named after the television show that propelled him to fame — was unexpectedly close to clinching a majority in the assembly for the first time in the former Soviet state's history.Falling short | Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed his sixth straight win in a national election when his Liberal Democratic Party bloc procured a majority in yesterday’s upper house election. But he failed to capture a two-thirds majority needed to push forward his long-held plans to make the first revisions to the country's pacifist constitution, which was enacted in the aftermath of World War II.What to WatchSpain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez goes to parliament today to seek backing for his bid to form a government, where he'll need support from left-wing rival Podemos and other groups. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said he’ll quit should Johnson become the next U.K. prime minister, joining Justice Secretary David Gauke. The Tory party leadership poll closes today and the results will be announced tomorrow. Senior White House officials invited U.S. technology companies including Intel and Qualcomm to the White House today to discuss a resumption of sales to China's Huawei, which is currently on a trade blacklist.And finally ... A teenage freelance reporter who worked on the story that revealed unflattering comments by Britain’s then-ambassador to the U.S. about Trump says his reporting wasn’t linked to any pro-Brexit plot, as some “conspiracy theorists” had suggested. Steven Edginton, 19, does admit he also helps run social media accounts for the Brexit Party and suspects he's under surveillance by the security services. \--With assistance from Rosalind Mathieson, Michael Winfrey and Tim Ross.To contact the author of this story: Brendan Scott in Singapore at bscott66@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Karl MaierFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • UK to send 250 troops to Mali for peacekeeping operations

    UK to send 250 troops to Mali for peacekeeping operationsBritain is to send 250 troops to the West African nation of Mali next year as part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, the defence ministry said on Monday. "In one of the world’s poorest and most fragile regions it is right that we support some of world's most vulnerable people and prioritise our humanitarian and security efforts in the Sahel," defence minister Penny Mordaunt said.


  • Trump: 'The Report of Iran Capturing CIA Spies Is Totally False'

    Trump: 'The Report of Iran Capturing CIA Spies Is Totally False'President Donald Trump refuted Iran’s announcement Monday that it had arrested 17 of its own citizens for allegedly spying on behalf of the U.S.An Iranian Intelligence Ministry official made the claim at a Tehran news conference. The official, who identified himself as a director of counterespionage, said some of the detained citizens had been executed, reported The New York Times.“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!” Trump wrote Monday on Twitter after numerous media outlets had reported on the claim.Trump said on July 18 the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone that kept approaching the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran. The country denied the drone was Iranian.The reported arrests took place as late as March. They were not random — the official said they were people working at “sensitive sites” like military and nuclear facilities, reported CBS News. They were working with the CIA on the promise that they would receive U.S. visas or jobs and had “sophisticated training,” the official said.


  • UK minister quits before Johnson becomes no-deal Brexit PM

    UK minister quits before Johnson becomes no-deal Brexit PMA British minister quit on Monday, the latest resignation before the country's presumed new prime minister Boris Johnson takes office and could launch a policy to lead Britain out of the European Union without a deal. The resignation of Alan Duncan, a junior foreign office minister who has long been critical of Johnson, underlines the strength of feeling in the governing Conservative Party and parliament against a no-deal Brexit which many businesses say would be catastrophic for the economy.


  • Dubya Was Bad, but the Donald Might Be Worse: Richard Clarke

    Dubya Was Bad, but the Donald Might Be Worse: Richard ClarkePhoto Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyFormer White House counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke, who worked directly under three presidents during his 30 years in government, still believes his ex-boss George W. Bush was the worst of them all.Yet Clarke—whose new book, The Fifth Domain, chronicles the dire threats to the United States posed by cyberwarfare—says Donald Trump is very likely, in the end, to wreak even more havoc “He’s eviscerating the government.  He’s eviscerating capabilities that we need,” Clarke told The Daily Beast this week as the Los Angeles Times reported that the Trump administration had “gutted programs aimed at detecting weapons of mass destruction”—rigorous local and national training programs that Clarke had a hand in starting. “And it’s not as though if the Democrats win the 2020 election you just turn those capabilities back on. The people go away, the skill sets go away, the capabilities atrophy. And it will take years to undo the damage.”Clarke added: “You’ve got to wonder if the cumulative effect of a million bad decisions equates to the disasters caused by one big bad decision that Bush made”—namely, the ruinous military adventure in Iraq that Bush 43 sold to Congress and the American people as a justifiable response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with. “But we’re getting there,” Clarke added, referring to Trump.Richard A. Clarke: What We’ve Learned From 9/11But couldn’t Trump just end up blundering through his presidency without inviting a catastrophe?“I think the chances of that,” Clarke answered with a mirthless laugh, “are really low.”Clarke is especially pessimistic that the Trump administration will do anything effective to combat the threats in cyberspace, especially since the president’s pugnacious national security adviser, John Bolton, last year eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council—in part because he didn’t want any challenges to his authority.  “There are isolated pockets of career civil servants who are trying,” Clarke said. “There are some people in Homeland Security who are trying—some people at the FBI, some people at NSA, some people at Cyber Command [an agency of the Defense Department]. But what we don’t have is an executive order, a national security directive. We don’t have anybody in the White House who is a single coordinator of a response. We don’t have a request for money—in fact quite the opposite. The administration is telling [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to oppose more money for cybersecurity in the election process.”On the bright side, however, Clarke said he was heartened recently when Trump rejected Bolton’s advice to bomb Iran to retaliate for attacks on oil tankers, and instead listened to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s pleas to stand down.“I know John pretty well,” Clarke said, going back to their days when both worked in the State Department under Ronald Reagan and Bolton was an assistant secretary. “He’s aggressive, he’s iconoclastic, and he likes to think things up and damn the consequences. That’s OK when you’re an assistant secretary of state, but not when you’re national security adviser.”Unable to suppress a laugh, Clarke added, “I loved the fact that when Trump went to North Korea last month, he took Tucker Carlson with him and sent John Bolton to Mongolia. It was very funny.”Like Bolton, but for different reasons, Clarke is very nearly a household name. His unhappy tenure as Bush 43’s counter-terrorism adviser in the months before 9/11 earned him a portrayal by actor Michael Stuhlbarg in the Hulu miniseries The Looming Tower.“I’m probably the wrong person to ask about how he portrayed me, but everybody I know who knows me—and certainly everybody I know who worked with me in those days—said ‘you were a much stronger, louder, more bossy kind of person than he portrayed, and more in charge than he portrayed. I think that’s probably right.”A former Republican who supported Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and later served the 44th president as an ex-officio cybersecurity expert, Clarke is backing South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg this time around.“The only candidate who I have noticed mentions cybersecurity pretty regularly is Pete,” Clarke said. “Maybe that’s because I’m advising him.”Clarke said he has been volunteering as a Buttigieg policy adviser for the past six weeks, and has already “maxed out” in his contributions (the federally allowable figure is $2,800) to the 37-year-old mayor’s Democratic primary race. “A friend said, ‘You gotta read his book,’ and I was like, ugh, fuck, I got so many goddamn books to read,” Clarke said, by way of explaining his enthusiasm for Buttigieg, whose memoir, The Shortest Way Home, was published in February. “But I read the book and I was like ‘Whoa! Did this guy actually write this?’ And I said to myself, this has got to be a ghostwriter—so let me go hear him speak.”Clarke ultimately attended a Buttigieg campaign event in Washington, D.C. “It was pretty clear he wrote the book, and pretty clear that he is a very bright fellow, and has emotional intelligence, and thinks systematically,” Clarke said, recalling his reaction. “Just on sheer intelligence alone, he’s undoubtedly in a class by himself.Clarke, who is 68, continued: “At my stage in life, I’m more concerned about who should be president than who’s gonna win. And I said that back when Obama was running in ’07, when I read his books and went to meet with him, and I was blown away.” Clarke said he pledged his support to the freshman Illinois senator as “a voice in my head said ‘but you have no chance of winning.’… It’s the same this year.”Clarke predicted that Buttigieg’s public profile as an out-gay man, who happens to be married to another man, won’t hurt his presidential prospects.“I think the country’s ready for it, but it’s more the fact that he’s a small-town mayor with no federal experience and no national experience,” he said about Buttigieg’s political handicaps. “I never heard of him before six months ago. So he’s got a much harder row to hoe than people who are senators and people who have run for president before. I think if everybody started with a clean slate equally, he’d have a helluva chance, and the fact that he’s raised more money than anybody else in the last quarter [$24.8 million] means that he still has a chance.”Clarke’s The Fifth Domain, co-authored with former Obama administration cybersecurity adviser Robert Knake, is a comprehensive survey of the threats from this country’s four most determined cyberwar adversaries—Russia, China, Iran and North Korea—and how the government and U.S. companies can successfully defend against them.The threat is more far-reaching than simply a foreign power such as Russia meddling in American democracy by hacking into private emails and balloting systems, while deploying bots to target persuadable swing-state voters with potent lies.“I rank the cyber threat right under global warming and climate change” as the nation’s most pressing challenge, Clarke said, “because it touches everything. It touches health care. It touches the economy. It touches the military. It has become a pervasive problem throughout everything we do.”Calling Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea the United States’ “Big Four” cyber enemies, Clarke said, “When you look at the annual threat briefing that the intelligence agencies give to the Congress in open session, those are the four they mention. But it’s very interesting what they said this year… They said Russia is in the controls of our power grid and could cause outages in parts of the country. China is in the controls of our gas pipeline system, and could cause outages. Iran could attack U.S. companies and wipe all data from their networks. Those are rather specific, I thought.”Meanwhile, North Korea—infamous for hacking into the emails of Sony movie executives five years ago (payback for a 2014 comedy in which a Kim Jong Un character is assassinated)—regularly invades the computer networks of banks “to steal money,” Clarke said. “The North Koreans are different from the other three in one respect: The North Korean government hacks for money—it’s a major source of revenue for them—whereas the other three hack for espionage purposes.”Clarke, who these days earns his living as a corporate cybersecurity consultant, has been a member of the national security establishment at least since 1985, when he was appointed deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence during the Reagan administration. But he is probably best known as that rare government official who has publicly apologized for official failure—in his case, the government’s failure to prevent al Qaeda’s hijacking of commercial airliners to attack the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and kill nearly 3,000 people.Testifying before the 9/11 Commission in March 2004, Clarke famously called the public hearing “a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11,” and added: “To them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask—once all the facts are out—for your understanding and for your forgiveness.”Never mind that Clarke, as Bush 43’s counter-terrorism adviser, had repeatedly warned the president’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that the U.S. intelligence community was picking up alarming chatter that indicated something imminent being planned in the months-long run-up to 9/11; Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, who blocked Clarke’s access to the president, persistently ignored Clarke’s urgent requests for high-level meetings to respond to the threat.“It was just horrifying,” Clarke said, recalled his stint under Bush 43, “because he clearly was not too bright, and then he had such an inferiority complex. It didn’t work out very well…”Clarke, who left the Bush White House in 2003, continued: “They made enormous mistakes before and after 9/11. The mistakes after 9/11 were probably even worse. The Iraq war is an unforgivable mistake that destroyed the lives of many Iraqis and many Americans, and our children and grandchildren will be paying for it for many years to come.”As assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, Clarke had worked closely with Bush 43’s father, President George H.W. Bush, to muster international support for the first Gulf War.“Bush 41 was a very good national security president,” Clarke said. “He knew how the machinery worked, and he was good at working inside it. He respected it, he respected the system, he respected the people. And he achieved incredible results. The way in which he ended the Cold War was perfect, spot-on. And the way in which he conducted the first Gulf War was damned-near perfect. If you were electing a president for national security alone, he would have been perfect. He didn’t care about much else, unfortunately.”Clarke voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, even though a Clinton presidency meant he’d probably lose his job. Much to his surprise, Clinton not only kept him on, he elevated Clarke to the White House, where he served on the National Security Council and enjoyed cabinet-level access to the president as Clinton’s point man for security, infrastructure protection, and counter-terrorism.“I loved Bill Clinton,” Clarke said, and Clinton has returned the favor, effusively blurbing Clarke’s latest book. “The guy was and is incredibly smart and curious—really a rare breed. He’s a lot like Pete Buttigieg in a way.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


  • Trump’s New Favorite Channel Employs Kremlin-Paid Journalist

    Trump’s New Favorite Channel Employs Kremlin-Paid JournalistPhoto Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily BeastIf the stories broadcast by the Trump-endorsed One America News Network sometimes look like outtakes from a Kremlin trolling operation, there may be a reason. One of the on-air reporters at the 24-hour network is a Russian national on the payroll of the Kremlin’s official propaganda outlet, Sputnik.Kristian Brunovich Rouz, originally from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, has been living in San Diego, where OAN is based, since August 2017, reporting on US politics for the 24-hour news channel. For all of that time he’s been simultaneously writing for Sputnik, a Kremlin-owned newswire that played a role in Russia’s 2016 election interference operation, according to an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community.Trump’s New Favorite Network Embraces Russian PropagandaRouz’s on-air reports for OAN include a wholly fabricated 2017 segment claiming Hillary Clinton is secretly bankrolling antifa through her political action committee. Clinton, Rouz claimed falsely, gave antifa protesters $800,000 that “went toward things like bricks, hammers, bats and chains.” Other smears target billionaire financier George Soros, a longtime Kremlin bête noire. In one segment, Rouz amplified a thoroughly debunked claim that Soros collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, when the Jewish philanthropist was 14 years old. Another Rouz story accused Soros of secretly funding migrant caravans.Kremlin propaganda sometimes sneaks into Rouz’s segments on unrelated matters, dropped in as offhand background information. A segment on the Syrian rescue workers known as the White Helmets references “allegations of the White Helmets’ involvement in military activities, executions and numerous war atrocities,” but doesn’t disclose that those “allegations” were hoaxes that originated with Putin and his proxies. In another report, Rouz cast Clinton’s criticism of Brexit as an extension of her “grievous insults and fake narratives against Russia”—an assertion that makes sense only in the context of Rouz’s multiple reports claiming Russia was framed for hacking Democrats.In all of Rouz’s OAN segments reviewed by The Daily Beast, he is introduced as a “One America correspondent,” with no disclosure of his ongoing work for Russia’s state-owned media, where he continues to file stories daily, primarily on economic news. “This completes the merger between Russian state-sponsored propaganda and American conservative media,” said former FBI agent Clint Watts, a research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “We used to think of it as, ‘They just have the same views’ or, ‘They use the same story leads.’ But now they have the same personnel.”Rouz didn’t respond to email and telephone inquiries for this story. Reached by email, OAN President Charles Herring invited The Daily Beast to submit written questions about the network’s arrangement with Rouz. But after receiving the questions Herring cut off contact.Online records show Rouz graduated from Novosibirsk State University in 2010 and went on to earn a master’s degree in international relations at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. His byline first appears on Sputnik in December 2014. A few months later, he emigrated to the U.S., settling in Los Angeles in the spring of 2015, where he played guitar for an indie rock band called White Tar.A former bandmate, whose stage name is Jov Paradice, told The Daily Beast that Rouz was secretive about his day job, except to say that he wrote articles about economics for a Russian company. In August 2016, Rouz worked for the Los Angeles PR firm the Hoyt Organization, according to a since-deleted tweet by the firm announcing his hire. He appears in an October 2016 photo on Hoyt’s Instagram feed, but isn’t readily apparent in subsequent photos. Hoyt didn’t respond to repeated email and telephone inquiries from The Daily Beast.Paradice said he and Rouz frequently clashed over their differing world views. “We kind of had a thing musically, but we were total opposites,” said Paradice. “When Trump was getting elected he went into full sports coat mode. He had an indie style before—the whole blurred-line-of-sexuality thing—then he was wearing red ties and a suit. I said, ‘I'm not getting on the stage with Trump.’"In August 2017, Rouz said he was leaving the band to accept a job offer in San Diego, Paradice recalls. It was only recently that Paradice discovered what that job was, when a Facebook friend posted a One America video purporting to document a  link between antifa and ISIS terrorists.“I'm thinking, there’s something familiar here, and then I go, ‘Oh shit, it's fucking Kristian!" said Paradice. "That's my ex-guitarist… His bullshit propaganda is good enough now that they gave him a tiny bit of a platform.”Rouz joined OAN at a time when his Russian employer was coming under heightened scrutiny over its role in Putin’s election interference, and its efforts to expand its American influence. The Hell of Working at Trump’s New Favorite NetworkIn July 2017, Sputnik contracted with a struggling Washington, D.C.-area radio station to begin broadcasting Sputnik content 24 hours a day. Until then the station, WAMU 88.5, played bluegrass music.  The move came just months after a declassified US intelligence assessment named Sputnik, and its sister television outlet RT America, as players in Putin’s election interference campaign. By September, the FBI was investigating Sputnik for potential violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act. The next month Twitter announced it would no longer accept ads from Sputnik or RT.The FARA issue was resolved in November 2017, when Sputnik formally registered with the Justice Department as an agent of a foreign power.One America pushes some of the same false stories as Sputnik and RT, but with none of the legal entanglements. Founded and helmed by 77-year-old circuit-board millionaire Robert Herring Sr., OAN launched in 2013 as an answer to the chatty, opinionated content of mainstream cable news channels—and a place for viewers too conservative for Fox News. Under Herring’s direction the network embraced Trumpism enthusiastically, starting in 2016.Over time, the network became increasingly dedicated to conspiracy theories and fake news, and became overtly supportive of Russia’s global agenda. When Rouz joined, the network had recently shed a number of anchors and other staffers who’d bristled at the change. Though it’s available on only a handful of cable markets, OAN’s viewership includes some influential figures, including the President of the United States. According to Media Matters, Trump has fallen for at least two fake stories after seeing them on OAN.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


  • Trump Nears Moment of Truth to Address ‘Send Her Back’ Chants

    Trump Nears Moment of Truth to Address ‘Send Her Back’ Chants(Bloomberg) -- At a political rally sometime in the coming weeks, Donald Trump will almost certainly be met again with a chant rising from an auditorium packed with boisterous supporters: “Send her back!”In that moment Trump will have to choose a course. He could turn to the crowd and deliver an unambiguous condemnation, telling his supporters that they shouldn’t persist with a slogan -- directed at a Somali-born U.S. representative from Minnesota -- that many critics called racist. Or, Trump could pause, as he did during a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, last week, and let the chant build in volume, perhaps offering only a winking condemnation that frees his fans to make it the 2020 version of “Lock Her Up.”It’ll be an early test of the president’s willingness to tolerate the more extreme elements of his base as he ramps up his bid for a second term. Last week, faced with bipartisan backlash, Trump first tried to distance himself from -- then later signaled support for -- a rallying cry that even some loyal backers said risked crossing the line into racism.Trump’s next rally is expected to be in Cincinnati later this month, about the time the 2020 Democratic candidates hold their second round of debates. That could briefly take the spotlight off a president who likes his tweets to soar like rocket ships.If the past is prologue, Trump may again recoil at suggestions that he admit fault. He’s also someone who sees politically correct outrage, particularly on issues of race, as a dividing line between the timid establishment and the masses who propelled him to the White House.Already on Friday, Trump seemed disinclined to entertain questions of why he objected to the chant, which echoed a Twitter attack he penned more than a week ago against Somali-born Representative Ilhan Omar and three other minority congresswomen.When a reporter in the Oval Office sought to ask whether Trump, who’d just a day earlier said he was “unhappy” with the chant, also regretted his tweets, the president interrupted.“Do you know what I’m unhappy with?” Trump said. “I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.”Omar has been previously accused of employing anti-Semitic tropes as she criticized U.S. support for Israel, and administration officials looking to sidestep questions about the president’s words have focused on those comments, as well as fellow “Squad” member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s description of detention facilities on the southern border as “concentration camps.”‘Might’ Speak Out“It minimizes the death of six million of my Jewish brothers and sisters, it minimizes their suffering, and it paints every patriotic law enforcement officer as a war criminal,” senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News on Sunday. “And those are the comments that we need to be focusing on.”Other top officials couldn’t say beyond a doubt whether Trump would intervene if a similar chant broke out at another event.“If it happened again he -- he might -- he might make an effort to speak out about it,” Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with CBS that aired on Sunday.The president has run this playbook before. In July 2016, Trump said he “didn’t like it” when a group of speech attendees began chanting “Lock her up!” in reference to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “I think it’s a shame that they said it,” Trump said during a press conference in Florida.Theatrical PauseBut “Lock her up!” became a staple of the future president’s campaign events, with Trump often pausing theatrically whenever he mentioned Clinton’s name to allow the chant to begin, and to build in volume. Trump himself went on to suggest imprisoning Clinton during one of the nationally televised presidential debates.In that vein, Trump may go on to contend that he’s less offended by the chant about Omar than by things he’s heard freshman Democrats or others say about his White House, the nation, or allies like Israel. The president’s aides were out in force on Sunday drawing a distinction between Trump’s previous criticisms of the U.S. -- done “out of love,” according to Miller -- and those by people like Omar and Ocasio-Cortez.Different RecollectionTrump showed little patience for sticking to a condemnation in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville in 2017. The president’s original response to the white nationalist march in the Virginia college town was widely panned for only criticizing hatred, bigotry and violence “on many sides.”The president relented to pressure two days later at the White House, declaring that “racism is evil” and singling out “the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” as “repugnant.”But as reporters continued to press the president in the following days, Trump turned defensive again and blamed individuals on “both sides” for the violence that left a counter-protester dead at the hands of a man with neo-Nazi beliefs.Top Republicans and some members of the president’s Cabinet publicly criticized his handling of the episode. By earlier this year, though, Trump had a different recollection: he said he “answered perfectly” in his remarks about the racially charged clash.Trump has adopted a similar pattern with other major controversies. His acceptance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial of interference in the 2016 presidential election during a summit in Helsinki last year sparked a firestorm, with even commentators on the normally supportive Fox News network seemingly aghast.No Middle GroundTrump eventually issued statements insisting that he’d misspoken, and that he retained confidence in the U.S. intelligence community, which had determined that Russia sought to interfere. In the following days, though, Trump tweeted that “many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance” and dismissed critics as “haters.”In the end, the president may simply be banking on his belief that he’ll win more support by appearing unbending to criticism than by seeking a middle ground.A USA Today-Ipsos poll found that while 68% of Americans who were aware of the president’s attacks on the four first-term congresswomen -- Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan -- a majority of Republicans supported the criticism.Separately, a survey from the Economist showed that members of the self-described “Squad” were more unpopular among Republican voters than any of the Democratic presidential candidates, with Ocasio-Cortez disliked by three-quarters of those who cast a ballot for Trump in 2016.For the president, elevating the far-left congresswomen in stature to the point that attendees at his political rallies are familiar with their every action might be worth the accusation of racism, even though it may further alienate those outside his base.That calculus appeared to be on the president’s mind during a long weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, as he weighed in to praise those who attended the contentious rally in North Carolina.“I did nothing to lead people on, nor was I particularly happy with their chant,” Trump wrote, retweeting a post by Katie Hopkins, an English media personality known for her anti-Islamic views. “Just a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA!”Trump has a model in the Republican Party for framing disagreements with opposition candidates in terms of policy, not personality or race -- his long-time nemesis Senator John McCain.Many recalled how McCain, running for the White House against Barack Obama in 2008, corrected a woman during a town hall meeting in Minnesota who said she couldn’t “trust” Obama, whom she called “an Arab.”“No, ma’am,” McCain replied. “He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Sink in Washington at jsink1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • 'Let me guess, you want to nuke them all': Trump constantly baiting John Bolton in front of officials, report says

    'Let me guess, you want to nuke them all': Trump constantly baiting John Bolton in front of officials, report saysDonald Trump likes to goad his national security adviser John Bolton about his lust for military action, according to officials who have spoken out on their relationship.As Iran claims to have captured spies working for the US and accuses Mr Bolton of trying to start “war of the century”, new details have emerged of the president’s fondness for baiting his adviser in the company of top officials – including foreign dignitaries.During a White House Situation Room meeting last year, Mr Trump reportedly said to his hawkish national security chief: “Ok, John, let me guess, you want to nuke them all?”According to the report by the Axios website, Mr Trump turned to Mr Bolton in an Oval Office meeting with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar and said: “John, is Ireland one of those countries you want to invade?”Quoting unnamed senior administration officials, the account claimed the president recently joked that “John has never seen a war he doesn’t like”, repeating sentiments made in public. “If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, okay?” Mr Trump recently told NBC’s Meet the Press.Yet the president is said to get “quite touchy” if critics of Mr Bolton complain the national security adviser could pull the US into unnecessary conflict against Mr Trump’s will. “He doesn't want anyone to believe he’s anybody’s pawn.”Sources said Mr Trump likes to keep Mr Bolton on his team because his aggressive reputation gives the president the opportunity to play “good cop” to his adviser’s “bad cop” routine.“He thinks that Bolton’s bellicosity and eagerness to kill people is a bargaining chip when he’s sitting down with foreign leaders,” said one official. “Bolton can be the bad cop and Trump can be the good cop. Trump believes this to his core.”On Sunday Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted about the White House hawk as Tehran’s dispute with both the UK and US threatened to escalate over the seizure of a British oil tanker.“Make no mistake. Having failed to lure Donald Trump into a War of the Century, and fearing collapse of his B Team, John Bolton is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire.”> Make no mistake: > > Having failed to lure @realDonaldTrump into War of the Century, and fearing collapse of his B_Team, @AmbJohnBolton is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire. > > Only prudence and foresight can thwart such ploys.> > — Javad Zarif (@JZarif) > > July 21, 2019On Monday Iran announced it had arrested 17 people allegedly recruited by the CIA to spy on the country’s nuclear and military sites.Intelligence chiefs said some of the group have already been sentenced to death following arrests made over the past few months. Iranian media published pictures purportedly showing intelligence “officers” working for the US.“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and cyber areas ... where they collected classified information,” read a ministry of intelligence statement.The US has yet to respond to the claims.


  • Iran says it has sentenced 'CIA spies' to death as Gulf tensions mount

    Iran says it has sentenced 'CIA spies' to death as Gulf tensions mountIran has captured 17 spies working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some have been sentenced to death, Iranian media reported on Monday. State television quoted the Intelligence Ministry as saying it had broken up a CIA spying ring and captured 17 suspects. They also released what they alleged to be the pictures and contact details of their "handlers" in the US. The announcement comes after three months of spiralling confrontation with the West that began when new tighter U.S. sanctions took effect at the start of May. Last week Iran captured a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz after Britain's Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar in July 4. "The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas... where they collected classified information," said a ministry statement read on state television. New photos of the UK-flagged ship seized by Iran, currently kept in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas. Photo of bringing down the UK flag, and a photo that shows Iran's flag has been hoisted. Also photo of the crew members, and the IRGC speedboats moving around the ship pic.twitter.com/PTTsEFdmaT— Reza Khaasteh (@Khaaasteh) July 22, 2019 The suspects had been "employed at sensitive and crucial centres and also the private sector related to them, working as contractors or consultants," said the official. Seventeen suspects had been identified, all of them Iranians who had acted independently of each other, the head of counter-intelligence at the Iranian intelligence ministry, whose identity was not revealed Some of them had been recruited by falling into a "visa trap" set by the CIA for Iranians seeking to travel to the United States. "Some were approached when they were applying for a visa, while others had visas from before and were pressured by the CIA in order to renew them," said the counter-intelligence chief. An Iranian television documentary aired on Monday purported to show a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian man in the United Arab Emirates. It was not immediately clear if the arrests were linked to the case in which Iran said in June it had exposed a large cyber espionage network it alleged was run by the CIA, and that several US spies had been arrested in different countries as a result of this action.  Iranian officials have given few concrete details about the alleged CIA network, but reports from June say Iranian intelligence had “penetrated the US safe system in cyberspace,” which the CIA has used “for maintaining communication with spies.” It came as tensions rose over the seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero, which has now become the centre of a diplomatic crisis. The oil tanker was detained on Friday, two weeks after Gibraltar authorities - aided by a detachment of Royal Navy marines - impounded a supertanker on suspicion it was heading to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Iranian semi-official news agency Fars released pictures on Monday of the vessel, now bearing an Iranian flag, and some of its detained crew. It also showed a video of the Muslim call to prayer being broadcast over the Stena Impero's speakers.


  • Why America and Iran Came Within Minutes of War

    Why America and Iran Came Within Minutes of WarIf America wants Iran to change its behavior, it will have to re-establish ruptured lines of communication and re-create genuine incentives for diplomacy, rather than leading with threats of war and crushing sanctions. After all, the danger of devastating and messy regional war already underpins Iran’s own deterrence-based security strategy in the Persian Gulf—and games of chicken where neither side de-escalates end badly for everyone involved.By most accounts, the United States and Iran came within minutes of armed conflict with each other on June 20, 2019. (This first appeared last month.)Around 4:30 AM that morning, a U.S. Navy RQ-4N Global Hawk spy drone flying a routine circuit over international airspace in the Persian Gulf was shot down by an Iranian Ra’ad surface-to-air missile system.Later that day, U.S. forces were ostensibly “ten minutes” away from striking three Iranian bases likely with air- and sea-launched missiles when President Donald Trump changed his mind and canceled the attack. He later cited concerns that killing an estimated 150 Iranians over the loss of an unmanned drone was a disproportionate response.


  • Israeli Air Force's F-35 Stealth Fighter Went Into Iran's Airspace: Report

    Israeli Air Force's F-35 Stealth Fighter Went Into Iran's Airspace: ReportAs we have already explained, in May 2018 the IAF revealed that it has used its stealth fighters in combat operations, making Israel the first country in the world to carry out an “operational attack” using the F-35.Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) commander Brigadier General Farzad Ismaili, who had been in office since 2010, has been fired by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after he kept secret that Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-35 stealth fighters had violated Iran’s airspace, the Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida reported on Saturday.(This first appeared several weeks ago.)The newspaper emphasized that it was the original media source that exposed the Israeli raids, which had taken place in March 2018. Al Jarida cited senior Iranian military who said that only following its March report did the intelligence services of the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian intelligence ministry begin to investigate the case, under Khamenei’s direct orders.According to the newspaper’s investigation, “the IAF F-35 “Adir” planes penetrated Iran’s airspace, circled high above Tehran, Karajrak, Isfahan, Shiraz and Bandar Abbas – and photographed Iran’s air defense system.”


  • Britain Doesn’t Need Another Suez Crisis

    Britain Doesn’t Need Another Suez Crisis(Bloomberg Opinion) -- So much for Britannia ruling the waves.U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will spend her last days in office working out how to secure the release of the Stena Impero, a British-flagged oil-products tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz last week.Amid the likely handover of power to former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and just over three months before the U.K. is due to exit the European Union, the incident looks like a disastrous miscalculation by a political class that’s had its share of poor decision-making.Indeed, an ill-planned military operation in a vital global shipping lane and a mistaken gamble on Washington’s response looks oddly reminiscent of the Suez crisis – the disastrous 1956 episode that marked the end of Britain’s ambitions as a global power.The most baffling thing about this incident is how entirely predictable it’s been.Tehran has been operating a calibrated tit-for-tat strategy in the Persian Gulf ever since the situation in the Strait of Hormuz started to deteriorate this summer. Within hours of the U.K. seizing a tanker carrying Iranian oil near Gibraltar earlier this month, a senior official in Tehran was calling for retaliation. Given the relative ease with which Iran can control shipping through the Strait (a fact the country’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif highlighted in an interview last week with Bloomberg Television), the current situation was all but inevitable, as my colleague Julian Lee has written.What happens if Tehran decides that honor isn’t yet satisfied? May’s government lacks the firepower to prevent further attacks: There’s just a single frigate, the HMS Montrose, currently in the region. Two more ships, HMS Duncan and HMS Kent, are to be rotated through the Gulf over the course of this year. But at best two boats will be available to escort marine traffic – or one when Montrose is docked.That’s plainly inadequate to protect a merchant fleet that numbers close to 1,000 trading vessels, once you throw in U.K.-owned ships sailing under the flags of other countries. Tankers likely to transit Hormuz comprise about a third of that total.(1)It defies logic that the U.K. got into this mess without being aware of how events would play out – but much about the U.K. these days defies logic.The country’s civil service surely would have warned the Cabinet that the Gibraltar operation, however legitimate, would risk a blowback Westminster couldn’t contain. Looking the other way to avert an international incident is a time-honored practice of governments adjacent to global shipping lanes, one that Spain appears to have employed in this situation.Whether Westminster decided to intervene out of an abundance of duty or the expectation Washington would offer its far larger Persian Gulf force for protection as repayment, the government clearly acted without a secure back-up plan. The fact that the crisis has played against the backdrop of the messy resignation of Westminster’s ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, couldn’t have helped matters, either.To be sure, the existence of diplomatic ties between Iran and the U.K. should, in theory, make resolving this incident a little easier than a comparable blow-up with the U.S. Even there, though, it’s not clear that London has much leverage these days. Relations now are almost certainly worse than they were in 2007, when it took nearly two weeks to secure the release of 15 Royal Navy personnel captured in an area disputed between Iran and Iraq. British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been imprisoned in the country for more than three years, in a lingering dispute where the intervention of Britain’s likely future prime minister has been less than helpful.As with Suez, which gave cover for the Soviet Union to send tanks to crush Hungary’s 1956 revolution, the bigger risk isn’t so much the blow to Britain’s standing in the world, as international relations more broadly.With Iranian oil exports bumping along around their lowest levels since the 1980s, Tehran’s desire to stay on good terms with the remaining parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on its nuclear program is one of the main factors preventing the situation in Hormuz deteriorating further. That’s markedly weakened now that the Stena Impero situation has put it on a collision course with a second member, after the U.S., of the six-nation group.As we’ve argued before, the situation in Hormuz is a good deal more fragile than you’d think just from looking at somnolent crude prices. A crucial passage for the world’s oil flows has been a tinderbox for months. It’s no place for Britain, in its current weakened state, to be caught playing with matches.(1) Maritime lawyers might quibble that Iran should only have a problem with boats sailing under the British flag, but the fact that it also stopped the British-operated, Liberian-registered Mesdar last week suggests Tehran is acting as if all is fair in love and war.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at dfickling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Britain Doesn’t Need Another Suez Crisis

    Britain Doesn’t Need Another Suez Crisis(Bloomberg Opinion) -- So much for Britannia ruling the waves.U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will spend her last days in office working out how to secure the release of the Stena Impero, a British-flagged oil-products tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz last week.Amid the likely handover of power to former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and just over three months before the U.K. is due to exit the European Union, the incident looks like a disastrous miscalculation by a political class that’s had its share of poor decision-making.Indeed, an ill-planned military operation in a vital global shipping lane and a mistaken gamble on Washington’s response looks oddly reminiscent of the Suez crisis – the disastrous 1956 episode that marked the end of Britain’s ambitions as a global power.The most baffling thing about this incident is how entirely predictable it’s been.Tehran has been operating a calibrated tit-for-tat strategy in the Persian Gulf ever since the situation in the Strait of Hormuz started to deteriorate this summer. Within hours of the U.K. seizing a tanker carrying Iranian oil near Gibraltar earlier this month, a senior official in Tehran was calling for retaliation. Given the relative ease with which Iran can control shipping through the Strait (a fact the country’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif highlighted in an interview last week with Bloomberg Television), the current situation was all but inevitable, as my colleague Julian Lee has written.What happens if Tehran decides that honor isn’t yet satisfied? May’s government lacks the firepower to prevent further attacks: There’s just a single frigate, the HMS Montrose, currently in the region. Two more ships, HMS Duncan and HMS Kent, are to be rotated through the Gulf over the course of this year. But at best two boats will be available to escort marine traffic – or one when Montrose is docked.That’s plainly inadequate to protect a merchant fleet that numbers close to 1,000 trading vessels, once you throw in U.K.-owned ships sailing under the flags of other countries. Tankers likely to transit Hormuz comprise about a third of that total.(1)It defies logic that the U.K. got into this mess without being aware of how events would play out – but much about the U.K. these days defies logic.The country’s civil service surely would have warned the Cabinet that the Gibraltar operation, however legitimate, would risk a blowback Westminster couldn’t contain. Looking the other way to avert an international incident is a time-honored practice of governments adjacent to global shipping lanes, one that Spain appears to have employed in this situation.Whether Westminster decided to intervene out of an abundance of duty or the expectation Washington would offer its far larger Persian Gulf force for protection as repayment, the government clearly acted without a secure back-up plan. The fact that the crisis has played against the backdrop of the messy resignation of Westminster’s ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, couldn’t have helped matters, either.To be sure, the existence of diplomatic ties between Iran and the U.K. should, in theory, make resolving this incident a little easier than a comparable blow-up with the U.S. Even there, though, it’s not clear that London has much leverage these days. Relations now are almost certainly worse than they were in 2007, when it took nearly two weeks to secure the release of 15 Royal Navy personnel captured in an area disputed between Iran and Iraq. British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been imprisoned in the country for more than three years, in a lingering dispute where the intervention of Britain’s likely future prime minister has been less than helpful.As with Suez, which gave cover for the Soviet Union to send tanks to crush Hungary’s 1956 revolution, the bigger risk isn’t so much the blow to Britain’s standing in the world, as international relations more broadly.With Iranian oil exports bumping along around their lowest levels since the 1980s, Tehran’s desire to stay on good terms with the remaining parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on its nuclear program is one of the main factors preventing the situation in Hormuz deteriorating further. That’s markedly weakened now that the Stena Impero situation has put it on a collision course with a second member, after the U.S., of the six-nation group.As we’ve argued before, the situation in Hormuz is a good deal more fragile than you’d think just from looking at somnolent crude prices. A crucial passage for the world’s oil flows has been a tinderbox for months. It’s no place for Britain, in its current weakened state, to be caught playing with matches.(1) Maritime lawyers might quibble that Iran should only have a problem with boats sailing under the British flag, but the fact that it also stopped the British-operated, Liberian-registered Mesdar last week suggests Tehran is acting as if all is fair in love and war.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at dfickling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Salvini Takes On France, Germany as Coalition Hangs in Balance

    Salvini Takes On France, Germany as Coalition Hangs in Balance(Bloomberg) -- Matteo Salvini accused France and Germany of snubbing the European nation most exposed to migration, highlighting divisions within the EU and returning to an issue popular with his supporters as he weighs whether to seek a snap election in Italy.Governments in Paris and Berlin “cannot decide migration policies and ignore the demands of the most-exposed countries like us and Malta,” Salvini said in his capacity as Italian interior minister in a statement released by his office on Sunday.“Italy is no longer willing to welcome all immigrants arriving in Europe,” his rightist League added, criticizing a draft paper drawn up for a meeting of European interior ministers in Paris on Monday on how to handle the flood of migrants from Africa that primarily arrive by boat to Italy and Malta.Salvini will skip the meeting at a time when tensions with his coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, are coming to a head. He’s been weighing pulling out of the government in a bid to prompt a new election to capitalize on a surge in popularity partly driven by his hard-line stance on immigration. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have flooded Italy in recent years and the government estimates it spent 4.3 billion euros ($5 billion) aiding migrants in 2017, while receiving only 77 million euros in EU aid.Interior ministers gathering in Paris will offer to set up a voluntary mechanism to swiftly relocate asylum seekers that are disembarked in Italian and Maltese ports, according to a draft of their communique obtained by Bloomberg. They will also pledge financial and technical assistance to facilitate the swift return of migrants not entitled to asylum protection, according to the statement.On the sidelines of that meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron will hold talks Monday with the heads of the United Nations agencies dealing with migration and with refugees.The pledges failed to satisfy Salvini, who is demanding a more equitable distribution of incoming migrants. Italy and Malta argue that international law, which dictates that those saved at sea should be taken to the nearest safe port, was intended to deal with shipwrecks and other emergencies, and not mass migration, according to a policy paper distributed last week to other EU members and obtained by Bloomberg. Most arriving migrants do not qualify for asylum protection, so won’t be eligible for relocation under the plan proposed by some EU countries.The League leader has long denounced EU partners for abandoning Italy to bear the brunt of migrant arrivals from across the Mediterranean, and Salvini’s decision to close Italian ports to migrant ships has fueled tensions with his coalition partner, the anti-establishment Five Star led by fellow deputy premier Luigi Di Maio.Russiagate ScandalSalvini and Di Maio may meet on Tuesday in an attempt to avoid the collapse of the government, following clashes over immigration and other issues, including Five Star’s backing of Ursula von der Leyen as the new European Commission president, Corriere della Sera reported.The possible meeting increasingly looks like an opportunity to pacify rather than dissolve the ruling coalition, though Salvini insists he will only keep the coalition going if he obtains Five Star’s backing for the League’s flagship reforms, including tax cuts and stronger powers for regions in his northern stronghold.The two leaders will probably hold talks a day before Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte addresses parliament over reports that a close associate of Salvini’s allegedly sought illegal party funding in Moscow. Voting-intention polls show that the League is still the most powerful party in Italy, with little effect so far from the the so-called Russiagate scandal.The League’s support was at 35.9% in an Ipsos poll conducted July 16-18, more than twice what the party won in the March 2018 general elections and up from 33.3% in a survey by the same pollster last month. Support for Five Star was little changed from the previous poll at 17.4% and down from 32.7% in last year’s elections.(Adds Macron meeting UN agency heads in sixth paragrpah.)\--With assistance from Gregory Viscusi and Lars Paulsson.To contact the reporters on this story: Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at ltotaro@bloomberg.net;Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.net;John Follain in Rome at jfollain2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Andrew Davis, Raymond ColittFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • UPDATE 2-Japan's Abe says will make every effort to reduce tension with Iran

    UPDATE 2-Japan's Abe says will make every effort to reduce tension with IranJapan wants to make every effort to reduce tension between the United States and Iran before responding to an expected U.S. request to send its navy to guard strategic waters off Iran, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday. Japanese media have said a U.S. proposal to boost surveillance of Middle East oil shipping lanes off Iran and Yemen, where the United States says Iran and its proxies have carried out tanker attacks, could be on the agenda during this week's visit by U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.


  • Israeli probes into deaths of Palestinians often go nowhere

    Israeli probes into deaths of Palestinians often go nowhereHamedo Fakhouri clearly remembers the moment when the young Palestinian who worked at his neighborhood coffee shop was shot dead. Israeli troops were lingering after an overnight arrest raid in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem when he noticed the mentally disabled Mohammed Habali limp up the street with his wooden walking stick. Surveillance videos of the shooting drew outrage from Palestinians and human rights groups.


  • CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Japan's Abe says will make every effort to reduce tension with Iran

    CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Japan's Abe says will make every effort to reduce tension with IranJapan wants to make every effort to reduce tension between the United States and Iran before responding to an expected U.S. request to send its navy to safeguard strategic waters off Iran, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday. Japanese media have said Washington's proposal to boost surveillance of vital Middle East oil shipping lanes off Iran and Yemen, where it blames Iran and its proxies for tanker attacks, could be on the agenda during a visit to Tokyo this week by U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.


  • Israeli probes into deaths of Palestinians often go nowhere

    Israeli probes into deaths of Palestinians often go nowhereHamedo Fakhouri clearly remembers the moment when the young Palestinian who worked at his neighborhood coffee shop was shot dead. Israeli troops were lingering after an overnight arrest raid in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem when he noticed the mentally disabled Mohammed Habali limp up the street with his wooden walking stick. Surveillance videos of the shooting drew outrage from Palestinians and human rights groups.


  • Women in Japan Fight for Their Identity — Starting With Their Name

    Women in Japan Fight for Their Identity — Starting With Their Name(Bloomberg) -- Women in Japan are going through an identity crisis.They’re fighting to overturn a law that bars married couples from having different last names, which creates complications for women who have established careers and reputations.About 600,000 Japanese couples wed every year. The law says that after marriage a couple must have the same surname. Technically, men may take their wives’ family name. Yet in practice, only about 4% do. Some women say they feel like they’re wiping away their identity after getting married.“Being forced to change your name is nothing more than a violation of human rights,” said Miki Haga, 29, who is planning to study in the U.K. this year. She legally became Miki Ishizawa two years ago when her husband didn’t want to change his name.The issue roared into the public debate during the campaign for Sunday’s upper house election, with opposition parties making gender equality a key part of their platform against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party. However, the LDP bloc is projected to retain its majority, and female candidates are expected to make limited gains.In a striking moment, Abe was the only person on a debate stage earlier this month who didn’t raise his hand when asked about support for changing the law. His conservative party argues that the current law is equal to both men and women, and it’s a matter of tradition.“If you believe traditions are important, then there’s no need to change the law,” said Shigeharu Aoyama, an upper house LDP member. But others point out that it’s not exactly an ancient tradition. Before the current law was passed in 1898, Japanese people didn’t typically use surnames. In 1948, it became legal for couples to choose either spouse’s surname, but they still had to stick with one. And marriages to foreigners aren’t subject to the law.The surname issue is only one of a number of ways Japan lags behind on gender. Japan has the third-highest gender-pay gap among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. Women are poorly represented in business and politics. They hold only 4% of managerial positions, 2% of seats on boards of directors and about 10% of the seats in the lower house. The MeToo movement has had difficulty gaining traction. Although Abe has ginned up support for “Womenomics” — the idea that more women working will help the overall economy — progress has been slow.A government survey released last year showed 42.5% of adults supported changing the law — about 7 percentage points higher than five years earlier — while 29.3% opposed the move.The United Nations has pressured Japan to lift the restriction on surnames. It’s led to some unusual marital arrangements — even divorces on paper, while couples stay together.Others choose to live in the equivalent of a domestic partnership. Yuri Koizumi and Hiroshi Tanaka have been living together for 26 years, raising a son without getting married. Koizumi said she couldn’t accept changing the name she was born with. “It’s not who I am,” she said. Meanwhile, Tanaka, a forest science researcher, worried about what would happen to his academic reputation if he no longer used the same name as the one on his published works.They can’t take advantage of the same tax deductions as married couples. Legally, only one of them is allowed to have custody of their son. And they get tired of explaining to new friends and coworkers that they really are husband and wife, and their kids really are theirs, even though they have different last names. The situation is that uncommon in Japanese society.Courts in Japan recently have upheld the law several times. In 2015, Japan’s Supreme Court said the law didn’t violate the constitution. A Tokyo court earlier this year ruled against a similar challenge, and the plaintiffs plan on appealing.One of those plaintiffs is Yoshihisa Aono, the chief executive officer of software company Cybozu. He legally took his wife’s last name when they married in 2001 but continued to use his birth name professionally. His shares are registered under his legal last name — Nishibata — leading to confusion among investors about why the CEO doesn’t appear to own a stake in the company. And rules on which name should be on contracts vary by country.The law has prompted some people to go by their birth names in public, while using their spouse’s last name on official documents. That can be tricky. Women worry about whether their academic degrees will be recognized abroad. Companies sometimes mistakenly book flights or hotel rooms for employees under the name they use in everyday life, rather than the legal name they need to use when checking in.The continued support for the law is based in part on an antiquated Japanese ideal that “individuals are second to the masses,” said Toshihiko Noguchi, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs.Abe’s solution has been to encourage employers to allow workers to informally use the last names they were born with. This November, people will be allowed to list both last names on certain government ID cards, allowing them to open bank accounts or take out loans with their surname of choice.It’s not seamless. Haga gets questioned at airports by border officials who don’t understand why both names are listed on the passport. She tweeted her frustration, and a government official responded and pledged to publish an explanation online. She says every time she filled out another form to legally make the switch — on her bank accounts, passport, credit cards and more — a bit of herself faded. Her husband says he’s sympathetic about all the paperwork she had to go through and believes the law should be changed, but he still says he wouldn’t have reversed roles.“My husband didn’t have to do anything,” Haga said. “It didn’t feel fair.” \--With assistance from Isabel Reynolds and Jon Herskovitz.To contact the author of this story: Marika Katanuma in Tokyo at mkatanuma@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Lisa Fleisher at lfleisher2@bloomberg.net, Jodi SchneiderFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


 

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